Samsung SDI to discontinue plasma display production amid low demand

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- Samsung SDI Co., a battery arm of South Korea's top conglomerate, Samsung Group, said Tuesday it will suspend production of plasma display panels (PDP) at end-November and instead focus on its materials and energy businesses.

The company said in its regulatory filing that the decision is based on falling demand for PDP TVs. The division's sales last year were 1.5 trillion won (US$1.48 billion), 31.1 percent of the company's total.

"While reusable facilities and parts from the PDP production lines will be utilized for the battery business, others will be sold to other firms for cash," said Lee Seung-jun, a communications official from Samsung SDI.

The company tapped the Braun-tube business in 1970 and widened the business to the PDP industry in 2001. It became the top maker of PDP panels in November 2003.

The company has since entered other businesses for growth, including secondary batteries, in which it was ranked the world's top manufacturer for the fourth consecutive year in 2013.

Industry watchers say LG Electronics Inc., South Korea's No. 2 tech giant, will also discontinue its PDP business in the near future, noting that it has already converted one of its PDP production lines to make solar batteries.

Samsung SDI recently completed procedures for a merger with Cheil Industries Co., another Samsung affiliate which produces electronic and chemical materials.

The merged entity will have two divisions -- energy solution and materials, with each having their respective representatives. The former will focus on battery and system businesses, whereas the latter will engage in chemical and electronics material-related projects.

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