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Sat, Dec 13, 2008 - Page 10 News List

Electronics giant Sharp cuts 380 jobs on global slump

SERIOUS DAMAGE The Japanese company joins AU Optronics Corp in scaling back production as the global recession hurts demand and panel prices slump

AP AND BLOOMBERG , TOKYO

Sharp Corp is cutting 380 jobs — all temporary workers — at its Japanese plants and shuttering some assembly lines making flat panels to cope with the global slowdown, the electronics maker said yesterday.

The news follows word earlier this week that rival Sony Corp plans to slash 8,000 jobs around the world, or about 5 percent of its global work force, and an additional 8,000 temporary jobs — all in electronics.

Sharp’s job cuts account for about a third of the Osaka-based company’s temporary manufacturing employees in Japan, the company said. They don’t affect Sharp’s 54,800-strong global work force, or the additional 6,100 people at group companies, including joint ventures.

Still, the announcement — coming amid looming fears about job losses in a nation that has long upheld the tradition of lifetime employment — underlines the serious damage Japanese exporters are taking from a worldwide downturn.

Japanese consumer spending is also lagging, and the government has been releasing a slew of pessimistic readings on the economy.

Sharp, known for Aquos brand TVs, said it needs to adjust production of liquid crystal displays, used in TVs, personal computers and mobile phones.

Some assembly lines in two plants, in Mie Prefecture and Nara Prefecture, central Japan, which make small- and medium-size displays, will be closed, it said.

Production will instead be centered at its newer plants making bigger panels. Such adjustment efforts will start next month, Sharp said.

Sharp joins AU Optronics Corp (友達光電) in scaling back production as the global recession hurts demand and panel prices slump. AU Optronics, Taiwan’s largest maker of LCD panels, said Thursday it would delay the construction of a factory as clients such as Sony Corp cut profit forecasts and shed jobs.

Sharp will close one line each at the two factories and completely halt all panel production at these units by the end of next September Yoshiaki Ibuchi, an executive vice president, told reporters in Osaka.

“One of the purposes of this reorganization is to strengthen our business of small and mid-sized LCD panels used for personal computers and other products,” Ibuchi said.

Sharp competes with South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co and Panasonic Corp of Japan in the global LCD TV market. Panasonic has said it’s changing business plans to respond to declining global demand, and such efforts are also likely to include some job cuts.

The television maker has “made no change” to its LCD television-shipment forecast for the 12 months ending March 31, said Miyuki Nakayama, a Tokyo-based spokeswoman. Sharp expects to sell 11 million LCD TVs in the fiscal year.

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