HTC denies plan to buy Nokia factory



TAIPEI — HTC Corp. on Wednesday denied a report that the Taiwanese smartphone maker is considering buying rival Nokia Oyj’s factory in Chennai to give it better and faster access to the Indian market.

In a story published Monday, the Economic Times of India cited HTC Chief Financial Officer Chang Chia-lin as saying that if the Nokia plant could help HTC serve consumers better, the company “would be happy to look further” into buying it if it were available for sale to a third party other than Microsoft Corp.

The possibility of selling the plant to a third party has arisen because Nokia may not be able to resolve a tax dispute with Indian authorities before the expected closing of the sale of its global phone business to Microsoft at the end of April, the newspaper said.

Nokia has to decide on the factory’s future before it concludes the Microsoft deal, and if the tax dispute cannot be resolved, Nokia might be forced to close the plant or sell it for cash to other handset makers like HTC, the report said.

The Nokia deal is said to be worth 5.44 billion euros (US$7.2 billion).

HTC denied the report, however, saying Chang was misquoted. “We wish to clarify that this statement is untrue and was misquoted,” the Taoyuan-based company said in e-mail reply to CNA.

“What was shared was that HTC is a company that will continue to invest in positive business opportunities but (it) was not referring to this particular company or any other company at the time.”

The report came on the same day that HTC announced three smartphones for the India market that range from high-end to entry-level models in a move to boost sales in the second quarter.

One of the new phones is the entry-level Desire 210, the company’s first foray into the sub-10,000-rupee phone market in India. It will compete with the likes of the Nokia Lumia 520 and Samsung Galaxy S Duos, HTC India Country Head Faisal Siddiqui said.

HTC hopes the introduction of the new products will increase its market share in India to 10 percent from the current 4-6 percent, Siddiqui said, without specifying a timetable for reaching that goal.