Wang Jyh-chau (王志超), the newly appointed president of Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp (奇美電子), said last week that the worst of the economic crisis was over, but it was still too early to talk about economic recovery, which would require further observation.
Wang was unexpectedly handpicked by Chi Mei founder Hsu Wen-lung (許文龍) late last month to lead the nation’s second-largest supplier of liquid-crystal display (LCD) panels.
Meeting with local press for the first time on Thursday, Wang said that he had a lot of pressure on his shoulders, but promised to actively deal with upcoming challenges.
Over the past 10 years, Wang said Chi Mei had long suffered from a shortage of staff because of its continued efforts to build plants and expand capacity to keep up with market growth.
The company began to consider slowing down its panel investment last year when it celebrated its 10th anniversary. Not long after that, the company was hit by the global financial crisis, which gave it an opportunity to fix the over-expansion problem, Wang said.
In December last year, the Tainan-based company shed nearly 80 percent, or 3,000 of its contract workers, the largest layoff in the company’s 10-year history.
Wang said LCD monitors would continue to replace cathode ray tubes, while plasma display panels were no longer a competitor for LCDs, which shows that thin-film transistor technology dominates the monitor market, he said.
“The panel industry is not a sunset industry,” Wang said. “The market is only growing at a slower pace.”
The market will see another wave of growth once public information displays gain popularity, he said.
In the future, Wang said Chi Mei would not seek high growth, but rather follow a practical strategy. Moreover, the company will transform itself from a production-oriented company to a customer service-oriented company.
Wang said he hoped that Chi Mei could develop its own unique business model and distance itself from AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), Samsung Electronics Co and LG Display Co, and end its reputation as a “second-tier maker” with some institutional investors.
As a result, Wang said there was no timetable to resume the construction of the company’s 8.5 generation (8.5G) line, which was halted.
Based on Chi Mei’s current technologies, Wang said it was not a problem for the company to build its own 10G and 11G lines, but the company would also have to take the efficiency of the glass substrate and customer demand into consideration.
Under the new organizational structure, Chi Mei will focus on four main areas of business, including operation centers, technology research centers, financial and administrative service centers, and global operational headquarters, he said.