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Foxconn poised to nominate chip boss as Taiwan group's next chairman

Taipei

IPHONE assembler Foxconn is poised to nominate its chip unit head as group chairman to succeed Taiwan presidential hopeful Terry Gou, in what is internally seen as a surprise move, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Liu Young, 63, is a also a board member of Foxconn's Japanese electronics unit Sharp Corp.

The nomination would come after Mr Gou, 68, told Reuters in April that he planned to step down as chairman of the world's largest contract manufacturer so younger talent could move up the ranks.

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Last week, Mr Gou also said that he would resign to demonstrate his determination to run in Taiwan's presidential election.

The firm he founded, formally Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, is currently trying to cut its dependence on client Apple Inc and smartphone assembly by expanding into areas such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things.

Mr Liu's possible appointment came as a surprise for many at Foxconn due to his relatively junior rank among the Taiwanese firm's top executives, the people said on Monday.

Mr Gou has repeatedly said internally that he wants someone "younger" to run the company, one of the people said. Mr Liu joined Foxconn in 2007 as special assistant to Mr Gou and has since gained great trust, the person said.

Mr Liu has led Foxconn's nascent semiconductor business, dubbed the S sub-group, since 2017, the person added.

Through Mr Liu, Mr Gou is likely to retain behind-the-scenes influence in strategic decisions, the person said. Such an appointment, however, is likely to have limited impact on day-to-day business because Foxconn's group companies have been operating independently for years, the person added.

Foxconn did not respond to a request for comment. The two people declined to be identified as the matter was private.

A stock exchange filing last week showed proposed candidates for a new board included Mr Gou and Mr Liu, as well as other executives widely linked to the group chairmanship such as Tai Jeng-wu, chairman at Sharp, and Lu Sung-Ching, chairman at Foxconn Interconnect Technology Ltd.

The board proposal is subject to approval at an annual shareholder meeting in June before a chairman can be elected.

Foxconn's share price fell 3 per cent on Monday versus the benchmark share price index's 1.4 per cent decline. The stock is up about 17 per cent this year after falling 30 per cent last year. REUTERS