SoftBank Secures Exclusive Rights for Part of Sharp Plant Acquisition in Osaka Prefecture

In a strategic move, telecommunications giant SoftBank Corp. has obtained exclusive negotiating rights for the acquisition of a portion of Sharp Corp.’s Sakai plant in Osaka Prefecture. This development comes as Sharp prepares to cease production at the plant by the end of September, marking a significant shift in its LCD business strategy.

The agreement will see SoftBank taking over approximately 440,000 square meters, accounting for 60% of the plant site, to establish a cutting-edge data center dedicated to the advancement of generative artificial intelligence. With plans to commence construction in the upcoming autumn season, SoftBank aims to have the data center fully operational by 2025.

While the financial terms of the acquisition are yet to be finalized, SoftBank is committed to managing the data center independently, while also opening its doors to external entities such as universities and research institutions. Additionally, discussions are underway for potential collaborations between Sharp and SoftBank in the realm of AI-related ventures.

It is worth noting that Sharp had previously initiated talks with KDDI Corp. and other key players in the telecommunications sector to explore the establishment of an AI data center on a different section of the Sakai plant site. This latest development underscores the growing prominence of AI technologies and the strategic partnerships being forged to drive innovation in this space.