GT Advanced Technologies, the company Apple had entered into a deal with worth $578 million last year for the advance purchase of sapphire components, has reached an agreement with the iPhone maker to settle its outstanding debt. As part of the deal, GT Advanced Technologies will exit the sapphire business altogether, and shut down its Mesa, Arizona and Salem, Massachusetts factories, according to Reuters.
The agreement will see GT freed from any exclusivity arrangements made with Apple, and will also see Apple repaid the $439 million outstanding prepayment that it apparently won’t see any tangible benefit from, without any interest on the initial amount.
GT Advanced will sell the furnaces that it purchased in order to satisfy Apple’s requirements, according to a lawyer for GT speaking to Bloomberg, and will use the proceeds from that sale ini order to pay back what Apple is owed, and the arrangement will also keep Apple’s confidential documents intact. GT had requested that the judge in its bankruptcy proceedings keep the files sealed in order to preserve a confidentiality agreement with Apple, under penalty of a $50 million violation fee.
Apple’s sapphire designs are by no means ended by this arrangement. Sapphire remains a key component of the upcoming Apple Watch, and a core part of Touch ID, which uses a sapphire glass screen to cover the sensor embedded in the home button of modern iOS devices. Apple has a partnership with Rubicon to supply sapphire materials for its products, and that will likely only strengthen in the wake of this deal.