Sony ends TV liquid-crystal displays joint venture with Sharp

Sony Corp today said it is ending its TV liquid-crystal displays joint venture with rival electronics maker Sharp Corp, just months after it ended a similar venture for flat panels with South Korean electronics giant Samsung.

Sony, which held a 7.04 per cent stake in the joint venture Sharp Display Products (SDP), will sell the stake for 10 billion yen ($126 million), the same price it had paid in 2009.

In July 2009, Sharp transferred its LCD panel plant in Sakai City, Osaka Prefecture, to SDP, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sharp and invested 10 billion yen into SDP in exchange for new shares issued by SDP.
 
''In view of the rapidly changing market for LCD panels and LCD televisions, in March 2012 Sharp and Sony agreed to amend the original joint venture agreement to provide that Sony would not make additional capital injections in SDP. Based on this amendment, the companies agreed to study the future of the joint venture and other potential business relationships between both companies,'' Sony said in a statement.

In December 2011, Tokyo-based Sony sold its entire 50 per cent stake in the liquid crystal display (LCD) joint venture with Samsung Electronics to Samsung, for 1.08 trillion won ($940 million). (See: Sony to sell stake in LCD joint venture to Samsung for $940 mn).

Sony, the maker of Bravia TVs and PlayStation game consoles, has been reporting losses for its TV unit for years.

The company record $5.6-billion annual loss for 2011, marking an end to an economically troubled fiscal year that followed last spring's earthquake and tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand.

Its TV and games business took a hard hit as competition from low-cost rivals forced it to drastically cut prices. Much of the fall in revenue last year could be attributed to an 18.5-per cent decline in sales at its LCD television sets, digital cameras, personal computers and PlayStation games business, which accounted for nearly half of Sony's total revenue.

Sales for PlayStation game consoles fell 11 per cent last year to 16 million. Sales of its new Vita handheld games console hit 1.8 million.