Wed, May 18, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Panasonic to invest big in Taiwan

SMARTPHONE MOMENTUM:The Japanese company is trying to ramp up production of printed circuit boards to meet brisk demand brought on by sales of handhelds

By Lisa Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Panasonic Electronics Devices Co Ltd said it planned to invest ¥10 billion (US$122.5 million) in Taiwan this year, quadrupling its printed circuit board (PCB) capacity to cope with rapidly growing demand from smartphones.

“The ¥10 billion investment includes building a new plant and boosting capacity of an existing plant [in New Taipei City, 新北市]. The new plant is scheduled to start operation in October,” Jenson Chang (張啟元), an executive of Panasonic Taiwan Co Ltd’s public relations department, said on the telephone yesterday. “The PCBs will be used for slim mobile devices, mostly smartphones and digital cameras.”

By the end of this year, capacity for Panasonic’s PCBs, also known known as ALIVH (any-layer interstitial via hole) multi-layer resin boards, will increase to 6 million units a month from the current 1.5 million units a month, the Osaka-based company said in a statement posted on its Web site on Monday. Panasonic did not reveal financial details in the statement.

“To respond to surging demand for printed circuit boards for such phones [smartphones], the company is strengthening overseas production of printed circuit boards based on its proprietary ALIVH technology that are suitable for high-density and high layer count applications,” Panasonic said in the statement.

Shipments of smartphones are expected to grow more than 57 percent this year to 468 million units, from 297 million units last year, market researcher Gartner Inc projected last month.

Taiwan is the only overseas site in which Panasonic produces PCBs. Taoyuan County is also home to Taiwan’s smartphone maker HTC Corp (宏達電), which said last month that shipments would more than double to 11.5 million units this quarter from a year ago.

Panasonic said it is continuing work to meet demand for mobile phone manufacturers, including smartphones, by setting up new production sites of ALIVH PCBs.

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