The Korea Herald


Samsung, LG resume talks on OLED partnership

Crosstown rivals likely to sign deal by end of first half of year; join hands to counter Chinese rivals

By Jo He-rim

Published : April 20, 2023 - 15:49

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Samsung Electronics' brand-new OLED TV (Samsung Electronics) Samsung Electronics' brand-new OLED TV (Samsung Electronics)

Talks for a rare partnership between Samsung and LG appear to have been resumed recently as Samsung seeks to buy LG panels for its latest OLED TVs for the first time, according to industry sources on Thursday.

“The two have resumed related talks ... with an aim to sign a deal by the end of the first half this year,” an industry source said on condition of anonymity.

Samsung Electronics is reportedly interested in buying around 200,000 to 300,000 white OLEDs from LG Display, and when they do strike a bargain, Samsung is expected to start its TV production using LG panels from early next year.

The crosstown rivals started related talks in 2021 but they have failed to reach an agreement due to discrepancies over pricing and contract period, among other factors.

Industry watchers predict higher chances for their “alliance” to work out this time -- Samsung is in need to expand its share in the OLED TV market to reduce reliance on China’s display makers, while LG Display needs the demand to get out of the red.

It was in 2013 that Samsung first rolled out its first OLED TV, only to withdraw it within a year due to low yield rates in production. The tech giant instead promoted its liquid-crystal display TVs, branding them as QLED TVs that use its own quantum-dot technology to create brightness and color that matches to OLED TVs.

But Samsung appears to be pivoting to foster its OLED TVs now, as its heavy reliance on Chinese display makers for the LCD panels have come to put pressure on cost. Samsung Display have already ended its LCD business last year, and LG is also gradually cutting back the production as their Chinese rivals have aggressively took away their market share with cheaper LCDs.

For Samsung to make some “meaningful” progress in its newly starting OLED TV business, it should sell about 3 million units of the product. And as Samsung Display’s annual projection for its OLED panel production is 1.5 million units, it would want to buy additional panels from LG Display that has a production capacity of 10 million units for OLED panels, industry watchers here say.

For LG, winning a deal with Samsung would also be important as the company currently suffers from a deficit. Last year, the display maker reported a net loss of 2.09 trillion won for the October-December period.

According to market tracker UBI Research, the panel shipments for OLED TVs around the world will reach 9.1 million units this year and jump to 11.6 million units in 2025 and 14.1 million units in 2027 – showing an annual growth rate of 11.6 percent.

“It is highly likely that Samsung Electronics and LG Display will strike a deal before the second half of this year starts,” Yi Choong-hoon, an industry veteran and CEO of market tracker UBI Research, said.

Yi also said the two sides “should not delay” on the decision to cooperate, if they want to compete with the Chinese rivals backed by their government.

“It is also a matter of survival. China is aggressively clawing its way up in the TV and display market, and it is important for Korean companies to make demand and supply for each other to compete.”