Rumors Of Google Buying HTC Trigger Trading Halt: More Than Rumors?

It looks like the rumors about Google buying HTC are all but confirmed. The Taiwan Stock Exchange has announced in a statement that trading on HTC shares will be halted starting Sept. 21. At the time of this writing it’s about 1:30 Taiwan time on Sept. 21, so the stock exchange is not announcing the halt as early as it might seem to those of us in the U.S., where it is still roughly midday on Sept. 20.

Is Google buying HTC?

Bloomberg provided an update on the rumors about Google buying HTC today, saying that the two tech giants were near a deal. This isn’t a huge surprise though, as Chinese-language news outlet Commercial Times reported earlier this month that Google and HTC were in the final stage of negotiations. The media outlet said at the time that the deal could be for all or just part of HTC. Last month, there were reports that HTC was exploring a sale of its handset and/ or virtual reality businesses, and Google was said to be one of the interested parties.

The reports of Google buying HTC may seem strange to some, given that Alphabet’s search division attempted something similar before when it purchased Motorola Mobility. That attempt went rather poorly, however, and Google ended up spinning Motorola off only a couple years later. On the other hand, HTC builds Google’s Pixel phones, so acquiring it would give the company more control over the process.

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HTC schedules town hall meeting to discuss reports

In addition to the trading halt on HTC shares at the Taiwan Stock Exchange, there’s another shred of evidence that suggests the reports about Google buying HTC are true. Apparently, the Taiwanese handset maker has scheduled a town hall meeting with employees. VentureBeat and well-known tech tipster Evan Blass both obtained copies of an internal memo inviting employees to the meeting.

Blass tweeted that one of the topics supposedly on the agenda for the meeting is the report about Google buying HTC. He added in a second tweet that the person who sent him the internal memo claims that the two tech giants have reached a final deal in which Google will buy “certain HW eng assets, but HTC retains its brand.”

The Commercial Times report from earlier this month suggested that Google might have been interested only in HTC’s smartphone-related assets. If this is the case, the HTC Vive and related virtual reality assets could be sticking with the Taiwan-based company. Another possibility is that HTC could also sell its virtual reality division to another company, although the Vive may be the company’s most valuable asset. Thus, it could make sense to keep the VR segment. The HTC Vive is widely seen as the strongest competitor for Facebook’s Oculus Rift VR headset.