With China's LCD panel industry emerging as a major supply source worldwide and demand for panels among China brand vendors of ICT products expanding significantly, Taiwan-based LCD driver IC packaging and testing houses ChipMOS Technologies and Chipbond Technology are both actively moving to enhance their ties with China-based players. ChipMOS sold 54.98 percent of stakes in its subsidiary in Shanghai to Tsinghua Unigroup and other strategic investors in March 2017, with the China semiconductor group holding a 48 percent stake and ChipMOS 45.02 percent after the deal. In mid-December, Chipbond also indirectly introduced China's semiconductor display supplier BOE Technology Group as a strategic investor in its Suzhou subsidiary Chipmore in a share-unloading deal, and it will also set up a carrier tape manufacturing venture in Hefei in cooperation with BOE and another two China investors in Chipmore.

Industry sources said that compared to China panel makers who have been investing heavily in pursuing technological advancements and capacity expansions, Taiwan's top-2 panel makers AU Optronics (AUO) and Innolux have been slow, prompting ChipMOS, Chipbond and other Taiwan driver IC backend services providers to look to secure partnerships with China firms. And such partnerships are not only for the LCD sector, the sources said, as leading smartphone vendors are expected to adopt OLED panels for their 2018 smartphone models. Samsung Display now commands up to 90 percent of the market for small- to medium-size OLED panels, leaving little room for Taiwan makers in the panel, driver IC and backend service sectors.

But China makers are opening a door for Taiwan makers in the OLED space. China panel makers have been keen on building OLED lines as well as 8.5G and 10.5G LCD plants, prompting Taiwan's driver IC designers and packagers to step up efforts partnering with the China firms, the sources commented. – Digi Times