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Foxconn's Gou attends Sharp meeting, takeover seen advancing

TAIPEI/TOKYO -- The chairman of Apple supplier Foxconn, Terry Gou, on Monday took part in a meeting in Bangkok held by his takeover target, troubled Japanese electronics giant Sharp.

     The move suggested continuing progress in Foxconn's acquisition of Sharp, which one source said could be concluded as soon as Wednesday.

     "Chairman Gou is on a scheduled trip to Thailand. He is taking advantage of the trip to visit the manufacturing facilities of Sharp as part of due diligence. He was also invited by Sharp to attend a global meeting in Bangkok," Foxconn said in a statement. The meeting was to discuss how to boost Sharp's health business overseas, the company added.

     Sharp declined to comment on the meeting and whether Gou was present. A source told The Nikkei that senior Sharp executives did not participate in the Bangkok event and remained in the western Japanese city of Osaka on Monday, home to the Japanese company's headquarters.

     Sharp has agreed to a 660 billion yen ($5.8 billion) buyout offer from Foxconn, whose official name is Hon Hai Precision Industry, but the Taiwanese company has yet to hold a board meeting to approve the transaction.

     Foxconn decided to hold off on finalizing the deal after it discovered that Sharp had some 350 billion yen in contingent liabilities on Feb. 24, only a day before Sharp's board members voted to accept Foxconn's takeover proposal. The two sides have begun a new round of due diligence with the goal of helping Foxconn complete the acquisition.

     While the two companies still have not announced a date for signing an agreement, a source has told The Nikkei that it could happen as early as Wednesday, while another person with knowledge of ongoing negotiations says the two sides will wrap up everything and close the deal before this coming weekend.

     On Monday, Foxconn said that the two sides have still not set a date for completing the deal, while Sharp declined to comment.

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