Electronics makers deny inking joint manufacturing deal

AP , TOKYO

Sat, Nov 19, 2005 - Page 11

Five Japanese electronics makers have agreed to build a plant for jointly manufacturing next-generation semiconductors, a media report said yesterday, but company representatives denied that an agreement had been struck.

The Yomiuri newspaper said Hitachi Ltd, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, NEC Electronics Corp, Renesas Technology Corp and Toshiba Corp will finalize plans by spring next year on constructing a plant to manufacture the world's most advanced system large-scale integrated circuits.

The report said the deal, sealed on Thursday, was aimed at recapturing market share from US and South Korean competition. It said it was the first such joint venture for Japan's biggest chip manufacturers.

Public relations officials from all five companies denied the report, although some declined to comment on whether negotiations were underway.

"There have been rumors and speculation flying around about such a project, but it's hard to say what's actually being done," said Sophie Yamamoto, a spokeswoman for NEC Electronics. "There's no truth to the claim that [we are] involved in any such discussions."

According to the Yomiuri report, work on the plant is to begin later next year, with its completion and the start of manufacturing to come as soon as sometime in 2007.

The plant is expected to cost as much as ?200 billion (US$1.68 billion), the Yomiuri said, with the size of each company's investment to be determined. The partners also reportedly plan to seek capital from both domestic and foreign investment funds.