IRG China Weekly Review: Feb 12-18 (CHL, CHU, CN, CHA, UTSI, JRJC)

|
Includes: CHA, CHL, CHU, CN-OLD, JRJC, UTSI
by: IRG Ltd


Media, Entertainment and Gaming

• Sorun Corp., a systems developer, and Digital Hollywood Corp., a human resources development company, announced their forming of a joint venture in April in Tianjin. With the aim to provide educational courses on animation and video content production, the venture will be joined by Nankai University, a local college, in September. The university will serve as the operator of a content-production graduate course to be launched by the university in September. The venture will have a capitalization of 210 million yen (US$1.7 million), of which Sorun will provide 81 percent and with Digital Hollywood and the university each putting up 9.5 percent. Digital Hollywood said it will adapt the animation and video content production lectures it provides in Japan to the needs of Chinese students. The company will also provide lecturers for the course. Sorun said it will hire graduates from the course for animation production work slated to begin in China in the near future. With the merged entity, the companies said they are aiming at 1.3 billion yen (US$11 million) in cumulative sales during the first five years.

Internet

• UTStarcom Inc. (ticker: UTSI), a global leader in Internet protocol-based, end-to-end networking solutions and services, announced its entering into contracts with China Telecom (ticker: CHA), for the deployment of its RollingStream end-to-end IPTV solution in two cities in the Fujian Province in southern China. According to the firm, the two cities – Fuzhou and Quanzhou – represent opportunities for the growth of IPTV, with less than 5 percent of the population in each city having access to broadband services. The initial deployment in Fuzhou, the capital city of Fujian Province with nearly six million residents, has capacity of 12,000 concurrent media streams. The firm said it plans to offer first 70 channels of live broadcast television with "time-shifting" capabilities, translated to an estimated 3,000 hours of video-on-demand. The operator is targeting 50,000 users by the end of 2006. The initial deployment in Quanzhou is aimed at supporting 37,000 concurrent media streams and will encompass the city's main districts. Initially, there will be 70 channels of live broadcast television with "time-shifting" capabilities and about 5,000 hours of video-on-demand. China Telecom is aiming to secure 80,000 users by the end of 2006.

• China’s online advertising market hit 3.1 billion yuan (US385.1 million), which is a growth of 77.1 percent last year compared with that of the previous year, according to iResearch. The report indicated that online ads in total ad market went up from 0.5 per cent in 2001 to 2.3 per cent last year. The results show online ads beating magazine ads, which posted 1.8 billion yuan (US$223.6 million). Online ad comes closer, in terms of results, to radio broadcast ads with its 3.4 billion yuan (US$422.4 million). The report said Sina's online ads income was 680 million yuan (US$84.4 million) last year, grabbing 21.7 percent of market share, leaving Sohu with 15 percent, NetEase 8 percent, QQ 3.8 per cent, and TOM online 2.2 percent. Adding all the online ads of the five portals contributed 53.4 percent of total online ads, a figure representing a 20 percent decline year on year. Other figures show real estate, IT products and online services identified as having the top three sources of clients. Samsung’s spending on online ads, totaling 60.3 million yuan (US$7.4 million), placed it at No. 1, followed by China Mobile and NetEase.

• In a move that points to the Internet ushering the age of all-new Chinese domain name, Chinese now can apply for Chinese domain name to be used in searching. They can to this through Microsoft's IE7 browser that supports "Chinese.cn". Under this development, enterprises will be able to have direct communication with 100 million Chinese Internet users. Analysts are saying that the Chinese domain name will have impact on every Chinese, with its use providing greater Internet access. An official of MainOne.cn, a well-known Internet service provider in China, stresses that the use of Chinese for the management of local domain names assures the security of national information and national defense. The firm also said that as the body authorized by China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), MainOne will go all out to popularize Chinese domain names. In China, the registered national domain name CN has hit almost 1.1 million, making it Asia's largest domain name.

• People’s Daily Online announced the launching of Quianqquo, recognized as the first blog offered by a news website in China. From Qiangguo Blog come more than ten channels at the homepage, enabling users to post texts and images on the blog. The site also offers templates that will allow users to make personalized pages. The blog has some 2,000 registered users. It has published more than 6, 000 articles and 2,000 images.

• China Finance Online Co. Limited (ticker: JRJC), a leading Chinese online financial information and listed company data provider, announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full year ended December 31, 2005, with its net revenues for the quarter posting an 8 percent decline to US$2 million, compared to the same period in 2004. Its net income was US$1 million for the quarter, representing a 43 percent decline from US$1.8 million for the same period in 2004. Its net revenues posted a 24 percent growth to US$7.4 million from US$6 million in 2004. Its net income rose by 1 percent to US$4.6 million for the full year 2004.

Mobile/Wireless

• The country’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII) announced its selection of China Telecom, China Netcom (ticker: CN) and China Mobile (ticker: CHL) to build TD-SCDMA pre-commercial networks for testing. According to the study of Goldman Sachs on China’s mobile phone market, China Telecom, China Netcom and China Mobile are to build a total of about 100 networks separately in different cities, each project covering some 3,000 people. The networks are expected to be completed in March and tests are to be finished by the end of June. Under this plan, mobile operators, especially China Mobile, must cease the construction of their WCDMA network tests. In the study, Goldman Sachs also commented that it is unlikely for the TD-SCDMA technology to be operative by the later half of 2006, mainly because the homegrown technology is not as mature as WCDMA, and would thus be less profitable.

• China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd. said it expects its strong growth in subscription in China to continue even as it looks to opportunities overseas. According to its top official, China Mobile’s number of subscribers went up to 42 million during 2005, with the last quarter of 2005 accounting for 3.9 million of the increase. The company said it is aiming to manufacture cheaper 3G handsets, hoping to tap the country’s base of around 250 million subscribers in China together with the steady and strong trend in the increase in its number of subscription.

• China SMS, a leading short message service (SMS) provider, is expected to go public in Hong Kong in the first half of the year. According to an official of the Hong Kong-listed Sino Katalytics Investment Corp., the listing of China SMS is part of Sino Katalytics Investment's strategy of streamlining its assets. Sino Katalytics Investment has invested HK$5 million (US$625,000) on a 10 percent stake in China SMS a year ago. China SMS derives its earnings by providing services mainly to corporate customers.

• T-Bay Holdings Inc. said its earnings posted growth for the three-month and nine-month periods ended Dec. 31, 2005. The company said its net income for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2005 was US$4.7 million, as compared to the net income of US$2.5 for the same period in 2004. For the nine months ended Dec. 31, 2005, it registered net income of US$8 million as compared to US$3.7 million for the same period in 2004. T-Bay conducts its mobile phone design business through Shanghai Sunplus Communication Technology Co. Ltd., a subsidiary it owns 95 percent. The subsidiary provides total solution and design services to leading mobile handset brand owners in China.

• China.com disclosed that it is seeking to be among the top three players in the country. The mainland mobile-value-added service provider has a wide array of products that include SMS, multimedia messages, mobile Internet and interactive voice response services to mainland mobile phone users through partnerships with operators China Mobile and China Unicom (ticker: CHU). Ranked No. 1 in the sector is Tom Online, the Internet portal of Hutchison Whampoa. He said he would be interested in those companies that either bring new services to the company or boost its subscriber base. China.com posted HK$108 million (US$14 million) in revenue in the third quarter of last year.

Telecommunications

• With the expansion of its services in recent years, ZTE Corp., a leading global provider of telecoms equipment and network solutions, announced that it posted sales of over 150 million lines of wireless infrastructure products by January 2006. Of these sales, more than 30 million lines were CDMA equipment. ZTE’s wide range of product portfolio now includes CDMA, GSM, PHS, 3G (WCDMA, CDMA2000 and TD-SCDMA), and total network solutions ranging from systems to terminals. ZTE's wireless capacity in CDMA equipment had already gone beyond 30 million lines and includes over 100 operators across more than 60 countries. The expansion has ZTE in some 30 3G CDMA2000 EV-DO networks built in more than 20 countries.

Software

• The province of Liaoning exported US$290 million worth of computer software products in 2005, according to its Department of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation. The figure indicates a growth of 45 percent year-on-year, as reported by the Special Commissioner’s Office in Dalian, Ministry of China. Liaoning’s software products primarily were taken to places that included Japan, the U.S., Russia and Turkey in 2005. Its major export products are office automation software, mobile software and automobile software. At present, the cities of Shenyang and Dalian remain the main production bases for software products.

Hardware

• Netac, a flash-memory products maker, disclosed its filing of a lawsuit against United States rival PNY Technologies for alleged infringements of one of its patents. The Shenzhen-based Netac, a leading maker of mobile storage and digital devices, asked for the suspension of sales of PNY's flash-memory storage devices. Observers say the case is rare because it is a Chinese firm now suing for patent and copyright violations and brings about a situation indicating that Chinese companies are slowly seeing the value of protecting their products and technologies. .

IRG Limited (www.irg.biz) is a boutique investment bank and investment firm focused on the TMT sectors in Asia, including Japan. The Company is headquartered in Hong Kong with a presence in Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore and Manila. IRG focuses on event driven and special situations including Mergers and Acquisitions, Recapitalizations and Restructurings, Management Buyouts, Late Stage Private Equity Capital Raisings, and Asia Market Entry Strategies. We capitalize on our unique idea generation in the TMT sector ("Ideas