Sharp to get loan extension, more time for Foxconn deal
Sharp Corp.'s banks are ready to push back the deadline for most of the company's 510 billion ($4.5 billion) in loans and credit lines beyond March 31, people with knowledge of the matter said, giving the electronics maker more time to reach a renegotiated deal to be acquired by Foxconn Technology Group. The extension may be as long as one month, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the decision hasn't been publicly announced. Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou agreed a month ago to buy Sharp for more than 600 billion yen, but has held off on signing a final agreement while his advisers scrutinize the company's finances.
While the wrangling has raised the risk of the deal falling apart, extra time from Sharp's lenders will reduce the likelihood that Sharp will miss loan payments and face a dire situation, such as liquidation. Foxconn is seeking to cut the amount it will pay for equity in Sharp to about 389 billion yen, one person said. Foxconn will probably still pay about 100 billion yen for preferred shares that the banks own, though the payment may be delayed, the person said.
Toyodo Uemura, a spokesman for Tokyo-based Sharp, declined to comment. Masako Shiono, a spokeswoman for Mizuho Financial Group, and Taiki Kitaura, a spokesman for Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, declined to comment. Foxconn didn't respond to an e-mailed request for comment.
Foxconn, which includes Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., and Sharp have said they are working toward a final agreement. It has been a month since Sharp's board backed Foxconn's bailout over a competing offer from Innovation Network Corp. of Japan. Since then, Gou has put the brakes on the deal while he seeks more clarity on Sharp's performance in the current quarter, people familiar with the mat- ter have said.
Yomiuri newspaper and Jiji first reported that Foxconn is seeking to pay a lower price for equity in Sharp.
A reduction in the value of Foxconn's offer would put it closer to the bid from INCJ. The Japanese government-backed investment fund had offered about 300 billion yen for Sharp, all of which would have been put into the company through the purchase of additional shares. Sharp hasn't gone back to INCJ to seek another bid, the people said.