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Sony and Sharp's LCD Linkup

The Japanese rivals are working together in liquid-crystal-display TV panels to cut costs and hedge against the risk of an economic slowdown

Consolidation it wasn't. But on Feb. 26, when Sony (SNE) said it would pick up part of the $3.5 billion tab for Sharp's (6753.T) planned TV-panel plant, it seemed that two of the world's biggest TV makers were finally admitting there are limits to the industry's frenzied expansion.

Of course, this being Japan, both consumer-electronics makers would argue that the "c" word doesn't apply. Indeed, Sharp President Mikio Katayama and Sony President Ryoji Chubachi stressed that their agreement was over joint ownership of a plant in Osaka and joint production of TV panels and other components, not any type of merger.