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Taiwan tycoon lashes out at U.S. investor Warren Buffett over China partner

Terry Gou(file photo)
 FILE - In this May 4, 2008 file photo, investor Warren Buffett holds the cards during a game of bridge with shareholders, at the annual Berkshire Hat...

Terry Gou(file photo)

Berkshire Hathaway Earnings

FILE - In this May 4, 2008 file photo, investor Warren Buffett holds the cards during a game of bridge with shareholders, at the annual Berkshire Hat...

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan tycoon Terry Gou is threatening to take his intellectual property dispute with Chinese battery giant BYD to U.S. investor Warren Buffett’s door, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported Monday.
If the U.S. tycoon fails to answer three questions, Gou said, he would buy shares in the former’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and ask him the questions personally at next year’s shareholders meeting, the paper said.
In June 2006, Gou’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., Ltd. took BYD to court in Shenzhen, China, for stealing commercial secrets from Hon Hai affiliate Foxconn. Last September, Buffett, frequently mentioned as the second wealthiest person in the U.S. and one of its sharpest investors, spent US$230 million to buy a 10-percent stake in BYD.
Gou, himself one of Taiwan’s wealthiest businessmen, told the Economic Daily News in an interview conducted on Sunday he wanted to ask Buffett three questions.
The first was why the U.S. business leader wanted to invest in a company stealing trade secrets, the paper reported in the interview published Monday. The Shenzhen court found four BYD staff members guilty. Buffett has the reputation of only investing in trustworthy companies, Gou said.
The Taiwanese tycoon also wanted to know whether Buffett dared to drive a car made by BYD to work and back each day, instead of just driving it to his company’s shareholders meeting. The Chinese company, the world’s second largest producer of rechargeable batteries according to its web site, has developed an electricity-powered car.
Gou’s third question was directed at the profitability of the car. Prominent car makers such as Toyota, Honda, Ford and General Motors spent years developing hybrid models and selling them before they could make any profit, so what made Buffett think that BYD possessed the professional knowledge to succeed, the paper quoted Gou as wondering.
BYD apparently recruited more than 400 Foxconn staff members away in 2005, as the company was trying to graduate from the production of mobile phone batteries to handsets. The Chinese company succeeded in taking away orders from Nokia and Motorola that used to have been filled by Foxconn, the Economic Daily News reported.
In the interview, Gou directly accused BYD of not only copying Foxconn products, but of sending spies to steal the company’s technology and trying to destroy the evidence afterward.
Hon Hai later sued BYD in a Hong Kong court because it felt the Taiwanese group could not get a fair hearing in Shenzhen, Gou said. BYD President Wang Chuanfu held an important political office in Shenzhen, allowing him to influence the court, the newspaper quoted Gou as saying.

Updated : 2021-09-20 03:38 GMT+08:00