Japan's Pioneer may withdraw from flat TV business

TOKYO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Struggling Japanese electronics maker Pioneer Corp 6773.T said it was weighing various options regarding its loss-making flat TV business including all-out withdrawal and termination of in-house TV production.

Pioneer is projecting a net loss of 78 billion yen ($848.6 million) for the year ending March 31, its fifth consecutive year of annual loss, and stopping the flow of red ink in its TV operations is high on the company’s list of priorities.

“There is a whole spectrum of possibilities with withdrawal on one end, in-house development and production on the other and sales of procured TVs somewhere in the middle,” a Pioneer spokesman said.

The comment follows a report in the Nikkei business daily on Saturday that Pioneer had decided to terminate its in-house development and production of flat TVs.

It held a 5.9 percent share in the plasma TV market in the first three quarters of 2008, a long way behind Panasonic Corp's 6752.T 37.2 percent, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's 005930.KS 22.8 percent and LG Electronics Inc's 066570.KS 15.5 percent, according to research firm DisplaySearch.

Pioneer currently sells LCD TVs only in Europe using display panels from Sharp Corp 6753.T, the world's third-largest LCD TV maker holding a 14.3 percent stake in Pioneer.

The Nikkei also said Pioneer, which has a group workforce of about 40,000, planned to cut several thousand jobs by the year ending March 2010.

The Pioneer spokesman said no decision had been taken on job cuts.

The company is scheduled to announce earnings results for the October-December quarter on Feb. 12 and plans to unveil restructuring measures by the end of the month. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Ben Tan)