Apple could make major upfront investment into LG’s OLED production lines

Apple is reportedly in talks with LG Display about investing anywhere between $1.75 billion and $2.62 billion into the South Korean firm’s new “E6” plant with a target monthly capacity of about 30,000 units of sixth-generation OLED panels.

According to The Korea Herald newspaper on Monday, the upcoming facility would be “exclusively dedicated to Apple orders” and should come online as early as 2019. A source said that the funding from Apple should help LG Display reduce risks from the lower margin.

The two companies have tentatively agreed on the investment plans, but details on the timing and size of the investment have yet to be finalized. The final decision is expected to be made following LG Display’s board meeting later this month.

LG previously discussed an $870 million Google investment into its OLED plant.

An anonymous source said:

Samsung Display is the only display maker that meets Apple’s strict quality criteria for now. LG Display is said to be meeting about 70 percent level of the requirements, while Chinese display makers are still struggling to catch up with that of LG.

LG Display’s OLED supply for iPhone was delayed because the company failed to purchase Canon Tokki’s vacuum machine, the most advanced OLED production equipment whose supply is extremely limited. Recently, LG secured two units of the machine to speed up production.

With the new equipment installations expected in December 2017 and February 2018, LG Display’s production capacity is expected to double to 60,000 OLED panel units per month.

LG’s other new OLED plant, called “E5”, will focus on orders from LG Electronics and Chinese clients. Samsung Display is expected to be the sole supplier of OLED panels for iPhone 8 this year. LG Display currently builds flexible OLED panels for Apple Watch on an exclusive basis.

Samsung Display is reportedly building the world’s biggest OLED manufacturing facility dedicated to orders from Apple and Samsung Electronics.

iPhone 8 concept via Benjamin Geskin.