LG Display To Supply Samsung

The Samsung display issue keeps heating up as LG Display Co. scored a deal to supply television displays as soon as this year, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

LG Display, a major supplier of panels to Apple Inc., will replace a venture between Sharp Corp. and Foxconn Technology Group as a supplier to the world’s biggest TV maker, said the people, who asked not to be identified because details of their agreement haven’t been released. LG Display and Samsung reiterated comments from earlier this month that they are in talks on LCD supply without elaborating.

A supply agreement between LG Display and Samsung would be a first for the longtime South Korean rivals who have never used each other’s panels before. Sakai Display Products Corp., controlled by Sharp and Foxconn, has cut back supply of LCD screens to other TV makers, a move that may foster a panel supply shortage and further accelerate a rally in display prices. Supply may remain tight well into next year, benefiting LG Display and other panel makers, said Chung Won-suk, an analyst at HI Investment & Securities Co. in Seoul.

“The abrupt supply halt by Sharp will have a domino effect on other TV makers from Samsung to Sony,” he said. But LG may not be able to boost production quickly enough to offset Sharp’s absence. “That will cause the supply shortage to persist throughout the year and help sustain the price rally at least until the first quarter.”

The Sakai venture provided as many as 4 million large TV panels annually to Samsung and is increasing display sales to Chinese manufacturers, the people said. LG will supply as many as 3 million LCD panels to Samsung this year, one of the people said.

Sharp and Foxconn, whose main listed unit is Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., are now considering expanding production in the U.S. and getting ready to expand Sharp’s brand abroad. Sharp declined to comment.

Samsung Display Co., which is controlled by the TV maker, has been cutting back output of the older LCD technology to instead focus on next-generation screens using organic light emitting diode or OLED technology for mobile phones and tablets. Samsung has held talks to supply OLED to Apple for iPhones, people familiar with the matter have said.

LG Display—a fierce rival to Samsung—stands to become the biggest beneficiary as TV customers demand bigger-sized LCD screens.

As I mentioned in my last article, Sharp’s decision to stop LCD supply has triggered a dispute. Samsung has asked for court arbitration in New York against the Osaka-based company and two others as it seeks $429 million in compensation.

 

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Scott Hart

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