San Francisco/Taipei: Google agreed to buy part of HTC Corp.’s engineering and design teams for $1.1 billion to bolster the US internet giant’s nascent hardware business.

Alphabet Inc.’s Google is getting a team of employees that’ve worked on its Pixel smartphone for Google. The deal comes with a non-exclusive licensing agreement for HTC intellectual property, the companies said in a statement.

By owning a manufacturer, Google gains tighter control over production of its Pixel smartphone and other devices, potentially helping sales. Those gadgets are becoming the pillars of Google’s strategic push to distribute critical software products, such as its voice-enabled assistant, contain costs in its main advertising business and better compete with Apple Inc.

The deal marks a precipitous decline for HTC, which once ranked among the world’s top smartphone makers but lost share to Apple, Samsung Electronics Co. and Chinese manufacturers like Huawei Technologies Co. HTC had been working with an adviser to explore selling its handset or virtual reality businesses, and Google had been talking with the company, Bloomberg reported last month.

Shares of the Taoyuan City, Taiwan-based company, were suspended from trading. They have fallen more than 12% this year. Bloomberg