TOKYO Jan 23 Japan's Sharp Corp said
on Thursday it would stop making solar panels in the United
States by the end of March, extending its overhaul of
unprofitable operations in response to fierce competition from
low-cost Chinese rivals.
The decision is in line with a strategy devised by the
electronics maker last May to recover from heavy losses across
its businesses. As part of a three-year revival plan, Sharp
promised to slim down its solar panel operations overseas and
strengthen its display business.
The U.S. shutdown would cost about 300 jobs, or two-thirds
of the workforce, at a Sharp plant in Tennessee, a source with
direct knowledge of the matter said.
A Sharp spokesman said the scale of the job cuts, through
voluntary retirement, was still being negotiated. The
10-year-old factory will continue to manufacture microwave ovens
and toner cartridges for photocopiers, Sharp said.
The company had previously said it would stop making solar
panels in Wales by the end of next month. That leaves a factory
in western Japan and a joint venture with power utility Enel SpA
in Italy as its sole solar panel bases.
Sharp has been scrambling to repair its balance sheet since
racking up a net loss of 545 billion yen ($5.23 billion) in the
last business year through March 2013.
In its July-September second quarter, Sharp reported its
first quarterly net profit in two years, thanks largely to a
weaker yen. A $4.6 billion rescue arranged by banks in 2012 is
contingent upon Sharp posting both an operating and net profit
for the full year.
The company is scheduled to report earnings for the
October-December period on Feb. 4.
Shares in Sharp were down 0.8 percent on Thursday morning,
while the benchmark Nikkei average ticked up 0.3