TOKYO, Dec. 27, 2007 -- Hitachi Ltd., Canon Inc. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. announced Tuesday an agreement on a comprehensive alliance to reinforce and grow their LCD panel businesses and technologies.
They also announced that Canon and Matsushita will, by transfer of shares from Hitachi, each acquire 24.9 percent of the shares of Hitachi Displays Co. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi engaged in small- and medium-sized LCD panel-related businesses, by March 31, subject to approvals by regulatory authorities. As a result, Hitachi will have a 50.2 percent stake in Hitachi Displays.
The companies said in a joint statement they they will further discuss details of the agreement, and that they will "will merge their strengths to accelerate the development of cutting-edge display technologies and expand their scope of application." Hitachi developers LCD-related technologies including in-plane switching (IPS) technology; Canon has expertise in the camera, printer and medical equipment fields and Matsushita in the flat-panel TV field.
"LCD panels are finding growing applications in a diverse array of fields, from mobile phones, flat-panel TVs and PCs to digital still cameras, game consoles, printers, automotive electronics and more," the companies said. "Global demand for LCD panels is therefore rising. However, intensifying competition has made it imperative for LCD panel manufacturers to ensure a stable supply of high-quality LCD panels at low prices. This will require ongoing upfront investment and development of cutting-edge technologies."
Hitachi said the move will spur advancement in its LCD panel business and strengthen its flat-panel LCD TV sector, including its Wooo UT series ofultrathin flat-panel LCD TVs.
Canon said that by acuiring an equity interest in Hitachi Displays, it seeks to sharpen its capabilities by shortening development times and enhancing product features. It said it also aims to reinforce its digital single-lens reflex camera and various other product businesses employing high-quality, small- to medium-sized LCD panels in the consumer electronics, office equipment, medical and other fields, and to accelerate ongoing development of organic LED (OLED). Canon said will continue to develop various types of displays in the context of "cross-media imaging — a combination of imaging input and output equipment for data, still images and video that allows users to intuitively process images and information in any context in daily life or industry."
Matsushita --- best known for its Panasonic brand name -- said it is expanding and strengthening its main-line plasma display panel (PDP) operations and expanding its involvement in the businesses of Hitachi Displays, a maker of IPS liquid crystal panels for large TVs, and of IPS Alpha Technology Ltd., a joint venture held by companies including Matsushita and Canon. "These moves are part of a Matsushita-orchestrated initiative in collaboration with the Hitachi Group to ensure a stable supply of liquid crystal displays by pushing ahead with construction of a next-generation plant at IPS Alpha," Matsushita said. "The aim is to exploit the outstanding performance and cost advantage of the IPS Alpha plant toward increasing the competitive edge of the VIErA series of flat-panel TVs in step with PDP models."
Matsushita said it is moving ahead with the enhancement of a vertically integrated business in the flat-panel TV sector, and that it sees the new IPS Alpha plant as a possible future base for producing OLED displays. The company also said it will continue increasing development and production capability in the flat-panel TV business.
The three companies said they also plan ownership changes that would include Canon having a majority holding in Hitachi Displays, and Matsushita with a majority holding in IPS Alpha.
For more information, visit: www.hitachi-displays.com/en
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