A week in tech

A summary of all the major tech stories in Asia this week broken down by country and sector.

A week in Japan tech


- Toshiba expects global demand for semiconductors to start to ramp up next year with more improvement anticipated by 2004. Toshiba also downplayed speculation that the company was considering retreating from the chip business. Toshiba is considering tapping capital markets to finance some new investments and may issue commercial paper or bonds in 2003 for that purpose.

- The net rise in the number of mobile phone subscription contracts in November hit a record-low 363,800, an industry body said. The November tally highlighted the slowing pace of expansion in the mobile phone market, the Telecommunications Carriers Association said.

- KDDI launches international data communications services in South Korea and Singapore on its own network. In both countries, KDDI will provide international data communications services through local subsidiaries. Services include international IP-VPN (Internet Protocol-virtual private network), international frame relay and international dedicated lines.

Mobile / Wireless

- Domestic cellular phone makers are trying to expand sales overseas to make up for heavy R&D spending and sluggish domestic sales. Sharp will supply Vodafone Group with 400,000 handsets, exploiting its technology for making camera-equipped handsets. NEC will resume overseas shipments after refraining from such shipments last fiscal year.

- J-Phone to launch Japan's third 3G mobile phone service on December 20. The new service, seen as a test for its British telecommunications giant owner Vodafone, comes more than a year after rival NTT DoCoMo started its 3G service and eight months behind the launch by KDDI. Services next month would reach the Tokyo metropolitan area and major cities, or 60% of the current mobile phone service area.


- Matsushita Electric Industrial is to tighten control of US, European and Asia-Pacific businesses. Managing Director Yukio Shotoku will provide details about how Matsushita's overseas units will work "more closely" with the Osaka headquarters to improve money management. Shotoku is in charge of overseas operations.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

- The number of new SkyPerfecTV subscribers fell to 30,913 in November, 22% less than a year earlier. The cancellation rate fell to 8.2% in November, a slight improvement from 8.6% in the year-earlier month. Since the World Cup soccer tournament, SkyPerfect has been having trouble signing up new subscribers, but cancellations have remained low.

A week in Korea tech


- The Financial Supervisory Service is to revise regulations on securities issues to facilitate the stock swap between KT and SK Telecom. In November, KT and SK Telecom agreed to a stake swap to reduce concerns of share overhang and management influence over each other. KT will swap its 9.27% stake, or 8.27 million shares in SK Telecom, for its rival's 9.64%, or 29.8 million shares, in KT.

- SK Telecom inks $30-million deal to supply a wireless Internet platform and related solutions to Taiwanese 3G mobile licensee, APBW. Under the contract, SK Telecom will provide its "Nate" mobile Internet platform, service solutions and content to APBW. Nate is a major mobile Internet brand of SK Telecom.

Mobile / Wireless

- LG Telecom adds more subscribers than its competitors in November, benefiting from the business suspension schedule that blocked top wireless carrier SK Telecom from recruiting new users. LG Telecom's market share reached 14.75% in end-November, SK Telecom's accumulated subscriber figure was 52.9 %, and KTF accounts for a 32.4 % market share.


- LG Chem to invest about one trillion won by 2010 to expand output of batteries and optical film used in high technology products. Analysts suggested the investment could help offset slow growth in LG Chem's petrochemicals business. The new investment would be focused on increasing production of polarizers and rechargeable lithium batteries.

- Samsung flash memory chip sales are surging as more people use moving picture services on their handsets and USB (universal serial bus) drives rapidly replace floppy disk drives (FDD). Its sales have continued to rise from a mere W400 billion won ($331.13 million) last year to W1.28 trillion this year and are expected to reach W2.1 trillion next year.

Information Technology

- Korea and Mexico to step up cooperation between their respective IT sectors. Under the MOU, the two nations agree to develop joint programs for exchanges of manpower and technologies, as well as expedite business ties between IT companies from each other's nations, and set up a joint-cooperation centre in Mexico.

A week in China tech


- China's chief telecommunications industry regulator warns listed carriers against making excessive profits. The outgoing minister's comments come as Beijing promises to break monopolies and introduce "orderly competition" to the mainland's telecoms industry. The three listed mainland carriers enjoy earnings margins before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of 50 to 60%.

- China Telecommunications is in talks with about 30 partners, such as Yahoo, AOL and MSN, to provide content for its new value-added Internet service ChinaVnet. Content would include online games, video streaming and other information services in an effort to help boost clients' Internet usage. China Telecom has launched ChinaVnet in five provinces, including Guangdong and Hunan.

- Ericsson is reorganizing its China joint ventures to build strong supply hubs for its global business. All Ericsson's China businesses related to mobile communication base stations will be consolidated with joint venture Nanjing Ericsson Panda Communication. All businesses related to mobile phone manufacturing will be consolidated with another joint venture, Beijing Ericsson Mobile Communication.

Mobile / Wireless

- China to delay launch of 3G mobile telephone licenses until the technology is fully developed and "market demand" merits the move, according to Minister of Information Industry Wu Jichuan. Adopting a wait-and-see attitude to the infant high-speed wireless technology, Beijing wants to see a critical mass of applications that would make 3G services commercially viable.

- Nanjing Panda Electronics to focus on wireless handset production by shuffling shares in two joint ventures involving Ericsson. In the first of the two deals, Nanjing Panda will buy 20 percent of Beijing Ericsson Mobile Communication (BMC), a mainland mobile phone and equipment maker, from state-owned China PTIC Information Industry for 93.11 million yuan.

Venture Capital / Investments

- Shanghai government arm selected to buy stake in Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, and not front-running international suitor Citibank. Jinqiao Export Processing Zone Development said it had sold its entire 60 million untradeable A shares of Pudong bank, or 1.66% of the Shanghai-listed bank's share capital, to unlisted Shanghai International Group.

- ING Group and Fortis to further expand their presence in China as they become the latest foreign firms to win approval to set up a joint-venture fund house. ING Investment Management will form a joint-venture fund company with one of the mainland's largest brokers, China Merchants Securities, after they received approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

- Nortel Networks to boost its manufacturing and research investments in the mainland from next year even as it restructures operations in other markets worldwide. The investments would be made in broadband Internet and wireless data access devices, software applications and customization for enterprises and large service providers.


- Mainland telecommunications equipment supplier Huawei Technologies is counting on strong growth in its international business to drive future earnings growth. Huawei is expecting revenue from international operations to exceed $600 million by the end of the year, or about 20% of the company's total.

- China Putian to follow rival Huawei Technologies by expanding its international business. Mainland telecoms equipment suppliers such as Huawei, ZTE, TCL International Holdings and Haier Group are all accelerating investment in overseas markets to compete with the large players. China Putian has ranked as China's largest information technology company by revenue for the past two years.

A week in Taiwan tech


- Taiwan government to sell 13.5% of Chunghwa Telecom for at least $1.84 billion, after failing several times to sell stakes to domestic investors. The government wants to sell 1.3 billion shares of the island's largest phone company for at least NT$49.10 each, or 1.9% above Friday's closing price of NT$48.20 to help plug this year's budget deficit.

A week in Singapore / Malaysia tech


- The shares of MobileOne Asia, which started trading last week, fell as much as 1.6% to the discounted level at which Singapore's No. 2 cell-phone company sold them to individual investors. The shares fell 2 cents to S$1.25 as of 9:47 a.m., declining for the third consecutive trading session. MobileOne Asia raised $446 million.

- Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) will not seek large acquisition targets in Hong Kong. SingTel bid for former monopoly Hong Kong Telecom (HKT) but lost to PCCW two years ago.

- Singapore Technologies Telemedia and Telekom Malaysia to seek control of Indosat. The two regional telcos are the only ones among the four shortlisted bidders who have the financial muscle, as well as the appetite, to engage in an aggressive bidding war.

- Singapore Telecommunications has signed more than S$350 million of new contracts from corporate customers since April this year. SingTel attributed the company's success to competitive rates, expertise and knowledge of the industry, and infrastructure that provides extensive reach in Asia.

Mobile / Wireless

- MobileOne in talks with telecommunication companies to set up a regional alliance. The regional alliance could include operators from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan and the Philippines, and may involve five to six operators initially. A pact could emerge as early as in the next six to nine months.


- Flextronics International's Multek unit to close plants in Irvine, California, and Kumla, Sweden, to reduce costs. The facilities make the thin plates on which chips and other electronic components are placed. The Singapore-based company didn't indicate in a statement how many jobs would be affected.

- Semitech Electronics to offer 26.5 million new shares at 20 Singapore cents for a listing on the Singapore Exchange's second board. The firm said in its prospectus filed with the Monetary Authority of Singapore that it would offer 5.3 million shares to the public and place out 21.2 million shares. The offer is priced at 7.75 times forecast net profit for this year.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

- Singapore will award a second pay-TV license by the middle of next year to boost competition in the media industry, effectively ending Singapore Cable Vision's (SCV) current monopoly on subscription-TV services, which technically expired in June. SingTel welcomed the move to open up the $200 million market.

A week in Hong Kong tech


- PCCW to boost its stock price by combining shares, two months after Hong Kong's biggest phone operator became the first company in the city's benchmark index in four years to trade below HK$1. PCCW is seeking shareholder approval to merge five shares into one. That will lift the share price to HK$7.2 from HK$1.44 at yesterday's close.

- PCCW chairman hunting for investments that will generate HK$500 million in annual sales by 2007, boosting profit at Hong Kong's biggest phone company when cost savings and property revenue tail off. PCCW's top management had narrowed the search to three industries from seven. Since reaching a record low on October 10, the stock has rallied 70%.

- Hutchison Global Communications to establish seven regional offices in the next three months in an effort to expand its fixed-line operations beyond its home market in Hong Kong. The company had plans to apply for a carrier license, or "type 2" license, in Taiwan and Singapore. HGC also intends to open its first regional offices in three locations within the first quarter.

- PCCW denies reports that it is seeking a $900 million loan. The Hong Kong Economic Times reported earlier this week that PCCW planned to refinance a $900 million portion of a $4.7 billion syndicated loan it took as part of what it paid for Hong Kong's former monopoly fixed-line company, Cable & Wireless Hongkong Telecom.

Mobile / Wireless

- Hong Kong mobile phone operator CSL to launch 3G services in just a handful of key urban districts rather than offer universal coverage across the SAR. Defying conventional wisdom that a successful launch required blanket coverage, CSL plans a patchwork offering focusing on a few key areas when it rolls out services in the third quarter of next year.

- Trident Telecom is named ITU Telecom Asia 2002 official sponsor of advanced mobile services. Trident is a mobile virtual network that has teamed up with Huawei Technologies and Sunday Communications to provide event information and contact numbers to conference-goers online.


- Priceline.com.hk has seen the number of customers visiting its website decline but Hong Kong's online booking industry is registering expanding consumer interest, according to an AC Nielsen Netratings report. Priceline.com.hk was ranked fifth most popular Internet travel site in Hong Kong with 37,000 visits.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

- Shun Tak Holdings to reinvent itself as a travel and entertainment group in about six years through investment opportunities in the tourist industry in Macau and China. The diverse company unveiled its plans following a strategic alliance with Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM) that could also allow Shun Tak to explore different investment opportunities in Macau.

- Television Broadcasts (TVB) close to an agreement to sell 51% of Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting to an unidentified United States company for $60 million to $70 million. Galaxy said the parties would issue an announcement this month. The deal values Galaxy at $120 million to $140 million, one-third of the amount Astro Broadcasting of Malaysia was willing to pay last year.

Information Technology

- Tradelink on the verge of taking stakes in two companies linked to Hutchison Whampoa. The company, which has a monopoly on the electronic transfer of regulatory trade documents, is in the final stages of negotiations to buy a 10 to 20% stake in OnePort, Hutchison's soon-to-be-launched joint venture with the Wharf Group.

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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