By Chris Nicholls

TOKYO: Hitachi has announced it has reached an agreement with partners Matsushita and Canon to work together on LCD panels and future technologies, including the development of OLED displays.

The agreement means Canon and Matsushita will both purchase a 24.9 per cent stake in Hitachi Displays, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi, by March 31 2008, leaving Hitachi with a 50.2 per cent share. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Hitachi said in a release it plans to use the partnerships to “further accelerate the development of cutting-edge technologies” to be used in future products such as its ultra thin “Wooo UT Series”.

Canon will use the partnership to help speed-up development of its LCD-equipped products and develop OLED panels to be used in its future products. Matsushita, according to the release, “sees the new IPS Alpha plant as a possible future base for production of OLED displays.”

The three companies are also planning further ownership changes to follow the initial deal. Hitachi stated Canon would take a majority holding in Hitachi Displays, while Matsushita, which will change its name to Panasonic later this year, will take a majority stake in IPS Alpha.

Hitachi president Kazuo Furukawa was also quoted today in a Kyodo News interview today that the company would “mutually supply [plasma] panels of various sizes, standardise the thickness of glass substrates and carry out joint purchases," with Matsushita when it came to their plasma televisions.