January 31, 2020 / 9:15 AM / 23 days ago

Apple supplier Japan Display gets $920 million bailout from Ichigo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan Display Inc (6740.T) said on Friday it had sealed a deal to receive up to 100.8 billion yen ($918.87 million) from Ichigo Asset Management, a critical bailout for the Apple supplier that has been dependant on publicly funded rescues.

FILE PHOTO: Japan Display's logo is seen at a display of its products at its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

The deal will give the independent Japanese investment manager effective control of the liquid crystal display (LCD) maker, replacing the Japanese government-backed INCJ fund as the top shareholder.

The bailout comes as Apple (AAPL.O), which sources LCD panels for iPhones from Japan Display, has shown its commitment to financially support Japan Display, which sources said reassured other investors.

The U.S. tech giant has agreed to shorten payment periods, relax debt repayment terms and put up $200 million. Japan Display generated 61% of its revenue from Apple in the last financial year.

Apple is also leading talks on the potential sale of Japan Display’s idled smartphone screen factory to Sharp Corp (6753.T), another iPhone display supplier, sources familiar with the matter said.

Japan Display owes Apple more than $800 million for the $1.5 billion cost of building the plant four years ago.

Ichigo, with more than $7 billion under management, will initially inject 50.4 billion yen into Japan Display by purchasing preferred shares upfront by late March, taking a 44.26% stake.

It is offering to buy an additional 50.4 billion yen in preferred shares for a later date, which could boost its stake up to 70.43% when converted into common shares.

Scott Callon, Ichigo’s chief executive officer, would join Japan Display as the company’s chairman.

Japan Display has been losing money for the past five years because of its late shift to organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens, competition from cut-price Chinese players and slowing growth in smartphone demand.

Bailout talks have been repeatedly derailed as Chinese investment firm Harvest and several other potential investors pulled out of the plan.

Japan Display was formed in 2012 when the LCD businesses of Hitachi Ltd (6501.T), Toshiba Corp (6502.T) and Sony Corp (6758.T) merged in a government-brokered deal.

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; editing by David Evans

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