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TOKYO (Reuters) – Cash-strapped screen maker Japan Display Inc on Wednesday posted a ninth consecutive quarterly net loss, hit by weaker-than-expected demand from Apple Inc, its biggest client.

The company, which is pursuing a bailout deal with a Chinese-Taiwanese group, said its fourth-quarter loss was 98.6 billion yen ($899.22 million), compared with the 147 billion yen loss a year earlier.

For the full year, the net loss totaled 109.4 billion yen, far worse than an average estimate of a 13.47 billion yen loss from six analysts surveyed by Refinitiv. It was the fifth straight year of loss.

The company also said it took a 75.2 billion yen writedown on one of its panel plants and would slash about 1,000 jobs, or about a tenth of the group’s workforce.

The results will be closely watched by Japan Display’s Chinese-Taiwanese suitors, who delayed an up to 80 billion yen investment this week in order to reassess the company’s prospects.

The bailout deal would allow the buyers – including Taiwanese flat screen maker TPK Holding Co Ltd and Chinese investment firm Harvest Group – to become Japan Display’s biggest shareholders with a 49.8 percent stake, replacing the Japanese government-backed INCJ fund.

A prolonged delay could put at risk the survival of the smartphone screen maker, formed in 2012 by combining the liquid-crystal display (LCD) businesses of Hitachi Ltd, Toshiba Corp and Sony Corp in a deal brokered by the government.

The firm has struggled due to Apple’s slowing iPhone sales and its failure to move fast enough into organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens, that have seen rising demand from Chinese smartphone makers.

($1 = 109.6500 yen)

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Chang-Ran Kim; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing)

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