Qualcomm buys 2.6% stake in Sharp, may double that if everything goes to plan

December 4, 2012
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    Qualcomm, the chip designer, has allegedly agreed to purchase 5 billion Japanese yen worth of Sharp stock. That’s roughly $61 million or about 2.6% of the company. Now we know what you’re thinking, why is Qualcomm getting in the screen business? They’re actually not, they just want to make sure that Sharp stays afloat. Sharp isn’t exactly doing too well right now. They need money to soldier on with their low power IGZO based LCD panels. Qualcomm wants to help promote these panels, probably because they want handset vendors to combine them with their Snapdragon SoC.

    If this investment turns out to actually help Sharp stay alive, then Qualcomm might double their stake in the company. All this hasn’t been made official, but it supposedly will later this week. The good news has already bumped up Sharp’s stock by 1.75%, but what do analysts make of the deal? Here’s what Mitsushige Akino, the Chief Fund officer at Ichiyoshi Asset Management, told Bloomberg:

    “Even if 10 companies invested 10 billion yen each in Sharp, it would still only be 100 billion yen. It’s meaningless.”

    He’s got a point. Sharp themselves have said that they’re on track to lose 450 billion Japanese yen this year. We’d also like to remind you about Mirasol, the screen technology Qualcomm has been trying to get off the ground for what feels like forever. Mirasol promised to deliver electronic ink power levels, but with color reproduction and even video playback. No one cared.

    So who else is looking to invest in Sharp? A lot of companies. Supposedly Dell and Intel are in late stage negotiations, but again, none of this is official yet.

    We want Sharp to survive, desperately, because they’re not only an innovative company in terms of inventing new display technology, but because more players almost always results in better and cheaper products.

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