LONDON Japanese conglomerates Sony Corp. and Seiko Epson Corp. are set to join forces in the manufacture and future development of small and medium sized LCDs.
As a precursor to any deal, which the companies hope to finalize by the end of June, Sony has started buying equipment for manufacturing liquid-crystal displays from Seiko Epson.
The alliance, which could see some of Epson's business transferred to Sony, comes as both companies are restructuring and reorganizing parts of their LCD businesses.
No details were given about any of the financial details of the potential deal.
News of discussions between the two companies also follows the announcement from Seiko Epson that it expects a deeper net loss this fiscal year, but aims to return to break-even in the next year through a restructuring that includes plans to close one of its two semiconductor plants in Japan.
Seiko Epson also said it will close an LCD plant in central Japan by the end of September and concentrate output of the panels at its factory in Tottori prefecture, in the west of the country.
An alliance between the two companies would enable Epson Imaging to see its amorphous silicon TFT technology more fully utilized while Sony could gain access to some of Epson's technology for screens developed by its Sony Mobile Display unit, the companies said.
According to recent market research figures from DisplaySearch Sony is ranked eighth worldwide in smaller LCD panels with a 4.8 percent market share in 2008, while Seiko Epson is ranked seventh at 7.3 percent.