December 21, 2017 / 6:51 AM / in a year

UPDATE 1-Japan Display says report it sought Apple, Huawei funds is "speculative"

* Japan Display also talking to Chinese firms for funds -report

* Company wants funds for OLED production, won't comment on talks (Adds background on screen industry)

TOKYO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Cash-strapped smartphone screen maker Japan Display Inc dismissed a report on Thursday that it was seeking investment from Apple Inc and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd as "speculative" and declined to comment further.

Japanese news agency Kyodo, which reported on Wednesday that Japan Display was discussing an investment of more than 200 billion yen ($1.76 billion) from three Chinese panel makers including BOE Technology Group Co Ltd, said it was also seeking investment from its two clients.

Japan Display and domestic rival Sharp Corp once boasted cutting-edge screen technologies. But they have struggled in recent years to compete with more nimble Asian rivals, and as customers including Apple shifted to newer organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens.

The display maker has been losing money for the past three years. It has said it wants to start mass-producing OLED screens to better compete with South Korean rival Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, and that it needs capital to do so. It has so far declined to disclose details of any negotiations.

State-backed fund Innovation Network Corp of Japan owns 36 percent of Japan Display, which was formed in 2002 by combining the ailing display units of Sony Corp, Hitachi Ltd and Toshiba Corp. ($1 = 113.3800 yen)

Reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida

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