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Sony to bolster Sharp LCD deal with fresh Samsung pact?

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Sony's decision to team-up with Sharp to produce tenth-generation LCD panels may soon be followed by a second such deal, this time with Samsung.

Sony and Samsung already have a partnership, S-LCD, formed in 2004. Sony currently gets all its LCD panels, used primarily in its Bravia TV range, from S-LCD.

The deal with Sharp will see Sony take a third of the output of a tenth-generation LCD plant to be run by a new JV, due to begin business in April 2009.

But, so that no one thinks Samsung has been left out in the cold, a company mole has since told Reuters that Sony and Samsung are discussing the establishment of a new joint LCD production line.

S-LCD currently punches out eighth-generation panels, suitable for producing 52in and larger LCD TVs. The tenth-gen facility will make panels that will be cut into 60in screens. It's not yet clear whether a new Sony-Samsung line will expand eighth-gen production or go straight to tenth-gen.

Sony’s not commenting on any further handshakes with Samsung for now. However, Samsung’s LCD president, Lee Sang-wan, stated this week that its existing partnership with Sony isn’t on shaky ground, despite Sharp's arrival on the scene.

A Sony exec has promised to keep its ties with Samsung for S-LCD panels.

What does look certain is that Sony is trying to widen its sources of LCD panels. It has said in the past that it hopes to sell 15-20m LCD TVs globally for the business year starting 1 April.

By working with Sharp and Samsung, Sony can make sure it holds onto the 19.5 per cent share of 2007’s Q4 LCD global sales market, which market watcher DisplaySearch recently stated put the manufacturer into pole position for the period. Samsung’s wasn’t far behind though with 19.3 per cent.

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