HTC Suspends Shares, Fueling Alphabet Takeover Rumors

Taiwanese smartphone and virtual reality headset manufacturer HTC will halt shares from Thursday, pending the "release of material" information following media reports of a purchase by Google-parent Alphabet.

The once-powerful smartphone market player, which started life as an a manufacturer of other brands' handsets and now makes the Vive VR headset, has seen sales fall year on year for the best part of half a decade as competition from Chinese and South Korean rivals increased.

The Taiwan Stock Exchange said in a statement: "TWSE announced trading in the shares of HTC Corporation and the securities underlying the company will be halted starting from 21 September 2017 pending the release of material information. The company will apply for resumption of trading after the release of material information."

Local reports speculate that the "release of material information" could be an impending acquisition by Alphabet. Prior to the formation of the Alphabet holding company in 2015, Google acquired mobile phone pioneer Motorola in 2011 for $12.5bn (£9.24bn), gaining an important stock of patents in the process. It then sold Motorola to China's Lenovo in 2014 for $2.9bn without the collection of patents.

The reason for a purchase of HTC for Alphabet is not as clear cut as Google's grab for patents with Motorola. The Android maker recently began pushing its own-brand Google Pixel smartphones in 2016, which were manufactured by HTC on Google's behalf, but without the Taiwanese company's branding.

Some have suggested that a purchase of HTC by Alphabet would be made with the intent to turn the company into an in-house manufacturer for Google-branded products, dropping the HTC brand entirely. Many big name electronics companies, including Apple, rely on others to manufacture their products for them.

According to company filings, HTC's handset sales fell by more than 50% in August compared with last year's figures. But HTC...

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