A week in tech: part 2

Our weekly round up of tech stories from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia.

A week in China tech

Life Sciences

- Roche under investigation for alleged role in stirring up fears about a flu virus in southern China to boost drug sales. The Swiss company said it was also investigating and promised to "take action" against anyone caught misrepresenting its products. The unidentified pneumonia virus has killed five people and left more than 300 hospitalized.


- China Netcom to launch a “xiaolingtong” network in Beijing in May in a move that will break the final geographical barrier holding back the controversial wireless service. “xiaolingtong” is a mobile service that connects directly with the fixed-line phone networks. Given the rapid take-up of the service, it threatens to slow subscriber growth and impact ARPU at China Mobile and Unicom.

- China Mobile adds 2.101 million mobile service subscribers in January, a slim 1.7% improvement from 2.066 million new users in December. According to China Mobile's operations data, it had 190,000 new contract subscribers in January, up 2.7% from 185,000 in the previous month. December's new subscribers were 16% more than new users in November.


- Qualcomm expects continued strong growth in China and India, adding that its new chip for world phones could also provide a positive surprise. The company, which invented the code division multiple access (CDMA) mobile network technology and makes its money on selling CDMA chipsets and licenses, saw explosive sales and profits growth last year on the booming demand in Asia.

Venture Capital / Investments

- Chinese government and private firms to spend up to $84.6 billion to develop key technologies in the next five years. China spent a total of Rmb104.3 billion in the five years to 2002, up from Rmb50.9 billion in the previous five-year period. Innovations include the fledgling 3G TD-SCDMA, mobile standard, "Godson" computer chip, a hybrid rice crop and missions of Shenzhou unmanned spacecraft.


- BOE Technology buys Hydis for $200 million. As part of the deal it also assumed responsibility for the Hynix Semiconductor subsidiary factory's debts of $180 million. This is the first time that a mainland company has acquired core TFT-LCD technology. Hydis ranks ninth in the world in output of TFT-LCDs, with a share of about 4 per cent of the world market.

Information Technology

- China has made much progress in adopting information and communication technology, but it still had a long way to go, said a report by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. China jumped 21 notches to No 43 last year, the Global Information Technology Report released yesterday said. The study ranked 82 countries according to how well they have included IT in their economies.

A week in Taiwan tech

Life Sciences

- National Taiwan University introduces therapy that can reduce bladder cancer recurrence while limiting harmful side effects. The normal recurrence rate of bladder cancer stands at around 50 percent within two years of removal. In the new treatment, named MDP intravesical combination chemotherapy, three anticancer agents are introduced into the bladder after the removal of the tumor.


- Taiwan to sell 5% of Chunghwa Telecom, offering just a fifth of the 500 million shares the cabinet had approved for an after-market-hours tender. The 100 million-share offering, to take place between March 3 and 5, is equivalent to slightly more than a 1% stake in Chunghwa, Taiwan's largest telecommunications company.


- The US Court of Appeals dismisses Intel appeal against a ruling in favour of VIA Technologies. A spokesman for VIA, a leading developer of core logic chipsets, microprocessors and multimedia and communications chips, said that on Nov. 20, 2001, the US District Court granted summary judgment in VIA's favour with respect to one of the patents regarding VIA's K7-compatible chipsets.

- Government will review TSMC’s China-investment plans next week. The ministry's Investment Commission is scheduled to review the application on Wednesday. TSMC received preliminary government approval on Jan. 22 to set up a 8-inch wafer plant in the Songjiang Industrial Park on the outskirts of Shanghai.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

- Digital content industry production expected to reach $10.57 billion over the next six years, according to Premier Yu Shyi-kun. Yu said that the digital content industry, which includes things such as animation design, will help boost the economy and that countries around the world are now attaching great importance to the industry, with this country being no exception.

A week in Singapore / Malaysia tech


- Chartered Semiconductor higher on hopes it may benefit from a tie-up between Asian Micro Devices and IBM, as Chartered Semiconductor has a joint venture with IBM. The stock apparently got a boost from a newspaper report in Taiwan that United Microelectronics Corp and AMD have decided not to proceed with a plan to establish a joint venture semiconductor wafer production facility in Singapore.

- AMD and UMC may not build a JV semiconductor plant in Singapore as planned. The two companies had planned to build a joint-venture fabricating plant in Singapore. Ms. Keung indicated that the plant will likely not be built, but she said, "no official announcement has been made." But Alex Hinnawi, an official at UMC, denied that there was any change in his company's relationship with AMD.

Venture Capital / Investments

- SGX to launch the world's first futures contract based on a computer memory chip in the second quarter. The contract would allow memory makers and their customers, mainly computer manufacturers, to hedge against price swings such as the recent plunge in prices that has hammered the chip industry. The new contract will be based on 256 megabit double-data-rate (DDR) DRAM chip.

- EDB announces 15 more enterprises for its Startup Enterprise Development Scheme (Seeds). The start-ups received S$3.9 million from EDB as seed capital to complement the S$4.2 million they raised on their own and through third parties. The start-up has to first look for a third party to invest in it. EDB will match that third party's investment, ranging from S$75,000 to S$300,000

A week in Hong Kong tech


- PCCW making write-off for goodwill impairment in its 50 per cent investment in Reach - a JV with Australian telecoms giant Telstra. However, analysts said concerns that conditions in the telecommunications connectivity industry might be deteriorating, and the possibility of further write-offs which could delay dividend payments, should worry investors more than the write-off.


A week in tech is brought to you by FinanceAsia, and IRG, Asia's boutique investment bank to the telecoms, media and tech sectors. More can be found at:

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