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LG Display will invest almost £1bn in expanding production, as it aims to overtake its Korean rival

In a move that has surprised analysts, LG Display has announced a further massive investment in its main Paju LCD panel plant, potentially ramping up its production capacity by almost 70%.

The Korean company is putting itself on a path to unseat local rival Samsung as the world's leading manufacturer of LCD displays, and this latest investment, combined with big spending last year and plans to build a plant in China, could give LG Display a capacity of over 400,000 panels a month.

The latest investment, announced last last week in Seoul, will see LG spending almost 1.5tn won (just under £875m) on a new line to handle 8th generation glass substrates at Paju.

The installation of the facilities will start next year, and the new line, using 2x2.5m glass, will add 68,000 panels per month to the plant's capacity, currently thought to be around 100,000/month.

That follows the announcement last Summer of a 3.27tn won (almost £2bn) investment, aimed at increasing domestic production by 120,000 panels a month by next year. And the company is also set to build a plant in Guangzhou, China, able to make 120,000 panels a month – it's set to come on stream in 2012.

More after the break

That will take LG's capacity to 408,000 panels per month, more than quadrupling its current output, and giving it double the current production achieved by Samsung and Sony's S-LCD joint venture.

S-LCD is currently only thought to be aiming at an increase of about 20,000 panels a month, raising its output to 230,000.

At the moment Samsung has 28.8% of the world LCD panel market, based on figures for the last quarter of last year, putting it 5.3% ahead of LG.

This is the latest audacious move by LG Display boss Kwon Young-soo, who took over when the company was still a joint venture with Philips. Rivalry with Samsung at that time had seen LG Display suffering significant losses, and Kwon immediately scrapped investment plans and concentrated on cost-cutting.

He cut the ties with Philips in 2008, and last year ended the investment ban and set his sights on giving the company market leadership.

It remains to be seen how other rivals will react: Samsung certainly has the wherewithal to fight back with further investment, Japanese rivals Sharp and Panasonic are planning increased production, and the Taiwanese LCD manufacturers have also announced hefty investments.

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