Top Foxconn executives visit White House, but mum on details

TAIPEI, April 28 (Reuters) - Top executives of Foxconn, including founder and chairman Terry Gou, visited the White House on Thursday, Taiwanese TV footage showed, as the Apple Inc supplier ponders a $7 billion-plus U.S. investment in a display-making plant.

Footage aired by TVBS television on Friday showed Gou entering and leaving one of the entry gates of the White House with senior company executives including Tai Jeng-wu, Foxconn vice chairman and chief of Japan’s Sharp Corp, in which Foxconn holds a two-thirds stake.

When asked by reporters on his way out of the White House if he had met U.S. President Donald Trump, Gou responded: “My memory is not good. Maybe I already forget.”

TVBS reported Gou was in the White House for around three hours.

Foxconn, the world’s largest contract electronics maker that is formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, declined to comment on the TV footage.

Gou had said in January that Foxconn was mulling setting up a display-making plant in the United States with an investment that would exceed $7 billion.

Gou provided the details at the time after Foxconn’s business partner Masayoshi Son, head of Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp, pledged a $50 billion investment in the United States when meeting Trump in December, while accidentally showing materials that had Foxconn’s logo.

The possible expansion into the United States by several global corporates comes amid Trump’s “America First” efforts to expand U.S. jobs.

While Foxconn has not disclosed a timeline for a decision on going ahead with the plant, it would depend on many factors, such as investment conditions, that would have to be negotiated at the U.S. state and federal levels, Gou has said.

A source told Reuters in February Sharp may start building the plant in the first half of 2017.

Foxconn is also one of the suitors looking to acquire Toshiba Corp’s chip business, but people familiar with the matter have told Reuters that it is considered a national security risk due to its ties with China, where it has vast manufacturing facilities and employs about a million people.

The chip bidding has also been complicated by Toshiba’s U.S. partner Western Digital Corp, which has said it should be given exclusive negotiating rights. (Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)