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Samsung in talks with Japan's Murata on S8 batteries

Seeking reliable supplier network after Note 7 debacle

Murata's headquarters in Kyoto. The company announced the purchase of Sony's battery operations in 2016.

SEOUL -- Samsung Electronics is discussing a supply deal with Japan's Murata Manufacturing for batteries for its next-generation smartphone, it was learned Thursday.

The Galaxy S8, coming this spring, will replace Samsung's top-of-the-line Galaxy Note 7, which was pulled from the market last year after a number of the devices caught fire.

Samsung said in late January that an investigation had shown battery defects were responsible for the fires. The South Korean company's battery procurement strategy going forward will be crucial to breaking out of its smartphone sales slump.

Kyoto-based Murata said last July it would acquire battery operations from Sony in a deal expected to close sometime in April. Samsung is apparently impressed with the performance and reliability of Sony's lithium-ion batteries.

The Note 7 batteries came from two sources: Samsung SDI and Hong Kong's Amperex Technology, a unit of Japan's TDK. Different design and manufacturing failures at both companies had a role in the fires, according to Samsung, which did not reveal the suppliers' names.

Adding a third supplier could reduce the risk of future failures. Samsung had considered sourcing batteries from compatriot LG Chem as well, but is not expected to take that route with the S8.

Alternatively, Murata may replace Amperex as one of two battery suppliers for the S8, depending on how the talks go.

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