Tata Group is understood to be in advanced stages to acquire the Karnataka manufacturing unit of Taiwan-based Wistron, a contract manufacturer for Apple, to become the first Indian iPhone maker, sources said.
The acquisition will be carried out through Tata Electronics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons, the promoter holding firm of salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group, they added.
When reached for comments, Tata Group declined to comment. An e-mail sent to Apple did not elicit a response. Wistron could not be reached for comments.
According to one of the sources, a public announcement on the development would depend on what Apple chooses as the company closely controls its ecosystem.
It is likely that apart from iPhone, once Tata Group takes over the Karnataka plant, other new Apple products could also be assembled from the unit.
The latest move by the Tata Group to acquire Apple supplier’s unit, is also expected to give fillip to Apple’s efforts to tap into production prowess outside of China and drive momentum in the world’s second-biggest smartphone market.
After a news report earlier this week, Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar had tweeted, “Bringing national champions into Global Electronics Value chains is a key policy objective of Hon’ble PM @narendramodi ji’s visionary PLI scheme”.
“This news about @TataCompanies getting one step closer to manufacturing the iconic iPhone for global markets is very positive development and will help grow the Indian EMS and supply chain / component Eco-system,” Chandrasekhar wrote.
He added: “@GoI_MeitY welcomes this move, Congratulations Tata and Apple teams.”
While a booming market for smartphones has added to India’s sheen globally, New Delhi’s policy push in the electronics sector has nudged large suppliers to expand aggressively in the country, and driven new players to set up base.
As it is, India’s vibrant market is turning out to be a sweet spot for the Cupertino, California-headquartered iconic brand.
In May this year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said India is an “incredibly exciting market” and a “major focus” for the company, as the iPhone maker highlighted that business in India “set a quarterly record, grew very strong, double-digits year-over-year”.
India is at a “tipping point”, the top honcho had said during the Q2 earnings call of the company.
Apple charted an ambitious retail expansion in India in April this year, when it launched two retail outlets here, in Mumbai and Delhi, during Cook’s first trip to the country in seven years.
The two stores are “off to a great start”, Cook said during the quarterly earnings call.
“Looking at the business in India, we did set a quarterly record, grew very strong, double-digits year-over-year. So it was quite a good quarter for us, taking a step back, India is an incredibly exciting market,” Cook had said.
Apple’s other Taiwanese suppliers, such as Pegatron Corp., have also scaled up here. PTI