LG Display and Amtran to set up LCD panel joint venture

SEOUL Mon Sep 1, 2008 2:37am EDT

An employee of LG Electronics' home appliances store walks past its LCD televisions displayed for customers at a store in Seoul July 21, 2008. REUTERS/Jo Yong-Hak

An employee of LG Electronics' home appliances store walks past its LCD televisions displayed for customers at a store in Seoul July 21, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Jo Yong-Hak

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's LG Display Co Ltd (034220.KS) and Taiwan's Amtran Technology (2489.TW) agreed on Monday to set up a joint venture in China to produce flat screen modules and manufacture TV sets for brand makers.

LG Display, the world's second-biggest maker of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, has sought alliances with Asian TV makers to strengthen its client base and reduce costs.

The LG-Amtran joint venture will be set up in Amtran's existing production base in Suzhou, China, with initial funding of $20 million. LG Display will own 51 percent of the new company and Amtran, maker of Vizio brand LCD TVs, will hold the remaining 49 percent.

The joint venture will produce 3 million LCD modules and 5 million LCD TV sets a year, with operations set to start early next year, LG said. It did not disclose the value of any additional investments to be made.

Leading LCD makers, including No. 1 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS), LG Display and third-ranked AU Optronics Corp (2409.TW) face a slowing global economy that has hit demand for new flat-screen TVs and personal computers.

LCD TV makers such as Sony Corp (6758.T) and Samsung are in a fierce price war, and LG Display and AU have cut output recently in light of weakening demand.

Amtran built its business by joining with U.S. partner Vizio Inc in 2005 to penetrate the North American market.

Shares in LG Display dropped 6.65 percent to end at 25,250 won, compared with the broader Seoul market's .KS11 4.06 percent loss. Amtran shares fell 1.05 percent to T$18.9, outperforming the Taipei market's .TWII 3.31 percent loss.

(Reporting by Rhee So-eui; editing by Jonathan Hopfner)