Toshiba and Panasonic break up LCD venture

Huge losses forcing a rethink in small screen market

LCD TV

The recent drop in LCD prices has led Toshiba to buy its partner Panasonic out of their joint display venture in a bid to find profitability.

Sources say Toshiba will take 100 per cent ownership of Toshiba Matsushita Display Technology (TMDT) by buying Panasonic's 40 per cent stake.

Phone screen market

The venture is expected to report losses of ¥30 billion (£212 million) early next week. Toshiba's move means it will be able to speed up decision making in a market that is changing rapidly.

The small to mid-sized amorphous silicon LCD panels the firm currently makes for mobile phones, GPS systems and the like will be replaced by the higher-quality polycrystalline silicon type, according to an anonymous source within the company.

Panasonic looks to TVs

TMDT currently holds second place behind Sharp in the global market for that size of LCD, while Panasonic is likely to turn its attention to larger LCDs for flat-screen TV sets.

Toshiba had been planning to start selling OEL panels this October, but now seems set to shelve the technology and return to it when the path to profitability is clearer.