Intel, Qualcomm plan $300mn investment in ailing Sharp

By Staff Reporter

Nov 15, 2012 01:06 AM EST

Beleaguered Japanese consumer electronics maker Sharp Corp is likely to attract investments from US-based Intel Corp and Qualcomm Inc towards the end of the month. 

Unconfirmed reports indicate that talks are underway to firm up the investments that could add up to over $300 million (24 billion yen). While the two US majors are reportedly planning for joint investments, certain reports have also suggested that Intel could go solo with an investment of 30-40 billion yen.

The growing interest in Sharp apparently stems from the intensified competition in the global tablet computer and smartphones segments. Sharp is known for its high-quality liquid crystal display (LCD) components which are in high demand in the tablet computer and smartphone manufacturing segments. For instance, Apple Inc is already using Sharp LCD screens for its iPads and iPhones. Now Intel and Qualcomm are purporting to use the displays for their touch screen tablet computer and smartphone offerings.

The growing interest in Sharp products and business could prove to be a reversal of sorts for the Japanese company which is weighted down by huge debts estimated at over $13 billion. Sustained interest in the company would largely hinge on the demand curve for high-end tablet computers. Intel is reportedly considering using Sharp LCDs for its new brand of thin'Utrabook' laptops with touch screens. Pertinent to note that Sharp's power-saving IGZO displays have generated key interest among tablet and smartphone makers.

Sharp is taking strident steps to cut down its debt and inventory but the company's attractiveness to investors would depend on its roadmap for generating robust cash flow and strengthening its capital base. 

Sharp Chief Financial Officer Tetsuo Onishi was recently quoted saying that loans will sustain the company until March 2014 which also includes the redemption of 200 billion yen in convertible bonds in September 2013. For the record, Sharp received a guarantee for 360 billion yen in loans from Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mizuho Corporate Bank in September. Meanwhile, reports have pointed out that Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd has also evinced interest in investing in Sharp. The two companies have been in talks for some months. However, Sharp has maintained that no decisions have been made about accepting investments from other companies. Nevertheless, a company spokesperson said that plans are afoot to strike new alliances.

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