Japan's Konica Minolta Holdings said on Thursday it planned to expand its range of high-tech film for LCD panels in a move to broaden its customer base.

Konica Minolta said it would start to produce triacetyl cellulose (TAC) film for panels that use IPS technology, which companies like Panasonic Corp uses in its LCD panels. It did not say when it would begin to produce the new type of film.

It currently offers TAC film for panels that use VA technology, which Sharp Corp, Sony Corp and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co use in their LCD TVs.

TAC film, which protects the polarization plate used in LCD panels, had been an engine of growth for Konica Minolta until global LCD TV demand slowed last year due to the economic downturn.

Konica Minolta Chief Executive Masatoshi Matsuzaki also said in a group interview on Thursday that the company was considering offering organic solar cells.

Organic solar cells are bendable and cost less to manufacture than silicon-based solar cells, which are currently the dominant type. Silicon solar cells are produced by such companies as Sharp and Germany's Q-Cells.

Sales of solar cells, which convert solar energy into electricity, could grow strongly as concerns for climate change boost demand for renewable energy sources.

We need to develop the kind of products that will drive our growth in five, 10 and 20 years, Matsuzaki said. Organic solar cells have quite a few technological overlaps with organic light-emitting diode lighting, which we are developing.

Konica Minolta is developing lighting products using organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology with General Electric Co of the United States.

OLED lighting uses organic, or carbon-containing, compounds that emit light when electricity is applied.

Konica Minolta has said it expects operating profit to fall 20 percent to 45 billion yen ($471 million) in the current financial year ending March 2010 as the global downturn makes the replacement cycle of copiers and printers at its corporate clients longer.

Konica Minolta competes with Canon Inc, Xerox Corp and Ricoh Co Ltd in copiers and printers.

CEO Matsuzaki said that in the year to March 2011 the company aims to bring its annual operating profit up above the 56.3 billion yen level it achieved in the year to March 2009, Matsuzaki said.

Shares in Konica Minolta closed down 5.9 percent at 855 yen ahead of CEO Matsuzaki's comments, underperforming the Nikkei average, which was down 2.6 percent.

($1=95.52 Yen)

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; editing by Hugh Lawson and Karen Foster)