Apple supplier Foxconn freezes hiring at largest plant

Wed Feb 20, 2013 12:46pm EST
 
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By Clare Jim and Jennifer Saba

TAIPEI/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Apple Inc's manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group has frozen hiring at a Shenzhen plant that makes gadgets including the iPhone 5 and put the brakes on recruiting for other factories across China, but said the move was not linked to any single client.

Foxconn, which runs a network of factories across the world's No. 2 economy that make products for tech companies from Hewlett Packard to Dell, sought to pour cold water on a Financial Times report that it had imposed a hiring freeze while it slows production of Apple's latest smartphone.

"Due to an unprecedented rate of return of employees following the Chinese New Year holiday compared to years past, our company has decided to temporarily slow down our recruitment process," the company said in a statement.

"This action is not related to any single customer and any speculation to the contrary is false and inaccurate."

Like other Chinese contract manufacturers, Foxconn relies on a large number of migrant laborers from across the country, who journey home for the most important holiday of the year. Many do not make it back to work, but Foxconn spokesman Louis Woo said this year they saw as many as 97 percent of employees return.

Apple sold a less-than-expected 47.8 million iPhones in the 2012 holiday quarter, fanning fears that its dominance of consumer electronics is on the decline as Samsung Electronics Co and other manufacturers that use Google Inc's Android software gradually gain market share.

The iPhone is Apple's most important product, accounting for half its revenue. The company's shares slipped almost 2 pct on Wednesday to $451, and are down about 34 percent from their September peak above $700, as investors fret about sliding margins and intensifying competition.

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A man walks past a logo of a Foxconn factory in Wuhan, Hubei province, August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer