A week in tech: part 2

A round up of tech news in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

A week in China tech


- The MII orders fixed-line carriers to dismantle some of their wireless local-loop operations. The MII criticised subsidiaries of China Telecoms and China Netcom for using 450-megahertz code division multiple access (CDMA 450) technology to operate Xiaolingtong city-wide wireless services without permission. It gave the companies a month to rectify the situation.

- MII lifts its forecasts on fixed-line subscriber growth for the next four years. The MII recently released China Telecom Market Development Guide 2003 estimates that between 32 million and 35 million new fixed-line subscribers will be added each year until 2006. This represents an average annual growth rate of almost 13% compared with earlier forecasts of growth just short of 10%.

Mobile / Wireless

- China Unicom to soft-launch high-speed CDMA network, aiming to snatch high-end users from rival China Mobile. The 2.5-generation 1X network would be offered first in major coastal cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Suzhou. Rival China Mobile, which operates a GSM network, launched multimedia services via a 2.5-generation GPRS network in October last year.

- Sina.com and other Chinese Internet companies offer IM updates on the Iraq war. Sina said traffic on its SMS was 10 times the average level the day the attack began. The company charges from eight yuan to 72 yuan a month to subscribers for war news updates. Chinese increasingly turn to Sina, Netease.com and Sohu.com to supply them with news, sports scores and dating services.

- Ericsson does not see any turnaround in demand from China. China is the world's largest mobile telecommunications market. Ericsson, a former Swedish industrial flagship, has reported losses for nine quarters in a row amid weak demand from debt-burdened telecom operators unwilling to invest in new networks or infrastructure upgrades during the past few years of tepid global economic growth.


- Sun Microsystems to donate $2 billion in software for education in China and make another deal with Cadence. The Sun Academic Initiative is comprised of $2 billion worth of Sun technology for academic institutions in China. Sun also established in Beijing a scholarship program for the Zhong Cuan Cun - Cadence Institute of Software Technology.


- Infineon extends deal with Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) to boost its output of computer memory chips. The move, which builds on a production deal agreed between the two companies in December, reflects Infineon's strategy of concluding manufacturing agreements with foundry partners, allowing it to increase output while keeping fixed costs down.

Venture Capital / Investments

- China eases rules for foreign IPOs of offshore China companies. Foreign firms whose main operations are in China will no longer need approval from the local securities regulator to list or issue new shares overseas. The elimination of the approval requirement may make it easier for Chinese companies to set up offshore entities in places like Bermuda or the Cayman Islands, for overseas listings.


- Huawei Technologies acknowledges that a small portion of software was apparently copied from Cisco Systems, but the Chinese company said it is removing the tainted software from its routers globally. Huawei said the copying involved only a small portion of its software, less than 2% of the 1.5 million lines of code.

A week in Taiwan tech

Mobile / Wireless

- Mitac to announce its first deal to provide smartphones powered by Microsoft's Windows software for a wireless operator in the next three months. Mitac's first smartphone customer will be an Asian operator, most likely in Taiwan or elsewhere in greater China. He said at least one announcement was likely in the second quarter of this year, but declined to name the likely operators.


- Chi Mei Optoelectronics and Quanta Display cancel global share issue plans, blaming market instability following the US war on Iraq. Chi Mei decided to cancel a planned depositary receipts issue to raise NT$20 billion (about $575 million). Quanta Display will also cancel its planned issue of 350 million to 450 million global depository receipts due to market instability following the US-Iraq war.

- Acer expects 2003 net profit to fall 31% as poor market conditions mean it would not sell as many shares in affiliated companies as last year. Acer predicted this year's net profit at NT$6 billion (about $172 million), versus NT$8.65 billion last year, though the firm still expects an improvement in its core personal computer business this year as restructuring efforts pay off.

A week in Singapore / Malaysia tech

Venture Capital / Investments

- Singapore to remain one of the world's top 10 investment havens over the next five years - picking up from seventh to sixth in the rankings - according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Forecasts by EIU see Singapore garnering annual average FDI inflows of $8.3 billion from 2003 to 2007. That will be barely 1% of the world total.

A week in Hong Kong tech


- Hutchison Whampoa said to be working out a "proxy arrangement" with Global Crossing that would see it give up the right to appoint directors to the board of the bankrupt undersea cable operator. The new deal does not appear to affect Singapore Technologies Telemedia, Hutchison's strategic partner in its $250 million bid for Global Crossing last August.

Mobile / Wireless

- Sunday expects to become profitable this year after cutting its loss last year by 44.62%. Hong Kong's smallest mobile operator still reported a bigger than expected net loss of HK$117.26 million for last year, due to one-off restructuring costs of HK$26.6 million. Sunday, which cut its staff by 30% from 976 last year to 687, made its first monthly profit in January.

- SmarTone Telecommunications rejects speculation about parent Sun Hung Kai Properties. Two weeks ago SmarTone signalled a possible dividend payout two months after SHKP bought British Telecom's 20.75% for HK$1 billion, but chief executive Douglas Li said it was not intended to finance the parent's purchase.

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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