Sharp Corp. has decided to enter exclusive merger talks with Taiwan’s Foxconn, sources told the Wall Street Journal Thursday. The latest move represents a last minute turn-about in the protracted bidding war between Foxconn and the Japanese government-backed fund Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ) for the troubled consumer electronics company.
Shares of the company jumped 16.8 percent after Thursday’s news on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
Sharp, which placed its ailing businesses on the block early last year, was leaning towards INCJ’s bailout offer over Foxconn’s significantly larger offer last week, in order to keep its technology in Japanese hands, the Nikkei Asian Review had reported. Sharp company executives and its creditors had held meetings with Foxconn and INCJ officials over the last weekend to negotiate terms of a potential merger.
The Osaka-based company’s stock lost about 50 percent of its value in 2015 but gained about 16 percent this year as the two-horse race for control over Sharp gained momentum. Last week, Foxconn CEO Terry Gou traveled to Japan to make a personal appeal for his 660 billion yen ($5.45 billion) bid for Sharp.
INCJ, which has bailed out Sharp thrice in the past three years, has offered Sharp no more than 300 billion yen ($2.54 billion), the Journal reported.
Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., could seek to lower production costs for its customers like Apple, Amazon and Xiaomi by purchasing Sharp, according to market watchers. The company has tried to sweeten its end of the bargain by indicating that it was willing to take on all of Sharp's debt and would not seek to replace any of the company's top management.
Sharp which currently supplies LCD panels for Apple's iPhones, reported more than 1.2 trillion yen ($9.91 billion) in losses over the past four years in its core TV business due to losing market share to cheaper Korean and Chinese rivals.