Sharp and Qualcomm to team up for energyefficient IGZO display venture

We already knew that Sharp's been asking around for some much-needed help recently, and now we can all breathe a sigh of relief, as Nikkei is reporting that said manufacturer has finally found a new friend to help co-develop its energy-efficient IGZO LCD panels. Set to announce as soon as Tuesday (presumably Japan time), the deal will involve Qualcomm initially throwing in five billion yen ($61 million) by the end of the year, with a double-down of another five billion yen after "sufficient progress has been made." There's no timeline yet on when (or if) a full investment would be secured, but if all goes to plan, Qualcomm will eventually hold nearly five percent of Sharp's stock, whereas Sharp will more or less get back the 10 billion yen it lost to Sony following the termination of their joint venture earlier this year. Additionally, Sharp will also share some of the IGZO magic with Qualcomm to help improve the latter's Pixtronix MEMS display technology. Not a bad way for the two companies to wrap up 2012, eh?

Richard Lai contributed to this report.

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SAN DIEGO, Dec. 4 , 2012 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced the expansion of its display technology agreement between its subsidiary Pixtronix, Inc. and Sharp Corporation to develop and commercialize high-quality color, low-power MEMS displays incorporating IGZO (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) technology and built utilizing existing LCD manufacturing infrastructure, and Qualcomm's equity investment in Sharp Corporation. As a result of the equity investment, Qualcomm will become a minority shareholder in Sharp.

Qualcomm's equity investment in Sharp and the expanded joint development agreement build upon the existing work between Sharp and Pixtronix as the two companies have been engaged in development activities for the last year and a half. The goal of this joint effort is to accelerate commercialization of Pixtronix's low power MEMS displays utilizing Sharp's IGZO technology.

The equity investment by Qualcomm will take place in stages and the consummation of the transaction is subject to certain contingencies.

"As one of the leading electronics companies in the world, Sharp has an established industry brand and is a recognized leader in the development and commercialization of new innovative display technologies," said Derek Aberle, executive vice president and group president of Qualcomm. "Expanding our existing relationship with Sharp to jointly commercialize new MEMS display technologies will help both companies realize their shared goal of driving high performance, lower power displays for a variety of devices, including smartphones and tablets."

"Sharp has brought many innovations to the display industry, including the world's first commercialization of IGZO technology in LCD displays this year," said Yoshisuke Hasegawa, executive managing officer of Sharp Corporation. "Sharp is targeting to accelerate the commercialization of MEMS displays by combining Sharp's cutting-edge IGZO technology and Pixtronix's MEMS display technology."

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Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) is the world leader in 3G, 4G and next-generation wireless technologies. Qualcomm Incorporated includes Qualcomm's licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of its patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, substantially all of Qualcomm's engineering, research and development functions, and substantially all of its products and services businesses, including its semiconductor business, QCT. For more than 25 years, Qualcomm ideas and inventions have driven the evolution of digital communications, linking people everywhere more closely to information, entertainment and each other. For more information, visit Qualcomm's website, OnQ blog, Twitter and Facebook pages.

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