The Pak Banker - - COMPANIES/BOSS -

Fox­conn Tech­nol­ogy Group Chair­man Terry Gou has taken a step for­ward in the hotly con­tested bat­tle for con­trol of Ja­pan's Sharp Corp, win­ning an agree­ment to be­come the pre­ferred ne­go­ti­at­ing part­ner for a bailout of the strug­gling con­sumer elec­tron­ics maker. Gou spoke out­side Sharp head­quar­ters in Osaka on Fri­day af­ter a meet­ing that stretched hours past its planned com­ple­tion time. He held up a pa­per with his own sig­na­ture and that of Sharp Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Kozo Taka­hashi, and said he ex­pects to have a fi­nal agree­ment by the end of Fe­bru­ary.

"We are 90 per­cent there. The re­main­ing 10 per­cent are le­gal mat­ters and are not a big deal," he told re­porters, speak­ing in Chi­nese with a Ja­panese trans­la­tor. "There will be no breakup of Sharp. I guar­an­tee that the Sharp brand will go on." Gou made the last-minute trip to Ja­pan to step up pres­sure on the com­pany to quickly ac­cept his pro­posed bid, af­ter Taka­hashi said on Thurs­day he planned to take an­other month to choose be­tween Fox­conn and the ri­val bid­der, gov­ern­ment­backed In­no­va­tion Net­work Corp of Ja­pan. Sharp's stock gained 10 per­cent to 176 yen ($1.5) at the close in Tokyo trad­ing on Fri­day, af­ter climb­ing 17 per­cent on Thurs­day. Taka­hashi was ques­tioned re­peat­edly about whether one bid­der was fa­vored over the other and re­fused to con­cede the point. "Both par­ties are on the same foot­ing," Taka­hashi said. A Sharp spokesman de­clined to com­ment af­ter Gou's re­marks on Fri­day. Gou has pushed hard for a deal even as it looked un­likely he would win. Sharp had been in­clined to take the bid from govern­ment-backed INCJ, which of­fered about 300 bil­lion yen, in­dus­try sources said last month. But then Gou raised his bid from 600 bil­lion yen to about 660 bil­lion yen and flew to Ja­pan to make a per­sonal ap­peal to Sharp's board, its banks and govern­ment of­fi­cials.

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