Apple said to be sizing up chipmaker for better displays, less battery drain

iPhone 5S
Apple's big LCD investment

Apple is known for making stealth purchases, but the company's rumored latest just got some air time.

Japan's Nikkei filed a report today claiming Apple's next acquisition will take place in Japan, with a majority buyout of the company that produces controller chips for smaller LCD panels, like those used in smartphones.

In a deal said to be valued at 50 billion yen (about $482m, £290m and AU$521m), Apple apparently hopes to consume Renesas Electronics' 55% stake in Renesas SP Drivers, a joint venture with Sharp and Powerchip.

Renesas SP currently dominates nearly one-third of the global market for LCD drivers and controllers, focusing its efforts on higher quality, better performing displays that consume less energy.

Cornering LCD chips

Although Apple generally doesn't put all of its eggs into one basket when it comes to components, Renesas SP Drivers reportedly provides all of the chips powering the liquid crystal displays for the company's iPhone line.

The deal could give Apple yet another a leg up on competitors, especially when Renesas SP chips are said to utilize less than 10% of overall battery consumption.

The report notes that Apple hopes to close the deal by summer, and plans to keep the staff of "240 or so" employees in Japan.

Cupertino is also said to be interested in absorbing Sharp's 25% share after the Renesas deal closes, leaving Taiwanese manufacturer Powerchip with a remaining 20% ownership.

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