By Yimou Lee
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan's Foxconn explores sales of its new $ 8.8 billion factory in China, people said in a statement to Reuters, as demand for the product declines amid intensifying U.S. China trade war.
A sale would come at a delicate time for Foxconn, which has extensive investments in China, a large selection of US customers including Apple Inc, and who must navigate a difficult path amid the protracted trade war between Washington and Beijing. It would mark one of the biggest divestments from China.
Foxconn's discussions are at an initial stage, and a price tag for the so-called Gen-10.5 system specializing in large-screen LCDs has yet to come up, the sources said, adding a sale was not a bailout .
"It's not an easy sale, and it may take some time," said one source, citing lukewarm global demand for large-screen LCDs.
Foxconn, in a written statement to Reuters, said: "As a matter of corporate policy, Foxconn does not respond to market rumors or speculation." The sources asked for anonymity because the deliberations are confidential.
U.S. President Donald Trump vigorously lifted shares in the Blue Brand Trade War with China and swept global financial markets by promising Thursday to impose a $ 10 billion US $ 300 billion tariff in China from September 1.
The trade war has disrupted technology's global supply chains in an important way, forcing Foxconn to consider its own. That and declining demand for large TV screens and screens had prompted Foxconn's management to seek a buyer for the LCD system, said one of the sources familiar with the management's mindset.
Foxconn also raised questions about the need for the Guangzhou project. "Existing plants are not already running at full capacity … why need a new one," the source said.
The second source said that the new plant would not go into production until early October, making it less appealing to buyers because of the added risk compared to an already operational plant.
Nikkei reported earlier this year that the company would postpone most of its planned production in Guangzhou for a minimum of six months, but Foxconn said the project was planned. .
Baptized the largest single investment ever in the southern city by Chinese media, Foxconn announced the Guangzhou facility in 2016, hoping to start operations by 2019 to meet an expected increase in demand for big screen TV is and displays in Asia in a challenge to the top Chinese viewer BOE Technology Group.
The project was mainly driven by a joint venture between the Guangzhou government and Japan's Sakai Display Products, an advanced nelf-owned company owned by Foxconn founder Terry Gou and Japan's Sharp Corp, Foxconn's display unit.
The Japanese panel manufacturer said on Thursday that it would build a plant in Vietnam to make flat screens and electronic devices to protect against additional US import tariffs on Chinese goods.
The global display industry has struggled with supply and tumbling revenues due to morbid sales of TVs and smartphones, and the worsening trade conflict that could raise product prices and dampen consumer demand.
On Thursday, Sharp reported a double-digit decline in profits for the quarter ended June due to slow demand for technology.
In April, Taipei-based Foxconn said it was still committed to building a display and technology research facility in Wisconsin amid growing skepticism about the fate of the $ 10 billion project. Trump had cited Foxconn's Wisconsin plans as proof that he was reviving American production.
But Foxconn is already under the spotlight for having failed so far in meeting Wisconsin job creation goals.
The company told Reuters earlier this year that it was reconsidering plans to make advanced LCD panels in Wisconsin.
(Reporting by Yimou Lee; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Muralikumar Anantharaman)