Troubled Sharp Corp said the utilisation rate at its key Sakai LCD television panel plant has jumped to 80 percent, with sources saying the company has been helped by big orders from Samsung Electronics, U.S. TV maker Vizio and Sony Corp.

Hammered by weak demand for LCD panels, Sharp used only 30 percent of Sakai's capacity in the three months to June 30. In June it pledged to raise that to four fifths.

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Sharp helped by big orders from Samsung Electronics

The higher usage rate should deliver a boost to Sharp's efforts to end losses and give it a lift as it scrambles for cash to pay as much as 350 billion yen of short term loans and a 200 billion yen convertible bond that matures in September next year.

Helped by strong demand from Samsung, and by seeking orders from Chinese TV makers to cover any dip in demand from Vizio or Sony, Sharp is confident of maintaining an 80 percent usage rate in the July-September period, sources with knowledge of the matter said on condition they were not identified.

They also said they were hopeful of maintaining a high usage rate in the October-December period.

Vizio and Sony are customers of Sharp's new partner Hon Hai Precision Industry.

“We don't discuss our customers but since July the utilisation rate has risen and is now at 80 percent,” Sharp spokesman Heihachiro Ochia said.

Terry Gou, chairman of Hon Hai Precision , will travel to Japan next week and visit the Sakai LCD TV panel plant.

Hon Hai is seeking to revise the terms of a March agreement for it to buy a 10 percent stake in Sharp. A slump in Sharp's stock on widening losses has prompted Hon Hai to seek a better deal.


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