Sharp is planning to split-off its display business on October 1 into a wholly owned subsidiary called Sharp Display Technology (SDT), according to a recent report on Japanese web site SankeiBiz.

According to the report relayed by Korean business news site, The Elec Wednesday, Sharp is making the move in order to help secure funding for the development of MicroLED technology.

The new company will be based in Kameyama, where Sharp Corp. has maintained a LCD display panel industrial park for many years.

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Sharp Corp. is now majority controlled by Taiwan’s giant electronics conglomerate Hon Hai Precision Industry (Foxconn), which at one time had been lauded by President Trump for its plan to use an industrial park in Wisconsin for a TV assembly plant before those plans were revised and downscaled multiple times.

The Hon Hai-controlled Sharp is expected to make a return to marketing its own-branded TVs in the United States, potentially in 2021, after regaining control of the North American brand and TV marketing rights from former licensee Hisense USA. The new Sharp has announced its intention to be a driving force globally in the new era of the 5G/8K Ecosystem.

In a related development, Sharp last month purchased JDI’s liquid crystal display (LCD) factory in Hakusan for a reported $390 million, and plans to use portions of that factory for the development of MicroLED.

Sharp also plans to move LCD equipment at Kameyama to Hakusan, the report said, while the Kameyama factory will add a line focused on panels intended for medical and in-vehicle applications.

The report adds that Sharp bought the Hakusan factory at the request of Apple, and will continue to use a portion of the site to consolidate production of LCD panels for iPhones, renting some additional equipment from Apple in the process. Sharp Parent, Hon Hai, through its Foxconn company, is a key assembler of iPhones.

JDI, which reportedly has been struggling, had been a major Apple supplier of LCD screens for mobile phones, before Apple started adding OLED panels to products more and more extensively.

Sharp’s display business reportedly accounts for 30% of its sales.

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By Greg Tarr

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