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Hitachi to close Czech plasma TV unit

  Japanese electronics maker Hitachi will close a Czech plasma television manufacturing plant due to falling prices and demand in the economic slowdown, the local unit said on Friday.

The plant, with its 800 workers, should be shut by the end of March, it said in a statement. It did not provide its production figures from last year but said orders had dramatically dropped over the past six months.

Hitachi started operations in 2007 with a planned investment of CZK 1.73 billion ($85.10 million).

Japan’s biggest electronics group shocked investors in January with a ¥700 billion ($7.14 billion) loss warning for the year ending in March, hit by tumbling sales and a strong yen. The loss would be the biggest ever by a Japanese manufacturer.

The Czech economy, along with others in central Europe, has grown strongly in recent years as foreign companies, especially in electronics and automotive, set up manufacturing bases.

A drop in demand from the recession-stricken euro zone, however, has hit the region hard, and most analysts expect the Czech economy to contract in 2009 after four years of 3-6% growth. (Reuters)