Hitachi, Matsushita, Toshiba cement LCD venture plan

Hitachi Ltd., Hitachi Displays Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. have completed their joint venture agreement to establish a company to make and sell LCD (liquid crystal display) panels. The new company, PS Alpha Technology Ltd., will start operations on Jan.1, 2005, the companies said in a statement Friday.

A preliminary agreement to build a production line at the Mobara factory of Hitachi Displays Ltd. in Chiba, east of Tokyo, was announced on Aug. 31.

PS Alpha Technology will make LCD panels of 23 inches and above for flat-panel TVs. Production will reach a maximum output of 2.5 million 32-inch units per year from late 2008 to early 2009, according to projections.

The announcement of the new venture came a day after two of the partners said they are stopping production of large-screen cathode ray picture tubes at a joint-venture plant in New York.

Matsushita Toshiba Picture Display Co. Ltd. said it will stop production at its Horseheads, New York, plant because of the availability of cheap CRTs from Asia and a shift in tastes among U.S. consumers for large, flat-panel PDP (Plasma Display Panel) or LCD (liquid crystal display) screens or sets based on rear-projection technology.

The plant produced 950,000 CRTs in 2003. In its last fiscal year, which ended March 2004, it recorded sales of US$250.4 million and a net loss of $109.2 million, according to figures from Matsushita. The factory and associated office employs around 800 people.