Hon Hai will hire Japanese exec to head Sharp

By Christine Chou, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Hon Hai Precision Industry’s (鴻海) chief marketing officer Freddie Yuan (袁學智) said the group would recruit a Japanese executive to head Sharp once the Japanese electronics maker returns to profitability, according to local media reports. Yuan made the comment during Sharp’s latest product launch in Shanghai on Thursday, where it showcased its new 8K Ultra HD display, 4K TV and other household electrical appliances such as its new air purifier, smart refrigerator and washing machine. Previously, Sharp president Tai Cheng-wu (戴正吳) told Nikkei that he hopes his successor will be Japanese, ideally younger than 60 years old and with substantial marketing experience.

Tai said he was considering both internal and external candidates for the role, and would choose a final candidate after consulting with Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou (郭台銘). Hon Hai, after becoming the largest shareholder of Sharp last year, is planning to increase global sales of Sharp’s Aquos LCD TVs to between 10 to 12 million units by the end of this year, according to IHS Markit. Earlier this month, Hon Hai broke ground for the construction of a US$9 billion display plant in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and plans to complete it by 2019. It is expected to have a monthly output capacity of 90,000 ultra-high definition panels aimed at healthcare, education and smart home applications. Hon Hai, widely known under the trade name of Foxconn overseas, is the main assembler of Apple Inc.’s iPhones. Acquiring Sharp gave Hon Hai a consumer electronics brand of its own and boosted Hon Hai’s competitive edge in the market for smartphone and TV screens. Hon Hai’s recapitalization efforts have now put Sharp’s net worth back above zero and the share price has roughly quadrupled since it hit a year-to-date low before the acquisition. Japan to Scrutinize Foreign Bids In related news, the Japan Times reported Hon Hai’s bid to acquire Toshiba’s prized memory chip business may be up against increased resistance from the Japanese government, as Japan’s industry minister Hiroshige Seko said Friday that the Japanese government plans to “scrutinize foreign suitors from the viewpoint of national security.”

Toshiba has so far attracted 10 potential bidders for a stake in a new semiconductor company that it plans to establish in April. Bidders include Taiwan’s Hon Hai, the U.S.’s Western Digital and South Korean rival SK Hynix Inc.