Hitachi to increase stake in plasma display venture

Hitachi will significantly boost its stake in its PDP joint venture with Fujitsu, a move that should help reduce its costs for the panels and gain more control over production, according a company executive.

By the end of March Hitachi would increase its stake in Fujitsu Hitachi Plasma Display (FHP) to 80.1 per cent from 50 per cent, buying the shares from Fujitsu for an undisclosed sum, president and chief executive of Hitachi's Ubiquitous Platform Group, Kazuhiro Tachibana, said.

By increasing its stake in FHP, Hitachi would be able to put more of its own electronics components into the screens, which should help reduce its costs for the panels, Tachibana said, without providing details.

As part of the move, Fujitsu will transfer several hundred patents to Hitachi.

Fujitsu's share of FHP would be reduced from 50 per cent to 19.1 per cent. FHP would become a consolidated subsidiary of Hitachi, he said.

FHP was established in April 1999 and by March 2004 had about 1000 employees. It has a factory in Miyazaki prefecture in western Japan.

Hitachi was not planning any job cuts as part of the transaction, Tachibana said.

Before March, Fujitsu and Hitachi would provide financial assistance to FHP, which is heavily in debt, he said. Tachibana declined to comment on the size of the debt or how much money the companies will provide.

FHP had sales of YEN 78.5 billion (US$757.9 million) in the financial year ended March 31, 2004, according to Fujitsu.

Hitachi hoped to increase its production and market share for TVs, Tachibana said.

The company had 11 per cent of PDP TV sales worldwide in 2004. It wanted to raise this to 15 per cent within two years, he said.

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