HTC and TSMC talks tipped for Panasonic smartphone buy-out

Panasonic isn't just looking to get out of the plasma TV business but to shed its little-loved smartphone division too, Japanese reports claim, with HTC and chip fab TSMC tipped as potential bedfellows for the mobile team. Having seen its ELUGA range of waterproof phones fail to gain traction, Panasonic is considering shedding the ailing division altogether, the Sankei Shimbun reports, with insiders pointing to some unexpected interest.

HTC requires little introduction in the smartphone business, though its fortunes have been slightly less rosy over the past eighteen months. The company faces its own struggles right now, with problems securing sufficient components for its new flagship One and thus meeting its own launch schedule.

TSMC, however, is perhaps less well known. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, Limited, is actually the biggest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry, with clients including Apple, Qualcomm, and NVIDIA for its chipset production.

What use, however, it might have with Panasonic Mobile Communications is unclear, though the company continues to provide devices for the main carriers in the Japanese market. It also produces base-station and infrastructure equipment, which could be potential recipients for TSMC SoCs.

The HTC connection is more obvious, and HTC has had some recent success in the Japanese market with the J Butterfly (the local version of the DROID DNA) which could have whet its appetite for more. We asked HTC for a statement, but the company told us it does not comment on rumor and speculation.

Discussions between the three firms are supposedly ongoing, the Japanese paper claims, though price and a commitment to retaining the workforce are supposedly the key thorns in negotiations. Panasonic had hoped to broaden its smartphone footprint by returning to the European market in 2012, after withdrawing back to Japan-only sales in late 2005.

[via Unwired View]