THOMSON TO OUTSOURCE ITS MOLDING IN ASIA

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SINGAPORE — Thomson Multimedia plans to outsource more plastics molding in Asia in coming years to custom processors, according to a senior resin purchasing officer.

As a result, the ailing Paris-based maker of audio, video and telecommunication products will cut its purchases of high-impact polystyrene and ABS for its plants in the Asia-Pacific region.

The future of Thomson Multimedia looks shaky after it recently reported a 3.3 billion French franc ($578 million) loss for 1996 and reshuffled its top management to make way for privatization of the state-owned firm.

Industry observers expect Thomson Multimedia's in-house plastics molding to decline even more if Daewoo Electronics of South Korea successfully takes over the company.

``Our forecast is down for resin [purchases] ... because we are subcontracting out more of our own operations,'' such as those in Indonesia and China, said senior sourcing officer Johnson Choo, who expects overall production to remain steady.

Choo's sourcing department in Singapore, staffed by 40 or so employees, buys resin and electronic components for the company's plants in Asia-Pacific.

The firm last year bought 22 million pounds of HIPS and 12.1 million pounds of ABS, said Choo.

About a third of its resin goes into molding of television cabinets and accessory parts. Two-thirds are for audio and telephone casings and parts.

The company operates injection presses with clamping forces of 66-940 tons, according to Choo. Its plant in Thailand, which is quickly becoming the firm's focus of manufacturing activities, operates more than 10 Toshiba presses with gas-assist capability.