Sharp skyrocketed in Tokyo on Thursday as the embattled Japanese electronics giant said it was reviewing rival bailout offers, including one from Foxconn parent company Hon Hai Precision, as it reported another massive loss.
Investors cheered local media reports that Sharp's board is favouring accepting a 600 billion yen ($5.0 billion) bailout from Hon Hai, a key Apple supplier.
Sharp -- which has teetered on the edge of bankruptcy for years -- kicked off a critical directors' meeting Thursday morning to review at least two competing bids, including a proposal from a domestic investment firm.
Japan's public broadcaster NHK and the Jiji Press news agency said Sharp's board was leaning towards the Hon Hai offer, which is based in Taiwan.
The public-private Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) has offered around 300 billion yen to rehabilitate the century-old company, which started life as a belt buckle and pencil maker.
The company declined to confirm the reports but spokesman Tsutomu Hirano told AFP "it is true that we are studying proposals from multiple companies".
After soaring by more than 25 percent earlier, Sharp's volatile shares settled back slightly to close at 160 yen, up 16.79 percent on the day.
The Aquos-brand maker, which is also an Apple supplier, has fallen on hard times in recent years, piling up eye-watering losses and ushering in a restructuring plan that has yet to pull it out of the mire.
After markets closed, the firm posted a whopping nine-month net loss of $918 million, hit by restructuring costs and a slump in demand for its smartphone screens.
The company said its shortfall for the April-December period grew to 108.3 billion yen ($918 million), against a much smaller shortfall a year earlier.
Sales for the nine months fell about seven percent from a year ago.
Despite its bleeding balance sheet, the company remains a leader in liquid crystal display technology, a key asset for Hon Hai.
"We cannot provide any comment -- there has been too much speculation," a Hon Hai spokeswoman told AFP Thursday.
The Taiwanese group's chairman Terry Gou met Sharp’s board at their Osaka headquarters last week to make his case for a raised bid of about 660 billion yen, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Earlier reports had suggested Sharp was learning toward the offer from INCJ, which is the main shareholder in rival Japan Display.
Media said Tokyo and Sharp's bank creditors were concerned about the company's key technologies falling into the hands of a foreign firm.
The INCJ plan reportedly called for hiving off Sharp's LCD business and merging it with Japan Display, while the Foxconn offer would allow the firm to continue operating as a single entity.
Along with rivals Sony and Panasonic, Japan's electronics giants were hammered by steep losses in their television units owing to stiff competition from lower-cost rivals, particularly in South Korea and Taiwan.
They were also outmanoeuvred in the mobile phone business, but Sony and Panasonic have seen improving results.