Japan's Sharp mulls main businesses sale: report

Japan's embattled Sharp Corp. is considering selling off part of its main operations as it looks to plug a gaping hole in its balance sheet, a report said Friday.

The consumer electronics giant, bracing for a huge net loss this fiscal year, is set to pull out of copiers and air conditioners, to focus on its more competitive liquid crystal display (LCD) division, the Nikkei business daily said, without citing sources.

Sharp rejected the report.

"The company is studying a variety of measures, but there are no facts to support the Nikkei newspaper's report about a possible sale of the company's main operations," a Sharp spokeswoman said.

Sharp suffered a bloodletting earlier this month, with its shares diving to 40-year lows in Tokyo, after it reported enormous quarterly losses and warned of more red ink to come.

The Nikkei said that as part of its turnaround plan, the firm is mulling a spinoff of a plant in central Japan, which makes LCD panels for smartphones and tablet computers, including Apple's iPhone and iPad.

It may accept investment from other manufacturers and run the factory jointly, as it does with Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision at its Sakai plant in Osaka prefecture, which makes large LCD panels for televisions.

Sharp may also stop assembling televisions in Japan, the paper said, citing an unnamed senior executive.

The Osaka-based firm, which began life making belt buckles and invented the mechanical pencil, warned this month it expected to book a net loss of 250 billion yen ($3.15 billion) this fiscal year -- far bigger than a 30 billion yen shortfall predicted earlier.

The corporate overhaul includes cutting thousands of jobs from Sharp's global workforce, its first layoffs since 1950, in a bid to chop about $1.3 billion in fixed costs from its sagging accounts.

Sharp's shares fell 1.14 percent to 173 yen in Friday afternoon trade.

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