Hitachi, Matsushita, Toshiba Partner on LCD Displays - 2

Japan's Hitachi, Matsushita Electric and Toshiba struck a deal to jointly make displays for flat-screen televisions, starting as early as July 2006.

TOKYO—Japans Hitachi Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Toshiba Corp. struck a deal to jointly make displays for flat-screen televisions, starting as early as July 2006, the companies said Tuesday.

The companies plan to spend a total 110 billion yen ($1 billion) on a new plant for large liquid-crystal displays in eastern Chiba on the site of Hitachis LCD panel-assembling facility, they said in a statement. The three companies investment will comprise half the cost, while investments from suppliers are expected to cover the remainder.

Annual output will gradually increase until it reaches 2.5 million 32-inch LCD displays for TVs by September 2008, they said.

Competition among flat-screen TV makers has become heated in recent years, as a growing number of electronics companies and PC makers vie for a foothold in the global TV market. The rivalry coincides with the spread of digital TV broadcasts, which are clearer than traditional analog broadcasts.

Sharp Corp. leads Japanese electronics companies in LCD and plasma TVs. But entertainment giant Sony Corp., Hitachi and Toshiba have been spending to develop new TV technologies. Dell Inc. and Gateway Inc. of the United States also have entered the fray with their own thinner displays.

Hitachi, Matsushita Electric and Toshiba predict the global market—around 3 million flat-screen, LCD TVs last year—will expand five-fold by 2006.

Hitachi and Toshiba are based in Tokyo. Matsushita Electric, which makes the Panasonic and National brands, has its headquarters in the western city of Osaka.

At the close of trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Tuesday, Hitachi fell 0.8 percent to 688 yen ($6.25), Matsushita Electric fell 0.1 percent to 1,471 yen ($13.37) and Toshiba fell 1.2 percent to 405 yen ($3.68).