HTC the smartphone maker to lay off 1,500 workers

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Taiwan’s struggling smartphone maker HTC announced today it would slash 1,500 jobs, around a fifth of its total workforce, in the biggest staff cull for three years following heavy losses.

Once a star of the intensely competitive smartphone sector, HTC has been struggling in the face of stiff competition from Apple and Samsung as well as strong Chinese brands such as Huawei.

The announcement of the cuts to its manufacturing workforce comes despite a new deal with Google, completed in January, which boosted HTC’s first quarter performance after a dismal 2017.

It incurred a net loss of Tw$16.91 billion in 2017 and a loss per share of Tw$20.58, the highest since it listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in March 2002. Losses of Tw$9.8 billion in the last three months of 2017 represented its worst ever quarterly results.

HTC described the cuts — which will be implemented by the end of September — as “a decisive step in the realignment of resources across the organisation” that would allow “more flexible operations management”.

Shares in the firm plunged 6.71 percent to Tw$52.80 in Taipei and are sharply down from a high of Tw$1,300 in 2011 as its share of the global smartphone market has been worn away.

Under the $1.1 billion deal with Google, the US tech giant took on half of HTC’s research and development staff — about 2,000 people. Many of them had already been working on its Pixel handset, manufactured by HTC, as well as acquiring intellectual property licensing.

The deal reflected Google’s wish to emulate the success of Apple iPhones by controlling the hardware as well as the software used in the premium-priced handsets. 

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