A week in tech: part 2

A roundup of all the tech news from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

A week in China tech

Telecommunications

- Qualcomm names Jing Wang as chairman of Qualcomm China and Frank Meng as president. Mr. Wang will continue as senior vice president and head the Asia Pacific Strategic Committee within Qualcomm's global business development organization. Mr. Meng previously served as vice president of business development for Qualcomm and head of Qualcomm CDMA Technologies in China.

- China Motion Telecom International may need to inject additional capital into a mainland long-distance joint venture that it proposed to buy last month. Financial adviser Chateron cited the possible need for funding to CM Netcom, a new joint venture with its Shenzhen partner, as one of three risks of the transaction.

- Xiaolingtong is expected to provide two years of robust growth for China's fixed-line telecommunications giants, long enough for them to recoup their investments in the network before 3G mobile services start. Xiaolingtong, a semi-mobile service operated by China Telecommunications and China Netcom, is a wireless local loop network that allows mobile phone operation within a city.

Mobile / Wireless

- China Mobile eases market concerns that chairman Wang Xiaochu is leaving, saying it was "absolutely unfounded". China Mobile and rival China Unicom said they were unaware of a Chinese newspaper report that Mr Wang would replace China Unicom chairman Yang Xianzu, who will retire soon.

- China's mobile phone operators respond to Xiaolingtong roll-out by waiving fees for incoming calls in some cities. China Unicom and China Mobile are offering aggressive promotional packages in major cities such as Suzhou, Chengdu and Chongqing to counter intensifying competition from China Telecom's Xiaolingtong services.

Software

- China may require central and local governments to buy domestic software. The State Informationization Leading Group proposed the guidelines in a meeting between vice ministers and domestic software executives. One part of the proposal would apply to budgets for "E-Government," a multibillion-dollar initiative to upgrade the computer and communications networks of the tax administration, customs authority, and several other key departments.

- Infosys Technologies plans to enter China stuck in red tape. More than a year after Premier Zhu Rongji travelled to India and approved a request by Infosys to start a software development centre in Shanghai, no permission has been received from mainland authorities to begin work on the project. Following a slowdown in the United States, Indian software firms are aggressively eyeing other markets.

Internet

- China's Internet users suffering sharp slowdowns in access. Some experts say problems have worsened this week, suggesting Beijing is tightening surveillance during the annual meeting of China's parliament. Each item emerging from China bears the same Internet return address, showing that all are held up at the same location rather than coming directly from their senders.

Hardware

- Dell delays plans for mainland's consumer sector, despite steady sales growth and a new strategy to sell printers and hand-held computers. The PC maker will invest more resources this year to boost demand from businesses and large organizations in the mainland. Dell will expand an R&D lab in Shanghai, call center operations in Dalian and direct-marketing activities in large urban areas.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

- Softbank Asia signs cooperative agreement with Shanda Network. Softbank Asia expresses it has financed for $40 million. The cooperation is the first time of Softbank in Shanghai aiming at the emerging cyber-recreational industry. Shanda now has the most registered cyber-recreational users of China.

A week in Taiwan tech

Telecommunications

- Taiwan's sale of a 1% stake in Chunghwa Telecom fizzles for a second day after the government sold 18,000 of about 99 million shares in the island's dominant phone company on offer. The government, which sold only 1% or about 1 million shares yesterday, kept the minimum NT$52 price in the three-day sale, aiming to raise NT$5.2 billion.

Venture Capital / Investments

- TSMC sticks to stock dividends, which dilute earnings per share. Directors said eight new shares would be doled out for each 100 held by investors - upsetting hopes for an anticipated NT$1 per share payout by Taiwan's largest firm and the world's No 1 contract chip foundry. TSMC's decision to stick with share dividends was despite it having a cash balance of NT$61.7 billion at the end of December.

A week in Singapore / Malaysia tech

Mobile / Wireless

- Intel announces a joint initiative with the Singapore government's Infocomm Development Authority to draw blueprints for seamless Wi-Fi roaming throughout Asia. The project is expected to include several Asian network operators. The parties will aim to set standards for such issues as billing, account authentication and security that service providers can use to arrange roaming deals.

Hardware

- Silver Lake Partners to invest $200 million in Flextronics. The transaction will give Silver Lake a 3.5% stake in Flextronics, which is based in Singapore but operated from San Jose, Calif. Jim Davidson, a founding member of Silver Lake, will join the Flextronics board. In recent months, Flextronics has closed facilities and laid off employees in an attempt to shore up its balance sheet.

A week in Hong Kong tech

Telecommunications

- Hutchison Whampoa and its partners poised to inject up to £1 billion into '3' to convince bankers to alter key loans. The bulk of the new money - £650 million - will be supplied by majority shareholder Hutchison in the form of a shareholder loan. Hutchison, Japan's NTT DoCoMo and Holland's KPN Telecom were seeking changes to a £2.23 billion loan underpinning the '3 UK' venture.

Internet

- Renren Holdings proposes a one-for-one rights issue to raise about HK$10 million to HK$11 million. The company plans to issue 620 million to 675 million rights shares at 1.8 HK cents per share - a discount of 43.75 per cent to the closing price of 3.2 HK cents on February 20. HK$2 million would be used to repay part of HK$5.7 million owed to GE Capital.

- New World Telecom to offer 12 Mbps connectivity at a fee of HK$36 a month for unlimited usage - one of the cheapest rates in the world. Until recently, it provided broadband Internet services only to corporate customers. It has ambitions to become a much larger contender in consumer broadband with its new 12Mbps asymmetric digital subscriber line service, called Vitamin.

Venture Capital / Investments

- Hutchison Whampoa expected to re-open its existing 2013 dollar bonds, after a successful $1.5 billion bond deal three weeks ago. There are indications Merrill Lynch tested the market with a greenshoe offer. The move to sell fresh bonds did not surprise fixed-income strategists, as Hutchison needs billions of dollars in the next two years to meet its debt obligations.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

- Era Information & Entertainment pinning hopes on online games distribution business having substantial revenue growth this year. The company - which brought motion pictures including Lord of the Rings, Chocolat, Chicago and The Hours to the local screens - had until recent years been rewarded with fame and fortune by distributing films and video products.

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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