A week in tech; part 2

All the latest tech news from China, Taiwan, HK, Singapore and Malaysia



- China's personal computer market is expected to see a big recovery in the second half of the year as the impact of the SARS outbreak fades, according to International Data Corp (IDC). The research firm is forecasting a 17 per cent full-year increase in PC shipments to 12.9 million units. IDC senior research manager Bryan Ma said SARS would affect only second-quarter PC sales. Legend Group, China's largest PC maker, is aiming to achieve double-digit revenue growth this year on the back of a recovery in the PC market and its efforts to diversify product lines.

- The Legend Group signed a memorandum of understanding with Exel-Sinotrans Freight Forwarding to manage the company's product distribution centers in Shanghai and Beijing. The partnership may be extended to include exports and national distribution, with Exel-Sinotrans keen to manage Legend's distribution network in Huizhou, Guangdong, Legend's south China manufacturing center. The contract length was not disclosed, but sources said it was likely to be long term given Sinotrans' commitment to complete a logistics center in Beijing by early next year as part of the deal. Exel-Sinotrans is designing the information technology management systems for the Shanghai and Beijing distribution centers.

- Legend Group is not ready to expand overseas yet, the group's chairman Liu Chuanzhi said. Earlier, the company said it planned to expand overseas and changed the brand of its PC products to "Lenovo" from "Legend", as the "Legend" name is registered by other companies in many countries. This was seen as the first step towards overseas expansion.



- ProMOS Technologies Inc. reported a first-half loss of NT$1.47 billion (US$42.8 million). The company, Taiwan's second-largest maker of DRAM memory chips, also said that its operations broke even in June and that it expects to turn a profit in the second half of the year. ProMOS provided no comparative figures, but it had reported a loss of NT$824.9 million (US$24 million) for the first six months of 2002. During the second quarter, ProMOS said it has a loss of about NT$500 million (US$14.5 million). This loss compares with a NT$977.5 million (US$28.4 million) first-quarter loss.


- Taiwan's software/gaming sector appears to be gaining momentum with share prices in a number of the island's companies posting strong gains. Shares in CyberLink, Ulead Systems, Softstar Entertainment and Soft World International have soared in recent weeks. This can be attributed to strengthening of the overall market, but sector-specific factors also appear to be in play. A relatively small and unknown sector of the island's technology industry, software in Taiwan has gained a start in two key arenas. CyberLink and Ulead, both imaging software specialists, got their break on the back of Taiwan's growing hardware sector, bundling their offerings with peripherals and systems being manufactured on the island. Softstar and Soft World have tapped into Taiwan's affinity for personal computer games, finding their niche by offering Chinese-language games.

Singapore / Malaysia / Philippines / Indonesia


- Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing Ltd., the world's third-biggest dedicated chip foundry, posted its 10th quarterly loss in a row, but still expects a better performance in the next quarter. Chartered reported a second-quarter net loss of US$90 million, compared with a net loss of US$90.7 million a year earlier. The company's revenue was flat at US$127.6 million compared with last year.


- Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) posted a sharply lower net profit for the first half, as costs from trimming excess manpower and provisioning for troubled investments offset steady gains in its cellular business. PLDT said net profit in the six months to June dropped by a third to 1.8 billion pesos (US$33.2 million) from 2.7 billion pesos (US$49.8 million) in the year-earlier period, due to one-off charges. The company's bottom-line from the preprovisioning profit was 6.6 billion pesos (US$122.7 million), up 91% on year.

Hong Kong

Information Technology

- Hong Kong companies have increased their spending on information technology. Industry experts said efforts now being made to control, resolve or overcome IT problems or inadequacies would help companies steer clear of disaster should another emergency arise or SARS reappear. Most new technology spending is centered on systems to help organizations run business applications remotely and securely. Gartner research director Dion Wiggins said the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States had prompted many enterprises to draw up continuity plans that focused on their ability to continue doing business by relocating or using backup facilities.


- More than one million Hong Kong homes are now hooked up to the Internet by broadband connections - and by 2005, virtually every home computer will be using high-speed links, experts predict. About 1,001,400 households had broadband Internet connections in May this year, almost double the figure at the beginning of last year, according to the latest figures from the Office of Telecommunications Authority (OFTA). The number of homes switching to faster broadband connections has boomed since January last year, when only about 596,270 were using it while nearly two million households used narrowband Internet links, according to an OFTA spokeswoman.


- PCCW Ltd. launched a new generation fixed-line service, a move Hong Kong's dominant fixed-line telecommunications provider hopes will restore its dominance in the fixed-line market, and priced a share offering. The new fixed-line service, which took 18 months to develop, will offer text-messaging and news and stock information, and eventually e-mail, on special handsets. The handsets will be given free to those who sign up for a 12-month contract. PCCW also placed 715 million shares at 4.4 Hong Kong dollars (US$0.56) each, people in the banking industry said. Last week, PCCW issued a US$500 million global bond. HSBC was the lead manager for that deal.

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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