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Foxconn may buy more Sharp shares, fueling Apple television rumors

Foxconn is said to be in talks to buy more shares of display panel maker Sharp, once again prompting speculation that their alliance could play a key role in Apple's rumored television set.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou revealed at his company's annual meeting on Monday that they are in talks to buy more shares of Sharp after a recent steep fall in share price, according to Reuters. The report noted that an alliance with Sharp "could open the way for (Foxconn) to push for orders for Apple's much-anticipated Apple TV," referring to a rumored full-fledged television set from Apple.

Foxconn previously purchased a 10 percent stake in Sharp in March, worth $808 million, in an effort to help boost Sharp's struggling LCD business. The partnership is intended to help create demand for products from Sharp's state-of-the-art LCD factory that opened in Sakai, Japan, in 2009.

News of the Foxconn-Sharp deal immediately prompted speculation that both companies were hoping to enter into Apple's supply chain for the company's anticipated television set. Some suggested that Sharp's Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide (IGZO) panels would be a good match for an Apple television.

Foxconn is Apple's primary manufacturing partner, responsible for assembling devices like the iPhone, iPad and Macs. And Sharp is already a major display supplier for Apple, including Retina displays for the new iPad.

Foxconn Chairman Gou said at his company's annual meeting that the partnership with Sharp is good for his company, as Sharp's Sakai plant features technology beyond rival LCD maker Samsung.

"I'm proud to say the cooperation with Sharp will let us beat Samsung in terms of clearness — high resolution," Gou was quoted as saying.

He also said that the Sakai plant has an "exclusive agreement with Corning" for large-panel displays. Corning makes scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass that Apple uses in products like the iPhone and iPad.