Sharp Planning $3.2B LCD Panel Factory

Western Japan factory would form the core of a new flat panel industrial park, a ''manufacturing complex for the 21st century.''

TOKYO (AP) - Electronics maker Sharp Corp. plans to spend around 380 billion yen (US$3.2 billion; euro2.34 billion) on a new LCD panel factory in western Japan that will form the core of a new flat panel industrial park, the company said Tuesday.
The electronics maker envisions the industrial park as a ''manufacturing complex for the 21st century,'' and plans to invite other leading material manufacturers to set up plants adjacent to its LCD factory, it said.
Bringing all the companies together at one site should improve productivity, reduce distribution costs, help in production planning and promote collaboration among them, the Sharp statement said.
Japan's Asahi Glass Co.—the world's No. 2 maker of the glass known as substrate that is used to make LCDs—plans to participate in the center, company spokesman Yoshihiko Saito. The company is still in talks with Sharp over what type of facility would be most effective, he said.
Dai Nippon Printing Co., which manufactures color filters—a core component of LCD panels—likewise intends to build facilities at the site, company spokesman Ichiro Yagi said.
The world's No. 1 glass substrate maker, Corning Inc. of the U.S., also has plans to construct facilities at the center, according to Japanese business daily The Nikkei.
These companies are expected to spend up to 200 billion yen (US$1.68 billion; euro1.23 billion), the Nikkei said in an unsourced story.
The factory will be built the city of Sakai, located in the southern part of Osaka prefecture, about 400 kilometers west of Tokyo, and begin operations in March 2010, it said. Work on the new factory is slated to begin this November, the Osaka-based company said in a statement.
Sharp also plans to build a thin-film solar cell factory at the site that will also begin operations in March 2010, the company said. Details on the investment were still under review, it said.
Sales of both plasma and LCD TVs have been booming.
Sharp, known for its Aquos brand of liquid crystal display TVs, last week posted a net income of 24.22 billion yen (US$203.84 million; euro149.23 million) for the April-June period, up from 23.89 billion yen a year earlier.
In 2006, Sony Corp. overtook Sharp and Samsung Electronics Co. to become the world's biggest maker of LCD TVs in terms of revenue, with its market share rising to 16 percent, a survey by market researcher DisplaySearch showed. Samsung trailed in second place with a 15 percent, followed by Sharp with 11.5 percent.
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