Foxconn Technology Group (富士康), one of the main assemblers of Apple Inc’s iPhones, reportedly offered about ￥625 billion (US$5.33 billion) to buy Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp.
The troubled Japanese electronics maker and its creditors are likely to reach a decision by Feb. 4, when Sharp is to release its financial figures for last quarter, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.
The report said that according to Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC, Sharp is due to pay ￥510 billion outstanding debt in March.
Sharp is to review another offer from Innovation Network Corp of Japan’s (INCJ) government-backed investment fund, in which the fund was considering a bid that could go up to ￥300 million, the Nikkei Shimbun reported earlier this week.
Because Sharp possesses advanced technologies in making display panels, Japanese officials have expressed concern about allowing the company to sell its display business to foreign corporations.
Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Motoo Hayashi was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying: “Japan’s technology is leading the rest of the world and we would like to help make it more competitive.”
The INCJ owns a controlling stake in Japan’s another major display maker Japan Display Inc.
The report said officials are considering an option in which the two Japanese panel makers share know-how in next-generation panel technology and mass production.
Seeking to outbid rival offers, Foxconn is reportedly to offer more money to buy Sharp and is willing to bear all of its debts, the report said without naming sources.
Foxconn’s offer is meant to persuade the Japanese panel maker’s creditor to reach a decision based on the finances of the deal instead of political considerations, the report said.
Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), said that it would not comment on speculations. Sharp also refused to comment on the report.
In related news, Foxconn’s IT solution provider subsidiary and South Korea’s SK Group inked a strategic cooperation agreement in China on Wednesday, with the two firms agreeing to build a smart factory in Chongqing, China.
The first project under the strategic cooperation is to automatize Foxconn’s printer production lines in Chongqing, Foxconn official Chen Yen-jih (陳彥志), who supervises the project, was quoted by the Chinese media as saying.
Chen said one printer production line requires more than 200 workers, adding that after the automation is completed, the company could conserve about 35 percent of its workpower and raise the production value by 25 percent.
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