Here's why Foxconn's latest statement has left poll-bound Karnataka govt seething

A day after news reports reported a $ 700 million investment for a new plant meant for iPhone parts near Bangalore, Foxconn has denied any binding agreement on new investments in India.

File photo of a Foxconn office
File photo of a Foxconn office

NH Economic Bureau

The BJP-led Karnataka government is "disappointed" over the media reports about Foxconn's statement denying any binding agreement for investment in India.

Sources in the Large and Medium Industries Ministry in Karnataka stated that they are "truly surprised with the development".

"The whole team of Foxconn, a major assembler of Apple iPhones, was in Bengaluru. The MoU was signed by the team and the team had also paid a visit to land near Bengaluru International Airport and expressed their interest," sources said.

The tech giant, which is a major assembler of Apple iPhones, denied the sums discussed in the media. Bloomberg reported that Foxconn is planning to invest $700 million on a new plant in Karnataka for building iPhone parts.

"Negotiations and internal review are ongoing. Financial investment sums discussed in media are not information being released by Foxconn."  News agency AFP reported that Taiwanese contract manufacturing giant Foxconn has said that it hasn't "entered into any binding, definitive agreements" for new India investment during its chairman's recent trip.

Earlier news reports had suggested that the Taiwanese company, also known for its flagship unit Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., had plans to build the plant to make iPhone parts on a 300-acre site close to the airport in Bengaluru, according to the people who NDTV reported had asked not to be named as the information is not public.

The factory may also assemble Apple's handsets, some of the people said, and Foxconn may also use the site to produce some parts for its nascent electric vehicle business.

On Saturday, Large and Medium Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani shared photographs taken with Foxconn CEO and Chairman Young Liu at the lounge of Bengaluru International Airport. Nirani was on the way to Belagavi to attend the Vijay Sankalp Yatra and Young Li Yu was waiting for a flight to Taiwan.

The ministry is tight lipped over the development and has not given any official reaction yet. "Officials have been directed not to give any statement to media," sources added.

The media reports claimed that Taiwanese contract manufacturing giant Foxconn has stated that "it hasn't entered into any binding, definitive agreements for new India investment during its chairman's trip". The company maintained that negotiations and internal review are still on. "The proportion of investment sums published is not an official statement of Foxconn."

Earlier, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, claimed that the MoU with Foxconn is a big boost to India's Atmanirbhar Bharat ambitions and a testimony to Karnataka's success in drawing investments to the state in the electronics manufacturing and assembly segment.

"Hon Hai Technology Group (Foxconn) has announced a major investment in Karnataka... 300 acres of land has been identified for this purpose near the Bengaluru International Airport, in Doddaballapura and Devanahalli taluks," Chief Minister Bommai stated.

A team of senior executives from Foxconn, led by Young Liu, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman, and comprising 16 senior leaders were in Bengaluru on Friday. They were welcomed at the airport by C.N. Ashwath Narayan, Minister for Higher Education, IT and BT, Science and Technology, and Skill Development.

The visit began with a walkthrough of the world-class new terminal 2, recently inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, followed by a detailed presentation by senior executives from Bengaluru Airport International Limited (BIAL) on cargo infrastructure and facilities at the airport. The team then proceeded to a site view at the proposed area.

The lunch meeting was led by Murugesh R. Nirani, Minister for Large and Medium Industries. The team then had a meeting with Vandita Sharma, Chief Secretary to the Government of Karnataka at Vidhana Soudha.

The visit culminated with a dinner hosted by Bommai. The Chied Minister and Liu discussed Foxconn's investment plans and Bommai assured full support for the project.

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