NEWS: Hitachi and Panasonic agree to a big-screen plasma swap
Plasma manufacturers Hitachi and Panasonic have agreed to trade plasma display panels to expand each other's range, with a strong emphasis on very large screen sizes. Under the deal, Panasonic will supply Hitachi with its massive 103in screen (above), while Hitachi will deliver 85in panels to Panasonic next year. The Hitachi 85in panel is expected to be launched midway through next year, but Panasonic parent Matsushita will be supplying Hitachi with the 103in model much sooner. Both companies view these very big screens as key sizes in the plasma market, and say that even by the standards of rapid growth in the flatscreen arena, truly large screens are showing spectacular sales increases. The latest announcement follows on an agreement made by the two companies a couple of years back to share technology, R&D, production and marketing in the flat-panel TV sector. Meanwhile LG has announced that it's closing one of its four plasma manufacturing plants in Korea. The A1 plant is the oldest of the four, and currently makes 70,000 display panels a month. After the closure, which will save the company up to $32m a year, LG will still be able to make plasma panels at the rate of over 4m a year. The move comes in the wake of disappointing financial results for LG: the company lost$132m in the first three months of this year.