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Sharp in talks to make LCD panels here

JAPAN'S Sharp Corp yesterday said it was in talks with potential partners in China to make LCD panels, taking aim at growing flat TV demand in the world's third-largest economy.

Such a move would mark a departure from Sharp's usual strategy of making core products at home.

"It is true that we are considering building a plant (to make LCDs) in China," Sharp President Mikio Katayama said.

Details such as the timing of the plant's construction have not been fixed as talks were ongoing, Katayama said, without specifying which potential business partners Sharp was speaking to.

The company said in April that it would shift some production of key components such as panels and solar cells overseas to lessen the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations.

The firm plans to start production at its US$3.9-billion LCD panel plant in Japan in October to meet recovering TV demand.

The factory, located in the western city of Sakai, will be the world's first plant to handle so-called 10th-generation glass substrates, which are bigger than earlier-generation substrates and help reduce production costs.

Katayama also said yesterday that Sharp was likely to beat its target to sell 1.2 million LCD TVs in China in the year to March 2010. It sold 1.04 million LCD TVs in the country in the last business year.

Sharp is the world's fourth-largest LCD TV maker after Samsung Electronics Co, Sony Corp and LG Electronics Inc.

The maker of Aquos brand LCD TVs held a 9-percent share in the global market in the first three months this year, according to research company DisplaySearch.

Prior to Katayama's comments yesterday, shares in Sharp had closed up 1.1 percent at 1,097 yen, compared with a 1-percent gain in the Nikkei average.


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