Business

Japan Display to extend Ishikawa plant closure on soft iPhone sales as it mulls next-gen OLED plan

Kyodo

Japan Display Inc. said Friday it will extend the closure of its plant in Ishikawa Prefecture due partly to Apple Inc.’s weak iPhone sales as it considers a plan to make new organic light-emitting diode displays there instead.

The struggling panel maker said in June it would close its Hakusan plant in Ishikawa Prefecture from July to September because of weak demand for displays from Apple and fierce competition with Chinese panel makers.

However, Japan Display said in a statement that it has started talks with China’s Harvest Tech Investment Management Co. about a plan to produce next-generation OLED panels for smartphones at the closed plant.

The display maker agreed last month to receive a capital injection of up to ¥80 billion ($740 million) from a consortium of Harvest Tech and Hong Kong’s Oasis Management Co.

Winston Lee, who heads the consortium and is set to join Japan Display’s board, told Kyodo News late last month that mass production of OLED panels at the Hakusan plant is one of the possible options.

OLED panels, recently used in high-end models of smartphones, do not require the backlight used in liquid crystal display panels to emit light, thus enabling panels to be thinner and consume less power.

Japan Display had initially planned to decide when to resume production at the plant by the end of September. It said it now hopes to make a decision following discussions with Harvest Tech by the end of next March.

The panel manufacturer also said 1,266 employees working at domestic facilities will leave the company at the end of the month under a voluntary early retirement program, in line with its previous target of 1,200 job cuts.

Japan Display was established in 2012 through the merger of the display operations of Sony Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. with support from the government-backed turnaround firm INCJ Ltd.

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