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Panasonic pulls plug on LCD TV panels in Japan

Kyodo

Panasonic Corp. has decided to withdraw from TV panel production amid fierce competition from foreign rivals, in particular in China and South Korea, company sources said Tuesday.

The Osaka-based company will end production at its sole liquid crystal display plant in the city of Himeji, Hyogo Prefecture, by the end of September, as it expects no improvement in its profitability.

Panasonic’s withdrawal will leave Sharp Corp. as the sole Japanese electronics maker making LCD panels for TVs in Japan.

Although Panasonic will halt TV panel production, it will continue making LCD TVs using panels procured from manufacturers in South Korea and elsewhere, the sources said.

The ¥235 billion Himeji plant began operating in 2010. Its monthly production capacity of 32-inch LCD panels was about 810,000 units.

However, production slowed in the face of intensified price competition from South Korean and Chinese makers which focused on mass production, and the plant never turned a profit.

Meanwhile, Panasonic will continue producing LCD panels for other purposes and bolster the LCD businesses for vehicles and medical devices, where growth is expected.

The company plans to retain the roughly 1,000 employees currently working at the Himeji plant by reassigning hundreds of staff to other factories, such as units assembling vehicle storage cells.

Sharp manufactures LCD TV panels at its Kameyama plant in Mie Prefecture and at its Sakai plant in Osaka Prefecture, which is run jointly with Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. The company’s business remain sluggish.