• Foxconn, INCJ each win support of at least 4 Sharp directors
  • Taiwanese suitor has said decision on bid due by end-February

Sharp Corp.’s board is divided as the debt-laden electronics maker continues talks on competing offers from Foxconn Technology Group and Innovation Network Corp. of Japan, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Taiwan’s Foxconn and state-backed INCJ have each won the support of at least four of Sharp’s 13 directors, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Several board members remain undecided ahead of Foxconn’s Feb. 29 deadline, and convincing them will be crucial to winning support for any deal as Sharp remains in talks with both bidders, the people said.

The battle for Sharp has drawn attention as a test case of Japan’s willingness to open its economy as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushes market reforms and overseas investments to boost growth. Tokyo-based INCJ has proposed injecting about 300 billion yen ($2.6 billion) of cash into Sharp as part of a larger package that also includes asset sales and lender support, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg. Foxconn is offering 660 billion yen to be split between the Osaka-based company and its lenders, a person familiar with the matter has said.

Yoshifumi Seki, a Tokyo-based spokesman for Sharp, said the company is negotiating with INCJ and Foxconn and declined to comment further. A representative for Foxconn didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment, while a person who answered the phone at INCJ’s office said the company’s spokesman wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Foxconn’s billionaire chairman, Terry Gou, flew to Japan earlier this month to make a personal appeal to the Sharp board, shortly after Sharp Chief Executive Officer Kozo Takahashi said he planned to take another month to choose between Foxconn and INCJ. Gou said Feb. 5 that negotiations are 90 percent complete and a final agreement is expected by the end of February.

INCJ estimates its total package is worth about 1 trillion yen, including Sharp selling its stake in stake in Sakai Display Products Corp. and financing from lenders, the documents presented to Sharp show.

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