Japanese electronics manufacturer Sharp Corp has decided to shut down its Kaohsiung-based subsidiary, Sharp Electronics Co (夏普電子), it said in a press release on the parent company's Web site on Friday.
The subsidiary company's 396 local employees will be laid off after the company completes its relocation of manufacturing plants to China in March 2009 -- a decision reached at a director's meeting on Friday.
The Chinese-language Apple Daily said Sharp Japan has closed two overseas branches this year, including a Taipei-based research and development center in August.
Employees were shocked by the parent company's sudden decision, according to a manager from Sharp Electronics interviewed by the Apple Daily who wished to remain anonymous.
"They felt efforts they have put in this company were unappreciated and the decision made by the directors was unfair," he said.
Sharp Electronics, founded in 1986 with an initial capital of NT$556 million (US$17.2 million), specializes in manufacturing and sales of electronic components while serving as a supplier of thin-film-transistor liquid-crystal-display (TFT LCD) module products, which help improve image quality for Taiwanese LCD manufacturers.
As most of its peer Taiwanese LCD manufacturers moved to China, Sharp Electronics said that it has met difficulties in continuing its business in Taiwan.
Sharp Japan and Taiwanese Sampo (
From the company's first 13-inch Aquos LCD TV, launched in 2001, Sharp developed the world's largest LCD TV -- 108 inches -- this year.
However, if the US subprime mortgage crisis worsens, the demand for LCD panels may decline, as LCDs are viewed as a luxury product. In the US, the most popular LCD TVs on the market are 32-inch models made by Vizio Inc -- not by Sharp, Sony or Samsung.
"Sales of LCD TVs that are 40 inches and above have declined dramatically since mid-July," Sharp Japan president Mikio Katayama said.
According to Sharp's Web site, the company currently has three affiliated companies in China.
The company's Nanjing affiliate manufactures and sells consumer electronics and electronic components, while two other companies in Wuxi focus on the manufacture and sale of electronic components.