Apple is joining a list of potential buyers willing to snap up a unit of Renesas Electronics which develops LCD chips for mobile devices.
According to Japanese publication Nikkei, the iPad and iPhone maker is "looking into" the purchase, which could give the tech giant the in-house talent pool necessary to improve image sharpness on product displays, as well as boost battery life.
The unit of interest is a joint venture between Renesas, Sharp and Taiwanese firm Powerchip. Dubbed Renesas SP Drivers, the unit is 55 percent owned by Renesas, 25 percent by Sharp, and Powerchip holds the remaining 20 percent, according to the firm's website.
The deal, which would give a buyer Renasas's full stake in the JV, could be worth as much as $479 million. The report claims that if a deal is struck between Apple and Renesas, Sharp would sell its ownership shares to the tech giant on request.
Renesas SP Drivers a leading supplier of driver and controller chips for small and midsize LCDs with a marketshare of roughly a third of the market worldwide, Nikkei says. The JV focuses on the development of display drivers and chips, which can account for roughly 10 percent of battery usage as well as determining a display's image quality.
Apple uses a wealth of different suppliers to assemble its products, but Renesas SP is the supplier for iPhone LCD chips. In recent times, the iPad and iPhone maker has snapped up a number of chip-based companies, including semiconductor maker PA Semi, flash memory firm Anobit and PrimeSense, an Israeli firm which develops 3D sensors.
The publication says that Renesas SP Drivers employees are expected to stay based in Japan, and Apple wants to complete the deal by summer.