Sharp's new CEO warns of job losses amid 'optimization'

New guy bows to FoxConn demands

The new CEO of Sharp Electronics has warned that there will be job losses at the consumer electronics company amid a broader restructure.

Tai Jeng-wu now heads the company following the takeover by Foxconn for $3.8bn, which saw the giant take a 66 per cent ownership stake.

The job losses have long been rumored, and Foxconn chairman Terry Gou has previously warned they would mostly impact divisions of the company outside Japan. Up to 7,000 people are expected to be laid off.

In an interview with Nikkei, Mr Tai confirmed that he would be restructuring the company and job cuts would be a part of that process. But he tried to characterize the losses as an "optimization" rather than a reduction in staff.

"If possible, I would like to keep current employees in place, but we'll be forced to make cuts if there is no improvement," he said.

In a second interview with the Wall Street Journal, Mr Tai implied that the cuts would come soon: "My mission as the leader of Sharp is to turn around this company without any further delay," he said.

Details around exactly what will happen remain vague, however, with Mr Tai saying he simply wanted to move the company back into profitability and regain its brand recognition as an innovator.

Once a giant in the electronics world, Sharp suffered a steep downturn when margins in flat screens slumped amid additional competition. The market is now dominated by competitor LG.

However, Sharp still makes screens for Apple's iPhones and iPads – making it attractive to Foxconn, which already does a lot of Apple's outsourcing. Foxconn's Gou also said part of the reason for purchasing Sharp was its history of innovation, including microwaves and air purifiers. ®

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