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Beleaguered Smartphone Maker HTC Could Sell Itself

August 24, 2017, 4:55 PM UTC
Spain: Mobile World Congress - 3rd day
The new HTC One A9, exhibited during the 3rd day of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, 23rd of February, 2016. (Photo by Joan Cros/NurPhoto) *** Please Use Credit from Credit Field ***
Joan Cros—NurPhoto/AP

HTC Corp., the beleaguered manufacturer that once ranked among the world’s top smartphone makers, is exploring options that could range from separating off its virtual-reality business to a full sale of the company, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Taiwanese firm is working with an adviser as it considers bringing in a strategic investor, selling or spinning off its Vive virtual reality headset business, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. A full sale of HTC, which has businesses ranging from VR to headset manufacturing, is less likely because it doesn’t fit obviously with one acquirer, one of the people said.

No final decisions have been made and HTC may choose not to proceed with any strategic changes, they said.

Representatives for HTC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

HTC’s market value has slumped about 75 percent in the last five years to $1.8 billion as its smartphone market share dipped below 2 percent. The Taoyuan City-based firm has been attempting to refocus its growth prospects on the high-end VR business, with shipments of the Vive headset totalling more than 190,000 units in the first quarter, according to research firm IDC. HTC also has a contract manufacturing deal to assemble Google’s Pixel handset.

Founded in 1997, HTC began as a contract manufacturer. In 2002, it won a deal with Microsoft Corp. to make Windows-based phones and quickly became one of the top producers globally. It also made the first Android phone in 2008.