A day after Foxconn said that it was putting its $6 billion acquisition of the loss-making electronics giant Sharp on hold — allegedly over previously undisclosed financial liabilities of about 300 million yen ($2.66 billion) — the Japanese company is scrambling to salvage the deal. Sharp CEO Kozo Takahashi is planning to meet Foxconn chairman Terry Gou in Shenzhen Friday, according to media reports.
The reports, which cited people familiar with the matter, emerged along with a statement from Sharp, in which the company said that all its contingent liabilities had been disclosed properly.
“In addition, Sharp’s contingent liabilities have already been appropriately disclosed in our securities report and quarterly report based on accounting rules, and no further disclosure is recognized to be required,” the company said, in the statement, adding that it was pursuing discussions with Foxconn — officially known as Hon Hai Precision Industry — to reach a definitive agreement “by confirming our managerial status, including Sharp's contingent risks.”
Sharp, which employs 50,000 people globally and manufactures televisions, tablets and display screens, has suffered heavy losses in recent years. Earlier this month, as it was considering several takeover offers, Sharp posted a massive net loss of $918 million for the April-to-December period. The company also reported a net loss of $44 million on revenue of $5.9 billion for the quarter ended in September.
Foxconn is believed to have been chasing Sharp for at least four years. The company reportedly offered to take over Sharp for 600 billion yen (about $5.1 billion) earlier this year, and later raised its bid to 659 billion yen (about $5.44 billion), before agreeing on the final price.
However, on Thursday, just hours after Sharp announced that it had decided to sell a two-thirds stake to Foxconn, the Taiwanese firm said it would not sign the deal until it had clarified some “new material information” from Sharp. It did not provide any details.
“If you face this amount of liabilities at the very last stage of the negotiations, people would get upset — that’s normal,” Nobumichi Hattori, a former banker and a visiting professor at Waseda University, told the Wall Street Journal. “It depends on what those contingent liabilities are, but they could lead to changes in the deal conditions or a complete pullout by Foxconn.”
Meanwhile, Sharp’s shares on the Nikkei 225 index closed down over 11 percent Friday — a day after tumbling 14 percent amid concerns of a hefty dilution of stock for existing shareholders.