Fri, Jun 20, 2008 - Page 12 News List

Chi Mei forays into expanding market for general lighting

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), the country's second-largest manufacturer of liquid-crystal-display (LCD) panels, said yesterday it had invested NT$850 million (US$27.98 million) in two lamp makers to tap into the fast-growing general lighting market.

The Tainan-based company invested NT$250 million in a 3.4 percent stake in the nation’s biggest lamp maker, China Electric Manufacturing Corp (中國電器). Chi Mei invested another NT$600 million in a 40 percent stake in TOA Optronics Corp (東亞光電) via its investment venture Yuan Chi Investment (元奇投資), the company said in a stock exchange filing yesterday.

“We have some ambition in general lighting,” Chi Mei Optoelectronics spokesman Denis Chen (陳世賢) said by telephone.

“We think the use of cold-cathode fluorescent lamps [CCFL] and light-emitting-diode [LED] chips should not be limited to flat panels,” he said.

Through the partnerships, Chi Mei seeks to obtain the technology necessary to make inroads into the market, he said.

Global demand for LED street lamps is expected to be around 500,000 units, worth US$6 billion, this year, up from almost nothing last year, said Taipei-based researcher the Photonic Industry and Technology Development Association (光電協會).

“We do not have any investment targets in mind now, but we will not rule out the possibility of more acquisitions,” Chen said.

TOA is developing LED street lamps, bulbs and other products, China Electric spokesman Jimmy Tung (董顯元) said.

The company generates most of its revenue from CCFLs, which are used as the backlighting for LCD panels, he said.

Chi Mei “sees its partnership with China Electric Manufacturing, a leader in Taiwan’s lighting industry, as creating mutual synergies and strengths that will hasten the development of next generation energy-efficient lighting,” Chi Mei Optoelectronics president Ho Jau-Yang (何昭陽) said in a statement.

The latest investment is an extension of Chi Mei’s efforts to tap into the LED market.

Less than two years ago, Chi Mei set up an LED chip company, Chi Mei Lighting Technology Corp (奇力光電). The firm makes LED chips for traffic lights, car lamps and sign boards.

Shares of Chi Mei Optoelectronics dropped 1.57 percent to NT$37.5 yesterday.

Domestic rival AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), which fell 1.92 percent. China Electric fell 0.28 percent to NT$17.85.

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