Taiwan’s tech giant Hon Hai said Wednesday it had finally sealed a takeover of Japanese electronics maker Sharp in a “historic” deal worth JPY 389 billion ($3.5 billion or roughly Rs. 23,222 crores).
It is the first foreign acquisition of a major Japanese electronics firm and comes after weeks of delays, with Hon Hai buying a 66 percent controlling stake.
But the cash injection from Hon Hai – the multi-national owner of Foxconn, the world’s biggest iPhone and iPad maker – is well down from the original JPY 489 billion put on the table in February.
Hon Hai put the brakes on the takeover last month, soon after it was first announced, to review new information from Sharp, believed to relate to the company’s sizeable liabilities.
Hon Hai’s colourful founder Terry Gou said he was “thrilled” by the “strategic alliance”.
“We have much that we want to achieve and I am confident that we will unlock Sharp’s true potential and together reach great heights,” he said in a statement.
Sharp’s president and CEO Kozo Takahashi added that the move was to merge forces and “accelerate innovation”.
The joint statement, issued at a news conference in Taipei, added that the takeover was a bid to revive Sharp’s flagging fortunes, calling it a “historic strategic alliance”.
“We are committed to restoring profitability and strengthening operations to once again make Sharp a leader in the global electronics arena and a world-class company with a positive outlook,” the statement said.
A Hon Hai spokesman said the deal would be signed in Osaka on Saturday.
Sharp has teetered on the edge of bankruptcy for years and billionaire Gou has long been pushing for a takeover.
The two firms have worked together on large-screen technology, including for televisions, and jointly operate a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel plant in Japan.
Still, the Japanese government had reportedly been concerned about Sharp’s key technologies falling into the hands of a foreign firm.
Sharp is still a leader in LCD technology and remains one of Japan’s best-known corporate brands overseas despite its bleeding balance sheet.
But the century-old company piled up eye-watering losses after the 2008 global financial crisis and a restructuring plan has yet to pull it out of the red.
Separately, Sharp warned on Wednesday it was expecting an operating loss of JPY 170 billion in the current fiscal year, reversing earlier expectations for a small profit.
In February, Sharp said its net loss in the April to December period came in at a whopping JPY 108.3 billion, way up from the year before.
“For Sharp, this is the first step toward normalisation and it will make the company a buy for investors again,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Research Institute in Tokyo.
“This deal proves that Japanese electronics firms are still attractive for foreign rivals.
“Sharp has competitive know-how and technologies. For Hon Hai, it’s a good buy. It wanted a brand for finished products and it can make use of the Sharp name.”