Sony Tijuana
Sony sells 90% of its largest TV manufacturing plant for the US to Taiwanese company, while Sharp forms an alliance to make LCD TVs in China

Sony is forming what it describes as a 'strategic alliance' with Taiwanese company Foxconn Electronics, which will see its new partner taking over most of the manufacture of Sony's LCD TVs for the Americas.

And Sharp is outsourcing production to China, signing a preliminary agreement with China Electronics and the city of Nanjing to establish an eighth-generation LCD display panel there.

The Sony move will see Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, buying 90% of the shares in Sony Baja California, which makes LCD TVs for the Americas at its plant in Tijuana, Mexico.

Foxconn will take over the company's manufacturing assets, and the employment of the 3300 workers at the factory, which is Sony's largest North American TV manufacturing site.

Just two months ago Sony announced a near-50% increase in the workforce at Tijuana, following the announcement of the closure of a smaller plant in the region.

More after the break

The new alliance, in which Sony will retain a 10% stake, will continue to make Bravia TVs in Tijuana.

The beginning of the end?While at least one analyst in Japan has already suggested this may be the beginning of the end of Sony's in-house TV manufacturing, a company spokesperson said this was just part of the company's plan to reduce assets and outsource more of its production.

It's thought that Sony will instead concentrate its internal efforts on research and development.

Sharp's Nanjing plansThe Sharp deal follows hot on the heels of an announcement by LG Display of a deal with China's BOE Technology to invest in an eight-generation LCD plant. Both companies are seeking to address the huge demand in mainland China for LCD TVs.

Currently most Chinese LCD plants use fifth-generation technology, using much smaller sheets of 'mother glass'. The larger sheets handled in eighth-gen plants not only bring greater economies of scale, but also make it possible to make much larger screens, of 50in and above.

Sharp has also signed a separate deal with Nanjing CEC-Panda LCD Technology, which will buy the production equipment from Sharp's Kameyama LCD Plant No 1, as well as licensing sixth-generation production technology from the Japanese company.

Finally, Sharp is planning to build an R&D centre in Nanjing early in 2010. That means the company will be able to do everything from development to panel manufacture and assembly of finished TVs in China.