South Korea's LG Display said Friday it planned to invest close to $9 billion in a new plant to produce organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays, anticipating a surge in demand for the ultra-high-definition technology. Total investment in the plant, to be built in Paju near the border with North Korea, is expected to top 10 trillion won ($8.7 billion), the company said. Expenditures for the first stage have been set at 1.84 trillion won, with production scheduled to begin in the first half of 2018. LG Display CEO Han Sang-Beom hailed what he called a "historical investment" that would make the plant the "center of the global OLED industry." OLED screens deliver a more vivid picture quality, consume less electricity and promise wider profit margins than the liquid crystal display (LCD) technology that is currently widely used. LG Display is currently the world's largest LCD panel producer, but has been signaling a major shift to the more advanced OLED technology for some time.
Citing market research firm IHS, the company said the global OLED panel market was forecast to grow to $29.1 billion in 2022 from $8.7 billion last year. Much of the growth could be fueled by reports that Apple plans to adopt OLED screens on its iPhone starting from 2018.
Apple is LG Display's biggest customer, accounting for about 25 percent of sales. South Korean rival Samsung Display Co. currently dominates the market for smartphone OLEDs, mainly supplying the ultra-thin screens to parent Samsung Electronics Co. and to Chinese smartphone makers.