In a much-anticipated move, Japan's Sharp Corp. has signed a major flat-panel display deal with Quanta Computer Inc., Taiwan's largest notebook computer maker.
Under terms of the deal, Sharp will license its active-matrix LCD technology to the Taipei-based company. The two companies will also set up a joint AM-LCD manufacturing venture in Linko, Taiwan, near Taipei, at a cost of $461 million.
The venture, called Quanhuei Optoelectronics Inc., will move into production in the first quarter of 2001, according to Barry Lam, chairman and chief executive of Quanta, a $1.6 billion company that makes notebook PCs on an OEM basis for Apple, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and others. Quanta does not sellnotebook PCs under its own brand name.
Sharp plans to take a 10% stake in the venture, while Quanta will own a 33% share. The other possible shareholders include Hon Hai Precision Industry Ltd., a local connector maker known as Foxconn, and China Development Corp., a Taiwan government-own venture capital company, according to Lam.
The deal with Sharp will ensure that Quanta can obtain an ample supply of AM-LCDs in the future, Lam said. Currently, Quanta, like all Taiwan notebook makers, must import their AM-LCD screens from Japan or Korea, he added. A group of Taiwan companies are also developing AM-LCDs, but local firms are not
expected to move into volume production until 2000.
According to the deal, Quanhuei is scheduled to break ground on a new FPD facility in the third quarter. The fab will have a capacity of 30,000 14.1-inch AM-LCD module-equivalents per month. An unspecified amount of capacity will be reserved for Sharp.
Quanta, which ships about 200,000 notebook systems per month, also builds LCD monitors, reportedly making 1,000 to 2,000 units a month. Recently, it spun off a new company, called Qmate Technology Inc., which makes DVD player on an OEM basis.