iPhone-maker Wistron seeks more land near Bengaluru

Taiwanese contract manufacturer Wistron Corp. has asked the Karnataka government for additional land near Bengaluru to expand its capacity to make Apple’s iPhones in India, a minister said.
“They have approached us and have requested for some 40-50 acres near about Bengaluru for manufacturing of Apple phones,” RV Deshpande, Karnataka’s minister of large, medium industries and infrastructure, told ET. “They’re looking at different areas... we have not received any official investment proposal.”
Apple and Wistron did not comment on the matter.
Reports have suggested that Wistron may invest about Rs 1,000 crore for about 100 acres near the state capital Bengaluru, part of which could be used to make models such as Apple’s iPhone 6s.
Wistron makes iPhone SE globally for the Cupertino-based tech giant and has been assembling the device for Apple in India through its subsidiary ICT Service Management Solutions in the Peenya area of Bengaluru since early 2017.
The land could see Wistron expanding its assembly operations to also cater to clients other than Apple, industry officials said. Wistron would want to compete with Foxconn, its Taiwanese rival, which is the largest contract manufacturer in the world and among Apple’s leading suppliers.
Apple has been negotiating for tax breaks and incentives in order to expand operations in India. However, the government has not granted any to the company on the grounds that exceptions could not be made for Apple alone.
India increased the import duty on mobile phones to 15%, forcing Apple to raise prices for all models except the iPhone SE and putting it at a disadvantage against rivals Samsung and Xiaomi, which make almost all their models in India. Analysts said local manufacturing would enable Apple to sell phones at lower prices.
This could allow Apple to expand its 2-3% share in India – even though it led with a 47% share in the above-Rs 30,000 segment as of December – amid slowing developed markets such as China and the US.
Apple CEO Tim Cook acknowledged the importance of India’s smartphone market in November, charting out expansion plans focused on building stores, trade channels and a developer ecosystem to back up its product line-up and replicate the success it has had in China. “I do feel great about the (India) growth rate,” Cook had said.