Sharp skyrocketed on Thursday with the hard-hit Japanese electronics giant saying it was mulling rival bailout offers, including one from Foxconn parent company Hon Hai Precision, as it posted another massive loss.
Tokyo investors cheered local media reports that Sharp's board is favouring a 600 billion yen ($5.0 billion) rescue 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.
Japanese media, including public broadcaster NHK and the Jiji Press news agency, said Sharp's board was leaning towards the offer from Hon Hai, 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.
Sharp's chief Kozo Takahashi refused to be drawn on which offer he favoured, but said that his company was putting "more manpower" into evaluating the Taiwanese offer.
"That doesn't mean one of them has an advantage over the other, however," he told reporters after the board meeting.
"We are firmly scrutinising both (proposals) in a fair and transparent manner," added Takahashi.
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.
Sales for the nine months fell about seven percent from a year ago.
- 'Too much speculation' -
Despite its bleeding balance sheet, Sharp 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 earlier 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.
But Sharp's Takahashi said Thursday that both bids contemplate keeping the vast firm together.
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.