Samsung, Sony chiefs may discuss 3D TV deals, LCD supplies

* Stringer says the meeting is traditional, regular one

* Focus likely on expanded LCD supplies and 3D TV deals

* Sony is Samsung’s biggest buyer of LCD displays for TVs

* First meeting since Samsung’s Lee resumed charge in March

By Miyoung Kim and Kiyoshi Takenaka

SEOUL/TOKYO, May 24 (BestGrowthStock) – Just days after unveiling a
Sony-branded Internet TV with Google, Sony’s chief executive is
set to meet rival Samsung Electronics (005930.KS: ), for possible
alliances, as the Japanese consumer electronics maker aims to
turn its TV business profitable with aggressive sales targets.

Monday’s closed-door meeting between Sony (6758.T: ) CEO
Howard Stringer and Samsung’s Lee Kun-hee, is the first since
Lee returned as chairman of the South Korean technology
powerhouse in March. [ID:nTOE62N01C]

Sony has described this one of its regular and traditional
discussions with flat-screen partner Samsung.

The meeting is widely seen by analysts as a move by Sony to
address tight LCD supplies for TVs, but Samsung may also seek
alliances with Sony to set up a common standard in 3D
technology, the next big thing that many electronics firms are
betting on.

“It’s mainly aimed at Sony rebuilding and consolidating its
relationship with Samsung because its strategy of diversifying
panel suppliers to the likes of Sharp has failed to ensure
smooth supplies,” said Ricky Seo, an analyst at KB Investment &
Securities.

“So, it’s like Sony coming back for more cooperation as it
needs Samsung to meet its aggressive promotion of TV business,
especially to get advanced panels for 3D TV production.”

Since returning to the helm of Samsung Group’s crown jewel
in March, Lee, 68, has unveiled a record $16 billion investment
plan including $4.2 billion in LCD, and Samsung’s first chip
line construction in five years.

Lee had stepped down nearly two years ago after being
convicted for tax evasion but was later pardoned by the South
Korean president.

Sony has had a LCD joint venture with the Korean firm since
2004. Last year, it however announced a separate venture with
Japan’s Sharp (6753.T: ) with 68 billion yen ($756 million)
investment plans to take a one third stake by next year.

This reflected Sony’s growing need to secure stable panel
supplies to tap a booming flat-screen TV market set to growing
24 percent this year to 180 million units, according to
research firm DisplaySearch. [ID:nT341058]

“Sony and Samsung could talk about setting up another LCD
production line. But there is an outside chance they could be
reviewing the strategic value of their panel ties,” said Koichi
Hariya, an analyst at Ichiyoshi Research Institute in Tokyo.

Samsung, the No.1 maker of memory chips and LCD panels,
said said Lee and Stringer’s meeting was personal and declined
further comment.

South Korean media said Sony Executive Deputy President
Hiroshi Yoshioka, Samsung CEO Choi Geesung and its chairman’s
son and COO Jay Y. Lee would also attend the meeting to discuss
smooth panel supplies for Sony as well as cooperation in 3D
TVs.

Shares of Samsung, which boast a market value of around
$110 billion, more than three times Sony’s market
capitalisation, ended up 0.3 percent and Sony closed 0.4
percent lower.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
^ For a graphic on the TV market:
http://r.reuters.com/bab95k
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

TRADITION WITH A PAL

Sony and Samsung compete in many areas such as TVs,
cellphones, laptops and digital music players but the Japanese
firm is also the biggest buyer of Samsung’s LCD displays for
TVs.

“We meet all the time because we have a joint venture. We
are pals. So we get to negotiate or discuss the joint venture a
lot, and it was one of those meetings,” Stringer told Reuters
in a sideline last week in San Francisco.

“It’s a traditional meeting… But it was not a big
meeting, it’s a regular meeting.”

Ensuring smooth supplies of LCD panels is key for Sony to
turn its TV business profitable for the first time in seven
years this year and to boost its Bravia flat TV sales by 60
percent to 25 million units in the year to March 2011.

Global shipments of LCD TVs jumped 50 percent in the first
quarter to 40.6 million units from a year ago, but Sony’s
market share slipped to 9.2 percent, trailing Samsung with 18.3
percent and LG Electronics (066570.KS: ) with 12.7 percent,
according to DisplaySearch.

Investing Analysis

($1=90.00 Yen)
(Additional reporting by Paul Thomasch and Franklin Paul in
SAN FRANCISCO)

Samsung, Sony chiefs may discuss 3D TV deals, LCD supplies