TOKYO (AP) — Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. is spending 66 billion yen ($611 million; euro418 million) to take a majority stake in a liquid crystal display panel maker it has operated with Japanese rivals Hitachi and Toshiba.
With the deal's conclusion, announced Friday, the panel maker, IPS Alpha Technology Ltd., will become a unit of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., according to the Osaka-based electronics company.
The maker of Viera TVs and National rice cookers is adopting its brand name Panasonic later this year to become Panasonic Corp., dropping the surname of the company founder.
IPS Alpha said Friday its 300 billion yen (US$2.7 billion; euro1.9 billion) new panel factory in Himeji City, south-central Japan, will be running by January 2010, with annual production capacity of panels enough for 15 million 32-inch TVs.
By 2013, annual production capacity for IPS Alpha will rise to making enough panels for 21 million 32-inch TVs by 2013. Previously, it had expected capacity at 6 million a year by September.
The deal, outlined in December, continues a shift in alliances among Japanese TV makers.
Some manufacturers like Matsushita — the world's leading maker of plasma TVs — are moving to ramp up in-house production of panels. It has been eager to beef up its panel production with another technology — liquid crystal displays.
Matsushita will continue to supply Hitachi Ltd. with LCD panels. The companies also supply each other with screens for plasma TVs.
In December, Toshiba Corp. said it's selling its stake in IPS Alpha and will team with Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp. to procure LCD panels for TVs. Toshiba said it will instead focus its spending on semiconductors and power plants.
Along with Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea, Sharp is one of the world's leading makers of LCD panels and LCD TVs.