India’s chipmaking plan suffers; Foxconn cancels deal with Vedanta

Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics maker, had last year entered into an agreement with Vedanta to set up semiconductor and display production plants in Gujarat

Foxconn Vedanta deal

New Delhi: In a blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious plan to make India a hub of semi-conductor manufacturing, the Taiwan’s chip making firm, Foxconn, on Monday announced to dump a $19.5 billion joint venture with Indian metals-to-oil conglomerate Vedanta.

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker, had last year entered into an agreement with Vedanta to set up semiconductor and display production plants in Gujarat.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Foxconn said, “It has determined that it will not move forward on the joint venture with Vedanta.” The company has not cited any reason for breaking the agreement.

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Foxconn said it had worked with Vedanta for more than a year to bring “a great semiconductor idea to reality”, but they had mutually decided to end the joint venture and it will remove its name from what now is a fully-owned Vedanta entity.

PM Modi has made chipmaking a top priority for India’s economic strategy in pursuit of a “new era” in electronics manufacturing and Foxconn’s move represents a blow to his ambitions of luring foreign investors to make chips locally for the first time. Efforts made to elicit comments from Vedanta over break up of the deal could not yield any reply.

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Foxconn is best known for assembling iPhones and other Apple (AAPL.O) products, but in recent years it has been expanding into chips to diversify its business.

Media reports had hinted that the PM Modi’s plan could be in trouble, with the Vedanta-Foxconn project proceeding slowly as their talks to involve European chipmaker STMicroelectronics (STMPA.PA) as a partner were deadlocked.

Vedanta-Foxconn had got STMicro on board for licensing technology, but India’s government had made clear it wanted the European company to have more “skin in the game”, such as a stake in the partnership.

It was reported that STMicro was not keen on that and the talks remained in limbo, a source had previously said. India, which expects its semiconductor market to be worth $63 billion by 2026, last year received three applications to set up plants under a $10 billion incentive scheme.

These were from the Vedanta-Foxconn joint venture, a global consortium ISMC which counts Tower Semiconductor (TSEM.TA) as a tech partner and from Singapore-based IGSS Ventures. The $3 billion ISMC project has stalled too due to Tower being acquired by Intel, while another $3 billion plan by IGSS was also halted as the firm wanted to re-submit its application.

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