Terry Gou, the 69-year old chairman of Foxconn plans to step down in the coming months to pave the way for younger talent, Reuters reported.
The world’s largest contract manufacturer based in Taiwan is trying to reinvent itself to cut its reliance on Apple as smartphone sales plateau and as the iPhone maker diversifies its supplier base.
Jack Ma, co-founder of China’s Alibaba Group, said in September he will step down as chairman in a year to allow for younger management. And Morris Chang, founder and chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), another Apple supplier, retired last year.
Terry Gou, speaking on the sidelines of an event in Taipei, said that while he planned to resign as Foxconn chairman, he hoped to remain involved in strategic decisions regarding the company’s business.
When asked by Reuters if he would quit as chairman, Terry Gou said he was moving in that direction, although any decision needed to be discussed with the company’s board.
“I have to say, basically, I’m working toward that direction – to walk back to the second line, or retire,” Terry Gou said. “I will be involved in the major direction of the company, but not involved in daily operations.
“I’m already 69 years old. I can pass down my 45 years of experience. That’s the goal I set up – to let young people learn sooner and take over sooner and to replace my position sooner.”
Terry Gou said his plans would be discussed with the board of Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, in the coming months and shareholders would be told at the AGM in June.
Reuters reported that Lu Sung-Ching, chairman of Foxconn Interconnect Technology, the electronic and optoelectronic connectors unit of Foxconn, is among the possible candidates to take over from Terry Gou.
In January, the Nikkei reported that Foxconn had let go around 50,000 contract workers in China since October.
Foxconn acquired control of Japan’s Sharp in 2016 to try to boost the Taiwanese company’s advanced screen technology.
Founded in 1974, the Foxconn group has grown to become the world’s biggest contract manufacturer with T$5.2 trillion ($168.52 billion) in annual revenue, assembling goods for Apple, SoftBank Group Corp and other global tech firms. It relies on Apple for more than half of annual revenue, according to analysts.
Terry Gou, who owns 9.4 percent of Foxconn as its top shareholder, is Taiwan’s richest person with a net worth of $7.6 billion, according to Forbes.
Last month, Foxconn reported a smaller than expected fall in quarterly profit, despite warning signs from key customers including Apple that demand for tech electronics was softening.
Reuters earlier reported Foxconn was reconsidering plans to make advanced liquid crystal display panels at a $10 billion Wisconsin campus. Foxconn later reiterated it would still build a factory in Wisconsin after Terry Gou spoke to U.S. President Donald Trump.