Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Samsung acquires 7.4 percent of Corning and thus, Gorilla Glass; Apple beware

In addition to its own processor, will Apple design its own scratch-proof glass, a la Corning's Gorilla Glass? Or will it, in fact, have to? In a story bound to make its rivals blanch, Samsung has acquired 7.4 percent of Corning (via a Tuesday Corning press release).

Gorilla Glass is basically a requirement for most modern mobile devices, although some don't include it for cost savings. Those manufacturers include HP, which admitted it eschewed Gorilla Glass on its Slatebook X2 tablet.

It's somewhat of a complex deal, but it begins with Corning grabbing full control of Samsung Corning Precision Materials, which had been a joint venture between the two companies. Samsung Display had owned a 43 percent stake in SCP.

In exchange, Samsung will receive $1.9 billion in Corning convertible preferred shares. The company will also invest an additional 400 million more convertible preferred shares. If converted -- and they probably will be -- Samsung would own a 7.4 percent stake in Corning.

Corning's press release says it expects the deal to close in Q1 2014, pending regulatory oversight. In addition, in a second agreement, Samsung and Corning will ink a deal that will ensure Samsung supplies of Corning LCD display glass through 2023. Further details on that agreement were not disclosed in the press release.

Apple has been trying to reduce its reliance on Samsung, which currently builds Apple's A-series line of processors. This deal would essentially increase Apple's reliance on Samsung -- and give the Korean giant some revenue, to boot.

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