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Sharp sees appliances in future with Samsung

Kyodo

Struggling electronics maker Sharp Corp. might expand its alliance with Samsung Electronics Co. by supplying appliances to the South Korean giant, sources said.

Sharp hopes to expand its sales of “white goods,” such as refrigerators and washing machines, in South Korea and other areas, which will be marketed under the brand name of Samsung, while the South Korean firm wants to diversify its business by utilizing Sharp’s products, the sources said Saturday.

Sharp, the world’s fifth-largest maker of digital multitask copiers, accepted an investment worth about ¥10.3 billion from Samsung in March. It is also considering a business tieup, although it rejected Samsung’s offer for the copier operation, the sources said.

Samsung sees the copier business as having the potential to succeed its mainstay smartphone business, which could slow down amid fierce global competition.

Sharp’s appliance division, which focuses on health care and environmental features, generated about ¥290 billion in sales in fiscal 2011, or about 10 percent of group sales.

Analysts say that if Sharp can boost its share of the South Korean appliance market, including products with the Plasmacluster ion technology, such as air purifiers and refrigerators, its reconstruction efforts would benefit.

Sharp has projected a second round of massive losses for the business year ended in March.

On Tuesday, Sharp is expected to announce a medium-term business plan through March 2016 that will include expanding supply of liquid crystal display panels to Samsung.

Sharp is looking to earn an operating profit of around ¥150 billion each year as well as annual sales of more than ¥3 trillion.