[THE INVESTOR] US tech giant Apple is planning to invest in Korean electric components maker LG Innotek to secure a stable supply of 3-D sensing modules for iPhones and iPads to be launched this year, according to news reports on Jan. 9.
The sensing module, which enables a mobile device to capture 3-D data and recognize a user even in a dark environment, is a key component of iPhone X’s facial recognition solution.
The affiliate of LG Group said in a regulatory filing on Jan. 8 that it would invest 873.7 billion won (US$820.90 million) to build additional facilities for its mobile camera module and next-generation module business. The company did not specify how it would fund the required investment.
Korean news outlet Korea Economic Daily speculated that the latest decision came after a meeting between Apple CEO Tim Cook and LG Innotek CEO Park Jong-seok in November last year.
The meeting was rare, since the Apple CEO does not usually directly participate in negotiations with parts suppliers, the news outlet reported.
Apple has decided to offer financial support for the Korean supplier in the form of an upfront payment and the exact amount of its investment is unknown. Some market watchers said the move would be in line with a temporary supply shortage of the 3-D sensing modules late last year, which had affected the sales of iPhone X.
LG Innotek refused to comment, saying it does not want to respond to speculative news reports.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)