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Sony to create world's biggest LCD factory in Slovakia

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Latest update : 2008-04-28

Sony's LCD television factory in Slovakia will double its production by the end of the year, making the plant the largest in the world, able to produce four million flat TVs annually. The move is designed to satisfy the growing European demand.

Japanese electronics giant Sony Corp. said Monday it will double output of liquid crystal display televisions at its Slovakian plant here by the end of this year to meet soaring demand in Europe.

The Nitra factory, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from the Slovak capital Bratislava, is "the newest and largest television factory in the world," Sony Corp chief executive officer Howard Stringer said at the opening ceremony.

It is a "significant milestone in Sony's long history of European manufacture," Stringer said, noting: "We had record (television) sales last year in Europe mainly driven by Bravia (LCD TVs)."

Slovak Premier Robert Fico stressed the Japanese giant had chosen an advantageous location "in the heart of Europe," noting also that Slovakia expected to join the eurozone at the beginning of 2009.

"The time has come that companies like Sony come to Slovakia not because of the cheap workforce but also for the knowledge, experience and discipline of our people," Fico said.

Plant managing direcotr Hajime Ushida said Nitra output would double this year to four million LCD TVs.

"Along with the increase in production capacity, the number of employees in the plant will rise by about 50 percent to 3,500," Sony said in a statement.

Nitra is one of Sony's two main European factories for televisions, alongside one in Barcelona, Spain.

Sony had previously said the Nitra plant would have production capacity of three million LCD televisions by the end of this year but demand is rapidly growing as prices fall for consumers.

"Europe is the largest market for Sony's Bravia business and the increase in production capacity in the Nitra plant is an important step for our pursuing the position of the world's top TV manufacturer," Sony president and chief executive Ryoji Chubachi said in the statement.

Sony is to raise its total investment in the plant to 13 billion yen (124 million dollars) from the previously announced 11 billion yen, a spokeswoman added.

The 60,000 square metre plant is located in an industrial park at the outskirts of Nitra, a historic Slovak city considered the cradle of the Slovak nation with 85,000 inhabitants.

The Japanese opera singer Nao Higano sang arias from the Madame Butterfly opera between the speeches during the opening ceremony.

Sony is enjoying a strong recovery after being caught off guard in recent years by innovative new products such as Apple's iPod and Nintendo's Wii.

In its third-quarter earnings report, Sony booked double-digit year-on-year sales growth in the mainstay electronics division.

Sony in February announced an LCD tie-up with Sharp Corp. in response to fierce competition. On Friday, Sony and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. said they were stepping up LCD production from a joint venture.

Date created : 2008-04-28

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