LONDON Three major Japanese companies, Hitachi Ltd., Toshiba Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., have agreed to establish a billion-dollar joint venture company to manufacture LCD panels for flat-panel TVs. Plans call for the joint venture to begin operations in January 2005, Hitach said Tuesday (Aug. 31).
Individual investments by the three comapanies and whether they would be equal were not disclosed.
The as-yet unnamed venture will build an amorphous TFT LCD panel production line at the Mobara facility of Hitachi Displays Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, with volume production of panels due to begin in the first quarter of 2007 (the second quarter of fiscal 2006).
Although the capital investment required to establish the facility is ¥110 billion (about $1 billion), the three companies are hoping other investors can be persuaded to contribute. The partners said they will own the majority of shares in the venture, but they will solicit investments from other LCD panel manufacturers, including device makers and material suppliers.
Production is slated to expand in stages, ultimately reaching the equivalent of 2.5 million 32-inch TV LCD panels a year by the second half of fiscal 2008, Hitachi said.
Worldwide demand for LCD TVs was approximately 3 million units in 2003, and is estimated to expand five-fold by 2006, Hitachi said. The venture will manufacture LCD panels using Hitachi Displays' in-plane-switching LCD system, which provides for wide-viewing angle and improved color reproduction, making them suitable for high-definition and digital television systems.