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Foxconn buys 10% share of Sharp to help boost LCD business

Sharp is looking to shake up its money-losing LCD business by selling a 10 percent stake to Foxconn, Apple's overseas manufacturing partner.

Foxconn will buy $808 million worth of shares in Sharp Corp., according to The Wall Street Journal, giving it a major stake in the Japanese LCD manufacturer. Sharp said the partnership was necessary as it and other LCD panel manufacturers continue to be unprofitable.

Sharp's losses in the LCD business are expected to contribute to its biggest annual loss in the company's 99-year history. It plans to use funds from Foxconn's investment to focus on building smaller displays for smartphones and tablets, which have seen continued strong demand as HDTV profits weaken.

Officials at Sharp said the partnership with Foxconn will create demand for products from the state-of-the-art Sakai LCD factory it opened in 2009. Until now, Sharp has struggled to find demand, but Foxconn is expected to take about half of the panels produced at the plant by the end of this year.

The partnership is noteworthy for Apple, as Foxconn is its primary device assembler, and Sharp has been a significant supplier of LCD panels for devices like the iPhone and iPad.

The news comes as Sharp is said to have recently begun shipping small volumes of high-resolution Retina Displays to Apple for its third-generation iPad. Initial Retina Display shipments have largely come from Samsung as LG and Sharp have worked to improve their output.

There have been claims that Sharp, along with LG, has struggled to meet Apple's quality requirements for the new iPad's Retina Display. Earlier reports claimed that Sharp was attempting to sell Apple on its own IGZO display technology for the new iPad, but Apple reportedly passed on the technology and opted instead to stick with traditional LCD screens.