By Yoko Kubota
TAIPEI -- Taiwan's Foxconn Technology Group, which assembles Apple Inc.'s iPhones in China, is looking at seven states in the American heartland to invest $10 billion or more to manufacture flat-panel screens and related equipment.
"Over the years, manufacturing of consumer goods has shifted out of the U.S.," Terry Gou, the chairman of the company formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., told reporters after the company's annual shareholders meeting Thursday. "We will bring our advanced technology there to revive American manufacturing."
Foxconn's U.S. ambition, which Mr. Gou flagged in January, comes amid a flurry of U.S. investments announced by Asian companies as President Donald Trump calls for a revival of American manufacturing.
Earlier this year, Japan's biggest auto maker Toyota Motor Corp. highlighted its plan to invest $10 billion in the U.S. over the next five years. Chinese companies have also been expanding their U.S. production footprint in recent years, such as auto glass producer Fuyao Glass Industry Group in Ohio and textile producer Keer Group Co.
In his remarks, Mr. Gou said the company was looking at about five states, but a company executive later clarified that to say that seven states were candidates -- Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. Foxconn will work together with Sharp Corp., the Japanese electronics maker acquired by Foxconn last year, on the U.S. plants, he said.
Foxconn also plans to build supply chains and introduce automation technologies to its U.S. operations, Mr. Gou said. The company will decide on more details by the end of July to early August, he said.
Mr. Gou said he has met with three state governors, without elaborating which ones. Governors from Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin have visited Japan to meet Mr. Gou, people familiar with the matter said. A Foxconn spokesman declined to comment.
In January, Mr. Gou said he hoped to invest $7 billion in the U.S. and has welcomed pitches from state governments. The investment could create 30,000 to 50,000 jobs in the U.S., he has said.
In the shareholders' meeting, Mr. Gou also said Foxconn hasn't given up on its efforts to buy Toshiba's memory-chip unit, which the Japanese electronics maker is seeking to sell for some $20 billion to stay afloat. A day earlier, Toshiba said it had chosen as its preferred bidder a consortium that includes a Japan-backed investment fund and a state-owned bank.
"We still have a chance," Mr. Gou said.
Tai Jeng-wu, executive of Sharp and a Foxconn senior executive, criticized the Japanese government's approach as protectionist. Japan's industry minister on Wednesday had hailed the announcement by Toshiba, saying the government-backed bid met the conditions he had set for preventing technology leakage and keeping jobs at home.
Write to Yoko Kubota at firstname.lastname@example.org