CHIPMAKER Intel is reportedly sniffing around troubled LCD maker Sharp to become its largest single shareholder.
Sharp, which desperately needs a cash injection to pay creditors, had already been in talks with Foxconn over a possible investment but the firms hit a snag when Foxconn's chairman wanted a seat on Sharp's board. Now Intel is the latest firm to be mentioned as a suitor for Sharp, with the Mainichi newspaper reporting that the display maker wants in the region of 30bn Yen and that a deal could be done in October.
According to the Mainichi newspaper, Intel is interested in Sharp for its LCD display technology, the same technology that Foxconn was interested in to strengthen its influence with firms such as Apple. However Intel has been pushing laptop makers to use higher quality displays in ultrabook branded laptops and Sharp's IGZO display technology could tempt Intel into ploughing the 30bn Yen ($383m) into Sharp.
Intel can clearly afford the 30bn Yen price of becoming Sharp's largest shareholder and its investment arm has already been splashing cash around trying to diversify the chip firm's revenue generation capabilities. Intel's biggest consideration might be whether it wants to put that much money into a company that has to pay off close to 360bn Yen in short-term loans just to stay afloat.
Of course, Sharp's posturing could just be a ploy to get Foxconn to remove its demand for a seat on its board. After all, a deal between Sharp and Foxconn seems to make more sense than one with a giant chipmaker that heretofore has shown very little interest in producing displays. µ