Foxconn billionaire Terry Gou denies ever considering solo run to lead Taiwan

The 68-year-old is a major power broker in the global electronics industry, with unusually strong ties to both the US and China.
The 68-year-old is a major power broker in the global electronics industry, with unusually strong ties to both the US and China.PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG) - Billionaire Foxconn founder Terry Gou never considered an independent run for Taiwan's presidency, a spokesman for the electronics tycoon said, after Mr Gou lost the nomination to lead the island's opposition party into January's election.

Speculation that Mr Gou will leave the Kuomintang (KMT) to pursue leadership of Taiwan is a "fake issue", his spokesman Amanda Liu said in a text message on Tuesday (July 16).

Mr Gou's response comes one day after Mr Han Kuo-yu, the firebrand mayor of the southern port city of Kaohsiung, overcame Mr Gou and three other candidates in the party's presidential primary.

Ms Liu declined to elaborate further when asked if Mr Gou still intended to seek Taiwan's presidency in another capacity, leaving the door open to speculation that the tech tycoon - who in June quit as chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, Foxconn's main listed arm - would find another way to run in the election.

A solo bid by Mr Gou could have a significant impact on the outcome, likely siphoning votes from the KMT as it tries to unseat incumbent President Tsai Ing-wen.

Shares of Hon Hai climbed as much as 2.8 per cent to their highest in about two months as investors expect Mr Gou to focus more on the company.

The 68-year-old is a major power broker in the global electronics industry, with unusually strong ties to both the US and China. He built Foxconn Technology Group from a maker of television knobs into a global powerhouse that is now Apple's largest supplier and China's largest private employer, with as many as one million mostly migrant workers assembling everything from iPhones to Dell desktop computers.

Mr Gou also has ties to US President Donald Trump, agreeing to build a 13,000-worker facility in the state of Wisconsin in exchange for more than US$4.5 billion (S$6.1 billion) in government incentives.

 

Hailed by Mr Trump as "one of the great deals ever", the project has since been criticised for low-paying jobs and sudden dismissals. Foxconn says the plant is on track to begin producing LCDs next year.