After eight straight years of losses in its television division, Sony is reported to be in talks to sell off its stake in S-LCD, a joint venture between Sony and Samsung. Founded in 2004, S-LCD supplies LCD panels for mobile phones to Sony, Samsung, and HTC, as well as producing larger LCD panels for television sets.
Samsung currently owns 50% plus one share of S-LCD, and is reported to be negotiating to buy out Sony’s portion of the company. This has widely been seen as part of a strategic restructuring Sony is undertaking in an attempt to return its television division to profitability. The relationship has been strained the last few years, as Samsung has soared past Sony in worldwide shipments of both TVs and smartphones. In 2008 Sony entered into a separate joint venture with Sharp, in an attempt to leapfrog S-LCD in LCD manufacturing technology. Sony put that venture on hold earlier this year, citing ongoing weakness in the global economy.
Sony and Samsung have refused to comment on S-LCD negotiations, although sources say they hope to conclude the deal before the end of 2011. DigiTimes notes that this may provide an opening for Taiwan LCD panel manufacturers such as AU Optronics and Chimei Innolux to expand their market share.