Samsung continues to consolidate its position in the electronics manufacturing industry with a deal involving Corning, maker of Gorilla Glass and other specialty products.
Samsung and Corning have long collaborated in a joint venture company called Samsung Corning Precision Materials Co, established in 1995, that produces substrate glass for LCD displays. Now Corning will assume full control over the joint venture, with Samsung set to receive in exchange $1.9 billion worth of convertible preferred shares in Corning. Samsung promised to acquire another $400 million worth of shares in Corning. Converting these shares in common stock would make Samsung the largest shareholder in the glass making company, with a 7.4 percent stake.
Samsung said it doesn’t plan to influence in any way the management of Corning, but becoming a large investor should give the Korean giant a definite advantage in manufacturing. “By moving beyond a simple glass supply alliance, Samsung is trying to take a longer-term view for its future product pipelines as Corning has vast technologies not just in displays but in other emerging areas”, said Brian Park, an analyst interviewed by Reuters.
This is the latest in a series of moves that Samsung made to consolidate its display manufacturing business. The conglomerate recently acquired Novaled, a German company developing OLED materials, and is a major shareholder in Sharp, the Japanese display maker that supplies panels to Apple, among others.
Corning is best known for the Gorilla cover glass used on most high-end smartphones, but the American company also makes the Lotus substrate glass, optical fiber, and other high-tech products. Corning is also developing Willow, a flexible glass that is suitable for flexible displays and can be manufactured in high-productivity roll-to-roll processes.