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TVS & LARGE DISPLAY / INDUSTRY

Arasor Invests US$300m In Laser TV

By Sarah Falson | Wednesday | 09/01/2008

Australian light source-maker, Arasor -- the company behind laser TV technology - has bought-out its Silicon Valley technology partner as part of a joint venture with China's largest telecommunications provider to make laser TV available to the masses.

Arasor acquired US-based Novalux through US$7 million in ARR stock along with debts owed to Arasor, meaning the company now owns the complete light source solution for laser TV.

By acquiring Novalux, Arasor can theoretically now provide an end-to-end solution in the manufacture of light sources for mobile phones, TVs, navigation systems, cinema screens and pocket-lights.

When laser TV was first displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in the US in January 2007, attendees were informed that Mitsubishi would be the first manufacturer to offer the technology to consumer public, while Australian company Arasor and Silicon Valley-based Novalux would continue to develop and hone the optoelectronic chips which powered the display.

Arasor and Novalux got together and hosted an event in Sydney in October 2006 - three months before the CES revelation - touting the technology as a 'plasma killer' due to its bright colours and power-saving ability.

However, local company Arasor, which was soon to be listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), disappeared from the scene shortly after, with spokespersons for the company revealing little in the way of plans for the future.

At the same time, local delegates at manufacturer Mitsubishi denied the company's involvement with Arasor and Novalux, possibly holding back their technology from the public eye until last night at the 2008 CES in Las Vegas where the company's head honchos revealed a 65-inch model which is now being manufactured for possible sale in October this year.

Chinese development company SYCO is already selling laser TVs in its home country, however at a massive 120 inches, the main market for these models is the commercial cinema.

Arasor however has re-entered the scene with a US$300 million joint venture with China's largest telecommunications and networking provider, ZTE Corporation, in addition to its Novalux buy-out, to commercialise laser chip technology for use in TVs, projectors, and smaller screens such as laptop, PDA and mobile phone.

According to a report from the China Economic Review, Arasor owns 51 per cent of the joint venture which was arranged in November last year, with the China Development Bank handing over the US$300 million sum.

Production of the optoelectronic chips will begin in the second half of this year, for worldwide use, according to ZTE.

"This joint venture will leverage the combination of ZTE's global reach, Arasor 's core laser display technologies, and the financial strength of the China Development Bank to propel the acceptance of state-of-the-art laser display applications on a worldwide basis," ZTE senior vice president, Yong Yu, told the China Economic Review.

It is not clear which company provided the technology for Mitsubishi's 65-inch model displayed at CES, however Arasor's chief executive, Simon Cao, says the company's recently-acquired partners will ensure Arasor takes the lion's share of the back-end laser TV technology market.

"With our recently announced joint venture with ZTE, Arasor has control of the value chain, path to market and significant external capacity to finance the growth of the laser display market well into the future," he said.

"We have experienced unprecedented growth in telecommunications products and 2008 will see the scale-up of our consumer division to satisfy demand. With the imminent release of laser TVs, we are excited to be able to provide a complete light source solution for the major brands and the ZTE joint venture.

"This significantly increases our earnings potential and our ability to negotiate with large global customers."

Laser TV claims to offer brighter, more colourful, more reliable images, while using less power than plasma and LCD.

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