It‘s the end of an era, and the beginning of another one for Taiwan’s richest man Terry Gou.
Having earlier announced he was standing as a Kuomintang candidate for the 2020 presidential election, Gou said Friday that he was stepping down as chairman of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., owner of iPhone maker Foxconn.
Speaking at the Hon Hai’s annual shareholders meeting, the 68-year-old said he was handing over day-to-day management of the company he founded 45 years ago to a 9-person team.
Young Liu, head of the group’s semiconductor subsidiary, replaces Gou starting July 1.
Going all in for the top job
Using the occasion to make a stump for his candidacy, Gou said that while he was said to leave behind Hon Hai, he had no regrets because he was in pursuit of a greater ideal for Taiwan.
“Some people have said, Terry Gou is a genius,” he said. “But just let me say, if I’m a legend, then this legend was made possible because of the stage that Taiwan gave me. Without Taiwan, there would be no Terry Gou.”
“I live in Taiwan, I grew up in Taiwan, and my company headquarters is in Taiwan,” he added. “I know that without the Republic of China there would be no Hon Hai.”
“All of the resources that I have accumulated over the last 40 years, I am going to devote fully to the Republic of China over the next four years.”
“My struggle is for a better tomorrow and a more prosperous nation for this land and its 23 million citizens.”
The best man for the economy?
Reported to have an estimated net wealth of $7.8 billion, the self-made tycoon pitched himself as the best person to take Taiwan’s economy to the next level.
“I understand technology, I understand the economy, and I have made friends with world leaders,” he said. “When I put the flag of the Republic of China together with the flag of Japan in front of the world’s media , When I took the flag of the Republic of China into the White House, I knew I could do so much more.”
“Hence in the next 20 years of my life, I need to change tracks. It’s not for myself, It’s for all of us.”
Lamenting the economic state of Taiwan, Gou promised he would continue to be a “Taiwan bull”, carrying the weight of the nation on his shoulders.
“Give me four years, and give Taiwan a chance,” he said. “Give me four years, and let’s give our next generation everlasting bliss.”
Hon Hai AGM ended with executives singing “A heart of gratitude” to boost Terry Gou’s presidential campaign pic.twitter.com/KHkLQiAs2O
— Debby Wu (@debbywuintaipei) June 21, 2019
Getting Apple to move to Taiwan
In response to a question by a journalist whether Apple would shift production away from China, Gou said, “Speaking from the perspective of the Republic of China, I will plead to Apple to come to Taiwan.”
Louis Woo, Gou’s special assistant, later walked back the statement, saying the presidential hopeful was urging Apple to invest in Taiwan, not for it to move out of China, Bloomberg reported.
Hon Hai employs 1.2 million people on the Chinese mainland.
While no longer chairman, Gou remains a board member and the company’s largest shareholder, and would still be able to exert significant influence behind the scenes.