Foxconn stall at an event

Foxconn founder’s presidential hopes force corporate shake-up

Image credit: Dreamstime

The world’s largest electronics manufacturing contractor is to radically shake up its management structure following the announcement by its founder and chairman, Terry Gou, that he will run to become President of Taiwan.

Gou founded Foxconn (also known as Hon Hai) in 1974 in a suburb of Taipei. The company manufactures products for Apple, Amazon, Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft and Nokia, among others, and is estimated to manufacture at least 40 per cent of all consumer electronics sold around the world. The company has come under controversy over repeated allegations of poor working conditions, which may be related to a series of suicides by at least two dozen Foxconn employees in recent years.

In April 2019, Gou announced that he would be running to become president of Taiwan. He is seeking the nomination of the Beijing-friendly Kuomintang, to which he was a member from 1970 to 2000. He is hoping to unseat President Tsai Ing-wen, whose Democratic Progressive Party favours greater independence from the People’s Republic of China. The Taiwanese government recently cracked down on streaming services from the Mainland, amid concerns that the services would be used to manipulate the 2020 presidential election by pushing pro-Beijing propaganda.

Gou claimed that he had been told to make his presidential bid by the sea goddess Mazu, who desired him to seek peace across the Taiwan Strait. Gou added that he believed Mazu had long supported the success of Foxconn.

Now, Foxconn has announced how the company will be restructured as Gou – who had always centralised power at the company – focuses on his presidential bid. Speaking at an investor meeting, Liu Young-way, head of Foxconn’s semiconductor unit, said that the company is setting up a management committee (“operations committee”) with nine members which will report to the board. The committee will be elected at Foxconn’s AGM next week. This will give senior executives more decision-making influence in the company’s operations.

Liu said that the company would be holding an investor conference every six months and would strive to “become more and more transparent”.

Liu added that Foxconn was well-placed to manage the challenges posed by the escalating trade war between the US and the People’s Republic of China, as Foxconn has manufacturing bases across 16 countries and was prepared to relocate quickly if forced to do so by its customers.

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