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Renesas soars on reports of talks with Apple

TOKYO -- Shares in Japan's Renesas Electronics surged in Tokyo Wednesday following a report it is in talks with Apple to sell the U.S. giant its stake in a unit that designs microchips for liquid crystal displays.

The chip-maker jumped as much as 19 percent in early trade before settling back to 831 yen (US$8.00) by the close, up 5.99 percent.

The Nikkei business daily said Apple was eyeing Renesas SP Drivers, which makes about a third of the world's chips that control small and midsize liquid crystal displays, as it looks to boost resolution and battery life in its popular gadgets.

Apple wants to buy Renesas' entire 55 percent controlling stake in the company — a joint venture with Japan's Sharp and Taiwan's Powerchip — for about 50 billion yen (US$480 million), it said.

The report said the deal may be part of a wider move by Apple to bring key production in-house and move away from outsourcing to a range of suppliers that make its iPhones and iPads.

Renesas declined to comment beyond saying that “our company and Renesas SP Drivers are studying various possibilities for our further growth, but there is nothing that has been decided at this point.”

The report comes days after the respected Nikkei said Apple will release its newest iPhone in September, with higher resolution and bigger screens, its latest salvo in the smartphone wars where it has lost global market share to rivals such as Samsung.

Renesas, the world's biggest supplier of automotive microcontroller chips, was created through a merger of the chip units of Hitachi, Mitsubishi Electric and NEC.

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