February 7, 2005 12:31 PM PST

Hitachi, Panasonic team on plasma technology

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Fujitsu lowers stake in plasma display venture

February 3, 2005
Hitachi and Panasonic will work together to further develop the market for plasma televisions.

The companies announced Monday that they'll team up, but gave few details of the collaboration. The agreement will include joint efforts in research and development, production, marketing and intellectual property, according to a statement. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. A press conference is scheduled for early Tuesday morning in Tokyo.

Hitachi is known as a components maker, while Panasonic is a well-known retail brand. Both are influential in their respective businesses.

Hitachi's position in the plasma panel manufacturing market grew late last week when it announced a deal to acquire a majority stake in a plasma display joint venture, Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Display Limited (FHP), from Fujitsu. Hitachi will acquire 30.1 percent of Fujitsu's holdings in FHP, as well as Fujitsu's plasma display patents.

The transfer is expected to be completed by the end of March and will make FHP a subsidiary of Hitachi. Hitachi said it will use plasma technology in other electronics devices with networking capabilities. Neither company disclosed financial details of the deal.

Panasonic said last week it is stepping up by two months its schedule to produce plasma panels at a new $920 million plant.

FHP is one of the leading manufacturers of plasma panels in the world, but falling margins are conjuring a dark future for the plasma display market, according to analysts.

The liquid crystal display market is also bound to experience similar tightening conditions, and Fujitsu appears to be pulling back in that market as well.

Sharp announced Monday that it will buy Fujitsu's LCD business. The deal calls for Fujitsu to transfer its LCD research and development and LCD manufacturing and sales operations to Sharp.

The companies are hammering out the details of the agreement and expect to have the deal finished in March.

 

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