OSAKA - Electronics maker Sharp Corp. has said it will spin off its semiconductor business, possibly in April 2019. The move is aimed at establishing a structure that enables prompt management decisions and the active introduction of outside resources through tie-ups with other firms. Sharp will set up two wholly owned subsidiaries that will absorb the semiconductor-related operations to be spun off, the company said Wednesday. One of the two units will focus on semiconductors and sensors and the other on semiconductor lasers. Sharp Chairman and President Tai Jeng-wu told reporters that the company's management resources are limited in the field of semiconductors so he wants to tap overseas and domestic resources, showing eagerness to forge alliances with other firms including Sharp's parent, Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. of Taiwan.
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Driven by strong growth in the memory market, worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $420.4 billion in 2017, a 21.6 percent increase from 2016 revenue of $345.9 billion, according to final results by Gartner. "2017 saw two semiconductor industry milestones -- revenue surpassed $400 billion, and Intel, the No. 1 vendor for the last 25 years, was pushed into second place by Samsung Electronics," said George Brocklehurst, research director at Gartner. "Both milestones happened due to rapid growth in the memory market as undersupply drove pricing for DRAM and NAND flash higher." The memory market surged nearly $50 billion to reach $130 billion in 2017, a 61.8 percent increase from 2016. Samsung's memory revenue alone increased nearly $20 billion in 2017, moving the company into the top spot in 2017 (see Table 1).