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Sharp to miss March 29 deadline for Qualcomm investment

A woman walks past the Sharp Corp's Logo at a train station in Tokyo March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino
A woman walks past the Sharp Corp's Logo at a train station in Tokyo March 6, 2013. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

TOKYO (Reuters) - Sharp Corp said it will miss a March 29 deadline to receive the second half of a $120 million investment from Qualcomm Inc after it failed to complete a plan to begin fabricating power-saving screens the two companies are jointly developing.

Qualcomm, which paid half the $120 million in December, set conditions for the remainder that included having completed the specifications for the smartphone and tablet PC screens and preparations for their production.

San Diego-based chip maker Qualcomm also said Sharp would have to make an operating profit in the second half of its business year and have at least 100 billion yen ($1.05 billion) of net assets.

"The financial targets are not the reason for the delay," Sharp spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama said.

Sharp and Qualcomm will now fall back to a June 30 deadline for the Japanese company to meet conditions for the second payment, she added.

The two companies said in December that Qualcomm, through its Pixtronix subsidiary, would work with Sharp to develop new power-saving screens based on Sharp's IGZO technology.

Missing the second deadline would add pressure on cash-strapped Sharp as it looks for money to repay a $2.1 billion convertible bond in September. Japan's leading LCD panel maker has also failed to renegotiate an agreement for Taiwan's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co to buy a 9.9 percent stake, with a March 26 deadline expected to pass with no revised agreement in place.

Samsung Electronics Co this month agreed to invest $110 million in Sharp, which supplies screens for Apple Inc's iPhone5 and iPad, in return for a 3 percent stake and a promise from Sharp to bolster panel supplies to the Korean company.

To meet its financial obligations sources at Sharp and its banks, as well as analysts, have told Reuters they expect the Osaka-based company will resort to equity financing to make up any shortfall after it adds up available cashflow and gains from asset and stake sales.

Sharp is in talks to sell its Chinese TV assembly plant to Lenovo Group Ltd and its Mexican TV factory to Hon Hai. Sharp, however, is limited in its ability to sell assets because last year it had to mortgage most of its domestic plants and offices to secure a $3.8 billion bank bailout,

A junk rating from credit agencies has also made raising money in the credit markets expensive.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly and Dominic Lau; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Stephen Coates)

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