Rohm And Haas Ramps Up Flat Panel Business

Philadelphia-based company joins forces with SKC Inc., forming joint venture to manufacture optical films.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Rohm and Haas, a maker of specialty materials and chemicals, took another step to build up its flat panel display business by forming a joint venture to manufacture optical films.
The Philadelphia-based company said Tuesday that it is joining forces with SKC Inc., a subsidiary of South Korean conglomerate SK Group in Seoul.
SKC will spin off its display technologies business and Rohm and Haas will invest about $190 million in it. Rohm and Haas will own 51 percent of the new company, yet unnamed, to be based in South Korea.
The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending regulatory approval.
The new company will make optical films that go into liquid crystal and plasma displays in flat-screen televisions, handheld devices such as cell phones and GPS systems.
Optical films are made up of layers of ultra-thin plastic sheets that are put on displays to enhance clarity and brightness by channeling the light to the viewer. The films can be treated to give them special functions, such as to diffuse light, a Rohm and Haas spokesman said.
The new company will be based in Asia, where many electronic gadgets are manufactured.
The partnership builds on Rohm and Haas's acquisition of Eastman Kodak Co.'s light management films business in June for about $40 million. Prior to the acquisition, Rohm and Haas had a small processed chemicals business serving the flat panel display business.
The new company is expected to generate $300 million in first-year sales. Rohm and Haas's new flat panel display technologies unit, which includes the joint venture and the Eastman Kodak acquisition, expects to post sales of about $350 million in 2008.
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