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Sharp clarifies doom-laden English earnings report

'Mis-translation' of report corrected to remove reference to possible collapse

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Ailing Japanese electronics giant Sharp has been forced into an embarrassing clarification on the future of the company, claiming that a doom-laden warning it made last week was mis-translated into English.

The under-fire firm, which could be set to slash as much as 19 per cent of its workforce, said in an earnings report last week that “material doubt” existed over its ability to carry on as a going concern.

The original statement was as follows:

As operating and net loss for the six months ended September 30, 2012 were huge, continuing from the previous year, cash flows from operating activities were negative. Therefore, Sharp is in circumstances in which material doubt about its assumed going concern is found.

However, a few days later the firm thought better of it, removing the offending words and softening the overall tone in order “to inform our status more precisely”.

It now reads thus:

As operating and net loss for the six months ended September 30, 2012 were huge, continuing from the previous year, cash flows from operating activities were negative. Therefore, there exist conditions which might raise uncertainties about Sharp being an assumed going concern. However, we judge that no uncertainties about Sharp’s ability to continue as a going concern will exist. The countermeasures described below are thought to resolve such conditions.

According to the Wall Street Journal the firm has made no changes to its Japanese filing, which is closer in meaning to the new English statement.

However, it pointed out that the following phrase doesn’t exist in the Japanese version: “We judge that no uncertainties about Sharp’s ability to continue as a going concern will exist.”

The move to re-translate such an important piece of corporate comms is pretty rare and may be indicative of turmoil at the company, which is rumoured to be preparing around 11,000 job cuts and asset sales in a bid to haul itself into the black.

In September it secured a ¥360bn (£2.9bn) bailout deal with several Japanese banks including Mizuho Corporate Bank and The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. ®

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