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Foxconn’s Gou says may run for Taiwan president, step back from daily business



TAIPEI (Reuters) – Foxconn President Terry Gou said on Tuesday he is considering running for Taiwan's presidential election in 2020, a day after Reuters reported that the tycoon planned to resign from the country's largest contract maker. world.

Terry Gou, founder and president of Foxconn, hails during an event that marks the 40th anniversary of the Law of Relations with Taiwan, in Taipei, Taiwan, on April 16, 2019. REUTERS / Tyrone Siu

Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Taipei, Gou refused to say which party he could represent, although any attempt could shake the political playing field at a time of increased tension between the self-governing island and Beijing.

If it were the opposition, Kuomintang (KMT), friendly with China, he would "go" with the party's standard procedures, Gou said, adding that he would make that decision "as soon as possible."

"I did not sleep last night … 2020 is key for Taiwan." The reason for the tense situation (with China) is because it is a turning point for Taiwan's leadership in politics, economy and defense for the next 20 years " said Gou.

"So I asked myself all night … I need to ask myself what I can do … What can I do for young people? … The next 20 years will decide their destiny," he said, his eyes filled with tears at times.

The KMT said in a statement that Gou had been a member of the party for more than 50 years and had granted him an interest-free loan of T $ 45 million ($ 1.5 million) in 2016 under his mother's name, a measure that signaled his "loyalty" to the party.

The KMT did not immediately respond to a media question about whether Gou was eligible to participate in the already highly competitive primary elections of the party.

Gou, the richest person in Taiwan with a net worth of 7.6 billion dollars according to Forbes, told Reuters on Monday that he planned to resign in the coming months to pave the way for young talent to move up the ranks of the company.

The company then said Gou will remain president of Foxconn, although he plans to withdraw from daily operations.

Taiwan is preparing for January's presidential elections at a time of heightened tension in the Taiwan Strait, where Chinese bombers and warships conduct drills around the island on Monday.

A senior US official denounced military maneuvers as "coercion" and a threat to stability in the region.

Some observers said Washington was likely to greet any presidential offer from Gou with caution.

"I do not think the United States is very happy to see it run because it is close to China and, at this moment, the United States is suspicious of China," said Shane Lee, a political scientist at Chang Jung University in Taiwan.

"PEACE IS THE GREATEST WEAPON"

China claims Taiwan as its own and has promised to bring the island, which it considers a sacred territory, under Chinese control, by force if necessary.

The United States has no formal ties to Taiwan, but is required by law to provide the island with the means to defend itself and is its main source of arms.

"We need peace. We do not need to buy too many weapons. Peace is the most important weapon, "said Gou, adding that Taiwan only needs its own defense.

"If we spend the money for weapons in economic development, in artificial intelligence, in investments in the United States, this would be the greatest guarantee of peace."

"Whose children are they willing to sit on those fighter planes?"

A source with direct knowledge of the situation said Gou would probably announce his decision on the presidential candidacy by Tuesday at the latest and that he should travel to the Foxconn factory in Shenzhen city, south China, on Wednesday.

Shares of Foxconn, which is formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd and has a market value of around $ 40 billion, closed 0.7 percent higher on Tuesday.

An official with the Taiwan stock exchange told Reuters there were no regulations related to an executive of the company who ran for the presidency of the island.

The Progressive Democratic Party in favor of Taiwan independence is expected to announce a presidential candidate in May, including the presidents, including President Tsai Ing-wen and his former prime minister, William Lai.

RESOLUTION OF FOXCONN MANAGEMENT

On Monday, when Reuters asked Reuters if he was going to resign as president, Gou said he was moving in that direction, although any decision should be discussed with the Foxconn board.

"I do not know where you got the information from, but I have to say that basically, I'm working in that direction: go back to the second line or retire," Gou said.

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He also pointed to an important reorganization of management.

"At the board meeting from April to May, we will give the new list of board members to the board," Gou said without giving further details.

Founded in 1974, the Foxconn group is the largest contract manufacturer in the world, with T $ 5.2 billion ($ 168.52 billion) in annual revenues. It gathers analysts: it assembles products for a mix of global technology firms, but relies on Apple Inc for more than half of its annual revenues.

Yimou Lee report; Written by Anne Marie Roantree; Edited by Christopher Cushing and Muralikumar Anantharaman

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