Toshiba Corporation may be able to restart some of its flood-hit operations in Thailand early in 2012 and be fully up and running in March, its chairwoman said on Thursday.
Japan's Toshiba had to halt operations at nine production plants at the Bangkadi Industrial Park and another plant at the Nava Nakorn estate, both in Pathum Thani province to the north of Bangkok.
Bangkadi is Toshiba's main production center in Southeast Asia. Its factories there make home appliances, semiconductors and lighting products.
The water level has now receded by about 10-15 centimeters at Bangkadi, Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul, chairwoman of Toshiba Thailand, told Reuters.
Right now we haven't been able to drain the water out because the water outside is still high ... However, we do expect to begin the process by the middle of this month.
Kobkarn, also chairwoman of the Bangkadi estate, which Toshiba owns, said Toshiba should then be able to restart some of its production there in January.
Its plant in Nonthaburi province was still operating as normal.
Toshiba makes refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, light bulbs and microwave ovens at Bangkadi.
Toshiba has begun producing hard disk drives in the Philippines as an alternative to Thailand.
According to Citi, about 50 percent of global hard disk drive assembly is carried out in Thailand. California-based Western Digital Corp, Japan's Hitachi Global Storage Technologies and Toshiba have the highest exposure to the country.
The flooding in Thailand has forced other Japanese high-tech companies including Sony Corp. and Canon Inc. to halt production, at least in part.
Thai industrial output fell 0.5 percent in September from a year before, mainly due to the global economic slowdown according to the Industry Ministry, and the picture is bound to have got worse in October because of the floods.
($1 = 30.81 Baht)
(Editing by Alan Raybould)