Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry reportedly has sounded out SoftBank Group about joining its bid to acquire Sharp, aiming to sweeten the deal by bringing in a Japanese partner and a major buyer of the troubled manufacturer’s mainstay smartphones.
Hon Hai, the contract electronics manufacturer also known as Foxconn, plans to hold a controlling interest in Sharp, with SoftBank seen taking a roughly 10-20% stake. Having SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son himself buy into Sharp directly is likely on the table as well. Foxconn hopes that having the telecom company on board would boost Sharp’s smartphone sales, contributing to its recovery.
Foxconn produces Pepper, SoftBank’s humanoid robot, and Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou is close to Son.
Son announced in June that SoftBank would team with Foxconn and another partner on a solar venture in India. Though Sharp’s solar cell business is struggling, the Japanese company has know-how in areas such as operating solar power facilities.
Asked Wednesday about potential involvement in Sharp’s restructuring, Son responded that it is well outside SoftBank’s territory.
Foxconn, which reportedly has offered 700 billion yen ($6.21 billion) in support to Sharp, aims to reach an agreement by the end of February. It hopes to counter a competing bid from the public-private Innovation Network Corp. of Japan by partnering with prominent businesses that can help Sharp rebuild.