Tue, Dec 06, 2011 - Page 12 News List

Sampo announces venture with TCL

LINKING UP:The appliance maker is to enter a partnership with China’s TCL, which may see Sampo manufacturing its partner’s TVs and refrigerators for sale in Taiwan

By Jason Tan  /  Staff Reporter

Sampo Corp chairman Felix Chen, left, and China’s TCL Corp chairman Tomson Li yesterday hold a press conference in Taipei to announce a venture between the two firms.

Photo: CNA

Home appliance maker Sampo Corp (聲寶) is making a foray overseas by linking up with China’s TCL Corp to sell its TVs in China, with the prospect of deepening cooperation as its new partner might make an investment in Sampo.

Sampo yesterday announced a strategic partnership with TCL — China’s leading consumer electronics maker, which produces TVs, air conditioners and cellphones — in which both parties will start selling each other’s LCD TVs in their respective home markets.

The partnership marks Sampo’s first venture overseas with its branded appliances as the firm has long been focused only on the Taiwanese market.

The company, which sold nearly 100,000 TVs locally last year, said it is set to see local sales surpass 100,000 units this year and hopes to tap TCL to boost future shipments.

According to Sampo chairman Felix Chen (陳盛沺), the company plans to start selling TCL-branded LCD TVs in Taiwan through its sales channels early next year. Possible future cooperation includes contract manufacturing of TCL’s TVs, refrigerators and washing machines in Taiwan for local sales, he said.

When asked by reporters if Sampo plans to invite TCL to invest, Chen said the two firms touched on the topic and had not rule out such a possibility.

Sampo is eager to tap booming demand for LCD TVs in China, where consumers are upgrading their older cathode-ray-tube sets to newer flat-panel models.

According to TCL chairman and CEO Tomson Li (李東生), China has a market potential of more than 40 million flat-panel TVs a year, but the combined production of Chinese panel makers is failing to meet demand.

TCL will work closely with Taiwanese partners, including panel maker AU Optronics Corp (友達光電), to procure components and panels, he said.

Nearly all of TCL’s TV panels this year were purchased from suppliers, Li said, adding that it expects to procure 60 percent of panels from suppliers next year even though its own panel factory is to begin production soon.

In April, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co obtained a 15 percent share in Shenzhen Huaxing Photoelectric Technology Co (華星光電), an 8.5-generation panel fab in which TCL owns a 55 percent stake.

Shenzhen Huaxing was established in November 2009 with investments of 24.5 billion yuan (US$3.8 billion). It is one of the two most advanced fabs run by Chinese operators, with the other being under BOE Technology Group Co (京東方).

Li said Shenzhen Huaxing began production on a small scale last month, with its annual capacity expected to hit 15 million sheets by the end of next year.

TCL sold 7 million LCD TVs last year and shipments are projected to grow to more than 10 million this year, TCL chief sales officer E Hao (郝義) said.

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