GT Advanced Asks Court for Permission to 'Wind Down' Operations at Sapphire Plant

After filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this week, Apple sapphire partner GT Advanced has asked for the court's permission to "wind down" operations at its Mesa, Arizona manufacturing plant, reports Re/code and The Wall Street Journal.

GT is said to be filing motions to get expedited hearings to cease certain operations and get out of both contracts and leases connected to those operations.

The facility, which was purchased and outfitted by Apple and run by GT Advanced, has operated for less than a year. Approximately 700 employees are employed at the manufacturing plant, where GT Advanced was rumored to be creating sapphire for use in Apple products like the Apple Watch and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

sapphire_furnaces

Furnaces for sapphire production

Little information about the reasoning behind GT Advanced's bankruptcy filing is available as the company has asked for a non-disclosure in its bankruptcy proceedings. GT is subjected to a confidentiality agreement with an unnamed third party (confirmed to be Apple by a courtroom reference) that has prevented it from disclosing details about the bankruptcy. The company could be fined up to $50 million per violation for breaking the agreements.

GT's bankruptcy filing took both Apple and Wall Street by surprise. Apple has reportedly been working with GT Advanced to help it remain solvent and to help it receive its final $139 million payment, but it is unclear how this latest request will impact the relationship between the two companies.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the deal between GT Advanced and Apple may have crumbled following the former's failure to deliver sapphire iPhone screens for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Apple was widely expected to use sapphire screens in at least some models, but both the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus continue to feature Gorilla Glass displays.

GT Advanced will again appear in court on October 15 at a hearing related to its wind-down request. Apple, for its part, has again said that it plans to focus on "preserving jobs" in Arizona and that it will "work with state and local officials" as it considers its next steps.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
79 months ago
So it sounds like the bankruptcy is a ploy to get out of their Apple contract.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
79 months ago
There is definitely something fishy going on behind the scenes.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
79 months ago
Did Apple just waste all that money then?
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
79 months ago
Even though there was talk of Apple's experiments with modifying sapphire, I wonder if Apple gradually discovered that the material couldn't provide the durability they expected (i.e.: scratch-proof but too easily shattered). So they postponed its use, which then sent GT into a tailspin.

Even so, Apple sunk so much money into that plant that I find it hard to believe that GT would have to file bankruptcy so soon. There must have been other customers interested in sapphire (unless Apple had an exclusivity on all production). I agree that something's amiss.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
79 months ago
Begs for conspiracy theories at this point, so here's mine:

Apple injects GTAT with some cash for new facility & infrastructure and gets on the same page with them about production of Apple's items.

Apple wants to be the only girl on the dance floor, but GTAT has cards in his basket of others they're slated to dance with (contractual obligations with other -potentially Apple competing- companies they must carve of production schedule to).

Apple has them implode in order to not have to pay full market evaluation of GTAT, dissolves supplier contracts with other co's, and sweeps in buying a turn-key operation and GTAT CEO becomes Apple's Chief Crystollogist and rehires key members of GTAT's team under new thrall-ship. Afterall,

Apple, for its part, has again said that it plans to focus on "preserving jobs" in Arizona and that it will "work with state and local officials"

.

Any takers?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
79 months ago
i can hear the power down noise now.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter [Updated]

Monday October 26, 2020 3:38 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum. Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple...

Google Reportedly Pays Apple $8-12 Billion Per Year to be Default iOS Search Engine

Sunday October 25, 2020 2:59 pm PDT by
The United States Justice Department is targeting a lucrative deal between Apple and Google as part of one of the U.S. government's largest antitrust cases, reports The New York Times. On Tuesday, the Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google, claiming the Mountain View-based company used anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the search and advertising markets to ...

After Mocking Apple, Samsung May Remove Power Adapter From Galaxy S21 Box

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:29 pm PDT by
Samsung's Galaxy S21, coming in 2021, may not include a power adapter or headphones in the box, according to reports from Korean media sites highlighted by SamMobile. Rumors earlier this year also said that Samsung was considering removing these accessories from future smartphone models, but that didn't stop Samsung from mocking Apple for selling the iPhone 12 models without a power adapter...

Report: Apple Silicon iMac Featuring Desktop Class 'A14T' Chip Coming First Half of 2021

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
The first iMac powered by Apple Silicon is set to arrive in the first half of next year and will feature a desktop class "A14T" chip, according to Chinese-language newspaper The China Times. Codenamed "Mt. Jade," Apple's first custom-made desktop processor will be twinned with its first self-developed GPU, codenamed "Lifuka," both of which are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, ...

iPhone 12 Six-Foot Drop Test Results: Ceramic Shield More Durable But Not Damage Proof

Monday October 26, 2020 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro feature a new Ceramic Shield screen that Apple says offers 4x better drop performance. To test that claim, Allstate Protection Plans put the two models through a range of breakability tests and recorded the results. In a face down sidewalk drop test at six feet, the iPhone 12 suffered small cracks and scuffed corners and edges, leaving sharp grooves in ...

Bloomberg: New AirPods and AirPods Pro Coming in 2021, AirPods Studio Delayed, Third HomePod Model Also Possible

Monday October 26, 2020 3:34 am PDT by
Apple plans to update its AirPods line next year with two new models including third-generation AirPods and second-generation AirPods Pro, according to a new report from Bloomberg. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on two new models: third-generation entry-level AirPods and the second version of the AirPods Pro earbuds, according to people familiar with the plans. ...

2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Tuesday October 27, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design and ...

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield Still 'Scratches at Level 6 With Deeper Grooves at Level 7' in Mohs Hardness Test

Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:10 am PDT by
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new Ceramic Shield front cover that is "tougher than any smartphone glass," according to Apple, but the displays on the devices still have similar scratch resistance as previous iPhones based on a new test. Zack Nelson today shared his much-anticipated iPhone 12 Pro durability test on his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, and based on the Mohs...

Apple Files Mystery 'Personal Computer' With Placeholder 'B2002' Name in Bluetooth Product Database

Tuesday October 27, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
Last week, a listing appeared in the Bluetooth product database for an Apple product with a placeholder name "B2002" and a model number of "TBD." MacRumors was alerted to the listing by health and fitness tech website MyHealthyApple. The product is filed under the "personal computer" category, which Apple has used for previous Mac and iPad listings in the database, so it is hard to pinpoint...