Foxconn names iPhone czar, CFO to Terry Gou’s inner circle

They are among a cadre of executives tipped to take the reins of the world’s largest contract manufacturer

By BLOOMBERG

TAIPEI • Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd will appoint its group finance chief and the overseer of the world’s largest iPhone production base to a newly created operations committee, anointing potential successors to billionaire founder Terry Gou (picture).

Hon Hai, the largest listed arm of Foxconn Technology Group, is establishing a body of nine executives who will represent its top decisionmaking unit after the board, the company said in exchange filings, confirming a previous report from Bloomberg News.

They include Foxconn CFO Huang Chiu-lian and Lin Zheng-hui — also known as Lin Cheng-hui — who heads the company’s enormous iPhone-making facility in central China’s Zhengzhou.

The group will rule on major business matters, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified because the appointments aren’t public.

Lin and Huang are among a cadre of executives tipped to take the reins of the world’s largest contract manufacturer from Gou, who is trying to win a party nomination to compete in the 2020 Taiwanese presidential elections.

Gou, who built the company from a maker of TV knobs into a global powerhouse in consumer electronics, is expected to step back from Foxconn’s day-to-day operations to focus on his political endeavours.

Other committee members include Chiang Chih-siung, who oversees some of Foxconn’s non-iPhone Apple businesses, and semiconductor division chief Young Liu.

The 68-year-old billionaire, who has said he plans to quit as Hon Hai chairman after shareholders elect a new board in June, is shifting his focus just as his company grapples with the unprecedented uncertainty of USChinese tensions.

That escalating trade spat is hurting consumer sentiment and raising fears about the impact on Foxconn’s plants, most of which are located in the world’s No 2 economy.

Washington is threatening to hit Beijing with new tariffs on about US$300 billion (RM1.25 trillion) worth of Chinese goods including phones and laptops, directly affecting the company’s business with a swathe of the world’s major electronics brands.

Beijing has in turn shown a growing willingness to retaliate against American names.

Foxconn straddles the world’s two largest economies because it manufactures most of its devices in China, many of which then find their way to American consumers.

In its exchange filings, the company said it will localise some of its manufacturing across production bases covering 16 countries from Japan and Mexico, to the US and India. It didn’t elaborate on specific plans.

Gou’s company wields unusual influence for an Asian company in the US.

When US President Donald Trump called for more investment in local manufacturing, Gou was among the first to heed the call, agreeing to build a 13,000-worker facility in Wisconsin in exchange for more than US$4.5 billion in government incentives.

Hailed by Trump as “one of the great deals ever”, the project has since come under criticism for low-paying jobs, sudden dismissals and everchanging goals.

Foxconn said the plant is on track to begin producing LCDs next year. — Bloomberg