Tata Group Set to Become First Indian Manufacturer of iPhones in Landmark Deal
Written by Sanjay Kumar
Tata Group, the largest conglomerate in India, is on the verge of acquiring a factory owned by an Apple Inc. supplier. This landmark deal, expected to be finalized by August, would mark the first instance of an Indian company entering the iPhone assembly business, according to reports.
The negotiations for taking over the Wistron Corp. factory in Karnataka, which is estimated to be worth over $600 million, have spanned nearly a year. The facility, where more than 10,000 employees currently assemble the latest iPhone 14 model, is poised to become part of the Tata Group’s operations.
To secure state-supported financial incentives, Wistron committed to shipping iPhones worth at least $1.8 billion from the factory during the fiscal year until March 2024. Additionally, the company planned to triple the workforce at the plant by the following year. Tata Group intends to honor these commitments as Wistron exits the iPhone business in India. However, representatives from Tata, Wistron, and Apple declined to provide any comments on the matter.
The inclusion of an Indian-made iPhone is expected to bolster Apple’s efforts in diversifying its production away from China and expanding its technology manufacturing capabilities in India. In the last quarter ending on June 30, Wistron exported nearly $500 million worth of iPhones from India, while other key Taiwanese suppliers of Apple, such as Foxconn Technology Group and Pegatron Corp., have also increased their local operations.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India has made significant strides in domestic manufacturing, implementing government programs with attractive financial incentives to encourage production and employment growth. Apple, in response to the Covid-related disruptions in China and the escalating tensions between the United States and China, has been actively seeking to diversify its manufacturing base away from China.
The involvement of an Indian company in iPhone manufacturing could be a significant boon to PM Modi’s efforts to challenge China’s position as the world’s factory. It may also encourage other global electronics brands to consider shifting their production to India, thereby reducing their reliance on China.
The Tata Group, which boasts a 155-year history and operates in various sectors from salt to tech services, has been making strides in electronic production and e-commerce in recent years—both relatively new domains for the Tata family. In fact, the group already manufactures iPhone chassis, the metallic framework of the device, at its expansive factory in Tamil Nadu. Additionally, Chairman N Chandrasekaran has previously expressed the group’s aspirations in the field of chipmaking.