Japan's Sharp considering $1.4b public offering: Report

TOKYO (AFP) - Embattled Japanese electronics firm Sharp is considering making a public share offering worth more than 100 billion yen (S$1.4 billion) early this year, a report said on Tuesday.

The public offering could take place in the spring with the firm hoping to use the funds to strengthen its mainstay liquid crystal display (LCD) business and improve its creditworthiness, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said.

Sharp has started talks with major creditor banks and wants to include the capital increase scheme in a mid-term business plan to be announced as early as February, the mass-circulation daily said without naming its sources.

The cash-strapped company said in December it had struck a 9.9 billion yen capital injection deal with US-based chipmaker Qualcomm as it moves to repair its tattered balance sheet.

The Qualcomm deal will see the pair jointly develop energy-efficient LCD panels for smartphones using the Japanese firm's technology, with the US company initially getting about 2.64 per cent of Sharp's stock.

Japan's battered electronics sector has suffered from a myriad of problems including a high yen, slowing demand in key export markets, fierce overseas competition and strategic mistakes that left its finances in ruins.

Sharp has suffered a series of credit rating downgrades and warned it expects to lose about US$5.6 billion (S$6.8 billion) in the fiscal year to March 2013.

The Osaka-based maker of Aquos-brand electronics has announced thousands of job losses while cutting wages for employees - from the factory floor to the boardroom - and selling real estate to shore up its balance sheet.

Sharp said last year it had reached a capital injection deal worth about US$800 million with Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision, which makes Apple gadgets in China, but the deal stalled as Sharp's share price nosedived.