Electronics giants start chip integration talks


Panasonic Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd. have begun talks with major chip-maker Renesas Electronics Corp. on integrating their system chip operations, sources said Wednesday.

At a time when the country’s semiconductor industry has struggled in the face of the historically strong yen and stiff competition from rivals in South Korea, the companies aim to revamp their system-chip business by expanding the scale of their operations through integration.

The three companies are eyeing the creation of a new company with investment from the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, an investment fund owned largely by the government, by separating their system-chip operations from their other businesses, the sources said.

They are aiming to reach a basic agreement at the end of March and set up the new company around March 2013.

If the plan bears fruit, the new company and Toshiba Corp. will be Japan’s only system-chip makers.

Given the need for large-scale investment in state-of-the-art technology to produce custom-made system chips, Panasonic, Fujitsu and Renesas are hoping to increase their investment capacity through integration, according to the sources.

Domestic chip-makers have watched as their earnings deteriorate, with Elpida Memory Inc., the nation’s sole manufacturer of dynamic random access memory chips, booking an operating loss of ¥92.31 billion for the first three quarters of fiscal 2011.

Green fridge delayed


Panasonic Corp. said Wednesday it will postpone the release of a new refrigerator that utilizes recycled glass from TV cathode-ray tubes by two months to April 20 due to problems ensuring stable output at its production line.

The fridge uses heat insulating material made from glass recycled from the television tubes, but Panasonic said it now needs to modify parts of its production line to be able to mass-produce the material.