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Sharp takeover deal should be finalized by end of February, Foxconn CEO says

The Foxconn bid to take over Sharp is now only awaiting finalized details between the two parties, Foxconn's CEO Terry Gou told reporters on Friday, indicating that Innovation Network Corp. has indeed been cut out of the loop.

Foxconn has been given preferred negotiating rights, and is aiming to lock up a deal by the end of February, Reuters reported Gou as saying. The two companies are said to have reached a consensus on most matters, with what's remaining being mostly legal and regulatory issues.

"The rest is a process...I don't see a problem completing this process," Gou commented. The CEO spoke with reporters following a meeting with Sharp executives.

Just yesterday, Sharp CEO Kozo Takahashi denied that his company had given Foxconn exclusive negotiating rights. It's not clear what changed to sway the situation.

Foxconn's bid is believed to be worth at least $5 billion, possibly as much as $5.6 billion, twice or more what Innovation was offering. The latter firm, though, is a fund backed by the Japanese state, and was at one point thought to be Sharp's preference. Going that direction might have made a takeover more likely to be approved by regulators, and would have appealed to numerous parties looking to protect Japanese industry and keep it competitive against suppliers in China and South Korea.

Assuming the the Sharp acquisition is completed, it should further strengthen Foxconn's links with Apple, giving it the ability to not just assemble Apple products like the iPhone but manufacture displays as well. Innovation, though, would have folded Sharp's display unit into Japan Display, itself an Apple supplier.