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Samsung invests $111M in Sharp to buoy display business

The investment will give Samsung a 3 percent stake in Sharp, a big Apple supplier that has been struggling. The deal also means a steady supply of LCD panels for Samsung.

A Sharp TV
Samsung has agreed to invest 10.4 billion yen, or about $111.3 million, in Sharp, helping buoy the struggling display maker.

Sharp said it will issue 35.8 million shares to give Samsung's Japanese electronics unit an approximate 3 percent stake in the company. Sharp noted in a press release that the investment "is to build up mutual trust" in the liquid crystal display business and at the same time boost Sharp's capital position.

The new partnership will ensure that Samsung receives a steady supply of large LCD panels for TVs and small and medium panels for mobile devices and notebook computers.

Samsung noted in a press release that it will have no involvement in Sharp's business management "in any way or form."

The companies expect to complete the deal sometime this month.

Samsung declined to comment further. We've contacted Sharp for additional comment and will update the report when we hear back.

Display technology has become more important as electronics makers strive to build the top-selling smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Screens are one of the most power-hungry components in a mobile device, and they also can limit what a device looks like and how much it costs. Many companies, including Samsung and rival Apple, have turned to Sharp for its thin, energy-efficient LCD panels.

However, even strong demand for displays hasn't been enough to help Sharp's financial results. The company has struggled with widening losses and falling revenue over the past couple years, and it warned recently that it will post a record 450 billion yen loss for the fiscal year ending this month.

Not only are its losses sizable, but in November the company also warned investors that there was "material doubt" that it may be able to continue as a "going concern." Sharp has worked to focus on restructuring efforts, which include massive layoffs, that could help the company generate more cash flow and attract creditors to help it raise funds.

A $111 million investment from Samsung isn't enough to save Sharp but it does put the company in a better position than it was before. It also adds to the $120 million investment promised by Qualcomm in December. And other electronics companies -- such as Foxconn, Dell, and Intel -- have also reportedly mulled deals.

It also means conditions could be a little tougher for Apple, a major Sharp customer. Apple could lose some of its preferential status with display supply and find it harder to get all the panels it needs. In addition, the pact also creates another link between Apple and Samsung despite Apple's reported efforts to reduce its reliance on Samsung. Apple has been battling Samsung in the courtroom but buys many components from the Korean company.