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Tuesday, December 04, 2012
Qualcomm to Invest $120 Million in Sharp

Qualcomm will invest $120 million in Sharp, a cash injection likely to make it the struggling Japanese TV maker's biggest shareholder, and to boost Sharp's efforts to remain viable.

Sharp today confirmed earlier reports that it has reached an agreement with Pixtronix Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm, concerning the development of Pixtronix's Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) displays. In addition, Sharp signed the capital alliance agreement and will issue new shares by a third party allotment with Qualcomm Incorporated.

MEMS display to be developed jointly by the two companies is a display using ultrafine process technology and existing display manufacturing infrastructure with features including high color reproducibility and low-power consumption. The development for commercialization of MEMS display will be achieved by integrating Sharp's core display technology, IGZO and MEMS display technology of Pixtronix.

In addition, Sharp is planning to accept up to 9.9 billion yen from Qualcomm in equity investment to pursue this joint development. This capital will be used for the development of MEMS display and necessary capital investments related thereto targeting for the achievement of the technology for commercialization.

With this agreement, the two companies will consider the possibility of further collaboration of chipsets by Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated and IGZO-based display technology for lower power consumption and higher performance of mobile terminals.

Qualcomm will make an initial investment of 4.93 billion yen ($59.91 million) by the end of the year in a private placement of stock at 164 yen per share, 10 yen less than Tuesday's closing price. That will give the U.S. company a 2.64 percent stake after dilution.

The timing and amount of the remaining investment has yet to be decided and will be conditional on Sharp returning to profit in the second half of the business year ending March 31.

Sharp had been expected to make Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd its biggest shareholder, adding to an earlier agreement to sell the Taiwanese company a stake in its advanced television LCD panel plant in Sakai, western Japan. That agreement, however, unraveled as losses mounted at Sharp.

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