Taiwanese LCD giants merge to better compete globally

Innolux Display will buy Chi Mei Optoelectronics in an all stock deal valued at around US$5 billion

Taiwan's biggest LCD monitor maker on Saturday agreed to buy the island's second largest LCD screen maker in a bid to compete with South Korea's market leading giants.

Innolux Display will buy Chi Mei Optoelectronics in an all-stock deal whereby Innolux will trade one of its shares for every 2.05 shares of Chi Mei, the companies said.

The companies did not provide a value for the all-share stock deal, but a Taishin Securities analyst said Innolux Display will pay an 18 percent premium per share for Chi Mei Optoelectronics based on Friday's closing stock price. He said the deal values Chi Mei at around US$5 billion based on the number of shares Chi Mei reported at the end of the third quarter.

The deal is a sign of consolidation in the global LCD screen sector caused by the need to be big to compete. The combined Innolux-Chi Mei will be the world's fourth largest LCD screen maker and the biggest LCD monitor maker. Executives at a news conference in Taipei on Saturday said they hope the deal will help Taiwan better compete against South Korean powerhouses Samsung Electronics and LG Display, which rank as the biggest and second biggest LCD screen makers, respectively, in the world.

"Our first target will be to become number one in Taiwan," said Terry Gou, chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry, the largest shareholder of Innolux and the world's largest contract electronics maker. AU Optronics, the third-largest LCD screen maker in the world, will be the new company's biggest competitor in Taiwan.

He also indicated that consolidation was necessary to keep Chi Mei Taiwanese, because foreign LCD screen makers might view it as a good buy out target. "Such a beautiful woman [Chi Mei] shouldn't marry a foreigner," said Gou.

The deal is expected to close May 1, 2010, Innolux said in a statement. Innolux will be renamed Chimei Innolux Corporation. The boards of both companies approved the deal on Saturday, but the transaction still needs shareholder and regulatory approval.

The current CEO of Innolux, H.C. Tuan, will become the president and CEO of Chimei Innolux, while the chairman of Chi Mei Optoelectronics, Frank Liao, will become the chairman of Chimei Innolux.

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