UPDATE – Sharp CEO Kozo Takahashi told the New York Times that Sharp is giving Foxconn exclusive negotiating rights, saying: “We are considering the offers from the point of view of all of Sharp’s stakeholders, its employees and shareholders.”
The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Sharp is about to enter “exclusive talks” with Foxconn over a takeover bid said to be worth approximately $5.5 billion. Such a deal would put an end to Foxconn’s bidding war with Innovation Network Corporation of Japan.
Foxconn CEO Terry Gou reportedly flew to Japan last week with an increased bid of 659 billion yen (about $5.5 billion), in hopes of convincing Sharp officials to go with Foxconn’s bid. Innovation’s bid is estimated to have topped out at 300 billion yen.
Any deal would still have to be approved by Japanese officials. Such a requirement is why observers believed Sharp would eventually accept the Japanese government-backed Innovation bid. However, Foxconn’s bid may be too good to pass up, as the company has also agreed to pay off the Japanese display maker’s substantial debt burden.
Apple is keeping an eye on the negotiations, as it already relies on Sharp for displays, and on Foxconn for the lion’s share of its assembly requirements for the devices it sells. Apple is also thought to hold an interest in Sharp’s LCD business, after reportedly supplying funds for Sharp’s moving its Kameyama LCD plant from HDTV production to a displays designed for portable devices