Chennai’s Foxconn Technologies will start assembling high-end Apple phones from early 2019. According to news reports, the Taiwanese manufacturer will assemble Apple’s flagship phone, the iPhoneX, in its Sriperumbudur facility in Chennai. Foxconn will also reportedly invest Rs 25 billion to expand its plant in Sriperumbudur by adding assembly lines for the Apple products, which will also create around 25,000 jobs.
As of now, Wistron, a Taiwanese company, makes the lower end Apple models like iPhone 6S and SE in Bengaluru. An announcement to this effect was also made in the Tamil Nadu state cabinet meeting that was held in Chennai on Monday, chaired by Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami. An official announcement with more details is expected to be made during the Global Investors Meet scheduled in Chennai in January 2019.
The Chennai Foxconn plant was shut down in 2015 after Nokia India shut down in December 2014. This shutdown was prompted by Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia, which left the Chennai plant out of the deal due to tax disputes between the Government of India and Nokia. The Income Tax department had frozen the assets of Nokia’s Chennai plant over the dispute, which led to Nokia suspending production at the plant.
This had a ripple effect on Foxconn since Nokia was its biggest customer and more than 70% of the parts manufactured by Foxconn went to Nokia India to build its handsets. The shutdown affected over 8,000 workers who were on the rolls of Foxconn, Chennai.
The tax dispute was finally resolved in April 2018, with Nokia agreeing to make provisional payment towards the pending tax dues.
Though the Chennai plant has been shut since 2015, Foxconn’s Sri City facility on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border has been manufacturing handsets for Xiaomi, Nokia and Gionee.