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.
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.