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Sharp switching to overseas expansion mode under Foxconn

OSAKA -- Sharp is mulling Chinese sales of solar cells and a return to the U.S. and European TV markets as part of efforts to rebuild under new Taiwanese parent Hon Hai Precision Industry.

Expecting domestic demand to grow only slowly in the key business of solar cells, the Osaka-based electronics manufacturer is turning to the massive Chinese market. It is carrying out market research with an eye toward trial sales, targeting megasolar plants.

Hon Hai, or Foxconn Technology Group, is thinking about developing a Chinese sales network to help the efforts. Sharp has already secured contracts to supply its efficient and durable cells to megasolar projects in Mongolia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Back in February, before Foxconn signed the acquisition deal, the Taiwanese contract electronics manufacturer had suggested that Sharp unload the solar cell business, which bled an 18.4 billion yen ($183 million) operating loss in the year ended March. But the idea has apparently been mothballed.

Sharp will also step up marketing of white goods in China, possibly introducing direct shipment from factory to consumer in addition to operating company-run outlets. Foxconn sees Sharp's white goods as a key asset and aims to increase their sales volume by introducing low-cost offerings, among other steps.

Sharp sold television operations in Europe to a Slovakian manufacturer, and those in the U.S. to China's Hisense group, in a desperate attempt to stay afloat. But it now aims to begin negotiations next month to buy back the TV brand and possibly more in those markets. Success would be a dream come true for Foxconn, which has repeatedly expressed a desire to cultivate American and European TV businesses. But it remains to be seen if the talks will lead to a reacquisition of the TV operations.

(Nikkei)

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