TAIPEI/HONG KONG Foxconn Technology Group, Apple Inc's main contract manufacturer, is in talks with Asian private equity firm MBK Partners to buy Taiwanese cable TV company China Network Systems (CNS), a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Monday.
Foxconn could pay about T$64 billion ($2.1 billion) for MBK's 60 percent stake in Taiwan's largest cable provider, according to the Economic Daily, which first reported the talks on Monday.
Foxconn, whose flagship unit is Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, is aiming to team up with CNS to compete with Chunghwa Telecom Co Ltd, Taiwan's biggest mobile phone and fixed network carrier, the newspaper said without citing sources.
Foxconn has also met a high-ranking official of Taiwan Mobile Co Ltd for a potential tie-up, the newspaper reported.
Foxconn and Chunghwa Telecom were among companies that won local 4G licenses earlier this year and an acquisition of CNS will help Foxconn to help diversify from its electronics manufacturing business.
Foxconn is among a number of parties interested in MBK's CNS stake, the source said. No deal is imminent and MBK could pursue an earlier plan to list the cable company in Singapore, the source said.
MBK hired Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley for a business trust initial public offering worth about $1 billion for CNS, Reuters reported in July.
MBK, which bought its CNS stake for $1.5 billion in 2006, was blocked by Taiwan's regulators from selling the stake in October 2010 for $2.4 billion to a group led by Want Want China Holdings.
Hon Hai, a flagship unit of Foxconn, and MBK declined to comment on the matter and CNS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The source asked not be identified as discussions were private.
($1 = 30.2910 Taiwan dollars)
(Additional reporting by Joyce Lee in SEOUL; Editing by Denny Thomas, Stephen Coates and Christopher Cushing)