Asahi Glass plans PDP filter venture in China

Asahi Glass Co. is set to produce and market optical filters for plasma display panels (PDPs) in China in co-operation with FujiPream, according to sources close to the two companies.
The filters pre…

Asahi Glass Co. is set to produce and market optical filters for plasma display panels (PDPs) in China in co-operation with FujiPream, according to sources close to the two companies. The filters prevent outside light from being reflected in PDPs and shut in electromagnetic waves and infrared rays emitted from the panels. Asahi Glass has decided to make its move into China in response to expanding output among Chinese based panel manufacturers. FujiPream will set up a firm to produce the filters in Shanghai by the end of April 2004. The unit will have the capacity to produce 600,000 units in the first year. Asahi, which will supply filter materials, such as glass and film to the manufacturing venture, will also establish a company in Shanghai to sell the filters. Investment in the project is likely to be about JPY 1 billion, according to sources. Asahi enjoys a 50% share of the global market for optical filters. It currently has the capacity, including that of subcontracted manufacturers, to produce 1 million filters a year. The company expects PDP demand to increase to 1.5 million units in fiscal 2003 and 3-4 million units in fiscal 2005, from 800,000 units in fiscal 2002. Asahi currently exports filters to China from Japan. At present it takes two weeks for Japanese-made filters to reach Chinese clients; producing in China will cut delivery time to just one day.. Competitors, such as Mitsui Chemicals Inc., will likely be pushed into shifting part of their production and sales to China.