Business News | Oct 12, 2006

AUO and CMO completing LED food chain

Both AU Optronics (AUO) and Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO) are becoming more comprehensive in their LED supply-chain deployment, with both panel makers recently confirming investments in LED packaging firms.

AUO recently confirmed it has purchased around 25% of LED packaging firm LightHouse Technology, saying the investment is part of AUO`s long-term strategy.

The panel maker also has influence over LED chipmaker Highlink Technology via the affiliated cold cathode fluorescent lamp (CCFL) maker Wellypower Optronics. AUO has, effectively, a 10% stake in Highlink via Wellypower. In addition, Epistar recently announced a plan to merge with Highlink and Epitech Technology, another LED chipmaker in Taiwan, with the result that AUO is able to maintain a firm hold on upstream LED production.

After the merger, Epistar will not only remain the top AlGaInP (aluminum gallium indium phosphide) LED chipmaker, it will be among the top-four gallium nitride (GaN) LED chipmakers, worldwide, in terms of capacity, according to Epistar president Biing-jye Lee.

Besides investing in Highlink, Wellypower aims to see LED products developed from its LED R&D team before year-end, sources said.

CMO, on the other hand, has confirmed that it has established Chi Li Optronics (transliterated from the Chinese), a 100%-owned LED packaging subsidiary, at Tree Valley Park, an LCD-TV industrial park near the Tainan Science Park (TSP) in southern Taiwan, with investments totaling NT$250 million, with volume production to begin in the first quarter of 2007.

For upstream LED chips, CMO gained three seats on the board of directors at Formosa Epitaxy in June, with Chien Fen-ren, chairman of Formosa Epitaxy, confirming a plan to set up a new plant at the TSP. Sources said the plant will start production in December at the soonest, with monthly capacity of 250 million units to be added to its current capacity of 1.5 billion.

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