Shares in Japanese chipmaker soar on report of Apple talks


Thu, Apr 03, 2014 - Page 15

Shares in Japan’s Renesas Electronics Corp surged in Tokyo yesterday following a report it is in talks with Apple Inc to sell the US giant its stake in a unit that designs microchips for LCDs.

The chipmaker jumped as much as 19 percent in early trade before settling back to ¥831 by the close, up 5.99 percent.

The Nikkei business daily said Apple was eyeing Renesas SP Drivers Inc, which makes about a third of the world’s chips that control small and midsize LCDs, as it looks to boost resolution and battery life in its popular gadgets.

Apple wants to buy Renesas’ entire 55 percent controlling stake in the company — a joint venture with Japan’s Sharp Corp and Taiwan’s Powerchip Technology Corp (力晶科技) — for about ¥50 billion (US$480 million), it said.

The report said the deal may be part of a wider move by Apple to bring key production in-house and move away from outsourcing to a range of suppliers that make its iPhones and iPads.

Renesas declined to comment beyond saying that “our company and Renesas SP Drivers are studying various possibilities for our further growth, but there is nothing that has been decided at this point.”

The report comes days after the Nikkei said Apple will release its newest iPhone in September, with higher resolution and bigger screens, its latest salvo in the smartphone wars where it has lost global market share to rivals such as Samsung Electronics Co.

It also comes as Apple’s legal team on Tuesday vowed to prove that Samsung flagrantly copied iPhone features and should pay more than US$2 billion in damages, as the two companies squared off anew in a California courtroom.

Renesas, which is the world’s biggest supplier of automotive microcontroller chips, was created through a merger of the chip units of Hitachi Ltd, Mitsubishi Electric Corp and NEC Corp.

However, it has been forced to implement painful restructuring measures, including shedding more than 1,000 jobs in Europe, as it said in February it expects to report a net loss of ¥21.8 billion in the fiscal year ended last month.