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Foxconn Set to Buy Sharp. Maybe.

Brian Santo

Foxconn Technology's attempt to buy Sharp, an on-again off-again proposition since the former first invested in a subsidiary of the latter in 2012, was definitively on again Thursday morning… until a few hours later when it was off again.

By the time this is posted, the deal could be back on again. Watch the comments section below.

Foxconn Electronics Inc. , based in Taiwan, announced a deal to buy Sharp Electronics Corp. for something in excess of $4.5 billion, outbidding a Japanese investment firm. Shortly thereafter, Sharp informed Foxconn of possibly billions of dollars worth of liabilities, according to The Wall Street Journal. Foxconn (formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industrial) subsequently halted the proceedings.

Sharp, once a leading electronics producer, has been consistently losing money of late; one of its most profitable remaining product lines is display screens. Foxconn is a noted assembler of Apple iPhones. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) currently sources most of its iPhone screens from rival LG.

Apple does not comment on its suppliers, but it's fairly easy to connect the dots. Apple would no doubt prefer to buy touchscreens from a vendor that is not a direct competitor (or at least not much of one; Sharp does have one mobile phone product), and Foxconn would no doubt be pleased to comply if it can do so profitably, hence its interest in buying Sharp.

— Brian Santo, Senior Editor, Components, T&M, Light Reading

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