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

Foxconn manufactures most of its devices in China, many of which then find their way to American consumers.
Foxconn manufactures most of its devices in China, many of which then find their way to American consumers.PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI (BLOOMBERG) - Hon Hai Precision Industry will appoint its finance chief and the overseer of the world's largest iPhone production base to a newly created operations committee, people familiar with the matter said, anointing several potential successors to billionaire founder Terry Gou.

Hon Hai, the largest listed arm of Foxconn Technology Group, is establishing a body of nine executives who will represent its top decision-making unit after the board, they said. They include Foxconn Chief Financial Officer Huang Chiu-lian and Lin Cheng-hui, who heads the company's enormous iPhone-making facility in central China's Zhengzhou, the people said. The group will rule on major business matters, one of the people 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 to focus on his political endeavours. Company representatives did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

The 68-year-old billionaire is shifting his focus just as his company grapples with the unprecedented uncertainty of US-Chinese tensions. That escalating 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 (S$409.8 billion) 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.

 
 
 

Gou's company wields unusual influence for an Asian company in the US. When 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 ever-changing goals. Foxconn says the plant is on track to begin producing LCDs next year.

Gou has said he plans to quit as Hon Hai chairman after shareholders elect a new board in June.