Foxconn, Apple's iPhone maker, eyes six U.S. states

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Foxconn's $7 billion plan to invest in U.S. manufacturing is shaping up, with the company planning to release investment plans by early August for at least three U.S. states, with three more added later. 

Foxconn, which assembles Apple's (AAPL) iPhones and other consumer electronics, didn't indicate where a planned display panel factory might be located. Chairman Terry Gou in January announced plans for the factory, which he said could generate 50,000 jobs. 

Foxconn has been in touch with the White House and expects to conclude negotiations by the end of July or early August, Gou said. He said the first investment agreement should cover at least three states, with at least three more eyed for later investments. Gou mentioned Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Texas as states with which Foxconn hopes to work but gave no indication whether any of them might be in the investment agreement.

Foxconn is little-known to consumers on its own but is the world biggest contract manufacturer of smartphones and other devices for Apple, Sony, Blackberry and other brands. It raised its profile with its purchase in March 2016 of struggling Japanese electronics brand Sharp for $3.5 billion.

The company plans to develop U.S. operations combining hardware manufacturing and software development in technologies including artificial intelligence and automation, Gou said at a meeting with Foxconn shareholders.

Gou said in January that Pennsylvania was the leading candidate for the panel factory, which would work with Sharp.

Foxconn company assembles smartphones and other devices for Apple, Sony, Blackberry and other brands. The bulk of its operations are in China, where it employs about 1 million people.

Also Thursday, Gou said there is "still a chance" Foxconn might be able to buy Toshiba's memory chip business despite the Japanese company's choice of another bidder as its preferred buyer.

The Toshiba Corp. board's choice of a U.S.-Japanese consortium is "not a done deal," said Terry Gou of Foxconn Technology Group.

Toshiba said Wednesday it picked a bid totaling about 2 trillion yen ($18 billion) by a U.S.-Japan consortium for its chip business. Toshiba is selling the lucrative operation due to losses at its U.S. nuclear power unit, Westinghouse Electric Co.

"It is not a done deal yet. I believe there is still a chance for Foxconn," said Gou at a meeting of shareholders.

Gou noted Toshiba's choice of the U.S.-Japanese consortium faced opposition, including from Japanese banks.

Western Digital of the United States opposes the choice. It owns SanDisk chip operations that have a joint venture with Toshiba in Japan and says the company has no right to transfer that venture without the American partner's consent.

Western Digital said it filed a request for arbitration last week. Toshiba has accused Western Digital of interfering with its sales efforts.