Tue, Jul 29, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Flat-screen maker breaks ground in new science park

GROWING CONCERN AU Optronics has taken steps toward opening a new plant for making the LCD panels used in flat-screen TVs and monitors

By Bill Heaney  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's largest maker of panels for flat-screen computer displays and televisions, AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), broke ground yesterday on a NT$200 billion production facility in the Central Taiwan Science-based Industrial Park (中部科學園區).

AU is the first company to locate in the nation's newest government-supported technology zone, the company said in a statement yesterday. It plans to invest NT$200 billion on a 60-hectare site within the park.

"AU Optronics plans to make an initial investment of NT$90 billion in its first phase of construction," the statement read. "Completion is targeted for the fourth quarter of 2004 and initial production by the second quarter of 2005."

The new factory is expected to produce large thin-film transistor liquid-crystal display (TFT-LCD) panels that will be used to make flat-screen TVs.

"The new generation fab will produce 30-inch and above large-size TFT-LCD panels, targeted for the strong demand for futuristic LCD TVs," the statement said.

AU Optronics, ranking third in the world's flat panel-making business after South Korea's Samsung and L.G. Philips LCD, currently makes panels that measure up to 26 inches diagonally, but plans to launch 30-inch and 46-inch panels for televisions later this year.

AU's development of LCD TVs has been achieved in partnership with Fujitsu Display Technologies Corp. AU bought a 20-percent stake in the Japanese display developer in January this year.

The search for employees to work at the plant is now on. By October, AU needs to fill 500 positions, with a further 4,500 to come over the next six years, the statement said.

The company is currently the world's third largest supplier of flat panels, according to US-based computer display industry research firm, DisplaySearch. In the first half of this year, AU reported sales of NT$42.2 billion.

The Central Taiwan Science-based Industrial Park covers around 400 hectares in Taichung and Yunlin counties.

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