* Liu Young leads Foxconn's nascent chip business
* Liu also board member of Foxconn unit Sharp
* Move considered "surprise" internally
* Gou likely to retain influence through Liu
TAIPEI - iPhone assembler Foxconn is poised to nominate its chip unit head as group chairman to succeed Taiwan presidential hopeful Terry Gou, in what is internally seen as a surprise move, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Liu Young, 63, is a also board member of Foxconn's Japanese electronics unit Sharp Corp.
The nomination would come after Gou, 68, told Reuters in April he planned to step down as chairman of the world's largest contract manufacturer so younger talent could move up the ranks. Last week, Gou also said he would resign to demonstrate his determination to run in Taiwan's presidential election.
The firm he founded, formally Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd, is currently trying to cut its dependence on client Apple Inc and smartphone assembly by expanding into areas such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things.
Liu's possible appointment came as a surprise for many at Foxconn due to his relatively junior rank among the Taiwanese firm's top executives, the people said on Monday.
Gou has repeatedly said internally that he wants someone "younger" to run the company, one of the people said. Liu joined Foxconn in 2007 as special assistant to Gou and has since gained great trust, the person said.
Liu has led Foxconn's nascent semiconductor business, dubbed the S sub-group, since 2017, the person added.
Through Liu, Gou is likely to retain behind-the-scenes influence in strategic decisions, the person said. Such an appointment, however, is likely to have limited impact on day-to-day business because Foxconn's group companies have been operating independently for years, the person added.
Foxconn did not respond to a request for comment. The two people declined to be identified as the matter was private.
A stock exchange filing last week showed proposed candidates for a new board included Gou and Liu, as well as other executives widely linked to the group chairmanship such as Tai Jeng-wu, chairman at Sharp, and Lu Sung-Ching, chairman at Foxconn Interconnect Technology Ltd.
The board proposal is subject to approval at an annual shareholder meeting in June before a chairman can be elected.
Foxconn's share price fell 3% on Monday versus the benchmark share price index's 1.4% decline. The stock is up about 17% this year after falling 30% last year.