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Japan

Hardware

Oki Data Corp. is initiating full-scale sales of printers in the Chinese market as part of an effort to make up for slumping sales elsewhere overseas. The Oki Electric Industry Co. subsidiary had two overseas sales organizations for printers, one for Europe and the U.S., and one for other foreign countries. It will create a third sales team at its headquarters to oversee sales in China. The new team, which is also slated to cover sales activities in Taiwan, will formulate sales plans and conduct market research. An executive responsible for sales in Japan will be appointed chairman of Oki Trading (Beijing) Co., Oki Data's local unit in Beijing, and management-level personnel will also be sent from Japan to branches in Shanghai and Guangzhou. Oki Trading has begun using endorsements from table tennis player Ai Fukuhara, who is popular there.

Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (NYSE:SNE) said retail sales of its new PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system achieved a total of 1 million units worldwide within the 3 weeks. While maintaining cutting-edge features and functions, such as the ability to enjoy high quality interactive entertainment content including Blu-ray Disc games and movies as well as various content and services downloadable through PlayStation Network, the new PS3 is available at an attractive recommended retail price of 29,980 yen (including tax), US$299 and 299 euros (US$434.70), with a streamlined form factor and a pre-installed 120GB Hard Disk Drive.

Semiconductor

Advantest Corp. (NYSE:ATE) will have an increase in orders next quarter as demand from semiconductor and liquid-crystal- display manufacturers rebound. Orders in the three months ending Dec. 31 will increase from 8.9 billion yen (US$99 million) a year earlier and will be about the same as bookings this quarter. Advantest, Applied Materials Inc. (NASDAQ:AMAT), and Tokyo Electron Ltd. (OTCPK:TOELF) have increasing orders. Worldwide chip- equipment capital spending will decrease 45 percent this year to US$24.3 billion. Tokyo Electron in July increased its full-year sales outlook 6 percent as orders in the three months to June 30 went up for the first time in six quarters. Bookings at Applied Materials will climb in the current quarter, which ends in October, from the previous three months.

NEC (OTC:NELTY) has bought about 17 percent stake in Wire and Wireless through a private share placement. NEC acquired a 16.8 percent share in the public wireless LAN service provider for almost 200 million yen (US$2.2 million).

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

Square Enix Holdings Co. Ltd. (OTCPK:SQNXF) has a goal to double its recurring profit to 50 billion yen (US$561 million) in three to five years by expanding the range of its game titles and strengthening its overseas operations. Square Enix, known for game series such as "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon Quest", is in talks with online game operators in China to forge business alliances and offer its game titles in a market with strong growth potential. The company wants to raise the number of its game series that sell more than 2 million units per installment to eight to drive sales and stabilize its revenue. It already has five such titles - "Kingdom Hearts", "Tomb Raider" and "Hitman" as well as "Final Fantasy" and "Dragon Quest". Square Enix has sold more than 4 million units of "Dragon Quest IX" in Japan since its launch in July.

Telecommunications

Taiyo Yuden Co. (OTCPK:TYOYY) will purchase the telecommunications equipment component business of Fujitsu Media Devices Ltd. (OTCPK:FJTSY). This will help the firm broaden its lineup to include such components as SAW (surface acoustic wave) filters for cell phones. Taiyo Yuden is strengthening its presence in the market for high-frequency devices. The deal will also give Taiyo Yuden access to technologies for telecommunications modules, important for the company because the development and design of devices for high-speed communications requires a means of dealing with high-frequency noise. Fujitsu Media Devices is selling off some businesses to center on its core strength of auto electronics.

L.M. Ericsson Telephone Co. (NASDAQ:ERIC) may win a number of new contracts for Long Term Evolution (LTE), network equipment in the coming year from operators including NTT DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM). Several trials with operators are happening. NTT DoCoMo will have its decision in 2010 whether to choose Ericsson as its supplier of LTE technology. Chinese operators including China Mobile are also eyeing the technology and several emerging markets will become interesting once LTE gets more widespread and the larger scale drives down costs. LTE networks will first be commercially launched in 2010, Ewaldsson said, with volumes expected to increase rapidly during 2011.

Korea

Telecommunications

SK Telecom Co. will sell its entire 3.8 percent stake in China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE:CHU) back to the Chinese telecommunications operator for 1.5 trillion won (US$1.28 billion) for the improvement of its financial position after the company had a loss from the investment. SK Telecom will sell its entire 899.75 million holding at HK$11.105 (US$1.4) each. The company will focus to business cooperation with Chinese counterparts instead of purchasing stakes in any particular company. The sale of the stake means that SK Telecom's overall business portfolio is now shifting to broader markets from just mobile communications. SK Telecom may have the transaction closed in mid November after China Unicom's independent shareholders approve the plan. China Unicom will fund the share repurchase from its cash flow and working capital.

South Korea's telecommunications regulator ordered the country's mobile carriers to slash their mobile service charges from November. This may badly affect the profitability of mobile operators as they are already suffering from weak margins because of the fierce marketing rivalry in a highly saturated market.

Korea Communications Commission (KCC) commanded the operators to lower various service rates including subscription fees, wireless data rates and bundled product costs, to lessen the burden on subscribers. The move comes as South Korea's three mobile operators have been under fire for charging higher rates than carriers in other member nations of the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. SK Telecom Co. will cut subscription fees by 27 percent to 40,000 won (US$34) and slash its monthly wireless data rate by 19 percent. The country's biggest wireless operator was also asked to offer discounts for long-term subscribers. SK Telecom will also change its call-charge unit to 1 second from 10 seconds previously. KT Corp. (KTC) will slash its subscription fees by 20 percent. It will lessen monthly wireless data service fees by as much as 62 percent. KT will also provide discounts for its long-term subscribers and trim rates by 13 percent. LG Telecom Co. will cut its monthly voice call rate by as much as 25 percent.

KT Corp. will invest 142.7 billion won (US$119.4 million) to become an eco-friendly technology company. Approximately 142.7 billion won (US$120 million) will be spent on energy-saving technologies and the environmental improvement of existing telecommunications facilities. The company will lessen its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2013. The company will spend in developing eco-friendly services, such as solutions for green automobiles and eco-buildings, cloud computing, green Internet data centers, green mobile communications and smart grids.

Internet

Yonhap News Agency and SK Broadband Co. will merge to enhance South Korean news agency's real-time news service by creating a new-media platform that includes broadcast and video content in order to aggressively respond to the changing media environment. SK Broadband will then merge with Yonhap to integrate its network infrastructure in the field of Internet-protocol TV (IPTV) with Yonhap's content. IPTV is fast emerging as a significant alternative to traditional ways of watching television, allowing viewers to choose and view content interactively via a broadband Internet connection.

Hardware

LG (OTC:LGERF) will invest US$3.34 billion in building plants to produce LCD glass and LEDs in Paju, South Korea, which broke ground on the project earlier this week. LG Chemical will invest US$2.5 billion in the glass plants by 2018. LG Display is a major customer of Corning's Samsung Corning Precision Glass Co. joint venture in South Korea. The company expects that other companies will be challenged to meet the large scale production required by LCD panel customers.

China

Internet

Alibaba.com (OTC:ALBCF) will buy an 85 percent stake in Chinese Internet services provider China Civilink (Cayman) for 435.42 million yuan (US$63.8 million) from Synnex (NYSE:SNX), in a deal that will give a significant boost to the business-to-business trading site's client base. The Company has an option to buy a further 14.67 percent stake in China Civilink over the next three years for an additional 104.56 million yuan (US$15.3 million) in cash. The move by the online business platform operator was its second acquisition since August. The firm is searching for investment opportunities domestically and overseas. Its first purchase was done with an affiliate, while its second with Civilink covers its China base. China Civilink has more than 200,000 customers that mostly don't overlap with the Hong Kong-listed company's existing client base. The transaction is expected to close before the end of this year.

Sina (NASDAQ:SINA) may spend some of its cash reserves on expanding into industries such as online gaming, social networking services (SNS) and micro-blogging services. Sina's liquid assets will receive a boost from US$580 million to US$760 million after Chao purchases 5.6 million new shares in the company for US$180 million.

Mobile/Wireless

The acquisition contract between Chinese online media and mobile VAS company Sina and Focus Media (NASDAQ:FMCN) has fallen through. Sina and Focus Media announced that they would scrap their $1.4 billion merger after months of government stonewalling over the deal. At the same time, Sina also announced that a group led by its management team would buy about 10 percent of the company for US$180 million, which could be used for future acquisitions and corporate purposes

Baidu Mobile (NASDAQ:BIDU) will open, featuring such enhancements for the Japanese market as enabling searches of pages with pictographs. Users will be able to input pictographs as search terms. Video searches have also been improved. Video viewable on mobile phones will be extracted from sites for personal computers as well as mobile phone sites. YouTube, Nico Nico Douga and FC2 will be included in video searches to broaden searches beyond what competitors offer. The feature that makes screen dimensions and page layouts compatible with mobile phones when searching PC sites has also been strengthened. Processing speed has been improved to shorten the wait time between selection of search results and the page being displayed.

The Chinese value added services market was 39.73 billion yuan (US$5.8 billion) in the second quarter. The VAS revenues increased to 7.6 percent over the first quarter, when revenues were 36.91 billion yuan (US$5.8 billion). The quarterly climbed because of the stabilization of the economy in China and operator promotions.

Telecommunications

China Unicom merged with the provincial government of Shandong to invest 40 billion yuan (US$5.8 billion) in the province over the next five years. Both companies will merge to speed up the construction of information industry infrastructure in the province over the next five years. China Unicom will also help the provincial government to build up its government information system. China Unicom's net profit lessened to 42.1 percent year on year to 6.62 billion yuan (US$969 million) in the first half of this year due to the company's restructuring and fierce competition. The carrier produced additional 127,000 GSM cellular service users in August, bringing the total to 807,000 at the end of last month.

China Telecom (NYSE:CHA) had net addition of 2.08 million mobile service subscribers in August, adding the total to 43.81 million. The telecom operator's fixed-line service users decreased 1.52 million in August to 196.17 million, as a result of intensified market competition and China Telecom's strengthened control in sales initiatives for low-end subscribers to enhance profitable development. But the number of the carrier's broadband subscribers climbed 690,000 in the reporting period, lessened 15.85 percent on month, with the total user base topping 50.56 million.

Huawei Technologies hired a top former BT Group executive as its chief technology officer, as it pushes to expand its global footprint. Matt Bross would support the company's efforts in delivering products for North America. Bross was chief technology officer of BT Group back then, and his appointment marks one of the most senior to date of a foreigner to Huawei, one of China's biggest success stories in terms of high-tech exports. Huawei and ZTE (OTCPK:ZTCOF) cut their teeth as providers of low-cost telecoms equipment, first domestically and then to developing markets and finally to the most lucrative developed markets in the United States and Europe.

China Unicom’s parent had increased its stake in the company from 60.74 percent to 61.05 percent by September. China United Telecommunications Corporation Limited bought 65.428 million shares of China Unicom in the past 12 months, a 0.31 percent of the capital stock of the company.

Media, Entertainment and Gaming

· China will set up a 10 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) fund for domestic online media, gaming, animation, TV and film production and publishing industries. The fund will initially be 4.9 billion yuan (US$717 million), 500 million yuan (US$73.2 million) of which will be donated by the government.

Hardware

Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) will open more retail stores and expand its sales force in China's smaller cities as it plays catch-up with Lenovo (OTCPK:LNVGY) and HP (NYSE:HPQ) in one of the world's fastest growing PC markets, said a company executive. Dell opened a flagship retail store in Shanghai, China's financial hub. The PC maker has also been beefing up its sales force in China's secondary cities. Dell wishes to grow its market share in China, where it lags behind Lenovo and HP. Dell's unit share in China stood at about 9 percent. Lenovo's share is at 29 percent and HP at 14 percent. Dell's higher-than-average sales growth will drive up its market share in China, which has already displaced the U.S. as the world's largest desktop market.

Semiconductor

Trina Solar Ltd. (NYSE:TSL) will build a 500MW solar power plant in Wuzhong, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in China's northwest. The project is estimated to cost 12.5 billion yen (US$139 million) and be completed in four stages in 10 years.

Software

CDC Software Corp. (CDCS) is expanding its R&D center in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong R&D center would develop Clouding Computing technology as part of its enterprise solutions. The technology may effectively coordinate resources in an information system, optimize structures, and simplify the installment and management of enterprise information systems. The company's other two R&D centers in Shanghai and Nanjing would serve in facilitating the innovation of technology. The company will make full use of its strategic partnership with Microsoft on the technological innovation. The new R&D center, and the support from its extensive product engineering and testing operations in China, will certify that the next generation of solutions can meet the most exacting requirements of business in the future.

CDC Software Corp. will focus to the market in China as it is expected to reap US$50 million of annual revenue in the next three years. The company's annual sales would hit 300 million dollars in the next three years, including those from China, which should increase to 50 million dollars, making China its second largest market. The company would reach its goal through growth and acquisition. The company would still focus on the business of enterprise management solutions and move the service sector to China to increase market potential.

CDC Software Corp. will buy a 51 percent stake in Hejia Software Technology Co. Ltd. in three steps before March 31, 2012. Both companies would merge to develop software products while Hejia Software would sell CDC Software's OEM products in China. CDC Software will assist the former advance into the global market. The acquisition of Hejia Software Technology is part of CDC Software's strategic plan to expand its geographic footprint and increase sales by acquiring rapidly growing companies. The company will continue to pursue other strategic investments in China.

Source: Asian Tech Stock Weekly Review (September 28 - October 2, 2009)