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

Hardware

- Legend Group net profit for the year came in at the lower end of market expectations. Nevertheless, analysts said that a special dividend of 5.2 H.K. cents, continued share buybacks initiatives and the Chinese company's strong position in the PC market should help maintain investor confidence in the stock. Net profit for the year ended March 31st slid 1.9% to HK$1 billion ($130.8 million).

Software

- Shanda Networking has acquired almost 20% in Tokyo software developer Bothtec Inc. Shanda, which offers popular online games to paying customers, will provide in China a multiplayer online game being developed by Bothtec. Shanda is to provide the game, part of Bothtec's "Galactic Hero Saga" series, as early as the start of 2004. China's game market is growing rapidly, with companies offering versions of titles developed abroad. Shanda hopes to form other partnerships with Japanese game developers.

Telecommunications

- China Netcom Group is confronting a difficult second year as an unresolved merger plan is still looming and the firm is making limited progress in integrating the three-telecom firms it was created from. One of China Netcom's biggest challenge is how to sort out the equity relationship among its three constituent companies -- whose collective assets include China Telecom's fixed-line assets in ten northern provinces and the IP backbones of Little Netcom and Jitong.

A week in Taiwan tech

Semiconductors

- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co will report record sales in May because of increased demand, according to the Economic Daily News. Taiwan Semiconductor has received orders that will use more than 85% of its capacity between May and August. The company said it used 67% of capacity in the first quarter.  Increasing sales have prompted overseas investors to buy a net 382 million Taiwan Semiconductor shares in the past month. Taiwan Semiconductor's sales last year rose 29% to NT$162.3 billion ($4.7 billion), in line with its forecast. Global semiconductor sales last year rose 1.6% to $155 billion.

- Sales of semiconductors grew at their slowest pace in eight months in April, rising 9.7% from the same period a year earlier. Worldwide sales last month rose to $12.1 billion from $11.3 billion in 2002, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association. Sales were unchanged from March, when revenue grew 13%. Continued stagnation in the world's economy and the outbreak in China of SARS caused businesses and consumers to defer purchases of electronics, said George Scalise, the group's president. In the U.S. the industry association pushed back its expected time for companies to upgrade their aging personal computers.   

A week in Singapore / Malaysia tech

Telecommunications

- Telekom Malaysia announced that its first-quarter net profit rose 5.3% from a year ago, largely due to lower tax charges. The country's dominant telecommunications carrier said its net profit for the three months to March was M$279.6 million ($73.6 million). At an operating level, profit fell 11% from last year to M$417.7 million ($109.9 million) due to higher operating costs. Sales rose 1% to M$2.4 billion ringgit ($615.8 million) mainly due to higher revenue from interconnects, data, internet and multimedia as well as other telecommunications services.

- Singapore Telecommunications announced the sale of its directories business for S$220 million ($127 million) in cash to two regional private equity firms. SingTel Yellow Pages (SYP) was to be acquired by CVC Asia Pacific and JP Morgan Partners Asia following a competitive bid as part of SingTel's strategic review of non-core subsidiaries. The divestment from SYP, which employs 346 people and reported a net profit of $21.1 million dollars on $83.5 million dollars in revenues in the year to March, follows the listing of another SingTel subsidiary, Singapore Post. The purchase price of SYP is subject to adjustments for changes in working capital. The sale of certain SYP assets is subject to regulatory approval.

- Malaysia's DiGi Telecommunications said it would spend up to M$200 million ringgit ($52.6 million) to boost its technological capabilities amid stiffer competition. DiGi partnered with Siemens Malaysia to implement new technology enabling it to introduce third-generation (3G) mobile communications services over its 2.5G network. The move is part of efforts by DiGi, the country's third-largest mobile phone operator, to keep up with its rivals after withdrawing last year from a race to bid for 3G licenses.

A week in Hong Kong tech

Telecommunications

- The Commerce, Industry and Technology Bureau (CITB) has launched a three-month consultation on whether Hong Kong should continue its interconnection policy for local telecommunications operators. CITB is asking the industry about different options governing interconnections, and is also seeking views on associated charges following the opening up of the telecom market seven years ago. The review will examine whether Type 2 interconnections -- customer links that must be provided by established carriers to non-network operators -- remain relevant and necessary to enable effective competition and promote investment in the local market. At present PCCW provides the most Type 2 interconnections to rivals such as Wharf T&T and New World Telecommunications; other competitors such as Hutchison Global Communications and City Telecom have opted to build their own networks.

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