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Thursday, September 20, 2007
Sharp Joins Forces With Pioneer on Blu-Ray, Network and Car Electronics Developments

Sharp and Pioneer announced today that the companies have entered into a business and capital alliance agreement.

Pioneer will issue 41.4 billion yen ($357 million) in stock to Sharp, giving the Osaka-based Sharp a 14.7 percent stake in Pioneer, making it the company's top shareholder.

Pioneer will also buy a 0.9 percent stake in Sharp for 19.75 billion yen ($171 million). Sharp President Mikio Katayama told reporters at a news conference that there are no plans for now for the two companies to merge.

The agreement was announced on Sept. 20 by Sharp Corp. President Mikio Katayama and Pioneer Corp. President Tamihiko Sudo, in a joint news conference at a hotel in Tokyo.

In addition to the capital alliance, the agreement includes a s joint promotion of the companies' developments related to the next generation DVD, network-related and car electronics fields.

Next-Generation DVD Field

To aim development of new "Next generation DVD" related products, by utilizing Sharp's specialization in device technology such as blue-violet laser diode and Pioneer?s specialization in optical disk technology such as drive-module technology.

Network-Related Field

The companies aim for development of new network-related products in home electronics field by merging both companies? most advanced technology.

Car Electronics Field

Sharp and Pioneer aim for creation of new business in car electronics field by combining Sharp's technology of small- and medium-size displays, communication and sensor technology with Pioneer's car navigation technology and other "in-vehicle" know-how.

Display Technologies

Sharp is one of the world's top makers of liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs, competing with Sony and Samsung, while Pioneer mainly is a producer of plasma display (PDP) televisions.

While Sharp is one of the strong players in the fast-growing flat TV market, Pioneer has been losing money because it lacks the scale to make its products as efficiently as Matsushita Electric Industrial or LG Electronics.

Just how the alliance would affect power dynamics in the flat TV market remains unseen, since at this moment, specific joint efforts concerning the flat TV business was limited to Sharp's supplying its LCDs to Pioneer, which did not have LCD TVs in its lineup.

And Sharp's Katayama said the firm had no plan to add PDP TVs to its lineup.

Capital Alliance

Sharp and Pioneer have agreed to finalize the capital alliance on December 20, 2007 in order to ensure a close and firm business alliance. The capital alliance includes Pioneer's new issuance of 30,000,000 common stocks which shall be fully allotted to Sharp, and to which Sharp shall subscribe the full amount through third party allotment. In return, Sharp shall dispose to Pioneer of 10,000,000 treasury stocks which Sharp now owns and Pioneer shall subscribe to the full amount by way of third party allotment.

Purpose of Business and Capital Alliance

Pioneer and Sharp explained that due to advanced digitization of electronic devices and products, the market circumstances for electronics companies continue to become severe, due to an increase of the cost of new product development and relevant capital investment. "We see an opportunity in the strategic business alliance to enhance an efficient differentiation of business and to preserve corporate profits," the companies said.

"Taking such circumstances into consideration, Sharp and Pioneer have decided to enter into a business and capital alliance agreement to create new business and improve both companies' corporate value, by utilization of both companies' resources and through active cooperation, including efficient implementation of both companies' strengths and specializations, such as imaging and display technology, in which Sharp and Pioneer both specialize, and also Sharp's digital technology, communication technology and device technology, as well as Pioneer's optical disk technology, acoustic technology and car electronics technology," the companies added.

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