Mizuho Financial Group, one of the main lenders to Sharp Corp, has agreed to participate in a 210 billion yen ($2.7 billion) bailout of the troubled TV maker, a source familiar with the matter said, meaning Sharp has cleared a major obstacle to its survival.
Mizuho and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ (BTMU) have been orchestrating Sharp’s funding plans in exchange for drastic changes at the century-old firm, including selling overseas TV assembly plants and shutting solar panel businesses in Europe and the United States.
BTMU, a core banking unit of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, is also expected to approve the plan later on Thursday, sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
That 210 billion yen of lending to be shared between the two banks would be on top of 150 billion yen of loans already made to Sharp, which has to pay as much as 360 billion yen of short-term commercial paper over the coming months.
Of the total 360 billion yen in lending, the two main banks want other firms including Resona Holdings to take over half of those loans, said the sources, who declined to be named because the matter was not made public.
Sharp’s stock fell 3.4 percent in early trading in Tokyo, compared with a 0.2 percent fall in the benchmark Topix index.
Sharp, which has already mortgaged most of its offices and factories in Japan, including one that makes displays for Apple Inc.‘s iPhone and iPad, has needed to convince banks it can end losses and return to profit in the next business year if it is to unlock additional financing.
In the business proposal submitted to lenders, Sharp predicts it can achieve an operating profit of 121 billion yen in the year beginning April 1, compared with an operating loss of 115 billion this term, the sources said.
As part of that, Sharp would shut module assembly plants, one in the U.S. and one in Britain, the sources said. The company would also need to dissolve a partnership with Italy’s leading power producer Enel SpA, which last year opened a joint panel production plant.
Sharp, which a decade ago was the world’s leading maker of solar panels with around a fifth of the market, also plans to consolidate production at several Japanese sites into one location.
TV plant sale
Other cost-cutting measures and asset sales Sharp has proposed include the sale of overseas TV assembly plants. Sharp is already in talks to sell plants in Mexico and China to Taiwanese partner and fellow Apple supplier Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. The two companies jointly operate a TV display plant in western Japan.
Sharp has also offered to sell a third assembly plant in Malaysia. Removing the workers at those sites from its payroll would, when added to 5,000 planned layoffs, shrink the company’s workforce by more than 11,000 people, or by about a fifth.
The company is also asking its remaining workers to accept pay cuts as steep as a tenth of their salary.
Talks to sell a 9.9 stake to Hon Hai, a sale which would make the Taiwanese company its biggest shareholder, have, however, stalled after an agreement had been expected in August. Hon Hai has said it wants a management role in return for its cash.
Sharp has denied a local report that it is in talks to make Intel Corp its biggest stockholder instead, but sources have said it is in talks to supply panels for ultra-thin laptops that typically use processors made by Intel. ($1 = 77.7800 Japanese yen)