Apple's bankrupt sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies to shut down factories

GT Advanced Technologies, a sapphire manufacturer that had a deal with Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and filed for bankruptcy last week, said it will cut 890 jobs and shutter factories in Arizona and Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, GT trained its fire on Apple, blaming the iPhone maker for its dire financial condition. GT said its agreements with Apple to make artificial sapphire for iPhone screens were "oppressive and burdensome" and ending the deals was the only way to improve GT's health, GT said in filings Friday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Hampshire.

"Only if GT winds down these operations will it be able to stop its mounting losses and re-focus its resources on the operation of its core business of selling sapphire furnaces and other products," the company said.

"GT believes that it has many claims against Apple arising out of its business relationship with Apple," the company said in its filing.

Many analysts had expected Apple to launch its new iPhones with sapphire screens this fall, due in part to Apple's agreement with GT. However, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus screens use traditional glass. Apple last year bought a 1.4-million-square-foot Arizona facility from a solar-panel producer for $113 million and leased it to GT, which has been one of the leading sapphire manufacturers in the world. Apple had agreed to prepay GT $578 million to update the furnaces in the factory used to make synthetic sapphire, and GT had been operating the Arizona factory to produce sapphire exclusively for Apple.

Apple declined to address GT's latest filings and reiterated an earlier statement, according to the Wall Street Journal. "We are focused on preserving jobs in Arizona following GT's surprising decision and we will continue to work with state and local officials as we consider our next steps," Apple said last Wednesday.

As the Journal noted, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Henry Boroff on Thursday ruled that GT could keep details of its deal with Apple confidential, and also authorized GT to seal court papers that explained how its financing and supply arrangement with Apple went awry. Article (sub. req.)

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