HTC stock suspension adds fuel to Google acquisition rumors

HTC is to suspend trading of its stock on the TWSE tomorrow, ahead of what it says will be the release of “material information” pertaining to its business. The news was reported earlier by the FT

The move has spiked speculation about a potential sale of HTC’s mobile division, with the Taiwanese device maker struggling for years to try to turn around its fortunes in the fiercely competitive smartphone market.

In recent years loss-making quarters have become the norm for HTC, which posted its first ever loss making quarter in Q3 2013. And despite management changes, portfolio trimming and even pushing into a new product category (VR, via a partnership with games publisher Valve) it has been unable to pull its business out of a long slide.

Media reports in Asia have recently linked Google’s parent company Alphabet with a possible acquisition of HTC’s mobile business. And a note on HTC’s investor website references speculation in the China Times that “HTC might announce the sale to Google” — going on to specify its “countermeasure” to this report is to state: “HTC does not comment on market rumor or speculation”.

If Google is indeed set to pick up HTC’s smartphone division it would not be the first time it’s swooped in to try to salvage one of its Android OEMs. The company acquired Motorola Mobility in 2011, shelling out $12.5BN on the purchase. Then in 2014 it sold the division to Lenovo for $2.91BN — holding on to “the vast majority” of Motorola’s patent portfolio.

Smartphone leaker Evan Blass has tweeted that he’s been sent a copy of an internal HTC invite for employees to a town hall meeting tomorrow — which apparently includes “Google acquisition” as one of the topics.

Blass says the same source further claims the deal that the two companies have finalized will see Google acquire “certain hardware engineering assets” from HTC, while the latter retains its brand — and will focus on VR and the Vive.

We’ve reached out to Google for comment and will update this post with any response.