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Korean companies intensify LED attack

Three major Korean companies are making key investments in their LED manufacturing operations, as the country seeks to become one of the top three LED producers.

Seoul Semiconductor’s managing director Sewook Chun says that his company is planning a plant expansion in anticipation of the Korean LED market expanding by 50% on average through to 2011.

According to a recent report from market analyst IMS Research, Seoul Semiconductor became the fourth largest supplier of LED components in 2007. “Philips Lumileds may face competition for third spot from Seoul Semiconductor in the next few years,” said IMS expert Jamie Fox.

Meanwhile, Chinese state news agency Xinhua has said that electronics giant Samsung plans another $60 million investment in its Tianjin LED production facility. A source at the company says that Samsung Electro- Mechanics transferred the Tianjin site to Samsung LED, which was officially founded on April 1. Xinhua quotes Zhang Liang of the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area Administration Commission as saying that Samsung’s investment would reach $90 million. He estimated the starting capital value of the site to be $30 million.

In April, LG Display took a 29.8% stake in Woori LED Co Ltd, for KRW11.9 billion ($9.65 million), according to Thomson Financial. This is after the leading TFT-LCD manufacturer formed an alliance with US LED maker Cree in January to develop manufacturing facilities for display backlighting.

The Korean government announced a year ago that it would make a KRW3 trillion investment to push its domestic LED facilities further into the global elite.

Chun says that the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) is now also working to establish the sector as a “green growth industry”. After the government initiated Green Growth Seoul in February, in which public institutions exploit solid-state lighting, KATS will also implement a “green standard policy”.

“Facilitated by government policies, future demands will consistently grow,” the Seoul Semiconductor executive told Compound Semiconductor. “LEDs will be comprehensively installed in the buildings of public companies and their use will extend to traffic lights, streetlights, guard lamps and tunnel lights.” He says that the Samsung Economic Research Institute has predicted that a boom in the field could create up to 880,000 jobs.

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