Friday, October 10, 2008

Is Chunghwa ending the year face-down?

Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan's largest phone operator, posted a 2.5 percent drop in nine-month profit.

Net income fell to NT$36.9 billion ($1.1 billion), or NT$3.86 a share, the Taipei-based company said in a statement. Revenue for the period was NT$140 billion, the statement said, almost unchanged from a year ago.

The company posted profit of NT$37.8 billion, or NT$3.55 per share, for the same period last year on sales of NT$139.9 billion.

Will Chunghwa climb back up this last quarter of '08?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Is the world the new WiFi hotspot?

Vodafone Group, Microsoft and Ericsson AB are among 17 companies working together to promote laptop computers with built-in tools for making broadband connections to mobile-phone networks.

The initiative is led by the GSM Association, which will spend $1 billion next year to promote such devices, the London- based organization said in a statement.

“It's freedom from your desk, freedom from WiFi hotspots, the ability to get online anywhere where you have cellular coverage,” marketing head Michael O'Hara said in an interview. There should be “several hundreds of thousands” of such products in stores around Christmas, he said.

Wireless broadband using high speed packet access, or HSPA, technology offers data transfer speeds of more than 1 megabyte per second, in line with typical fixed-line Internet services.

There were 191 phone operators offering HSPA networks for more than 740 devices, including handsets and notebooks, the GSMA said in an August statement. The market for laptops is worth about $50 billion this year, the GSMA said in a statement, citing data from Pyramid Research.

There are more than 55 million wireless broadband subscribers in 91 countries, the GSMA said, citing data from Wireless Intelligence. The figure is estimated to rise by four million each month until the end of this year.

3 Group, Asus, Dell, ECS, Gemalto NV, Lenovo Group, LG Electronics, France Telecom SA's Orange, Qualcomm, Telefonica SA, Telecom Italia SpA, TeliaSonera AB, Deutsche Telekom AG's T-Mobile and Toshiba are the other companies taking part in the initiative.

O'Hara predicted the number of companies joining the group will rise as there are about 750 operators globally offering wireless services using the GSM standard.

Who will be the next to join Vodafone , Microsoft and the like in the quest to building and promoting laptops that can connect to the internet almost anytime and anywhere?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

CEO Cho Young Chu, Guilty or Not?

KT Freetel, South Korea's second-largest mobile-phone operator, said Chief Executive Officer Cho Young Chu quit after he was taken into custody by prosecutors as part of a bribery investigation.

The company's board of directors accepted the resignation following Cho's arrest, Kim In Tae, a spokesman for Seoul-based KT Freetel, said by telephone. He declined to comment on whether Cho, 52, denies allegations related to bribery.

The resignation of Cho, who's been heading KT Freetel since 2005, forces the wireless operator to search for a new chief executive after the company posted six straight quarters of profit declines. Cho's replacement, to be named within two weeks, will face the challenge of reviving earnings growth in a market where nine out 10 people already own a mobile phone.

“Even if a new CEO arrives immediately, we believe there is increased uncertainty on KTF's ability to address changes in the market, including regulation and competition,” Goldman, Sachs & Company said in a note. “With the resignation of the CEO, we do not expect the market to warm up to the stock anytime soon.”

South Korean prosecutors took KT Freetel's head into custody on Sept. 19 and formally arrested him to question him on allegations that Cho received about 2.5 billion won ($2.2 million) from equipment suppliers, violating his fiduciary duty, Kim Soo Nam, a prosecutor at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, said by phone.

Merger Delay?

Cho's arrest may delay any merger talks between KT Freetel and parent KT as investors probably won't approve a combination before “corporate governance issues” are resolved, according to Citigroup analyst Sean Lee. Cho's arrest and the probe aren't affecting KT Freetel's operations, the mobile- phone operator's spokesman said.

The arrest of Cho raises concern over “a serious corporate governance problem -- lack of management integrity and transparency in the equipment purchase process,” Citigroup's Lee wrote in a Sept. 21 report.

KT plans to submit an application to the Korea Communications Commission in September to merge with KT Freetel, Edaily reported in August, citing an unidentified KT official. KT shareholders will probably vote on the merger in February, the Korean-language online newspaper reported then.

Since reporting earnings in July, spokesmen at KT have reiterated comments by KT Chief Financial Officer Maeng Soo Ho that the “timing and other details have not been confirmed or decided” on any possible merger with KT Freetel.

KT Freetel shares rose 2.5 percent to 28,900 won at 1:39 p.m. in Seoul, compared with the benchmark Kospi stock index's 0.9 percent advance.

Is Cho's bribery case an issue of a questionable management or governace on KTF's side?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is China Mobile losing its edge?

China Mobile, the world's biggest wireless carrier by users, fell to its lowest in 15 months in Hong Kong trading on a report regulators will let its users retain phone numbers when switching to rival services.

The mobile carrier fell 5.3 percent to close at HK$77 on the city's stock exchange, the lowest since June 15, 2007. The benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 3.1 percent.

Chinese regulators plan to let Beijing-based China Mobile's users in the cities of Tianjin and Shenzhen keep their phone numbers when they switch service providers from next month, the Nanfang Daily newspaper reported, citing an unidentified source. Customers who move from other carriers to China Mobile won't be able to keep their numbers, according to the report.

“The phone numbers issue is certainly weighing on the shares,” said Li Zhiwu, an analyst with BOCOM International Holdings in Hong Kong. “I think we've already seen the peak of growth for China Mobile,” said Li, who rates the stock “neutral.”

China will introduce so-called number portability nationwide next year if the trials in Tianjin and Shenzhen are successful, Nanfang Daily reported. China Telecom, China Unicom and China Netcom Group also fell in Hong Kong trading on concern that the policy may affect earnings at the companies.

“The point of number portability is to increase competition, which could be a concern,” he said. Li rates shares of China Unicom, China Telecom and China Netcom “neutral.”

China Telecom declined 5.1 percent to HK$3.37, while China Unicom dropped 4.8 percent to HK$11.48 and China Netcom fell 4.5 percent to HK$17.24.

The Chinese government said in May that it planned to adopt regulations that limit China Mobile's dominance of the world's biggest wireless market. The government also ordered the nation's six state-owned carriers to merge into three companies all able to provide mobile, fixed-line and Internet services in a bid to spur competition.

Can we attribute China Mobile's current estate to the restructuring plan of the Chinese government?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Is Telekom Malaysia's stake a good buy for Sotelgui?

Telekom Malaysia, Malaysia's second-biggest mobile-phone operator, sold its 60 percent stake in Societe des Telecommunications de Guinee, known as Sotelgui, to the Guinean government.

The sale follows a visit by Guinea's Communication Minister Tibou Kamara, Finance Minister Ousmane Dore and Sotelgui officials to Kuala Lumpur, the west African nation's government said in a statement read on national television yesterday. The state now controls 100 percent of Sotelgui and plans to seek new private investors for the company, it said.

Sotelgui competes with companies including Areba, a unit of MTN Group and France Telecom SA's Orange mobile-phone subsidiary. The Conakry-based company has 25,000 fixed-line subscribers and about 1 million mobile-phone customers.

Will the sale benefit Telekom Malaysia in general?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ho-chen to be replaced as CEO?

Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan's largest phone operator, named President Lu Shyue-ching as chairman and chief executive officer to replace Ho-chen Tan, who held the posts for five years.

Senior Vice President Chang Shaio-tung will succeed Lu, 59, as president, the Taipei-based company said in an e-mailed statement. The appointments, recommended by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, Chunghwa's largest shareholder, go into effect after board approval, the statement said.

Ho-chen, 57, formerly a vice minister at the ministry, oversaw Chunghwa's privatization, listing and overseas expansion into Japan, Singapore and Vietnam. Lu, a career civil servant, became president of the company in 1996.

Chunghwa's stock advanced about 40 percent on the Taiwan Stock Exchange under Ho-Chen, in line with the gain in the benchmark Taiex index over the same period. The shares fell 1.3 percent to close at NT$77.20 in Taipei.

Lu, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Hawaii, was previously deputy director-general of the government department that became Chunghwa Telecom, according to the company.

Chang was previously an executive vice president in charge of Chunghwa's mobile and international businesses. He has a Master of Business Administration degree from Taiwan's National Chiao Tung University.

Can President Lu Shyue-ching be a replacement to Ho-chen Tan?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Is ZTE now the better half of China Telecom?

ZTE, a Chinese telephone- network equipment maker, won half of a 10 billion yuan order ($1.5 billion) from China Telecom, the South China Morning Post reported, without saying how it obtained the information.

Alcatel-Lucent won about 20 percent of China Telecom's contract for its code division multiple access wireless value- added service platform, while the remainder was split among other companies including Huawei Technologies, the newspaper said.

ZTE was also awarded China Telecom's order to build a mobile-positioning system and a multimedia message service, according to the Chinese phone operator's Web site, the report said.

With ZTE's profile, does it deserve 50% of China Telecom?