HTC issued a trading halt on its stock effective tomorrow, the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corporation (TWSE) announced on Wednesday, adding that the company’s decision was made due to an upcoming disclosure of “material information.” The move comes amid rumors that Google is buying the Taiwanese firm’s smartphone unit, with industry insider Evan Blass suggesting that the official announcement on the matter is also to be made on Thursday, citing an HTC employee who said that the two companies agreed to a deal which involves Google acquiring some of HTC’s assets but not the brand itself. The Taoyuan, Taiwan-based original equipment manufacturer is to file an application for resuming its stock trading following the publication of the what it deems is crucial information for investors, the TWSE said.
The announcement itself is said to be made in HTC headquarters where the company’s top management is supposedly already briefing employees on the matter, recent reports indicate. Industry watchers have been speculating about the potential benefits for Google in case the Alphabet-owned company ends up acquiring HTC’s phone business which has been struggling to produce results in recent years, prompting the company to explore liquidation options. While HTC’s latest consolidated financial results showed some signs of improvement across the board, the firm’s handset division is still not close to returning to the black as its latest attempt to do so came in the form of the HTC U11, an Android flagship which peaked shortly after hitting the market this summer and quickly lost momentum, leaving the firm without a successful device with a high profit margin for yet another quarter.
The Taiwanese company supposedly never considered a complete sale of its business and was only looking to offload the smartphone unit which it may believe is weighing down the rest of its operations, some of which are showing a lot of promise. One such unit is HTC Vive, the firm’s virtual reality venture which is already allowing the tech giant to establish a foothold in this emerging segment which some market watchers are estimating will be worth tens or possibly hundreds of billions of dollars in a few years. Reports that HTC is only interested in selling its smartphone unit coupled with the firm’s decision to hold on to its brand suggest that the majority of its resources will be committed to the VR market going forward, which not only includes development of first-party hardware and software but also incubation of promising projects which have the potential to ennoble the company’s VR ecosystem and industry as a whole.
HTC and Google have been collaborating for a number of years, with their smartphone partnership dating back to early 2010 and the original Nexus One which started Google’s pure Android handset program. HTC also manufactured the 2014 Nexus 9 tablet and was widely reported as the producer of the Pixel and Pixel XL which the Mountain View, California-based tech giant debuted last year, advertising its device series as “a phone made by Google.” According to recent reports, the Taiwanese company is also handling the manufacturing of this year’s Pixel 2 which is expected to feature an aesthetic similar to the original lineup, including regularly sized bezels and a 16:9 display panel. The firm is also said to be bringing the Edge Sense technology from the HTC U11 to the Pixel 2, with the smartphone being reported to feature a pressure-sensitive frame which users will be able to squeeze in order to perform actions, i.e. rely on it as a physical shortcut. HTC’s front-facing stereo speakers are also said to be part of the Pixel 2 package, though it’s currently unclear if the audio setup and Edge Sense will also make its way to the Pixel XL 2 which is being produced by LG Electronics.
With HTC now issuing a stock trading halt, major news from the company are likely imminent and will come shortly before Google officially debuts the Pixel 2 family whose launch is scheduled for October 4. Google’s last acquisition of a smartphone maker only left the company with numerous additions to its patent portfolio after it sold Motorola Mobility to Lenovo in early 2014, so it remains to be seen whether the Internet giant once again decides to try its hand at being an independent handset manufacturer.
 According to this person, the companies have finalized a deal wherein GOOG will acquire certain HW eng assets, but HTC retains its brand
— Evan Blass (@evleaks) September 20, 2017