Toshiba, Matsushita in talks to merge LCD units

Toshiba and Matsushita Electric Industrial, better known by its Panasonic brand name, have reached a basic agreement to merge their LCD (liquid crystal display) operations, according to a report in the Wednesday morning edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

The Japanese firms plan to establish a joint venture as early as April 2002 to absorb all LCD operations aside from sales at the two companies, which are among Japan's largest electronics manufacturers, the report said.

"It is true that we are in talks with Matsushita," said Midori Suzuki, a spokeswoman for Toshiba. "But nothing has been decided yet, including reaching a basic agreement and establishing a joint venture, and we cannot comment on anything regarding the newspaper report."

The companies will make an official announcement on the deal as soon as agreement is made, she said.

The merger, should it go ahead, would propel the companies from the number five and six positions in the domestic LCD shipment rankings to the number two position, behind industry-leader Sharp Corp., according to a survey conducted by the newspaper.

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