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Wednesday, 14 October 2009, 18:52 HKT/SGT

Source: IRG
IRG Technology, Media and Telecoms Weekly Asia Market Review

HONG KONG, Oct 14, 2009 - (ACN Newswire) - The following is an Asian excerpt from IRG's TMT Weekly Market Review Oct 3 - Oct 11. IRG is a financial advisory and investment firm focused on the core growth sectors in Asia with particular focus on the telecommunications, media and technology (TMT) sectors.

- According to ITU, mobile subscriptions shall reach 4.6 billion at the end of this year. The growth happened despite the global financial crisis that has lessened consumer demand. Growth is sound as demand for broadband services, which in some countries has been increased through infrastructure stimulus packages, is also climbing. Mobile broadband subscriptions will top 600 million in 2009, while the number of fixed broadband subscribers shall reach about 500 million. Subscription numbers in third world countries including Africa are still low and should be encouraged with new and cheap technology.

- Global semiconductor's revenue would accelerate for about 10 percent next year after two years of falling, as new computers and feature-jammed smartphones helped increased the chip demand. Semiconductor revenue is expected to reach US$233 billion in 2010, which would have a 17 percent annual fall. iSuppli Corp. sees the global chip sales lessened to 16.5 percent in 2009. Companies with old PCs may rush to have Windows 7, which could help drive 2010 unit growth beyond 15 percent. This would deliver good news to TSMC and UMC in Taiwan, and other loss-making computer memory chipmakers. The revenue of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips which was used mainly for PCs, might decline 19.4 percent this year but it could climb 25 percent in 2010 and up another 13 percent in 2011.


- Elpida Memory Inc.'s venture with Taiwan's Powerchip Semiconductor Corp turned profitable in July-September on rising prices of DRAM. Taiwan firm Rexchip Electronics Corp, 52 percent owned by Elpida, has operating and net profits in five quarters as dynamic random-access memory prices declined 80 percent in 2008 in a battered chip sector. If the current recovery in chip prices continues, its profit will become more substantial. Elpida's Tera Probe turned profitable in the quarter just ended, due to increase in demand for testing of mobile DRAM used in smartphones. Other investors in Tera Probe include Taiwan's Powertech Technology Inc, U.S. module maker Kingston Technology Co and Japanese tester maker Advantest Corp.

- Tokyo Electron Ltd. said orders for machines that make semiconductors and flat-panel displays almost doubled in the second quarter. Orders were up 94 percent to 97 billion yen (US$1.1 billion) in the three months ended Sept. 30. Bookings fell 8.1 percent from a year earlier. Chip-equipment orders were up 70 percent in the July-September period due to the demand from semiconductor makers in Taiwan and South Korea.

- Elpida Memory Inc.'s production subsidiary had profits in July-September on rising prices of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM). Rexchip will have net profit of almost 1 billion yen for the quarter, the first time to make operating net profits in five quarters. DRAM prices have increased 30-80 percent in the past three months on growing demand for high-performance varieties. Elpida will have profit accelerate as the chip prices recover.

- Toshiba has appointed a new regional distributor as it seeks to reclaim its market share after the previous dealer closed shop citing the global economic downturn. The new distributor, Mitsumi, will cover Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia. The company's previous distributor from the Gulf region pulled out to take care of other investments. The partnership will also enable Mitsumi to have direct access to the official Toshiba stock from Germany and South Africa. This will cut down on time between placing an order and having it delivered to PC resellers. The partnership will enable them and their resellers to get brand new laptops and accessories as well as save them time and freight cost. Toshiba clients will now be able to deal directly with resellers appointed by Mitsumi and also be informed of where they can get protected or warranty.

- Japan sales of digital SLR cameras in September fell 3.8 percent on the year in volume terms. This marks the first drop in unit sales since the company began collecting comparable data on such cameras in August 2005. Market focus is shifting to tiny, lightweight digital SLR cameras designed to the so-called Micro Four Thirds standard. These models accounted for nearly 20 percent of sales volume. Overall growth in digital SLR cameras peaked in June 2007, when unit sales rose 53 percent on the year. Demand has softened since the global financial crisis hit last fall, but up until September, the market had still managed to post year-to-year growth. Camera makers had been able to maintain sales growth by lowering prices to reduce inventories. But such moves have run their course and the year-on-year declines will likely continue in October and beyond.

- NTT Communications has launched a service that will bridge customers on its Global e-VLAN wide Ethernet network in 11 countries to its IP VPN offering in 159 countries and regions. The optional service, named IP VPN Bridge, allows customers to seamlessly access both layer 2 and layer 3 services across its Ethernet and IP infrastructure, the company said. The Global e-VLAN service is currently available in Japan, South Korea, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, the US, the UK, France, Netherlands, and Germany.

- NTT DoCoMo Inc is easing the pace of its M&A activity in Asia as it focuses on existing acquisitions. Cash-rich DoCoMo, which is still hungry to grow in Asia through investments in operators, wants to first solidify its services with India's Tata Teleservices and with Philippines Long Distance Telephone Co. DoCoMo controls half of Japan's saturated mobile market, where growth has stalled. It is now looking at investing in more software firms and content providers that could help DoCoMo climbed revenues as it launches its Long Term Evolution network at the end of next year. DoCoMo considers the arrival of LTE, which allows faster uploads and downloads to mobile devices, a second chance after it fumbled its push to gain global presence with its 3rd-generation phone network 10 years ago, launching its network too early.

- Softbank Mobile Corp. ranked first among Japanese cellphone service providers in net subscription gains in September for the second consecutive month. Softbank Mobile gained a net 108,000 new contracts in the month, attracting new customers with a new discount plan to temporarily eliminate basic fees for switchers to Softbank from other cellphone service providers. KDDI Corp. replaced NTT Docomo Inc. as the second-largest net contract gainer with 102,300 contracts, taking advantage of a new service offering fixed charges on calls to designated people. Emobile Ltd. came third with 88,200 contracts, followed by NTT Docomo with 66,000 contracts. NTT Docomo lost many customers on the expiration of its two-year discount service introduced in 2007.

- Investors in the foreign exchange market are starting to speculate that plans by some Japanese companies to raise capital abroad are partly responsible for the yen's ongoing advance. One such domestic firm is Nomura Holdings which would carry out half of its new share sale, or some 220 billion yen (US$2.5 billion), overseas. Others tapping foreign markets for their capital-raising efforts include Elpida Memory which recently raised 63 billion yen (US$701.9 million) by selling new shares, with 57 billion yen (US$635 million) of that coming abroad.


- LG Group will go ahead with a long-considered merger of its three telecom units in the near future to boost its consumer base and strengthen service offerings. LG Telecom and LG Powercom may hold board meetings soon. A merger is seen as necessary for LG to compete with bigger telecom rivals KT Corp and SK Telecom, as operators in the saturated Korean market focus on locking in customers through products bundling mobile, fixed-line and Internet services. KT absorbed its mobile unit KTF earlier this year while SK Telecom also controls broadband affiliate SK Broadband. LG Telecom, the biggest of the three companies, could absorb the other two given its bigger scale. LG Telecom will hold a board meeting regarding its desire to merge with LG Dacom, a fixed-line Internet operator, and LG Powercom, an Internet service unit. The telecommunication companies are affiliates of LG Group.

- SK Group will sell 15 million shares in SK C&C Co. through an initial public offering on the domestic bourse in November. The preliminary indicative price range was set at 28,000-32,000 won (US$24.00-27.50). The 15 million shares are now being led by SK Group's mobile service unit SK Telecom Co. and SK Networks Co. SK Telecom and SK Networks will sell all their stakes in SK C&C through an IPO as part of efforts to restructure the group into a holding company. Woori Investment & Securities, Korea Investment & Securities and Daishin Securities are lead managers for the IPO. Merrill Lynch is the international coordinator for the share offering.

- The number of the nation's subscribers to real-time Internet-protocol television (IPTV) has topped the one million mark. The country's three IPTV service providers, KT, SK Broadband, and LG Dacom, achieved the landmark, about nine months after the commercial service of IPTV started. The daily number of new IPTV subscribers increased to seven thousand in the second half of the year. The association expects the number of subscribers to surpass one-point-and-a-half million by year's end and two million early next year thanks to the expansion of infrastructure and improved service quality.

- Internet home phone business of LG Dacom will surpass 2 million subscribers this month for the first time in the industry. So it is expected to reach record of reaching BEP in the shortest period among local telecommunication services. LG Dacom will surpass 2 million by the mid of this month after reaching 1.91 million in the end of last month for my LG070 service subscribers. The number of subscribers currently has increased over 100,000 a month and the proportion of internet phone among entire sales of LG Dacom has been steady increase to 11 percent in the first half of this month from 7 percent last year.

- South Korea's trade surplus in information technology (IT) products reached a record US$6.43 billion mainly due to a sharp drop in local demand for foreign made goods and modest export gains. Exports of semiconductors, mobile phones and other IT products rebounded into positive territory for the first time in a year by edging up 0.8 percent to US$12.24 billion last month, with imports contracting 13.6 percent on-year to just under US$5.81 billion. The surplus is the largest since the ministry started announcing IT-related trade figures in 1996, while the size of exports is the third highest tallied ever. The largest monthly export volume was reached in October 2007 when the country shipped out US$13.07 billion worth of goods. IT exports reached US$86.36 billion, with imports topping US$45.16 billion for a combined surplus of a US$41.19 billion.

- Apple Inc.'s entry in the South Korean mobile market might increase price competition, pressuring margins at Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. which are already pressured from weak demand. Samsung's margin from its telecommunications division including handsets, lessened to 10 percent from 11 percent a year earlier. LG's margin from handsets decreased to 11 percent in the second quarter. Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., will start selling its popular iPhone within this year as the South Korean government gave the greenlight for the sale of the smartphone which features a touch screen and other multimedia capabilities such as Web surfing and e-mail.

- Samsung Electronics Co. said that profit might increase in the third quarter on higher sales, amid a brightening outlook for the company. The Suwon will have a consolidated operating profit of between 3.9 trillion won (US$3.3 billion) and 4.3 trillion won (US$3.67 billion) for the three months ended Sept. 30. Samsung recorded consolidated operating profit of 1.48 trillion won (US$1.3 billion) in the same period last year. Samsung began issuing earnings estimates in the second quarter this year. The company began releasing consolidated operating profit and sales figures from the first quarter of last year, though does not release a consolidated net profit figure and offered no estimate. Samsung's highest operating profit on a consolidated basis so far was 2.57 trillion won (US$2.2 billion) recorded in the first quarter of 2008.


- Samsung is upbeat that its new Candy model will help it gain 35 percent of the Thai mobile phone market, deposing Nokia from its long-established leadership. The South Korean mobile phone maker expects its local mobile business unit to grow 30 percent this year in revenue and 40 percent in volume, selling 2.5 million handsets to generate 7-8 billion baht in sales. Overall handset demand is expected to edge up to 9.5 million units this year on an unchanged market value of 35 billion baht. Samsung held 30.5 percent of Bangkok's market, while Nokia had 28.7 percent. Nationally, Samsung had a 27.5 percent share compared with 33 percent for Nokia.


- India's existing mobile operators could face competition from a number of big companies. AT&T has shall enter the competition, as well as Telstra and SK Telecom. AT&T has shown a firm interest in bidding in the 3G spectrum auctions and has been in contact with the DoT since the reserve price for the contest was announced. The government set a starting price of 35 billion rupees (US$714 million) for one slot of pan-Indian 3G bandwidth in late August. AT&T got around US$250 million for its 33 percent stake in Idea Cellular. AT&T could find itself with a bill for as much as 80 billion rupees (US$1.7 billion) to acquire the entire necessary spectrum. Winning spectrum in the forthcoming auction means a return to India for Telstra.

- Bharti Airtel Ltd. might join the competition to obtain a controlling stake in Mobile Telecommunications Co. Bankers and some consortium partners who are in meetings with Zain Group held preliminary talks with Bharti Airtel. Bharti Airtel will take on MTN Group Ltd. for the stake in Zain. Kuwait's Kharafi Group had invited small investors in Zain to sell their shares as part of a proposed sale of a 46 percent stake to a Malaysian-Indian consortium in a deal worth about US$13.7 billion.

- Infosys Technologies Ltd. had second-quarter profit increase 7.7 percent, after winning more business from its customers. Net income rose to 15.4 billion rupees (US$332 million), in the three months. The company reduced the prices to retain business from customers in the U.S. and Europe, his largest markets, amid the worst recession since the 1930s. Infosys won orders from Australia's Telstra Corp. and the U.K.'s BP Plc after the two clients sought to decrease the number of suppliers to cut costs. Sales will range from US$4.60 billion to US$4.62 billion in the year ending March 31. Forrester sees to have strong recovery in the US information technology market in 2010, with 7.7 percent growth, led by consulting services.

- Cisco Systems and Bharti Airtel announced a strategic alliance aimed at boosting Indian enterprise growth. The pair intends to jointly sell Cisco IP solutions delivered via the Airtel network, with Airtel senior vice president Sanjay Mittal heading up a dedicated team targeting local enterprises of all sizes. Anticipated product offerings include connected branch services, hosted unified communications, managed data services and TelePresence. The pair said allying would allow each company to bring its unique expertise to bear on the local market, with Cisco supplying its IP solutions portfolio and Airtel contributing its network and regional experience.

- Millennium Telecom Ltd. will place an undersea cable project to connect India's east coast to Southeast Asia and from the west coast to the Middle East. This would produce an onward connectivity to Europe and North America through existing and newly planned submarine cables. Mahanagar Telephone and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd merged and formed Millennium Telecom. Axiom Systems has been assigned as the consultant for the project, called Millennium Cable Systems.

- Tata Communications has extended its network into Australia with a deal with Pipe Networks' PPC-1 cable system. It has also boosted its Pacific network by building a terrestrial fiber link across Guam that allows its to connect directly into the China-US and AAG cables. Tata has added resilience by on the TGN Pacific network with by cross-connecting between Guam's two cable stations.


- NTT Communications has set up a subsidiary in the Philippines to provide systems integration services, including consulting, ICT systems installation, and security services. NTT Communications Philippines Corporation will complement the company's existing reseller relationship with PLDT for its global network services.


- Singapore Telecommunications said its wholly-owned Optus unit priced its US$500 million 10-year notes at 4.625 percent a year. SingTel said the dollar denominated notes, which carry a semi-annual coupon, will mature on Oct. 15 2019, and were five times oversubscribed.

- Singapore Telecommunications shares may have fallen victim to investor concerns that heightened competition in India's telecommunications sector could dent the earnings of Bharti Airtel, its largest overseas associate. With the collapse of its US$24 billion merger plan with South Africa's MTN Group last week, Bharti is under more pressure to perform locally. The failure of the Bharti-MTN talks also meant that SingTel, which was expected to pump in money to retain its Bharti stake, has been starved of major foreign acquisitions for nearly two years. In Singapore, SingTel shares fell six Singapore cents yesterday to S$3.06. SingTel has a 30 per cent stake in Bharti, the biggest revenue contributor among the group's six overseas associates. The Indian telecom accounted for 24 per cent of SingTel's underlying post-tax profits in the first quarter. To stall new market entrants, Reliance Communications (India's second- largest wireless operator after Bharti) slashed its long-distance and roaming tariffs on Monday by as much as 50 per cent. Market watchers fear the aggressive cuts could spark a bruising war between Reliance and rivals such as Bharti and third-placed Idea Cellular.


- Vihaan Networks Ltd. (VNL) plans to increase growth by tapping the world's most unfortunate places in Asia. VNL wishes to help connect some of the more than 3 billion people around the world who still lack telephone, radio or TV access. Telecom operators aim to have more than 1 billion new customers by 2015. This would require the installation more than 2 million new base stations. Many of these base stations will have to be installed in areas without electricity. This is where VNL sees its opportunity to accelerate because 1.6 billion people still have no access to electricity at all, while another 1 billion people have access only to unreliable power supplies.


- Telstra Corp. said the Australian government's planned reforms to telecommunications legislation would destroy shareholder value and create uncertainties over Canberra's planned A$43 billion (US$38.87 billion) national broadband network. Telstra said the plans could potentially weaken the value for the 1.4 million Australian shareholders who purchased Telstra shares from the government over the past 12 years.Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has said the changes are aimed at improving competition in the fixed-line broadband sector, which Telstra dominates, ahead of the rollout of Canberra's planned NBN. Competitors, including Singapore Telecommunications Ltd.'s Australian arm Optus, have welcomed the reforms, but Telstra shareholders, including major institutional investors, have voiced their concerns.

Topic: Research / Industry Report
Source: IRG

Sectors: Media & Marketing, IT Individual
From the Asia Corporate News Network

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