Tata Group in talks to join club of iPhone makers

Tata Corporation is in talks with a Taiwanese supplier for Apple Inc. to set up an electronics manufacturing joint venture in India, seeking to assemble iPhones in the South Asian country.

Talks with Wistron Corp are aimed at making Tata a power in the technology manufacturing industry, and the Indian salt-to-software conglomerate wants to tap into the Taiwanese company’s expertise in product development, supply chain and assembly, said people with knowledge of the matter. If successful, the deal could make Tata the first Indian company to make iPhones, which are currently mainly assembled by Taiwanese manufacturing giants such as Wistron and Foxconn Technology Group in China and India. Degree.

An Indian company that makes iPhones would be a big boost to the country’s efforts to challenge China, whose dominant position in electronics manufacturing has been threatened by lockdowns. Covid machine and political tension with the US. It could also convince other global electronics brands to consider assembly in India to reduce reliance on China at a time of growing geopolitical risk.

The structure of the deal and details such as stakes have yet to be finalized and negotiations are ongoing, the people said, declining to be named because the conversations are private. The plan could require Tata to buy a stake in Wistron’s India operations or the companies could build a new assembly plant, one of the people said. They can also make both of those moves, the person said.

It was not immediately clear if Apple was aware of the talks, which come at a time when the US tech giant is looking to diversify production more away from China and expand its supply chain in India. . Apple is known to work with local companies in regions where it has manufacturing facilities – but iPhone assembly is a complex task that requires meeting the company’s tight deadlines and quality controls. America.

A representative for Wistron declined to comment. Tata and Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

The new venture aims to eventually increase the number of iPhones assembled by five times what Wistron currently produces in India, one of them said. A partnership is also likely to result in Mumbai-based Tata acquiring a share of Wistron’s manufacturing business beyond smartphones, these people said.

Tata Group President Natarajan Chandrasekaran said electronics and high-tech manufacturing are the focus areas of the company, India’s leading conglomerate with about $128 billion in revenue. Industries such as software, steel, and automotive make up the bulk of Tata’s business, but it took its first steps in the smartphone supply chain by starting to manufacture iPhone chassis components. in southern India.

For Wistron’s India business, which is struggling with losses, a deal with Tata would give it a formidable local partner with ample pockets. Tata’s reach also includes automotive including electric vehicles, an area many of the world’s tech giants are eager to expand.

Wistron started making iPhones in India in 2017, after years of Apple’s efforts to ramp up production capacity in the country. The Taipei-based company is currently assembling iPhones at its factory in the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

The promise of India’s strong consumer market of 1.4 billion people and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s financial incentives for technology manufacturing have spurred other key Apple contract manufacturers, Foxconn and Pegatron Corp. also expanded in this country. However, India’s workforce and factories have not yet easily adopted the high-level controls that Apple requires from its suppliers: Since iPhone assembly began in India a while ago. Five years on, workers have been reeling from wages and substandard working and living conditions in two prominent incidents.

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