Sharp Corporation is a leading Japanese manufacturer of components and consumer electronics, best known at home for LCD TVs and mobile phones. It pioneered the development of ever larger and more sophisticated LCD technology for more than 40 years, but was slow to support its products outside Asia with the aggressive marketing they required. As a result, domestic rivals Sony and Panasonic quickly established stronger brand awareness in the West, until they too were leapfrogged by Korean challengers Samsung and LG. As a result, sales of Sharp's own Aquos TVs plunged after 2008 even as its components business, selling digital displays to other manufacturers, remained reasonably healthy. The company also surrendered a long-held lead as Japan's top mobile handset manufacturer. Two huge losses in 2012 and 2013 led to a complete management overhaul as well as a tentative partnership with arch-enemy Samsung as well as other companies. That led to a modest recovery in 2013, before a further slump the following year, and several more years of losses. The deficit for ye 2016 alone was over $2bn. After months of negotiations, Sharp was eventually rescued by Taiwanese tech firm Hon Hai Precision Industry (usually known as Foxconn), which agreed to acquire majority control of the business. That deal was finally approved by Chinese regulators in Aug 2016, at which point JW Tai succeeded Kozo Takahashi as CEO of Sharp. Hon Hai now has 65% of voting rights. There has been a steady recovery. For ye 2018, revenues rebounded to approx $22bn and the company reported its first profit since 2014. Though it still makes LCD TVs, displays and mobile phones (the latter also now under the Aquos sub-brand), it has repositioned itself as a specialist in "AIoT": a combination of artificial intelligence and internet of things technology. Displays devices and components generate the largest share of revenues, but smart devices for the home and business contribute more in profits. Japan and especially China account almost 75% of revenues. In the US and Europe, the company has largely exited the consumer market to focus on B2B. The business is actually named after its first commercial success, the Ever-Sharp mechanical propelling pencil introduced in 1915. It went on to manufacture radios, microwave ovens and early desktop calculators, and was the first Japanese manufacturer to mass-produce televisions in the early 1950s. Its greatest contribution, though, was the commercial development of liquid crystal displays from the mid 1970s, used in everything from calculators and clocks to portable games and mobile phones.
Capsule checked 14th December 2018
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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st Mar 2016: Struggling Japanese electronics company Sharp finally secured an approved offer from Taiwanese suitor Foxconn, after months of on-off negotiations. The final deal is worth Y389bn (around $3.5bn) for two-thirds of equity. Foxconn's previous offer of Y689bn was abruptly suspended last month after the Japanese company disclosed additional future liabilities. That led to further intensive due diligence on Foxconn's part, resulting in the lower bid. Sharp is expected to report its second consecutive loss in excess of Y200bn for the year just ending, and has debts of Y700bn. Yet Foxconn is gambling that its purchase will strengthen ties to key client Apple, whose iPhone it assembles. Sharp is also a key supplier to Apple, providing around a quarter of all the digital displays used in the iPhone.
Adbrands Weekly Update 25th Feb 2016: Sharp said it had accepted an offer from Taiwanese manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Technology - better known as Foxconn - worth $6.2bn, around a quarter of Sharp's annual revenues. However, only a day later, Foxconn put signature of the deal on hold while it reviews a new set of liabilities totalling around $3bn disclosed by the loss-making Sharp this week. Foxconn, with sales of around $90bn a year, is primarily a contract manufacturer, and is the main assembler of Apple's iPhones. The takeover of loss-making Sharp would mark a key step into branded devices.
Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Feb 2016: Struggling to cope with a sharp decline in sales, Japanese electronics pioneer Sharp is close to a deal to sell itself to Taiwanese components manufacturer Hon Hai Precision Industry, better known as Foxconn. If the deal is completed it will be the biggest ever acquisition of a Japanese company by a foreign buyer. Sharp is widely credited with leading the commercial development of liquid crystal displays for electronics devices in the 1970s, and was one of the early pioneers of Japan's mobile handset market. However, it has struggled in the rapidly evolving 21st century marketplace. Foxconn is best known as the main global manufacturer of Apple's iPhones. It has vowed to maintain the Sharp brand and keep the company more or less intact. A rival Japanese bidder had been proposing a break-up of the business.
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