Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has offered $479 million for Renesas's 55 percent stake in Renesas SP Drivers, according to Japanese business news agency Nikkei. Renesas SP Drivers is a joint venture between Japanese chipmaker Renesas, Sharp and Taiwanese manufacturer Powerchip.
Sharp, which owns 25 percent of the venture, would also likely sell its stake to Apple if the Renesas transaction is finalized, the publication says. Most of Renesas SP Drivers's 240-odd employees are expected to stay with the company in the event of a sale.
Renesas SP Drivers is said to be the sole supplier of LCD chips for Apple's iPhones, perhaps an indicator of why Apple wants greater control. These components play an integral role in determining the display's overall clarity and quality, an increasingly important differentiator for mobile devices.
If the deal goes through, it would be the largest known acquisition in Apple's history, surpassing the $404 million paid for NeXT in 1997 in a landmark transaction that brought Steve Jobs back to the company he founded.