Foxconn chairman Terry Gou hands over reins ahead of presidential bid

Terry Gou, founder and chairman of Foxconn, attends an event that marks the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, in Taipei, Taiwan April 16, 2019.

Foxconn Chairman Terry Gou said on Friday he will hand over the running of the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer to a new operations committee as he prepares to contest Taiwan’s presidential elections next year.

The 68-year-old Foxconn founder was speaking at the company’s annual general meeting in Taipei, where a few hundred shareholders and supporters had braved the heat to watch a live broadcast on big screens.

The Apple Inc supplier, whose full name is Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, unveiled a leadership overhaul last week with a nine-member operations committee in charge of daily operations.

Gou, who announced his presidential bid in April, told Reuters that he planned to step down from Foxconn to pave the way for younger talent to move up the ranks.

Gou is expected to retain a seat on the company’s new board, but Foxconn said last week – at its first investor relations conference – that the development of his presidential bid would affect his future role in the board.

Taiwan’s election follows a period of increasing tension between Beijing and Taipei, with Gou seeking to represent the China-friendly opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party.

His election bid might be weighed down by his ties to a Chinese leadership that refuses to renounce the use of force to unify with self-ruled Taiwan it considers a wayward province, analysts have said.

A new Foxconn chairman is expected to be elected at a board meeting later on Friday morning. Foxconn is poised to nominate chip unit boss Liu Young to succeed Gou, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters in May.

Gou, who founded Foxconn 45 years ago, is Taiwan’s richest person with a net worth of $7.6 billion, according to Forbes.

TRADE ANGLE

Gou’s departure also comes at an uncertain time for Foxconn, which has a big roster of U.S. clients who have fallen foul of a long-running trade war between Beijing and Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to slap further tariffs on $300 billion worth of goods from China, where the bulk of Apple’s devices are assembled. The country is also a key market for the firm.

Investors are keen to know whether Foxconn will adjust its production line for Apple and others. Nikkei Asian Review reported that Apple has asked its main suppliers to assess the cost implications of moving part of their production capacity from China to Southeast Asia.

Foxconn said last week it had enough capacity outside China to meet Apple’s demand in the American market if the need should arise for the iPhone maker to adjust its production lines due to the U.S.-China trade war.

Reuters