Pressed to develop large-sized OLED panels for TVs, Samsung Display has made an unprecedented move to partner with a key supplier for its crosstown rival LG Display.
Industry sources told The Elec on June 20 that the Samsung unit is in talks with Yas for a technological partnership.
"We are in practical level talks, but the specs of the equipment we may supply have yet to be finalized,” said a Yas official. “Whether this would be a pilot program or for mass production will be decided once Samsung Display decides to invest.”
The supplier has notified LG Display of such requests from Samsung Display, and the two sides are now in discussions over the scope of technology that Yas would share with the Samsung unit.
Yas is an organic material deposition equipment provider that received 10 billion won ($8.6 million) of investment from LG Display in 2010. As of the end of Q1 this year, LG Display holds a 15% stake in Yas.
Samsung Display approached Yas for equipment for its sole large-sized OLED mass production lines last month.
It’s rare for the suppliers of the two rival display makers to mix, according to market watchers.
But recently, both experts and company insiders have been expressing the need for more collaboration. Early this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, LG Display CEO Han Sang-beom said that Samsung Display’s development of the QD-OLED panel is not a threat, but a “positive momentum.”
He also said that once another rival comes up to surface, there would be more technological progress overall.
“It’s no longer competition between local display makers, but with China,” said Yoo Jae-soo, head of the Korea Information Display Society. “We need to enhance our technological prowess by having the key players share whatever strengths they each have.”
To stay under the radar, Samsung Display has said it is not yet decided on investing in large-sized OLED displays. Regardless, it has been talking with suppliers. For instance, it’s almost been confirmed that the deposition equipment will be brought inform Canon Tokki in Japan.
The equipment is now being redesigned to reflect last-minute changes to be installed in the first quarter of next year, a bit behind schedule than the originally planned last quarter of this year.
Meanwhile, Yas has cultivated close ties with LG Display in several different aspects. In its March shareholders’ meeting, the firm named the LG unit’s new business chief Lee Min-hyung as a board member and executive. Lee became the second former LG Display exec to join Yas’ board of directors following Kim Tae-seung.
Based on the solid partnership, Yas’ revenues skyrocketed. In 2018, they jumped to 184.5 billion won from the 5.3 billion it logged in 2010. Operating profit rose to 44.2 billion from 600 million won.
Last month, Yas brought in its second batch of deposition equipment for the 8.5th generation of OLED lines at its plant in China’s Guangzhou. It plans to build a new plant by August this year, then begin building the deposition equipment for its 10.5th generation OLED lines at the P10 plant in Paju of Gyeonggi Province. This year, the firm is forecast to log more than 200 billion won of sales.