A Japanese state-backed fund has emerged as the most likely investor in Sharp Corp with plans to overhaul the company’s broad consumer electronics business, not just its ailing smartphone display operations, sources said.

Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ) had previously been considering investing in Sharp’s display unit with the intention of merging it with rival Japan Display, in which the fund is the top shareholder, sources said in recent months.

But the fund is now also considering financing along with restructuring plans for the overall business including a possible merger of the consumer electronics unit with Toshiba Corp’s equivalent operations, sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Japan’s government is backing the fund’s plans as a way to help the domestic consumer technology industry. Manufacturers such as Sharp in the past decade have lost cachet and market share to Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and other more nimble rivals.

(Reporting by Taiga Uranaka, Reiji Murai and Makiko Yamazaki; Writing by Ritsuko Ando)

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