Tata Group In Talks With Apple's Taiwanese Supplier Wistron Corp For Assembling iPhones In India

Tata Group In Talks With Apple's Taiwanese Supplier Wistron Corp For Assembling iPhones In India

Tata Group is in talks with Taiwanese supplier to Apple Inc, Wistron Corp, to set up an electronics manufacturing joint venture (JV) in India, seeking to assemble iPhones in the country, news agency Bloomberg said on Friday.

According to the report, the talks with Wistron are aimed at making Tata a force in technology manufacturing as the Indian conglomerate wants to tap the Taiwanese firm’s expertise in product development, supply chain, and assembly, sources privy to the development. If successful, the pact could make Tata Group the first Indian firm to build iPhones, which are currently mainly assembled by Taiwanese manufacturing giants such as Wistron and Foxconn Technology Group in China and India.

If the development materialises, this would be a massive boost for the India’s effort to challenge China, whose dominance in electronics manufacturing has been jeopardised by perpetual Covid lockdowns and political tensions with the US. It could also persuade other global electronics brands to consider setting up assembly lines in India as that will reduce their reliance on China at a time of rising geopolitical tensions.

According to the Bloomberg report, the structure of the deal and details such as shareholdings are yet to be finalised, and talks are ongoing, the sources said. The plan could entail Tata buying equity in Wistron’s India operations or the companies could build a new assembly plant. They could also execute both those moves, the sources revealed.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Apple was aware of the talks, which come at a time the US tech giant is looking to diversify more production away from China and deepen its supply chain in India. Apple is known to work with local companies in regions where it sets up manufacturing bases, but assembling iPhones is a complicated task that entails meeting the US company’s tight deadlines and quality controls.

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A Wistron representative declined Bloomberg’s request to comment, while Tata and Apple also didn’t respond.

The new venture targets to eventually increase the number of iPhones assembled by as much as five times from what Wistron currently builds in India.

Natarajan Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons, has said electronics and high-tech manufacturing are key focus areas for the company. Industries such as software, steel, and cars account for much of Tata’s business, but it has taken early steps in the smartphone supply chain by starting to manufacture iPhone chassis components in southern India.

For Wistron’s Indian business, struggling with losses, a pact with Tata would give it a formidable local partner with deep pockets. Tata’s reach also spans automobiles, including electric vehicles, an area many of the world’s tech giants are eager to expand in.

Wistron began making iPhones in India in 2017, after years of efforts by Apple to add manufacturing capabilities in the country. The Taipei-based firm currently assembles iPhones at its plant in Karnataka.