UPDATE 3-LG.Philips LCD doubles IPO plan to $1.95 bln

Screen maker LG.Philips LCD has doubled the projected size of its IPO to $1.95 billion and set a July date for what would be the world's biggest technology stock sale of the year so far, a South Korean regulator said on Monday.

But a slump on South Korea's stock market and news last week that LG.Philips had lost its slot as the world's top maker of liquid crystal displays (LCD) raised questions about the planned listing in Seoul and New York.

"The IPO schedule may be delayed again as the current equity market situation has turned negative," said Kim Hyun-tae, a fund manager at Woori Investment Trust & Management.

LG.Philips delayed an IPO plan last year in the hope of getting a higher price as technology stocks recovered and demand for flat-screen TVs boomed.

But analysts said the company, a 50/50 joint venture between Philips Electronics NV of the Netherlands and South Korea's LG Electronics Inc <066570.KS>, now ran the risk of selling shares just as LCD prices start to tip lower.

The 2.3 trillion won ($1.95 billion) IPO, slated for July 14, would comprise 1.8 trillion won of shares sold in New York and 500 billion won sold in Seoul, South Korea's regulatory Financial Supervisory Service said in a statement.

The amount is far more than the company suggested when it said two weeks ago it would raise more than $1 billion. LG.Philips and LG Electronics said they could not comment on the regulator's statement.

The proceeds would support a plan by the South Korea-based company to invest $21 billion over the next 10 years in making flat screens for televisions and computers.

That would top the 20 trillion won investment planned over the same period by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd <005930.KS>, which surpassed LG.Philips as the world's largest LCD maker in the last quarter. The new ranking was disclosed by market research firm DisplaySearch last week.


Philips and LG Electronics would sell 800 billion won of combined stock in the IPO and an additional 1.5 trillion won of new shares would be issued, the regulator said.

UBS, Morgan Stanley and LG Investment & Securities have been appointed as lead managers for the sale.

"Demand for LG.Philips would be quite strong, given technology stocks were one of the most battered and would be the one of the heaviest gainers when the market resumes a rally," Kim said.

South Korea's benchmark stock index <.KS11> slumped 5.7 percent on Monday on worries about surging oil prices and higher U.S. interest rates.

The IPO would be the world's fourth-largest so far this year after Belgacom's $4.4 billion, Shinsei Bank's <8303.T> $2.37 billion and U.S. insurer Assurant Inc's (nyse: AIZ - news - people) $2.02 billion, according to market research firm Dealogic.

It would be the world's biggest tech IPO so far this year. China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp <0981.HK> (nyse: SMI - news - people) (SMIC) raised $1.8 billion in an IPO in March, the biggest among tech companies so far this year.

However, both IPOs would be dwarfed by a planned $2.7 billion stock sale by Web search company Google Inc, although there are few details on this yet.

LG.Philips nearly quadrupled its net profit to one trillion won in 2003 on sales of six trillion won.

Global display makers are pouring cash into new plants that promise to slash production costs by using larger plates of glass, from which displays are cut.

At the same time, a surge in output across the industry has driven down flat-panel screen prices.

LG.Philips has a 20.8 percent share of the global market for large LCDs, just behind Samsung with 23.6 percent, according to DisplaySearch. Taiwan's AU Optronics Corp <2409.TW> is the third largest with 11.3 percent.

Display makers are betting that TVs as thin as a picture frame will prove as popular as flat computer screens. The upgrade from traditional cathode-ray boxes is the biggest change in TV technology since the switch from black-and-white.

Executives and analysts believe LCD TV production will double this year to between eight to 10 million sets from about four million in 2003 and less than one million in 2002. Those numbers are still relatively small for a worldwide TV market of about 150 million units. ($1=1,180.5 won) (Additional reporting by Dominic Lau in Hong Kong)

600450 UPDATE 3-LG.Philips LCD doubles IPO plan to $1.95 bln glassonweb.com
Date: 11 May 2004
Source: Forbes

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