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Sony to buy Toyota Industries' stake in LCD ventures

Deal will enable Sony to run LCD makers more efficiently, and allow Toyota affiliates to focus on vehicle components.

Sony will buy Toyota Industries' stake in its small-size liquid crystal display joint ventures, in its latest step to focus on its core operations. The two firms said on Wednesday they will merge ST Liquid Crystal Display, a 50-50 venture, and ST Mobile Display, owned 80 percent by Sony and 20 percent by Toyota Industries, on December 1. Both ventures make displays for digital cameras, camcorders and mobile phones--Sony's cash-cow products.

The maker of Cyber-shot digital cameras will hold 86 percent of the new firm, and plans to buy the remaining 14 percent from Toyota Industries by March 31, 2009 for an undisclosed price. The move will enable speedier decision making for Sony's LCD business, while allowing Toyota Industries--a Toyota Motor-affiliated maker of textile machinery, auto components and forklifts--to focus resources on automobile and industrial vehicle operations, they said. Prices have fallen even as demand grows for LCDs amid competition from Taiwanese display makers like AU Optronics and Chi Mei Optoelectronics and South Korea's LG.Philips LCD.