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Sharp eyes tie-up deal with HP on copiers

Kyodo

Sharp Corp. is planning to join hands with Hewlett-Packard Co. over the copier business, providing some of its digital copiers to the U.S. computer giant for sale under its name, sources said Wednesday.

Sharp will also consider working with HP on toners and other supplies, they said.

The embattled firm had initially sought to establish a joint copier company with Samsung Electronics Co. but terminated talks and switched to seek a business tie-up with the U.S. firm amid strong opposition from other Japanese makers that feared its technology could leak to the South Korean competitor.

By working with the leading producer of digital copiers, Sharp aims to expand production of copiers to make up for its losses in the liquid crystal business. HP seeks to enhance its product lineup by adding Sharp’s copiers capable of printing up to A3-size paper to its mainstay A4-size copiers, according to the sources.

Sharp is a major producer of A3 copiers, placing fifth globally in terms of volume of shipments, after companies including Ricoh Co. and Canon Inc.

Sharp designates copiers as one of its strategic businesses that can yield stable profits compared with the liquid crystal display TV business.

The company is also considering other plans to boost its sales and earning power, including one to provide LCDs now made at its Kameyama plant in Mie Prefecture specifically for Apple Inc. to other manufacturers.

As part of its rebuilding efforts, Sharp said last week it raised a total of ¥136.5 billion through a public offering and third-party allotment to Lixil Group Corp. and two other companies.

Last month it reported a group operating profit of ¥33.82 billion for the April-September period, a sharp turnaround from a loss of ¥168.90 billion a year earlier, on increased sales of LCD panels and solar cells, although tasks remained in improving the operation rate of its key Kameyama plant and building other businesses.