December 16, 2015 / 11:20 AM / in 2 years

Hon Hai formally offered to invest in Sharp last week: source

TOKYO (Reuters) - Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co offered last week to invest in struggling Japanese display maker Sharp Corp, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

Sharp's logo is seen behind a traffic sign outside an electronics shop in Tokyo September 7, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Sharp is still trying to turn around its business despite a $1.7 billion (£1.1 billion) rescue in May, its second major bailout in three years.

Sharp and its main lenders are now considering multiple proposals from Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn, including financing for its display operations and an investment in the overall business, the source said.

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the core unit of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc and Mizuho Bank, the core unit of Mizuho Financial Group Inc are Sharp’s main creditors.

Hon Hai and Sharp have been weighing a possible tie-up for months, sources familiar with the situation have said. But Japanese state-backed fund Innovation Network Corp of Japan (INCJ) is widely seen as a more likely investor.

INCJ is the biggest shareholder in Sharp’s domestic rival Japan Display Inc, and sources have said it has an eye on brokering a merger or partnership between the two companies.

A Hon Hai official was not immediately available for comment, while Sharp said it was in talks with several parties.

“We are at the stage of negotiating with several companies regarding various options of fundamental structural reforms of LCD panel business, however, nothing is decided at this point of time,” a spokesman told Reuters by e-mail.

Tie-up talks between Hon Hai and Sharp fell through in 2012 after the Japanese company baulked at demands that it said would have given the Taiwanese firm too much control. The two corporations remained in contact and jointly operate a plant in Osaka, western Japan, that makes large LCD panels.

Reporting by Reiji Murai and Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Edmund Klamann and Susan Thomas

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