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Laptop vendors burned in battery plant blaze

HP, Dell and Asus struggle to plug supply hole

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Some of the world’s leading computer vendors have admitted that a worldwide shortage of laptop batteries will impact prices, shipments and sales.

Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Asustek have all grumbled about the dent in the supply chain caused, in part, by a fire at a Korean factory earlier this month where some laptop batteries are manufactured.

Taiwanese computer maker Asus said yesterday that the battery scarcity could blow a massive 40 per cent hole in its second quarter shipments. The firm’s vice president Kevin Lin raised the alarm at a news conference.

He told Reuters: "The shortage could affect 30-40 per cent of second quarter shipments, but it looks like a short-term issue.”

Meanwhile Dell has been talking to other battery suppliers in the hope of preventing prices being jacked up because of the current shortage.

However, it also admitted that it has raised prices on its separately sold batteries used for replacements or for additional notebook power because of the lack of batteries in the market right now.

A Dell spokesman said: "Pricing is being impacted by current availability. But we are working with our partners throughout our supply chain to reduce the impact on our customers.”

HP was slightly more reticent about the shortage, but did tell Reuters that it is in “regular communication” with LG Chem – the battery maker whose Ochang plant went up in flames on 3 March.

A HP spokesman said in a statement: "The full extent of the impact to HP and other OEMs is still being determined.

"We are aggressively working within the battery cell industry to secure additional supply of battery cells."

LG Chem, which is South Korea’s second biggest battery vendor, said its factory will be out of action for up to three months. ®

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