Foxconn chairman and CEO Terry Gou was due to deliver a keynote at IFA 2017 in Berlin in early September, but yesterday the event organiser sent out a notice announcing a “change in keynote lineup”.
It seems Gou cancelled his appearance at the event this year, stating: “We are currently focusing on a global investment project that fully occupies the company’s strategic management resources. In light of this, we have decided that 2018 will be the ideal time for the previously announced IFA keynote.”
The statement raises the question of what “global investment project” is monopolising Gou’s attention?
Perhaps it is the company’s recently confirmed plan to invest $10 billion to set up an LCD-screen plant in the US by 2020. The announcement in July attracted widespread criticism as the state of Wisconsin agreed to push through legislation providing up to $3 billion in economic incentives to the world’s largest electronics contract manufacturer. Some pundits estimate those subsidies will translate to as much as $1 million per job.
Gou reportedly met with US President Donald Trump three times to work out the deal, which could create as many as 3,000 jobs. The US president claimed Gou said off the record the investment could go as high as $30 billion, a claim Foxconn did not confirm.
Foxconn, also know as Hon Hai Precision, is also negotiating an investment in a larger facility in the US, but is yet to confirm a deal.
It said in a statement the Wisconsin investment is: “the start of a series of investments by Foxconn in American manufacturing in the coming years”.
A less likely possibility is the CEO turned his focus to the India market, where the company plans to invest up to $5 billion to expand its production footprint and make the country a second manufacturing hub after China.
The announcement followed moves by Apple and Samsung to manufacture smartphones in India. Apple started producing lower-cost iPhone SE models in India, with Foxconn rival Wistron setting up a facility in technology hub Bengaluru (Bangalore) in May. Samsung confirmed in June it will invest $760 million in the country to double its production capacity for handsets.
However, a $5 billion or $10 billion investment for a company with annual revenue exceeding $145 billion (TWD4.4 trillion in 2016) could hardly be a huge distraction.
Stay tuned to a bigger announcement in the US in the coming weeks, one which the US president will no doubt take full credit for orchestrating.
The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.