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Newsmakers: Terry Gou

Hon Hai Precision founder Terry Gou, pictured with his wife Tseng Hsin-ying. (Photo by CNA)
Hon Hai Precision founder Terry Gou, pictured with his wife Tseng Hsin-ying. (Photo by CNA)

Terry Tai-Ming Gou is a Taiwanese tycoon who leads a major Taiwanese company called Hon Hai Precision. Hon Hai is the world’s largest contract manufacturer of electronics; it  makes computers and cell phones for brands like Apple, Sony, Dell, Nokia and Motorola.

Gou has profited greatly from his business endeavors. He was ranked 142nd on Forbes magazine’s 2007 list of the world’s richest people, with a net worth of US$5.5 billion.

Gou’s parents lived in China’s Shanxi Province before fleeing to Taiwan in 1949, where he was born one year later, in 1950.

He founded Hon Hai in Taiwan in 1974. The company started out with ten workers making plastic parts for television sets. In 1988, Gou opened his first factory in China, in southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong. Today, his largest factory is still located in Shenzhen. Gou’s company has gone public, and he now owns 30%. Hon Hai has factories in several countries but mainly in China, where it employs 550,000 people. It is China’s largest exporter.

For all his wealth, Gou has suffered a great deal of loss in his life. His first wife, Serena Lin, died of breast cancer in 2005. Gou’s brother then died two years later of leukemia.

Gou married his second wife, choreographer Delia Tseng, on July 26, 2008.

Gou has been described as a charismatic man with an autocratic leadership style. He has also been the subject of much media scrutiny. In 2007, court documents were revealed showing that he had been blackmailed by a woman with whom he had had an affair in 1992. The woman had secretly shot a video that captured her and Gou in a compromising position.

Gou’s name made the headlines again in April 2010, when Hon Hai won a government bid to build an information park in Taipei. Taiwan’s finance department said that backing provided by the Hon Hai Group’s vast resources was one of the reasons why the company beat out other bidders.

Meanwhile, Gou promised to set up a NT$200 million (about US$6 million) fund to encourage young people to participate in international IT design contests. The fund would also be used to promote cooperation between universities in Taiwan and overseas.

Gou has said that he intends to eventually give away one third of his wealth to charity.

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