Sapphire Production Problems at GTAT May Have Started Back in February

The more news that comes to light regarding Apple's sapphire manufacturing deal with GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), the more it starts to look like the partnership barely got off of the ground.

According to a new report published in the Wall Street Journal, Apple delayed payment on a pre-arranged loan to GTAT this past February, the implication being that GTAT sapphire production failed to meet certain operational and/or technical requirements.

The third payment, of $103 million, was due in February, but Apple did not make it until April, according to GT's securities filings. The final installment of $139 million was due in April, according to a GT securities filing. In August, GT said it expected the payment by October. But Apple never made the payment, because GT did not meet certain requirements, according to people familiar with the matter.

Clearly, the problems at GTAT were nothing new and apparently stretched back for months. The Journal further adds that GTAT COO Daniel Squiller sold approximately 33% of his company shares in the months preceding GTAT's bankruptcy filing. Not the only executive to cash out before the stock plummeted by over 90%, GTAT CEO Thomas Guitierrez sold $160,000 worth of stock just one day before the iPhone 6 was unveiled.

Apple's partnership with GTAT began in earnest back in late 2013. Under the original arrangement, Apple agreed to loan GTAT hundreds of millions of dollars to get a massive sapphire manufacturing plant up and running. As a result, many speculated that Apple's initial plans for the iPhone 6 included what would effectively be a scratch resistant sapphire display. Recent reports have since relayed that the sapphire displays were more prone to breaking during drop tests than the Gorilla Glass displays Apple has always used for the iPhone.


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