Japan Display seeks over $500M in bid to secure next-gen LCD iPhone orders
In a rush to retain Apple as a smartphone display customer, Japan Display on Friday said it plans to raise more than $500 million that will be put towards manufacturing LCD panels for a next-generation iPhone.
The display maker, flailing to stay afloat amidst a messy restructuring process, intends to net 55 billion yen (about $517 million) in third-party share allocations and asset sales, reports Nikkei.
JDI reportedly took a hit when Apple opted to integrate OLED technology in its latest flagship iPhone, the iPhone X, last year. At the time, analysts predicted a precipitous drop in profits as the company, which counts Apple as its largest customer, attempted a pivot to OLED manufacturing.
Forwarding its narrative that iPhone X is a "flop," Nikkei reports Apple "appears to be sticking with LCDs for some models" due to arrive this fall. For JDI, which was mulling a transition to OLED, a continuation of LCD iPhone production means the firm must now lock down working capital to ensure adequate capacity for what is expected to be a massive order.
JDI is looking to raise 35 billion yen through newly issued shares, 30 billion yen from overseas investors and another 5 billion yen from Japanese LED maker Nichia. The latter investment would give Nichia a 3.5 percent stake in the firm on a voting rights basis, the report said.
The company also plans to sell a currently unused plant located in the Ishikawa prefecture to government-backed Innovation Network Corp. for 20 billion yen.
INCJ, JDI's largest shareholder which tendered a $636 million bailout in 2016, will subsequently turn the plant over to JOLED for use as an OLED production facility. Established in 2014 by JDI, Sony and Panasonic, JOLED also counts INCJ as a majority shareholder.
Reports last year claimed Apple expressed interest in purchasing Full Active LCD panels from JDI to incorporate into 2018 iPhone models. The technology boasts many of the same benefits of OLED for a fraction of the cost, making it a viable option as Apple transitions away from traditional LCD applications.
Apple is rumored to launch three new iPhones this year, two with OLED panels and a third "budget" LCD model. The OLED versions are expected to boast iPhone X styling with 5.8- and 6.5-inch displays, while the LCD variant is predicted to take after the iPhone 8 and incorporate a 6.1-inch screen.