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Tim Culpan

Foxconn's History Lesson

The Taiwan company's takeover record doesn't bode well for this expensive plan.

Foxconn Technology Group founder and Chairman Terry Gou says he's confident he'll win the battle to take over Japan's ailing Sharp Corp. Investors may want him to be wrong.

The man who disdains Wall Street bankers is himself a poor dealmaker. In the 41 years since Gou founded Foxconn as a maker of plastic TV knobs, he's built the company into a global electronics powerhouse.

Yet Foxconn has made only four acquisitions of more than $1 billion, and 90 smaller ones. The biggest was the $9.9 billion takeover of Chi Mei Optoelectronics, which closed in early 2010. The idea was to combine Foxconn's Innolux Display with Taiwan's second-largest flat-panel maker.

Making that deal, one month after announcing the $1 billion takeover of a smaller panel maker, TPO Displays, Gou was frank: ``Right now in TVs, we don't make any money from panels. We make money from connectors, and supply-chain management."