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Foxconn may buy Sharp's LCD business, with assistance from Apple

Sharp's LCD spinoff may end up in the hands of manufacturing giant Foxconn, thanks to a potential investment by Apple, helping to give the iPhone maker greater control of its sprawling supply chain.

Foxconn has apparently made a proposal to purchase Sharp's LCD business, according to Nikkei. In the potential deal, Foxconn would take a majority stake of the LCD maker, while Apple would also contribute.

Apple already has a major stake in Sharp's LCD business —  the company's Kameyama plant No. 1 in Japan solely produces displays for Apple's iPhone. Apple is said to have supplied more than half of the 100 billion yen, or $987 million, needed to transition the plant from HDTV panels to smartphone LCDs, giving the Cupertino company operational control of the facility.

A Foxconn takeover of Sharp's LCD spinoff could have numerous benefits, according to Nikkei —  it would allow Foxconn to limit Sharp's risk but enable the company to stay involved in the business, and it could also enable Sharp to keep its Japanese staff.

It's said that lenders value the Sharp LCD business at about 300 billion yen, which is about $2.5 billion U.S. It is unknown how much a Foxconn takeover could run, or how much more Apple would be willing to invest in the facilities.

Sharp has been floating a variety of potential restructuring plans for some time. But as of last month, talks seemed to push toward a partnership between Sharp and Foxconn.


Those negotiations have apparently continued behind the scenes with Apple's involvement, as Sharp decides what it will do with its newly independent LCD company. The company has been exploring options for its LCD operations in light of declining revenues.

In addition to iPhones, current iPads, and other Apple devices, Sharp is also believed to be the main supplier of Retina displays for the forthcoming iPad Pro. That device will sport a 2,732-by-2,048-pixel panel, packing 5.6 million pixels into its 12.9-inch frame.