Apple suppliers Sharp, Foxconn in talks for LCD partnership - report

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Japanese supplier Sharp is negotiating with Hon Hai Precision Industry — better known as Foxconn — on a deal that would see the former spin off its display panel business to create a new joint venture, according to a Monday report.

Under the proposed plan, Hon Hai — and possibly other parties, including Japan's state-controlled Innovation Network Corporation — would then make investments in the newly-independent LCD company, according to Reuters. In July, Sharp CEO Kozo Takahashi said that he was open to restructuring both the display and consumer product sides of the company in light of declining revenues.

Similar partnership talks have occurred sporadically for years. In 2012, for instance, Sharp rejected Foxconn overtures because of demands that Sharp argued would've surrendered too much control. The two corporations currently operate a large-scale LCD plant in Osaka as a joint venture.

The companies are key Apple suppliers, and just last week it was rumored that Sharp will be manufacturing displays for Apple's 12.9-inch "iPad Pro," while Foxconn will take on the tablet's touch module fabrication, lamination, and module assembly. Production of the device will allegedly scale up over coming months, resulting in 4 to 5 million units shipped by the end of 2015.

Apple is rumored to be launching the product sometime this fall, possibly at an October press event. It may distinguish itself from the iPad Air not just with a bigger screen size, but other features like a pressure-sensitive stylus and an enhanced version of iOS, for instance sporting a more expansive keyboard.