Monday, May 4, 2009

Taiwanese Tycoon lashes out at Buffett over BYD Investment (BRK.A; 1211 [Hong Kong])

From the Taiwan News:
Tycoon Terry Gou is threatening to take his intellectual property dispute with Chinese battery giant BYD to U.S. investor Warren Buffett's door, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday. If the U.S. tycoon fails to answer three questions, Gou said, he would buy shares in the former's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and ask him the questions personally at next year's shareholders meeting, the paper said.

In June 2006, Gou's Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. took BYD to court in Shenzhen, China, for stealing commercial secrets from Hon Hai affiliate Foxconn. Last September, Buffett spent US$230 million to buy a 10-percent stake in BYD. Gou, himself one of Taiwan's wealthiest businessmen, told the Economic Daily News in an interview conducted on Sunday he wanted to ask Buffett three questions.

The first was why the U.S. business leader wanted to invest in a company stealing trade secrets, the paper reported in the interview published yesterday. The Shenzhen court found four BYD staff members guilty. Buffett has the reputation of only investing in trustworthy companies, Gou said.

The Taiwanese tycoon also wanted to know whether Buffett dared to drive a car made by BYD to work and back each day, instead of just driving it to his company's shareholders meeting. The Chinese company, the world's second largest producer of rechargeable batteries according to its website, has developed an electricity-powered car.

Gou's third question was directed at the profitability of the car. Prominent car makers such as Toyota, Honda, Ford and General Motors spent years developing hybrid models and selling them before they could make any profit, so what made Buffett think that BYD possessed the professional knowledge to succeed, the paper quoted Gou as wondering....MORE

From the AP via WTOP (Washington D.C.):

...Buffett and Berkshire's Vice Chairman Charlie Munger were asked about the allegations against BYD at a news conference on Sunday, and Buffett deferred to Munger because he initiated Berkshire's investment in BYD and knows the Chinese company well.

Munger said the allegations Foxconn made against BYD have already been litigated in a Japanese court.

"That set of claims, in my view, has been totally discredited," he said. "I don't have any ethical concerns about BYD."

An Associated Press call Monday to a Berkshire spokeswoman was not immediately returned....

From the Wall Street Journal:

August 11, 2007

The Forbidden City of Terry Gou

His complex in China turns out iPhones and PCs, powering the biggest exporter you've never heard of

Past a guarded gate on the outskirts of this city sits one of the world's largest factories. In dozens of squat buildings, it churns out gadgets bearing technology's household names -- Apple Inc.'s iPods and iPhones, Hewlett-Packard Co.'s personal computers, Motorola Inc. mobile phones and Nintendo Co. Wii videogame consoles.

Few people outside of the industry know of the plant's owner: Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.

With a work force of some 270,000 -- about as big as the population of Newark, N.J. -- the factory is a bustling testament to the ambition of Hon Hai's founder, Terry Gou. In an era when manufacturing has been defined by outsourcing, no one has done more to shift global electronics production to China. Little noticed by the wider world, Mr. Gou has turned his company into China's biggest exporter and the world's biggest contract manufacturer of electronics.

Hon Hai's revenue has grown more than 50% a year in the past decade to $40.6 billion last year. It is expected to add $14 billion in revenue this year. That is roughly the equivalent of Motorola's adding, within a year, the sales of CBS Corp.

Throughout his company's rise, the 56-year-old native of Taiwan has maintained a low profile. Publicity, he says, risks helping competitors and alienating customers. "I hate that I [have] become famous," Mr. Gou said in a recent three-hour interview at Hon Hai's Taiwan headquarters. It was Mr. Gou's first interview with Western media since 2002, following more than five years of requests by The Wall Street Journal. "We are so big we cannot hide anymore.">>>MORE