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Sharp cuts off talks with Samsung over copier business tie-up

Kyodo

Electronics maker Sharp Corp. has cut off talks with Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea over expanding their business collaboration to the copier business, sources said Wednesday.

The move comes after other Japanese firms, including Canon Inc. — which cross-licenses patents used in the production of copiers — opposed the plan over concerns that key technology would fall into the hands of the rival South Korean manufacturer, according to the sources.

Japanese manufacturers control a large share of the global copier market. Canon, Ricoh Co., Konica Minolta Inc. and Sharp, together with U.S. maker Xerox Corp., account for around 80 percent of the global market of mainstay copiers capable of printing on A3-size paper. Sharp alone is fifth in the global rankings of A3 copier shipments.

Sharp will continue talks with Samsung over their envisioned cooperation in white goods, with an eye to supplying products such as refrigerators and washing machines to Samsung on an original equipment manufacturer basis, the sources said.

Samsung initially sounded Sharp out about its acquisition of Sharp’s copier business. Sharp turned down the proposal and the two were looking to jointly set up a copier sales company.

Sharp received around ¥10.38 billion in investment from Samsung in March under a business and capital tie-up, as the Japanese company struggles to strengthen its financial footing.

Sharp logged a consolidated operating profit of ¥3 billion in the April-June quarter of the current business year as sales of liquid crystal display panels increased after the company started to supply Samsung under the tie-up.