Samsung breaks ground on Sony JV LCD fab

Samsung Electronics held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday marking the beginning of construction of an advanced flat panel display factory.

The facility, which is expected to be the most advanced LCD (liquid crystal display) fabrication plant in the world when production begins, will be home to a manufacturing line for a joint venture the company plans to form with Japan's Sony Corp., said Yim Jun, a Samsung spokesman in Seoul.

Samsung has plans to build a total of four production lines at the factory, which is located in Tangjeong, south of Seoul, it said in a statement. The construction that has begun is for only the first line, which will be used by the planned joint venture.

Each line will be a so-called seventh-generation LCD production line, which means it will be able to handle mother glass -- the glass on which displays are made -- up to 187 centimeters by 220 centimeters. Several displays are built on each piece of mother glass and as its size increases, associated production costs are expected to fall.

Earlier this week Samsung and Sony announced plans to form a joint venture in the first three months of next year that will produce LCD panels for use in television sets.

Samsung will invest a total of 20 trillion won (US$17 billion) over the next ten years in the facility and expects it to become the largest flat panel display production site in the world. When mass production on the first line begins, currently scheduled for mid-2005, Samsung expects it to be producing 40 percent of the world market for TV flat panels, it said.

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Martyn Williams

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