Sat, Sep 23, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Asahi Glass Co to close down factory for three months

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Asahi Glass Co, the world's second-largest liquid-crystal-display (LCD) glass supplier, yesterday said it planned to suspend operations at one of its plants in order to carry out regular maintenance over the next three months.

The plant, located in Yunlin County, turns out 8 million square meters of glass sheets a year.

This output represents about 5 percent of the world's total LCD glass output, according to an official at Asahi's local unit.

The Yunlin plant makes glass sheets primarily used in large-sized computer displays or television panels, the official added.

"The suspension of production will not affect our local customers. We have already prepared a stockpile [for the temporary closure] and arranged for deliveries from our three plants in Japan," the official said in a telephone interview on the condition of anonymity.

He stressed that Asahi, based in Tokyo, notified its local customers about the maintenance shutdown in advance.

Asahi does regular checks on its plants every two to three years, he said.

Asahi supplies LCD glass to Taiwan's major LCD panel makers including AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子) and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd (中華映管).

Corning Inc, which supplies around 70 percent of the LCD glass sheets used around the world, is still the biggest glass supplier for local panel makers.

Corning yesterday declined to comment on whether their local customers had requested additional glass supplies to cope with Asahi's temporary shutdown of the Yunlin plant, citing confidentiality.

Chi Mei, which obtains one-third of its overall LCD glass needs for making LCD panels from Asahi, said yesterday "we were informed about the production suspension."

"That doesn't affect production at present as we have other companies to supply glass to meet seasonal demand," the company said.

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