Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd. - Company Profile, Information, Business Description, History, Background Information on Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd.

1127 Hopin Road
Danan Village, Padeh City

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Corporate Vision: Be the global leader for visual telecommunication p roducts and the all-rounded innovator for optoelectronic technique.

History of Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd.

Chungwha Picture Tubes, Ltd. (CPT) is one of Taiwan's, and the world' s, leading manufacturers of thin-film transistor liquid crystal displ ays, or TFT-LCDs. Ranked number three in the Taiwan TFT panel market, the company is also a leading producer of cathode ray tubes (CRTs), color picture tubes, and electron guns used for CRT-based monitors an d televisions. While those markets represent the group's traditional business, CPT responded quickly to the rise of flat-panel technologie s at the dawn of the 21st century, embracing both LCD and plasma-base d technologies. The company has manufacturing operations in Taiwan (i ncluding a 6G plant expected to reach full production by the end of 2 005) and in mainland China and Malaysia. Listed on the Taiwan Stock E xchange, CPT was founded by Taiwan's Tatung Corporation, which remain s its major shareholder with more than 32 percent of the company's st ock. The bruising competition with Japanese and especially Korean fla t-panel producers has left CPT, like most of the Taiwanese flat-panel sector, struggling to keep up and maintain profitability. As a resul t, CPT has long been rumored to be seeking a merger with a fellow Tai wanese LCD producer in order to gain greater scale. In 2004, CPT post ed sales of TWD 117 billion ($3.67 billion).

Tatung Offshoot in the 1970s

Chungwha Picture Tubes had its origins as an offshoot of the fast-gro wing Tatung Corporation, one of the motors of Taiwan's industrial dev elopment in the second half of the 20th century. Tatung's roots lay i n the post-World War I period, when Shan-Chih Lin went into business, founding the Shan-Chih Business Association in 1918. Lin's business flourished and by 1939 Lin's interests had grown to include the newly founded Tatung Iron Works. That company became known as Tatung Steel and Machinery Corporation following World War II.

Tatung was to play an important role in the development of the new Ta iwanese state in the 1950s. The company diversified, adding an applia nce manufacturing component. In 1949, Tatung launched production of i ts first appliance, an electric fan. That product soon brought the co mpany to the export market, with its first international sales shippi ng to the Philippines.

By the early 1960s, Tatung had added refrigerators and automatic stea mers to its list of appliances. The company then began construction o f two new factories, one for the production of air conditioners, and another for the manufacture of television sets. This latter category represented Tatung's introduction to the large electronics sector. Pr oduction of televisions began in 1964; the following year, the compan y incorporated a new subsidiary, Tatung Electronics.

By 1968, Tatung had extended its television production expertise to t he production of color televisions. The company also began to explore the potential for broadening its technology, namely for the producti on of the cathode ray tubes at the heart of the television industry. This effort led the company to create a new dedicated subsidiary, Chu ngwha Picture Tubes (CPT), in 1970. Construction of the company's fir st production facility in Taoyuan began in 1971.

CPT initially focused on the black and white tube sector, launching a test production run in 1972. By 1973, the company had perfected its production technique, and began full-scale production. CPT's prior ex port experience enabled it to gain a solid foothold in international markets, shipping CRTs to the Americas and to Europe, as well as to T hailand and other Asian markets. In 1974, as well, CPT added producti on of another important television component, the electron gun. In th at year, the group's tubes received certification by the United State s, giving the company entry into that market as well.

The rise of new graphics-based computers in the late 1970s gave CPT a fresh outlet for its cathode ray tubes. While computer monitors rema ined black and white, the television market had by then largely switc hed over to the color television standard. CPT responded by launching production of its own color CRTs at a new dedicated production facil ity in Taoyuan in 1978. Sales of the new tubes were swift; by the ear ly 1980s, the company had produced more than one million color CRTs.

The Taiwanese government adopted a new policy in the early 1980s of e ncouraging Taiwan's shift away from its position as a low-cost, low-t echnology industrial producer toward a high-technology model. Tatung and CPT responded by expanding their operations to include the fast-g rowing computer sector, and especially the personal computer market. In 1983, CPT sought to extend its own display expertise into a new an d promising display type, a flat-panel display based on liquid crysta ls. Whereas liquid crystals had been discovered in the 19th century, practical applications of the material only appeared toward the end o f the 1960s, when RCA in the United States developed the first liquid crystal displays. By the end of the 1970s, however, Japan had become the focal point for LCD technologies.

Chungwha became the first Taiwanese company to attempt to enter the L CD market in 1983. Yet CPT proved unable to develop the necessary tec hnology on its own, and the Japanese LCD industry jealously guarded i ts own technology advantage. Instead CPT returned its focus to the CR T market. In 1985, the company succeeded in developing a technology t ransfer partnership with Japan's Toshiba, not for the production of L CDs, but rather for the production of 14-inch color CRTs for computer and other monitor displays. By the end of that year, CPT had begun p roducing medium-resolution 14-inch CRTs as well as related components .

CPT launched its first flat-screen CRT in 1986 based on a 5.5-inch tu be. By the end of that year, the company also ramped up production of a 14-inch flat rectangular CRT. In order to meet rising demand for i ts CRT, the company built a new facility in Yang Mei, started in 1987 and completed in less than a year. That facility began producing 14- inch high-resolution displays, as well as 21-inch flat rectangular CR Ts.

LCD Beginnings in the 1990s

CPT followed Tatung overseas in the early 1990s. While Tatung built a new construction facility in Thailand, CPT turned to Malaysia, where it began building a plant for the production of color electron guns in 1990. The Malaysian subsidiary reached full production by 1991, th en quickly expanded to eight production lines by the middle of the de cade. The addition of the Malaysian production capacity helped CPT cl aim the leading position in the global CRT industry.

The mid-1990s also marked a new effort by CPT to enter the LCD market . In 1994, the company began building a dedicated facility in Fuzhou. In the meantime, the company continued to boost its CRT capacity. A major step in the group's development came with a new technology tran sfer agreement with Toshiba in 1995, enabling CPT to launch productio n of 28-inch and larger color picture tubes. The following year, CPT established a manufacturing presence in the European market, opening a production subsidiary in Scotland.

Yet the future of the display industry lay in the fast-developing LCD technology. CPT's efforts paid off by 1996 with the production of th e group's first LCD module. By 1996, the company's factory prepared t o launch full-scale production.

CPT's efforts to crack the LCD sector were aided by the economic down turn in Japan. Into the late 1990s, that country's LCD giants began t o find it difficult to raise the funds needed for further investment. These companies risked falling behind in the newly launched LCD race , as new competitors, especially in Korea, emerged. Meanwhile, the LC D industry was set to take off, as more and more users adopted portab le computers, but especially as the world prepared for the sudden exp losion in portable telephones. Slightly further down the road lay the promise of new high-definition television standards, which would req uire consumers to upgrade their sets, and the coming of the flat-scre en televisions as well.

In search of funding, the Japanese LCD makers turned to Taiwan for in vestment capital, launching a series of technology transfer agreement s with the island's manufacturers. CPT proved to be among the first t o find a partner, signing an agreement with Mitsubishi in 1997. By 19 99, the company had completed its new production facility and it beca me the first in Taiwan to produce 14-inch and 15-inch LCD modules.

Display Leader in the 2000s

CPT's LCD production gained quickly, and by 2001, the company had add ed a second factory, in Fu Chou. The following year, the company adde d two more production facilities, in Wujiang, in mainland China, and in Lungtan. The company continued to produce CRTs, but the future cle arly lay in flat-panel technologies.

In the early 2000s, CPT began developing production capacity for plas ma screens as well. By 2001, the company had successfully launched pr oduction of display panels ranging up to 46 inches in size. The compa ny continued to develop its technology, and by 2004, CPT debuted its first high-definition large-screen panels.

As for its Taiwanese counterparts, including AU Optronics and Chi Mei Optoelectronics, the early 2000s proved a difficult period for CPT. The economic downturn had suppressed sales; at the same time, the com pany faced heavy competitive pressure from its deep-pocketed rivals i n South Korea. The result was a swift drop in the prices of LCD and f lat-panel displays. Although this stimulated massive consumer demand for these display types, the falling prices sent most of the Taiwanes e sector into losses. In order to compete, CPT, like the other Taiwan ese display leaders, was forced to invest heavily in expanding its pr oduction, building new fifth-generation plants. By 2005, the company had also committed to expanding production with a new sixth-generatio n plant, to be completed by the end of that year.

Continued losses (CPT's losses topped $226 million for the first half of 2005 alone) made it difficult for CPT to raise needed investm ent capital. At the same time, Tatung was said to be seeking to offlo ad its money-losing subsidiary, which had been dragging down its own profits. Into the mid-2000s, rumors began to circulate that Tatung wa s preparing to merge CPT with one of its rivals. By September 2005, t he rumor, although denied by Tatung, appeared to become more of a cer tainty. At that time, two likely candidates emerged. The first was Ho n Hai-owned Innolux Display Corp., the current number six in Taiwan. The second was Quanta Display Inc., the market's number five, part of the Quanta Group. The merger with either of these candidates was exp ected to boost CPT, the market's number three, into the industry's nu mber two position, ahead of Chi Mei Optoelectronics, and trailing onl y AU Optronics. CPT remained a key player in Taiwan's effort to lead the global flat-panel display market.

Principal Subsidiaries: CPT (Malaysia) Co. Ltd.; Kamper Plant Co. Ltd.; CPTF Optronics Co., Ltd.; Wujiang Plant Co., Ltd.; CPTF Vis ual Display (Fuzhou) Ltd.; CPT Display Technology (Fujian) Ltd.

Principal Competitors: Samsung Corporation; LG-Philips; Sharp Corporation; AU Optronics; Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corporation.


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