Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd.

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Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Ltd.

1127 Hopin Road
Danan Village, Padeh City
Telephone: +886 3 367 5151
Fax: +886 3 377 31115
Web site:

Public Company
Employees: 20,000
Sales: TWD 117 billion ($3.67 billion) (2004)
Stock Exchanges: Taiwan
Ticker Symbol: CPT
NAIC: 334411 Electron Tube Manufacturing; 334419 Other Electronic Component Manufacturing

Chungwha Picture Tubes, Ltd. (CPT) is one of Taiwan's, and the world's, leading manufacturers of thin-film transistor liquid crystal displays, or TFT-LCDs. Ranked number three in the Taiwan TFT panel market, the company is also a leading producer of cathode ray tubes (CRTs), color picture tubes, and electron guns used for CRT-based monitors and televisions. While those markets represent the group's traditional business, CPT responded quickly to the rise of flat-panel technologies at the dawn of the 21st century, embracing both LCD and plasma-based technologies. The company has manufacturing operations in Taiwan (including a 6G plant expected to reach full production by the end of 2005) and in mainland China and Malaysia. Listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange, CPT was founded by Taiwan's Tatung Corporation, which remains its major shareholder with more than 32 percent of the company's stock. The bruising competition with Japanese and especially Korean flat-panel producers has left CPT, like most of the Taiwanese flat-panel sector, struggling to keep up and maintain profitability. As a result, CPT has long been rumored to be seeking a merger with a fellow Taiwanese LCD producer in order to gain greater scale. In 2004, CPT posted sales of TWD 117 billion ($3.67 billion).

Tatung Offshoot in the 1970s

Chungwha Picture Tubes had its origins as an offshoot of the fast-growing Tatung Corporation, one of the motors of Taiwan's industrial development in the second half of the 20th century. Tatung's roots lay in the post-World War I period, when Shan-Chih Lin went into business, founding the Shan-Chih Business Association in 1918. Lin's business flourished and by 1939 Lin's interests had grown to include the newly founded Tatung Iron Works. That company became known as Tatung Steel and Machinery Corporation following World War II.

Tatung was to play an important role in the development of the new Taiwanese state in the 1950s. The company diversified, adding an appliance manufacturing component. In 1949, Tatung launched production of its first appliance, an electric fan. That product soon brought the company to the export market, with its first international sales shipping to the Philippines.

By the early 1960s, Tatung had added refrigerators and automatic steamers to its list of appliances. The company then began construction of two new factories, one for the production of air conditioners, and another for the manufacture of television sets. This latter category represented Tatung's introduction to the large electronics sector. Production of televisions began in 1964; the following year, the company incorporated a new subsidiary, Tatung Electronics.

By 1968, Tatung had extended its television production expertise to the production of color televisions. The company also began to explore the potential for broadening its technology, namely for the production of the cathode ray tubes at the heart of the television industry. This effort led the company to create a new dedicated subsidiary, Chungwha Picture Tubes (CPT), in 1970. Construction of the company's first production facility in Taoyuan began in 1971.

CPT initially focused on the black and white tube sector, launching a test production run in 1972. By 1973, the company had perfected its production technique, and began full-scale production. CPT's prior export experience enabled it to gain a solid foothold in international markets, shipping CRTs to the Americas and to Europe, as well as to Thailand and other Asian markets. In 1974, as well, CPT added production of another important television component, the electron gun. In that year, the group's tubes received certification by the United States, giving the company entry into that market as well.

The rise of new graphics-based computers in the late 1970s gave CPT a fresh outlet for its cathode ray tubes. While computer monitors remained black and white, the television market had by then largely switched over to the color television standard. CPT responded by launching production of its own color CRTs at a new dedicated production facility in Taoyuan in 1978. Sales of the new tubes were swift; by the early 1980s, the company had produced more than one million color CRTs.

The Taiwanese government adopted a new policy in the early 1980s of encouraging Taiwan's shift away from its position as a low-cost, low-technology industrial producer toward a high-technology model. Tatung and CPT responded by expanding their operations to include the fast-growing computer sector, and especially the personal computer market. In 1983, CPT sought to extend its own display expertise into a new and promising display type, a flat-panel display based on liquid crystals. Whereas liquid crystals had been discovered in the 19th century, practical applications of the material only appeared toward the end of the 1960s, when RCA in the United States developed the first liquid crystal displays. By the end of the 1970s, however, Japan had become the focal point for LCD technologies.

Chungwha became the first Taiwanese company to attempt to enter the LCD market in 1983. Yet CPT proved unable to develop the necessary technology on its own, and the Japanese LCD industry jealously guarded its own technology advantage. Instead CPT returned its focus to the CRT market. In 1985, the company succeeded in developing a technology transfer partnership with Japan's Toshiba, not for the production of LCDs, but rather for the production of 14-inch color CRTs for computer and other monitor displays. By the end of that year, CPT had begun producing medium-resolution 14-inch CRTs as well as related components.

CPT launched its first flat-screen CRT in 1986 based on a 5.5-inch tube. By the end of that year, the company also ramped up production of a 14-inch flat rectangular CRT. In order to meet rising demand for its CRT, the company built a new facility in Yang Mei, started in 1987 and completed in less than a year. That facility began producing 14-inch high-resolution displays, as well as 21-inch flat rectangular CRTs.

LCD Beginnings in the 1990s

CPT followed Tatung overseas in the early 1990s. While Tatung built a new construction facility in Thailand, CPT turned to Malaysia, where it began building a plant for the production of color electron guns in 1990. The Malaysian subsidiary reached full production by 1991, then quickly expanded to eight production lines by the middle of the decade. The addition of the Malaysian production capacity helped CPT claim the leading position in the global CRT industry.

The mid-1990s also marked a new effort by CPT to enter the LCD market. In 1994, the company began building a dedicated facility in Fuzhou. In the meantime, the company continued to boost its CRT capacity. A major step in the group's development came with a new technology transfer agreement with Toshiba in 1995, enabling CPT to launch production of 28-inch and larger color picture tubes. The following year, CPT established a manufacturing presence in the European market, opening a production subsidiary in Scotland.

Yet the future of the display industry lay in the fast-developing LCD technology. CPT's efforts paid off by 1996 with the production of the group's first LCD module. By 1996, the company's factory prepared to launch full-scale production.

CPT's efforts to crack the LCD sector were aided by the economic downturn in Japan. Into the late 1990s, that country's LCD giants began to find it difficult to raise the funds needed for further investment. These companies risked falling behind in the newly launched LCD race, as new competitors, especially in Korea, emerged. Meanwhile, the LCD industry was set to take off, as more and more users adopted portable computers, but especially as the world prepared for the sudden explosion in portable telephones. Slightly further down the road lay the promise of new high-definition television standards, which would require consumers to upgrade their sets, and the coming of the flat-screen televisions as well.

In search of funding, the Japanese LCD makers turned to Taiwan for investment capital, launching a series of technology transfer agreements with the island's manufacturers. CPT proved to be among the first to find a partner, signing an agreement with Mitsubishi in 1997. By 1999, the company had completed its new production facility and it became the first in Taiwan to produce 14-inch and 15-inch LCD modules.

Display Leader in the 2000s

CPT's LCD production gained quickly, and by 2001, the company had added a second factory, in Fu Chou. The following year, the company added two more production facilities, in Wujiang, in mainland China, and in Lungtan. The company continued to produce CRTs, but the future clearly lay in flat-panel technologies.

In the early 2000s, CPT began developing production capacity for plasma screens as well. By 2001, the company had successfully launched production of display panels ranging up to 46 inches in size. The company continued to develop its technology, and by 2004, CPT debuted its first high-definition large-screen panels.

Company Perspectives:

Corporate Vision: Be the global leader for visual telecommunication products and the all-rounded innovator for optoelectronic technique.

As for its Taiwanese counterparts, including AU Optronics and Chi Mei Optoelectronics, the early 2000s proved a difficult period for CPT. The economic downturn had suppressed sales; at the same time, the company faced heavy competitive pressure from its deep-pocketed rivals in South Korea. The result was a swift drop in the prices of LCD and flat-panel displays. Although this stimulated massive consumer demand for these display types, the falling prices sent most of the Taiwanese sector into losses. In order to compete, CPT, like the other Taiwanese display leaders, was forced to invest heavily in expanding its production, building new fifth-generation plants. By 2005, the company had also committed to expanding production with a new sixth-generation plant, to be completed by the end of that year.

Continued losses (CPT's losses topped $226 million for the first half of 2005 alone) made it difficult for CPT to raise needed investment capital. At the same time, Tatung was said to be seeking to offload its money-losing subsidiary, which had been dragging down its own profits. Into the mid-2000s, rumors began to circulate that Tatung was preparing to merge CPT with one of its rivals. By September 2005, the rumor, although denied by Tatung, appeared to become more of a certainty. At that time, two likely candidates emerged. The first was Hon Hai-owned Innolux Display Corp., the current number six in Taiwan. The second was Quanta Display Inc., the market's number five, part of the Quanta Group. The merger with either of these candidates was expected to boost CPT, the market's number three, into the industry's number two position, ahead of Chi Mei Optoelectronics, and trailing only AU Optronics. CPT remained a key player in Taiwan's effort to lead the global flat-panel display market.

Principal Subsidiaries

CPT (Malaysia) Co. Ltd.; Kamper Plant Co. Ltd.; CPTF Optronics Co., Ltd.; Wujiang Plant Co., Ltd.; CPTF Visual Display (Fuzhou) Ltd.; CPT Display Technology (Fujian) Ltd.

Principal Competitors

Samsung Corporation; LG-Philips; Sharp Corporation; AU Optronics; Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corporation.

Key Dates:

Tatung of Taiwan begins manufacturing cathode ray tubes, establishing Chungwha Picture Tubes.
The company begins production of electron guns.
The company launches production of color CRTs.
The company first attempts to enter LCD production.
The company enters a technology transfer agreement with Toshiba.
A subsidiary in Malaysia is established.
The company re-enters the LCD sector and begins construction on a new factory.
The company reaches an LCD technology transfer agreement with Mitsubishi.
The company becomes the first in Taiwan to produce 14-inch TFT-LCD panels.
New factories are added in Wujiang and Lungtan.
Construction begins on a sixth generation TFT-LCD plant; CPT is rumored to be considering a merger with another display producer in Taiwan.

Further Reading

"Chungwha Picture World's No. 1 Maker of 15-Inch TFT-LCD Panels," Taiwan Economic News, May 6, 2004.

"Chunghwa to Build Gen6 LCD Plant," EBN, August 11, 2003, p. 16.

"CPT to Decide Merger with Local Counterpart in One Month," Taiwan Economic News, September 12, 2005.

"CPT to Expand LCM Capacity at Mainland China Plants," Taiwan Economic News, August 19, 2005.

"CPT to Inaugurate 6G TFT-LCD Panel Line," Taiwan Economic News, September 19, 2005.

Einhorn, Bruce, and Ihlwan Moon, "A Fierce Fight to Stay in the Flat-Panel Game," Business Week, September 16, 2002, p. 23.

Wang, Lisa, "Chunghwa Picture Tubes Shares Rise on Talk of Merger," Taipei Times, September 09, 2005, p. 10.