Merck is planning to set up an additional OLED research center in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province within this year. The company is currently supplying OLED and LCD materials to Korean companies such as Samsung Display.
Merck acquired AZ Electronic Materials last year in order to shore up its semiconductor and display materials business. AZ Electronic Materials, which has manufacturing facilities in Japan and Anseong City, Gyeonggi Province, has earned 80 percent of its profits in Asia. Last year, Merck’s advanced materials business unit accounted for 15 percent (11.642 billion euros, or US$12.694 billion) and 23 percent (780 million euros, or US$850 million) of the company’s total sales and operating profits, respectively.
Merck is just one of the examples of the global chemical companies expanding their business in Korea. Dow Chemical is looking to enter the quantum dot display materials and components market by means of SKC Haas, a joint corporation it established with SKC. Dow Chemical is also preparing to run a cadmium-free quantum dot material plant with Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, planning to release quantum dot TVs. BASF opened its electronic material R&D center in September last year in Suwon City, Gyeonggi Province.
This reflects the increasing importance of the Korean electronic materials market for multinational chemical companies. According to market research firm DisplaySearch, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics took up 29.2 percent and 16.7 percent of the global flat-panel TV market last year, respectively. Their share in the global smartphone market has remained at over 20 percent, too. Dow Chemical recently appointed a Korean vice president as the head of the display division of the electronic materials group.