Apple is in negotiations with Japan's Renesas Electronics to acquire a unit of the company, says Nikkei
. In particular Apple is said to be after Renesas SP Drivers, a joint venture with Sharp and Powerchip that designs chips for smartphone displays. The takeover deal would involve buying up Renesas' 55 percent stake at an estimated price of 50 billion yen, or roughly $479 million.
Apple is reportedly looking
to complete the acquisition by this summer; most of the unit's 240-odd workers are expected to remain in Japan. Sharp will presumably sell all of its shares in Renesas SP to Apple.
Renesas SP is said to be the world's biggest producer of drivers and controllers for small- to mid-sized LCDs, holding a third of the market. An Apple buyout could therefore have a dramatic impact on the industry, although it already sources all of its iPhone display chips from Renesas SP. Rather than controlling supply, Apple may be more interested in figuring out how to further optimize iOS displays for better quality and power consumption.