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Hoya weighs factory slowdown in Vietnam and Thailand on virus impact

Outbreak emerges as risk to Japanese manufacturing in Southeast Asia for first time

Hoya is the world's top supplier of glass disks for hard drives.

TOKYO -- Japan's Hoya, the world's biggest maker of glass disks for hard-disk drives, is looking to downshift production in Vietnam and Thailand as the coronavirus outbreak in China hits customers there, Nikkei has learned.

CEO Hiroshi Suzuki told Nikkei the company "is considering a temporary reorganization of personnel at production bases in Southeast Asia." Options include having workers stay home.

The Tokyo-based optical equipment maker is the first major Japanese manufacturer known to be weighing changes to production outside China in response to the virus, whose spread to Southeast Asia threatens a key link in their supply chains.

Hoya's Vietnamese and Thai factories produce all of its glass disks for hard drives. The company expects demand for the storage devices to stall in China as virus-induced factory stoppages hit production of personal computers and data center equipment.

Hoya supplies the disks to hard drive makers including U.S.-based Seagate Technology, which in turn supplies Chinese electronics companies.

Two of the glass disk factories are located in Vietnam -- one in Hanoi, the other in the neighboring province of Hung Yen. The Thai plant is located in the northern town of Lamphun.

Depending on how long the virus weighs on Chinese factory activity, Hoya may expand production adjustments to semiconductor-related products and eyeglass lenses.

Hard drive disks are typically made of aluminum, but glass disks offer better performance and are in growing demand, according to the company.

Hoya's information technology segment, which includes glass disks, generated a third of its revenue in the fiscal year ended March 2019. The company is 63.5% owned by foreign investors.

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