Asian companies announce LCD, PDP factory plans

Surging demand for flat panel displays, driven by the personal computer monitor and television markets, is pushing Asia's electronics makers to invest in new factories. Four companies have announced plans to do so.

Fujitsu Hitachi Display, a joint venture of Fujitsu and Hitachi, said it plans to construct a new factory to manufacture Plasma Display Panels (PDPs) at its existing plant in Miyazaki in southern Japan.

The company expects to invest $US670 million to construct the factory, which it will begin building early in 2005. Initial production at 50,000 units per month is expected to begin by the end of 2005, increasing to full production of 150,000 panels per month in 2007.

Prior to the start of construction, the company plans to expand production on an existing PDP line at the plant from 50,000 units per month to 100,000 units per month by the beginning of next year.

Taken together, the expanded production and new line would give the factory a projected output of 250,000 PDPs per month by 2007, the company said.

Samsung and Sony said they had signed a contract to establish a joint-venture company, S-LCD, by the end of April in order to manufacture liquid crystal displays (LCDs).

The company is to be capitalised at $US1.8 billion. Samsung will hold controlling interest in the company, with a stake of 50 percent plus one share.

The two disclosed in October last year that they had begun talks on forming such a venture.

Construction of the plant to serve the joint venture began in October last year at Samsung's facility in Tangjeong, south of Seoul, and mass production is due to begin in the second quarter of 2005.

At full production the line will be capable of producing 60,000 panels per month and both companies expect most to be destined for use in large-screen colour televisions.

The production line is forecasted to be one of the most advanced in the world when it begins operating. It will be a so-called seventh-generation LCD production line, which means it will be able to handle mother glass - the glass on which displays are made - up to 187 x 220cm. Several displays are built on each piece of mother glass and as its size increases, associated production costs are expected to fall.