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Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Pioneer to Cease Production of Plasma Panels, Source Says

Pioneer is currently finalizing plans to stop all production of plasma display panels in a bid to turn around its loss-making flat TV operations, an industry source briefed on the plan said on Tuesday.

Pioneer is the world's fifth-biggest plasma TV maker, but it has been struggling to compete with larger rivals with better output efficiency such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co.

After the move, Pioneer plans to buy plasma panels for flat TVs from Matsushita, the Nikkei business daily reported. Pioneer is already planning to buy liquid crystal display panels from Sharp to start offering LCD TVs. Sharp is Pioneer's top shareholder, after the companies had entered into a business and capital alliance last September.

By purchasing panels for LCD TVs that are 42 inches or smaller from Sharp and turning to Matsushita for panels for plasma sets measuring at least 50 inches, Pioneer seeks to boost its cost competitiveness and bolster its presence in the flat-panel TV market.

"Nothing has been decided yet. We will announce it in detail at the information meeting to be held on March 7th," Pioneer said today in an official announcement. On Friday, Mr. Sudo, President of Pioneer Corporation will make an official announcement on Pioneer's business plans.

To fight price declines, Pioneer last year launched its "Kuro" series, positioning the TVs as premium products.

Withdrawing from the panel business could lead the the firm to close its panel plant in Kagoshima in southwest Japan.

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