The new Apple iPhone X sits on display as consumers line up to buy the phone at the new Apple Michigan Avenue store along the Chicago River Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
INTERNATIONAL - Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. is racing ahead with an initial public offering of its automated factory division that may become China’s biggest debut since the 2015 stock market crash.

Foxconn Industrial Internet Co., a unit of Apple Inc.’s most important assembly partner, won approval on Thursday to list in Shanghai about a month after publishing a prospectus that outlined plans to spend 27.3 billion yuan ($4 billion) on expansions into cutting-edge technology. That speed underscores the anticipation around the Taiwanese company that embodies billionaire Terry Gou’s ambition of moving beyond assembling PCs and phones for the world’s top electronic brands.

Known as FII, the business could command a valuation of as much as 400 billion yuan by some estimates -- on par with Sony Corp. With sales of 355 billion yuan in 2017, its revenue is about the same as Walt Disney Co. or HP Inc. The fundraising could be the 11th largest on the mainland and would be one of the highest-profile tech listings in Shenzhen or Shanghai in years, as the government courts a long under-represented sector.

“The size of the IPO should be pretty close to what’s disclosed in the prospectus,” said Amy Lin, a Shanghai-based analyst with Capital Securities Corp. Lin estimates the stock could command a share-price multiple of 15 to 19 times earnings for its debut.

Foxconn, which makes smartphones, cloud computing equipment and robots, wants the 27 billion yuan to fund projects including artificial intelligence and fifth-generation wireless technologies, positioning Hon Hai even more centrally in the tech supply chain. Foxconn representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Taipei-listed Hon Hai climbed 2.8 percent Friday, its biggest gain since Jan. 19.