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Epson, Sanyo merge LCD businesses

Posted: 30 Mar 2004 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:seiko epson? sanyo electric? lcd panel? oled?

Seiko Epson Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd will merge their LCD businesses in an effort to make the new unit a top supplier of mid- and small-sized LCD panels.

The two companies signed a basic agreement Wednesday (March 24, 2004). Details will be completed by October 1, when the new joint venture begins operation. The new company will be called Sanyo Epson Imaging Devices Corp. Epson will hold 55 percent stake while Sanyo holds the remainder. The combined business units are worth about ?360 billion (about $3.4 billion) in sales.

The merger enables Sanyo to avoid a difficult decision about whether to make a large investment to update its aging production lines. The new company will handle small panel production mainly used in mobile phones.

"When combining resources of development, technology, production and sales of both companies into one company, it could be the most competitive company in small- to mid-sized panel field," said Saburo Kusama, president of Seiko Epson.

"The two companies' products are really complementary to each other. The joint operation can offer full line-up products for small- to mid-sized panel applications," added Sanyo President Yukinori Kuwano.

The joint venture will combine Epson's Toyoshiba plant that produces D-TFD (digital thin-film diode) and STN-LCD panels and Sanyo's Tottori plant which makes amorphous LCDs and its LCD Engineering unit that makes low-temperature polysilicon LCDs.

Sanyo has been active in small-molecule organic light-emitting diode (OLED) development and started display production under a joint venture with Kodak. Epson is also developing polymer OLEDs. The merger excludes OLED development because the partners' OLED technologies differ.

Seiko Epson has been focusing on small displays for mobile phones, producing more than 10 million panels a month. Epson estimates that it holds 28 percent of this market. Sanyo focuses mid- and small-sized panels for products such as digital still cameras, electronic view finders and car navigation systems. The company estimates its market share for digital still camera displays is 28 percent and 36 percent for view finders.

- Yoshiko Hara

EE Times

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