Japan’s Denso considering $440 million investment in JOLED: Kyodo

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese auto parts maker Denso Corp is considering a 50 billion yen ($440 million) investment in organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panel maker JOLED, Kyodo news reported, citing sources close to the matter.

JOLED, a Japan Display affiliate, sold its inaugural batch of OLED screens this month, becoming the world’s first OLED maker to market screens which use a lower cost printing process.

It is seeking to raise 100 billion yen from materials, equipment and electronics makers to expand production capacity.

Sony Corp and Panasonic Corp are also expected to invest 5 to 10 billion yen each, and Sumitomo Chemical Co and Screen Holdings Co are considering chipping in, Kyodo said.

The four companies are together seen investing 20 to 40 billion yen in JOLED, Kyodo added.

OLED screens are gaining popularity as they are generally thinner, more flexible and offer richer colors than liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, but high production costs are still preventing them from being used widely. Apple Inc has adopted the screens for its iPhone X.

A JOLED representative said the company was in talks with various materials and equipment makers about the investment, but that nothing specific had been decided.

A Denso spokesman said the reported plan wasn’t something the company announced, while a Screen Holdings spokeswoman denied the company was considering the investment. Sony said nothing had been decided, while Panasonic and Sumitomo Chemical declined comment.

JOLED was created in 2015 by merging the OLED divisions of Sony and Panasonic. JOLED is 75 percent owned by a state-backed fund, the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, and 15 percent held by Japan Display. Sony and Panasonic each own 5 percent.

Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu, Yoshiyasu Shida and Ritsuko Ando; Writing by Minami Funakoshi; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim