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Japan's Sharp eyes profits, not share sale, to boost finances

By Reiji Murai OSAKA Japan (Reuters) Japan’s Sharp Corp aims to bolster its depleted finances by boosting profits and is not considering a public share offering, which would be unrealistic so close on the heels of an offering last year, the display maker’s president said.

The company raised about 140 billion yen ($1.38 billion) through a share sale late last year but a Japanese newspaper report in April said it was considering another issue over the next year to secure an additional 200 billion yen to improve its finances.

The company’s equity ratio at end-March was 8.9 percent, below the 20 percent level typically considered a threshold of financial health, and it decided to forego a dividend for the year.

“We are absolutely not considering a public share offering,” Sharp President Kozo Takahashi told a round table for reporters on Tuesday.

“Doing this so soon would not make sense,” Takahashi said. “We will build up our capital by boosting our profits.”

Sharp has projected a rise in net profit to 30 billion yen in the year to next March from last year’s 11.6 billion, as it seeks to turn around its fortunes after posting a massive 545.4 billion yen net loss in the year to March 2013.

It has received a $4.4 billion bailout from its banks, issued new shares and took in equity investments from Samsung Electronics Co and Qualcomm Inc.

Takahashi reiterated comments last week by another Sharp executive at the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting that it had received no offer from Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co on an equity investment. Hon Hai Chairman Terry Gou told a Japanese magazine in an article published this month that his company was still interested in investing in Sharp.

He added the company, a supplier of screens to iPhone and iPad maker Apple Inc, did not expect to make any large-scale investments – on the order of 300 billion to 400 billion yen – in the liquid crystal display business in the foreseeable future.

Sharp had also been considering the sale of overseas TV factories as it sought cash, but Takahashi said: “Talks with buyers did not make progress and last year our TV operations moved into the black. This isn’t a situation in which we have to make a sale.”

($1 = 101.4600 Japanese Yen)

(Writing by Edmund Klamann; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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