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HTC mulls swoop for Nokia's MASSIVE Chennai plant

Assembly line would boost mobe maker's Indian push

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HTC could be in the market for Nokia’s troubled Chennai manufacturing plant in India – as the chances of a smooth transfer of the factory to Microsoft are increasingly remote.

The Taiwanese handset maker’s CFO, Chia-Lin Chang, told the Economic Times that if the facility were to go on sale, HTC would consider a purchase in a bid to better serve the Indian market.

"I am happy to look into it, because the overall preparation, exploration hinges upon if it will serve consumers better. If [the plant] will do that, then we would be happy to look further into it,” he said.

HTC is bullish on its prospects in the fast growing Indian smartphone market, which IDC said expanded threefold to over 44 million devices shipped in 2013.

However, despite setting an ambitious target of 15 per cent market share by the end of last year, the firm remained outside of the top five in Q4 2013, behind Samsung (38 per cent), Micromax (16 per cent), Karbonn (10 per cent), Sony (5 per cent) and Lava (4.7 per cent), according to the analyst.

As for Nokia, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the ailing Finnish giant will be able to offload the Chennai plant to Microsoft before its $7.2bn deal closes at the end of April.

Complicating matters has been Nokia’s long-running tax dispute with the authorities which is currently making its way through India's creaking legal system.

New Delhi demanded in March that Nokia cough up Rs.35 billion ($572.5m, £342.4m) as a guarantee for unpaid tax if it wants to sell the plant – a demand the firm has not agreed to.

Its involvement with the facility does seem to be on the wane, however, with the firm last week announcing voluntary retirement would be offered to all of its 6,000 employees.

Then on Thursday, head of the factory, Prakash Katama, announced he had quit the company.

Reconfirming its commitment to the India market, HTC launched its lowest ever priced smartphone, the Desire 210, for just Rs.8,700 (£85) in a bid to snare budget-conscious punters on the sub-continent. ®

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