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Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Toray Industries Inc. announced Thursday that the two companies have agreed to set up a joint venture next month by integrating their plasma display panel businesses.

Matsushita PDP Co. will manufacture PDP devices and assemble PDP television sets by using Matsushita Electric’s PDP production technology and Toray’s rear-panel production expertise, executives of the two companies said.

The new firm, to be located in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, is to be capitalized at 1.2 billion yen, with Matsushita Electric holding a 75 percent stake and Toray owning the rest. It also plans to spend 35 billion yen on equipment during its first year of operation, they said.

Full-scale production by the new company will start from June 2001. The new firm initially plans to make 10,000 PDP TV sets monthly, with 30,000 units monthly by 2002, a Matsushita Electric official said. The products will be marketed through Matsushita Electric’s sales networks.

Kunio Nakamura, Matsushita Electric president, said the two companies will jointly develop advanced PDP technology as the PDP equipment market will grow rapidly in the future.

PDP equipment is considered to be an important display device in digitally networked electronics products as it can provide high-quality digital images on wide and lightweight display panels.

Matsushita officials said prices of PDP television sets are expected to halve by 2004.

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