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BenQ quits Europe after unsustainable losses

Having bought Siemens' handset business just last year, BenQ is now closing its European operations
Written by Richard Thurston, Contributor

Ailing mobile handset manufacturer BenQ is pulling out of Europe following what it admitted were "unsustainable losses".

BenQ only bought the European operations last year, when Siemens abandoned its handset ambitions and sold its assets to BenQ.

Siemens effectively paid BenQ €50m to take the poorly performing business off its hands. But since then, its fortunes have failed to improve.

BenQ suffered delays in getting its handsets to market, its market share dropped and sales prices remained weak.

Analysts believe BenQ's management must take the blame for the company's poor performance.

"Many of the product launches were fairly poor," said Windsor Holden at consultancy firm Analysis. "Even when the product seemed promising, the company failed to launch on time. It's been a mess, frankly."

In July, the vendor planned to cut 10 percent of its workforce in Germany, where its European operation is headquartered, and slash the salaries of its executives.

A new chief financial officer joined in late August to carry out "necessary" cost-cutting steps. But this proved to be far more severe than previously thought, and on Thursday BenQ said it would completely discontinue its European operations.

Around 3,000 employees based in Germany are likely to lose their jobs. BenQ also said it would further review the operations of some of its other subsidiaries.

"Despite the progress achieved in reducing cost and expenses, widening losses have made this very painful decision unavoidable," said BenQ's chairman KY Lee.

The company said it would continue in the mobile business with operations in "selected markets", including Asia.

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