Japanese mobile phone giant NTT DoCoMo eyes British acquisition

DoCoMo and KPN Telecom in talks to buy 35 percent of British wireless venture of Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.TOKYO, 6 July 2000 (MaxisNet) - Japanese mobile phone giant NTT DoCoMo and its European partner look set to buy part of a British company with a next-generation wireless license in a bid to make its cutting-edge technology a global standard.

DoCoMo and KPN Telecom in talks to buy 35 percent of British wireless venture of Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.

TOKYO, 6 July 2000 (MaxisNet) - Japanese mobile phone giant NTT DoCoMo and its European partner look set to buy part of a British company with a next-generation wireless license in a bid to make its cutting-edge technology a global standard.

The Financial Times reported on Tuesday that DoCoMo and Dutch carrier KPN Telecom were in talks to buy 35 percent of a British wireless venture of Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.

Both Hutchison and DoCoMo declined to comment on the report.

The stake, if realised, would give NTT DoCoMo greater influence over technology used in Britain for Hutchison's third-generation wireless license, which the venture, also owned partly by Canada's Telesystem International Wireless, bought for 4.38 billion pounds (US$6.62 billion) in late April.

NTT DoCoMo hopes to wed its popular "i-mode" wireless Internet technology to forthcoming third-generation mobile phone technology, to make its Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) the world's de facto cell-phone standard.

"This is one chapter in DoCoMo's international strategy, to get the i-mode system abroad and turn it into a multimedia global standard," said Toshiaki Onoda, telecoms analyst at WestLB Securities.

Several other global mobile phone titans are pushing ahead with a rival third-generation standard, CDMA2000, but DoCoMo hopes to gain an advantage by introducing its standard first.

Gaining control over the British license, the only top-notch "A" license that allows for the broadest transmission spectrum in Britain's next-generation wireless market, would also give DoCoMo a foothold for further expansion overseas.

The Financial Times said KPN and NTT DoCoMo were likely to pay US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion for their stake in the British venture, with KPN taking 15 percent and NTT DoCoMo 20 percent.

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