LG.Philips LCD opens new plant

LG.Philips LCD on Friday officially opened what it claims is the world's largest LCD (liquid crystal display) manufacturing facility. The new plant could help curb an LCD price rise or even bring down prices.

The Kumi, South Korea, factory went online earlier this year and produces 15-inch LCDs for desktop and notebook computers, as well as 18-inch displays for desktop use and larger LCD TVs, Koninklijke Philips Electronics NV said in a statement. LG.Philips LCD is a joint venture between Philips and LG Electronics Co. Ltd.

The factory uses large 1000 millimeter by 1200 millimeter glass substrates and currently produces about 30,000 sheets a month. That should double to 60,000 by year end, when full production capacity is reached, Philips spokesman Jeremy Cohen said.

"That is the highest production capacity of any single factory in the world," said Cohen.

Both companies, though, expect the shortages to be eased, and therefore prices to creep lower, as new manufacturing facilities go online in late 2002 and mid-2003. LG.Philips will be opening a so-called fifth generation plant in the second quarter of 2002 with Samsung following in September or October, the spokesmen said.

"Prices have been rising steadily, but are currently stable," said Cohen. "The opening of the factory comes exactly the right moment for us. Demand is still high and we are getting the capacity for the high value end of the market."

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