Corning to expand Taiwan glass plant due to demand

Corning Inc., the world's largest maker of fiber-optic cable, said on Tuesday it will expand a liquid crystal display glass plant in Taiwan because of growing demand from the computer and television industries.

The company said it will spend $90 million over the next two years to add melting and forming lines at the plant.It built the plant as part of its $400 million expansion strategy, started in 2000, to triple the worldwide production capacity of its information display business.

Corning said construction of the melting operation will begin in first quarter 2003, and the plant should begin producing larger sheets of glass by early 2004. Driving the expansion is greater demand for LCD glass screens for desktop and notebook computers, and televisions.

"Desktop monitor sales have grown more than 70 percent over the last year alone, fueled mainly by consumers upgrading their monitors from (traditional cathode ray tubes) to LCDs," Chief Financial Officer James Flaws said in a statement. "In fact, the market penetration for LCD monitors is still only around 25 percent of total desktop monitors sold."

Now estimated at $1 billion, the global market for LCD glass is projected to continue to grow at 25 percent to 30 percent annually for the next five years, Corning said. Glass demanded by Taiwan's LCD industry has more than doubled in volume over last year, it said.

Last week, when it announced its sixth consecutive quarterly loss, Corning said its information display business achieved record production and shipments in the quarter.

A company spokesman said Corning will add jobs at the Taiwan plant, but it is too soon to know how many.

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