Over the past several years, Sharp Corporation has become one of the best mobile display manufacturers in the world, and one of Apple’s main display suppliers for both the iPhone and the iPad lineups. However, as more companies raised the stake in the mobile display business and continued to up the quality of their products all the while decreasing their prices, Sharp began losing a lot of ground to its competitors, and last month the company revealed that it might register losses of $256 million by the end of the fiscal year. In February 2016, the company announced that it will rethink its strategy, and roughly three weeks later it was reported that Sharp accepted a takeover buyout from Foxconn for US$6.2 billion. However, the acquisition was postponed at the last minute and has yet to be finalized. Meanwhile, a new report suggests that Samsung Electronics might counter Foxconn’s offer with one of its own, adding that this could be the reason behind Samsung’s vice chairman’s recent visit to Japan.
According to a recent report from Business Korea, Samsung Electronics’ vice chairman, Lee Jae-Yong, arrived in Japan last week, on the 18th of March, with the purpose of a “business meeting”. No other details have been revealed by Samsung, but what makes the vice chairman’s visit to Japan rather intriguing is the fact that Lee Jae-Yong is expected to fly into China before March 23. On that day, Samsung’s vice chairman is expected to attend the Boao Forum in Hainan Island, China, where he will discuss various facets surrounding the current uncertainties in relation to the global economy.
Given the VC’s busy schedule and his imminent board meeting in China, Business Korea suspects that Samsung’s Lee Jae-Yong’s recent visit to Japan could be related to the company’s alleged plans for acquiring Sharp. In March 2013, the Korean tech giant agreed to invest roughly US$93 million in order to acquire 3% of Sharp, and given the company’s interest in the Japanese company, Samsung Electronics might plan to counter Foxconn’s recent bid with one of its own. This would be a very interesting move on Samsung’s part considering the fact that Samsung Display is primarily a Super AMOLED panel manufacturer, whereas Sharp’s facilities are mainly equipped for LCD display manufacturing. Samsung’s theoretical acquisition of Sharp could also have ramifications in Apple’s business given the fact that Sharp has been one of the main display suppliers for the Cupertino-based company.