Foxconn details offer for troubled Sharp, Gou steps in: source

TOKYO (Reuters) - Taiwan's Foxconn 2317.TW has detailed its offer for troubled electronics maker Sharp Corp 6753.T, a person with direct knowledge of the talks said, potentially complicating a rescue bid led by a Japanese state-backed fund.

The logo of Foxconn, the trading name of Hon Hai Precision Industry, is seen on top of the company's headquarters in Tucheng, New Taipei city, December 24, 2013. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang/Files

Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ), still seen as a front runner, will go head-to-head with Foxconn in the bidding for Sharp, and its third bailout in under four years.

Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, had already offered over 600 billion yen for Sharp but had stopped short of detailing a restructuring plan, people with knowledge of the matter had said last week, dampening enthusiasm for its proposal among Sharp advisers.

The company has now provided details to Sharp and its lenders, including a promise not to cut jobs, and Foxconn founder and chairman Terry Gou has also met government officials on Tuesday to discuss the offer, the person said, declining to be named as the information remains confidential.

“Hon Hai’s offer is detailed. It’s considerably realistic and can’t be ignored,” the source said.

Another industry source familiar with the talks said Foxconn was “very, very intent and serious” about its offer.

Sharp declined to comment. Executive at Foxconn were not immediately available to comment.

INCJ is willing to invest around 300 billion yen in the bailout, while banks are expected to offer up to 350 billion yen in financing, including 150 billion yen in a debt-for-equity swap, a source said late last week.

Sharp’s lenders, however, have been hoping a higher offer from Foxconn could prompt INCJ to raise its bid and help the banks recoup losses.

Sharp's main creditors are Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc's 8306.T core unit Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, and Mizuho Financial Group Inc's 8411.T Mizuho Bank.

INCJ was still considered the favoured buyer, another source said on Tuesday, partly because of the certainty that the state’s involvement brought to the deal. Policymakers are also keen to keep jobs and technology in Japan.

INCJ is reportedly planning to later merge Sharp's LCD business with rival Japan Display 6740.T, in which it is the top shareholder.

Previous tie-up talks between Foxconn and Sharp fell through in 2012 after the Japanese company balked at demands that it said would have given the Taiwanese firm too much control. The companies jointly operate a plant in Osaka, western Japan, that makes large LCD panels.

Additional reporting by JR Wu in Taipei; Writing by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Miral Fahmy