Hisense’s five-year licensing agreement to use the Sharp brand on TVs in North and South America doesn’t change with Foxconn’s plans to buy a 66 percent controlling stake in Sharp, said Hisense Americas CEO Jerry Liu.
“This licensing agreement is not affected by any transition in ownership, and we do not anticipate any impact on our North American television business,” he said.
The agreement went into effect in January, and at CES, Hisense announced 25 new Sharp TVs, including the first curved-screen and quantum-dot TVs for the brand. Twenty-two Hisense TVs are also planned for 2016.
The Sharp and Hisense televisions are manufactured at a Mexico factory previously owned by Sharp but purchased by Hisense, which invested in a $30 million upgrade, Liu noted.
Liu reiterated Hisense’s plans to become the number three TV brand in the U.S. within three years. “We are growing our North American presence, expanding our R&D capabilities across our U.S. locations, and challenging the industry with a 4-year warranty for all 4K televisions – the longest warranty in the television industry,” he said.
It’s not certain what might happen when the licensing agreement expires. Foxconn chairman Terry Gou wants to move the Taiwanese manufacturer up the value chain from low-margin contract manufacturing for brand-name companies. Among other products, Foxconn assembles iPhones.
Foxconn intends to continue the Sharp brand. “Sharp is very popular brand, and we, Foxconn, don’t have a brand,” Gou told the Wall Street Journal earlier this year.