Foxconn on Fast Track in Battle to Acquire Sharp

Electronics assembler Foxconn is working hard to finalize a deal to acquire Sharp Corp. in a $5 billion deal "within days," says a report.

Foxconn, Sharp, takeover, acquisition, merger, iPhone, electronics, Xiaomi

Foxconn's $5 billion takeover offer for Sharp is being put on a fast track by the Taiwanese electronics assembler as it pushes forward on the proposed acquisition to win out over a bailout offer that's backed by the Japanese government.

Foxconn, which is the largest worldwide assembler of Apple's iPhones, has been tussling for Sharp against another buyout offer from the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ), a government-backed fund, according to a Feb. 4 story by The Wall Street Journal. Sharp's CEO Kozo Takahashi said "the company would focus its attention on the talks with Foxconn, without shutting out INCJ entirely," the story reported.

Originally, INCJ appeared to lead in the running for Sharp, but that has changed recently, the story reported. "Sharp's embrace of Foxconn marked a striking turnabout in a battle that has come to be seen as a test of Japan's openness to foreign investment and highlighted the role of its government in restructuring a troubled electronics industry."

This is not the first time Foxconn has shown interest in Sharp, which makes consumer electronics and provides liquid crystal display panels to Apple and other smartphone vendors, according to the Journal. In 2012, Foxconn was preparing to take a 10 percent stake in Sharp, but the deal fell apart after a poor Sharp earnings report, the story said.

In August, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi began partnering with Foxconn to try to carve out a bigger piece of the huge consumer handset market in India by assembling phones there to cut costs and simplify distribution. The devices will be assembled in a factory in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Xiaomi's first locally made smartphone, the $109 Redmi2 Prime, rolled off the assembly line in India almost immediately after the announcement. Xiaomi entered the market in India in July 2014 and has become the second-largest player for phones in the country.

Foxconn previously had assembly plants in India.

Earlier in August, reports circulated that Xiaomi wants to start making its own ARM-based chips, according to a previous eWEEK story. Xiaomi apparently wants to join the ranks of Apple, Huawei Technologies and Samsung as another smartphone maker that builds its own custom-designed processors rather than buying chips from Qualcomm or MediaTek. The company has gathered the necessary ARM licenses and plans to begin designing them next year.

The move to designing and manufacturing its own chips could give Xiaomi greater control over its smartphone designs and reduce their costs. The company's current Android devices are powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon processors.

The move to make chips is part of a larger push by Xiaomi to expand its capabilities and reach in the booming and highly competitive smartphone market that includes such major players as Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Huawei and LG Electronics.