Thomson SA, the French consumer electronics company that now owns RCA, and fast-growing Chinese manufacturer TCL International Holdings Ltd. announced a joint venture Monday with the lofty ambition of becoming the world's top TV maker.

TCL will own two-thirds and Thomson will own one-third of TCL-Thomson Electronics, which is expected to generate annual revenue of more than US$3.49 billion. Under the agreement, Thomson will contribute all its television manufacturing plants and businesses in Mexico, Poland and Thailand and its DVD player businesses into the venture. TCL is to contribute its plants in China, Vietnam and Germany. The new company is expected to be established by mid-2004. The deal is subject to the signing of definitive agreements and approval by regulatory authorities.

"This consolidation will permit the creation of a leader in the domain of televisions–we think the very leader in terms of volume," Thomson chief executive Charles Dehelly said.

Thomson chief financial officer Julian Waldron said the venture will produce 18 million TV sets and 3 to 4 million DVD players each year. It will use TCL as its key brand in Asia and emerging markets, Thomson as its major brand in Europe and the RCA brand in North America.

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