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iPhone screen maker Japan Display logs near $1bn first-half loss

Lifeline deal faces potential slip to December amid search for new sponsors

A shopper in China inspects an iPhone 11. JDI is a supplier of screens used in the device.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Struggling screen maker Japan Display reported a first-half net loss of 108.6 billion yen ($995 million) on Wednesday, hit by sagging sales and plant impairment losses as it continues seeking patrons for a financial bailout.

This marks a record first-half loss for JDI, as the company is known, and the sixth consecutive half that it has reported red ink.

Sales rose 11% to 237.7 billion yen, powered by the launch of Apple's new iPhones and some shipments moving ahead of schedule. However, that  figure remained below half peak levels notched in April-September 2015. Combined with low factory utilization, the company could not offset fixed costs. It also logged extraordinary losses of 63.7 billion yen from factors such as impairment losses and staff reductions.

Moreover, a bailout deal that was to be announced at the end of October may instead slip to December, CEO Minoru Kikuoka told reporters Wednesday.

JDI has "no problem with cash flow" at present, Kikuoka said. But the display maker is receiving support from Apple and the Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, a public-private fund. It has not yet settled on a sponsor whose patronage will be needed to resolve its negative net worth.

Several partners have backed out of a consortium to bail out JDI under a plan announced in April, with the late-September withdrawal of China's Harvest Tech Investment Management all but returning the plan to square one. JDI has said it will continue negotiating with Harvest, but the Chinese fund appears unwilling to come back to the fold, according to people close to the matter.

The breakdown of the bailout plan has necessitated another round of negotiations on terms with Hong Kong-based backer Oasis Management, and the parties missed an end-of-October target for hashing out a general agreement on a lifeline.

JDI has also been seeking new patrons, and is "in discussions with an independent private fund who could become lead investor," Kikuoka said. Sources with knowledge of the negotiations named Ichigo Asset Management as the fund in question. When approached by Nikkei, Ichigo declined to comment on the matter.

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