CHIP DESIGNER Qualcomm is set to make a $120m investment in troubled Japanese display maker Sharp.
Rumours had been floating around that Qualcomm was looking to make an investment in Sharp, and the display maker has confirmed the investment. Qualcomm initially will invest $60m in Sharp through its Pixtronix subsidiary by the end of 2012 to help develop Sharp's IGZO display technology.
Qualcomm will make a further $60m investment in Sharp should the initial work on its IGZO displays seem promising. Should Qualcomm complete the $120m investment in Sharp, that will make it the single largest shareholder with around five percent of the firm, primarily due to the fact that Sharp's share price has fallen by almost 75 percent in 2012.
While Sharp said it will work with Qualcomm on further developing its display technology, the two firms will also look at working together on developing chip fabrication technologies.
It had been reported that Intel and Dell were also sniffing around Sharp, while Hon Hai is known to be looking to make a stake in the firm, though its demand for a seat on Sharp's board is likely the main sticking point in negotiations. Sharp has warned that its future is in doubt if it cannot secure investment to repay large debts it amassed as part of its LCD manufacturing push back in 2006 and 2007.
Qualcomm's decision to back IGZO displays could see it promoting that as part of a package to smartphone and tablet makers that opt for the firm's popular Snapdragon line of system-on-chips. However Sharp likely will need more than $120m to realise the promise of IGZO displays. µ