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Panasonic and Toray to Build World's Largest Plasma Display Plant

Panasonic and diversified chemical group Toray Industries Inc. today announced plans to build a new plasma display panel (PDP) manufacturing facility in Japan. The facility will be the fourth plant of their PDP joint venture, Matsushita PDP Company Ltd. (MPDP), giving Panasonic the largest PDP production capacity in the world.

With an investment of 180 billion yen, the world's largest PDP plant will be situated next to MPDP's third PDP plant in Amagasaki, Japan. The new plant will have a production capacity of 6 million panels per year (calculated on the basis of 42-inch screen-size panels).

MPDP will start construction of the new plant in May this year with production scheduled to commence in July 2007. When it reaches its full capacity by March 2009, Panasonic's total PDP output will be lifted to 11.1 million panels per year. The new plant is Panasonic's fifth PDP manufacturing facility. In addition to three other MPDP plants (two in Ibaraki and one in Amagasaki), Panasonic runs Shanghai Matsushita Plasma Display Co., Ltd. in China. The sheer size of its new production capacity reinforces Panasonic's leadership in the global flat-panel TV market.

"The new plant will employ state-of-the-art process technologies and production systems that are more advanced than those of the third plant in Amagasaki, which began production in September 2005," said Mr. Ken Morita, President of MPDP. "The new systems and technologies will bring greater mass production efficiencies to the whole process while ensuring higher quality. Our new process technology allows a single substrate to yield up to eight 42-inch panels, the highest number in the world. According to a comprehensive production strategy aimed at further enhancing production efficiencies in all PDP plants, each production line will be specialized by screen size. As a result, MPDP will be able to supply PDPs with more speed and flexibility to meet the surging world demand."

The PDP market originated in Japan and has quickly evolved into a huge global market driven by the worldwide trend towards digital high-definition broadcasting. Demand for PDPs in North America and Europe now far exceeds demand in Japan. The growing market in China, the host country of the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, also is poised to outpace the growth in Japan.

Japan's demand for crisp and clear picture, large-screen plasma TVs will be pushed by nationwide expansion of digital terrestrial broadcasting expected by the end of this year and the cessation of analog broadcasting by 2011. In other regions, such as Southeast Asia, PDP demand is expected to develop as digital broadcast infrastructure is built.

Mr. Morita said, "As plasma has technical advantages in producing large panels not only in terms of performance but also production and cost efficiencies, PDPs will gain more popularity as a multipurpose display for business, educational and medical applications as well as home theater use."

"Panasonic anticipates the global PDP market will expand to 25 million panels by 2010. With its annual output capacity of over 11 million panels, we aim to be the world's top manufacturer of PDPs by enhancing our global share to over 40 percent."

Positioning PDP as one of their core businesses, Panasonic and Toray are committed to running MPDP together and making a significant contribution to the progress of the audio-visual industry on a global scale.

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