iPhone manufacturer names Young Liu as new chairman

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Published: June 21, 2019 12:58:36 PM

Liu takes the helm at a precarious time for the world’s largest contract manufacturer, known also as Foxconn

Boxes of the Apple Inc. iPhone XS sit at an Apple store during its launch in Hong Kong, China, on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the largest assembler of Apple Inc.’s iPhones, has named Young Liu its new chairman to replace billionaire founder Terry Gou.

Hon Hai said the semiconductor division chief’s appointment takes effect July 1, taking up a post vacated by Gou. The Taiwanese billionaire, who built the company from a maker of TV knobs into a global consumer electronics powerhouse, is stepping down to focus on winning a party nomination to compete in the 2020 Taiwanese presidential elections. Hon Hai’s shares slid more than 1%.

Liu takes the helm at a precarious time for the world’s largest contract manufacturer, known also as Foxconn. Escalating U.S.-Chinese tensions are 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 $300 billion worth of Chinese goods including phones and laptops — directly affecting Hon Hai’s business with Apple and the world’s biggest electronics brands. And Beijing has shown a growing willingness to retaliate against American names.

Gou had long been expected to step back from Foxconn’s day-to-day operations to focus on his political endeavours. He remains a board member and largest shareholder, but formally handed the baton over on Friday during the company’s annual general meeting in Taipei.

“I have very complicated feelings,” Liu told reporters after the meeting wrapped. “I will work to maximize the shareholders’ interest.”

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