Panasonic Move On Hitachi In TV Manufacturing Battle

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Several Japanese companies who are struggling in the fast growing TV market are forging new manufacturing alliances in an effort to compete up against manufacturers from Korea, China and Taiwan.

The owners of the Panasonic brand Matsushita Electric Industrial who are also the world’s largest maker of plasma televisions, may buy control of a Hitachi Ltd. unit to increase sales of faster-growing liquid-crystal display sets.

The move comes as Hitachi who own the patents for plasma struggle to make a profit from the technology and are now moving to promote new OLED TV technology.

The company may raise its stake in unlisted LCD maker IPS Alpha Technology Ltd. to more than 50 percent, the Japanese based maker of Panasonic-brand products said in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange today. Financial details weren’t provided.

Matsushita would join LG.Philips LCD Co. in buying stakes in display makers to weather a supply shortage that analysts at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and UBS AG estimate will last until next year. LCD TVs are taking market share from plasma by offering brighter images and slimmer sets.

Separately, Matsushita and Canon said in the statement they will each buy 24.9 percent of LCD maker Hitachi Displays Ltd. by the end of March. Canon’s holdings in the company may increase to a controlling stake, according to the statement.

Global shipments of LCD TVs will rise 33 percent to 94.7 million units in 2008 as shipments of plasma sets climb 26 percent to 13.1 million units, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. estimates this month.

Matsushita shares rose 0.9 percent to 2,320 yen as of the midday break in Tokyo. Hitachi’s stock climbed 3.2 percent, while Canon shares declined 0.2 percent.

 

 

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