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UPDATE 1-Samsung in final talks to invest $110 mln in Sharp -sources
Tue, Mar 05 19:11 PM EST

* Investment would give Samsung a 3 pct stake in Sharp

* Announcement expected later in the day - Japan media

TOKYO, March 6 (Reuters) - South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is set to invest about $110 million in struggling Sharp Corp, a deal that will ensure it a smooth supply of large-sized TV panels and help bolster the Japanese company's chances of survival.

The 10 billion yen investment will give Samsung a 3 percent stake in Sharp, three sources familiar with matter told Reuters.

"Rather than the amount of investment, it is the partnership with Samsung that Sharp gains that is important. Sharp gains an opportunity to use the Samsung platform," said Tetsuro Ii, chief executive officer of Commons AM, a Tokyo based investment fund.

A deal would come as Sharp tries to boost utilization at its Kameyama display plant in central Japan. The Japanese company, has had to slash production of Apple iPad screens at the facility since the start of the year, sources told Reuters in January, as consumer demand shifts to the smaller iPad mini, for which Sharp is not a supplier.

It would also mark a rare cross border deal between the two rival countries, which have been fierce rivals in consumer electronics such as televisions, digital cameras, computers and mobile devices.

A Sharp spokesman in Tokyo did not confirm or deny the Samsung investment plan. "This news is not something that has been announced by the company," he said.

Samsung also declined to comment.

Japanese media said an announcement would come later in the day.

Sharp received a $4.4 billion bailout from banks last October but had to mortgage its offices and factories in Japan to secure the loans. It also pledged to trim its workforce by 10,000 people and sell off assets.

The Japanese firm was earlier in talks with Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd for an investment, but separate sources have said the Japanese firm's revival plan was unlikely to include a capital infusion from the Taiwanese giant.

In December, chip maker Qualcomm Inc agreed to invest as much as $120 million in Sharp. As part of that agreement, Qualcomm said it would work with Sharp to develop new, power-saving screens based on Sharp's IGZO technology.

With the investment, Samsung is seeking to lock in supply of large-sized panels from the Japanese firm, one of the sources said.

Although Samsung mainly sources its liquid crystal display (LCD) requirements from its own display unit Samsung Display, it also purchases panels from Sharp and Taiwanese manufacturers.

Samsung and Sony set up a 50/50 joint LCD venture in 2004 as a part of the Japanese firm's attempt to ensure supply of TV panels but Sony sold the stake back to Samsung in 2011 after struggling to make money from TV sales and losing market share to its Korean rivals.


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