Foxconn, Apple's infamous manufacturing partner, today invested heavily in Sharp, a prominent Japanese display manufacturer. Hon Hai, Foxconn's parent company, now owns 46.5% of Sharp, while Sharp will retain another 46.5% and Sony keeps their 7% stake. As a part of the agreement, Hon Hai will be able to acquire up to half of the large LCD panels and modules made in Sharp's Osaka plant. The factory will be managed by a third company agreed upon by all of the stakeholders.
Foxconn spent $US 1.6 billion (132.5 billion Yen) buying 121.65 million shares from Sharp in the deal. Incoming president Takashi Okuda explained Sharp's move, particularly in light of their steep losses this year.
We needed to take action as we face a strong yen and a rapidly changing business environment. It’s no longer an option to do everything from development, design, manufacturing, marketing and customer service. It’s more important for us to collaborate with business partners to be competitive in the market.
As you might recall, Sharp was rumored to provide screens for the new iPad, but was unable to keep up, Now that they're moving to being more of a manufacturing partner, maybe they'll be able to refocus and get Apple the Retina displays they need.