Sharp has this morning announced a ¥10.4 billion ($112 million) investment from Samsung that will provide the latter with a 3% stake in the company. It makes Samsung the biggest individual shareholder in the Japanese display maker, and secures its access to Sharp’s LCD panel supplies.
The investment comes at a time when Sharp has been struggling. The company received a $4.4 billion bailout from the banks in October 2012, and its iPad display orders from Apple were recently cut as consumer demand shifted to the smaller iPad mini, which Sharp is not involved with.
The investment will allow Sharp to improve production of its television and smartphone displays, and it ensures Samsung will receive a smooth supply of those. The Korean company is believed to be most interested in Sharp’s larger LCD panels for its high-definition televisions.
Samsung currently sources most of its LCD displays from its own display unit, Samsung Display, but it has also purchased supplies from Sharp in the past. The latest deal between the two companies marks a rare cross-border partnership between rivals South Korea and Japan, which have traditionally competed against each other in the consumer electronics industry.
Sharp has also partnered with Apple, supplying 9.7-inch panels for the iPad and the iPhone — and it’s widely believed that the two companies will team up together again in the future as Apple looks to adopt Sharp’s IGZO technology.
But back in January, it was reported that Apple had “almost halted” production of the larger iPad as consumer demand shifted to its smaller sibling, the 7.85-inch iPad mini, which Sharp does not supply for.
Sharp has also been in talks with Foxconn owner Hon Hai Precision Industry over a possible investment, but recent reports suggested that the deal could be in jeopardy with the two companies unable to agree on a price.