Summary Box: 3 companies join forces in displays

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THE DEAL: The display businesses of three major Japanese electronics makers ? Sony Corp., Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. ? are joining forces. They expect to complete the business combination by early next year.

SIGNIFICANCE: It’s designed to make them more competitive in small and medium-sized panels. That’s a sector expected to grow because of the popularity of smartphones and tablets.

THE COMPETITION: Japanese electronics makers have had a tough time fighting competition from Apple Inc. and its iPod and iPad hits as well as the display prowess of South Korean makers such as Samsung Electronics Co.