DoCoMo eyes global I-mode and 3G business

Japan's NTT DoCoMo is planning to list its shares on the London and New York stock exchanges in early March in a move designed to...

Japan's NTT DoCoMo is planning to list its shares on the London and New York stock exchanges in early March in a move designed to accelerate its overseas expansion.

Being listed in London and New York will help NTT DoCoMo in two ways, said Keiji Tachikawa, president and chief executive officer of the company, which is Japan's largest mobile telecommunication carrier.

It will enhance global liquidity and make it easier for DoCoMo to borrow money from foreign investors and also help its overseas business expansion strategies, he said.

Enhancing the worldwide profile of NTT DoCoMo's brand name will help promote the global launch of its I-mode wireless Internet service and its entry into overseas 3G mobile phone markets in the future, Tachikawa said.

To date, NTT DoCoMo's international strategies have largely been supported by acquiring, or planning to acquire stakes in local mobile telecommunication carriers in Europe, Asia and North America, such as KPN Mobile of the Netherlands, KG Telecommunications of Taiwan and AT&T Wireless Services in the US.

The acquisitions have not been without problems.

In Europe, the lowered share price of KPN Mobile resulted in NTT DoCoMo reporting a large extraordinary loss in its first-half earnings in 2001. The share price of its US partner, AT&T Wireless, has also sharply dropped since NTT DoCoMo bought its stake.

In Asia, Taiwan's KG Telecom, through which NTT DoCoMo was planning to enter the 3G sector in Taiwan, withdrew its bid for one of five licences to offer 3G mobile services in Taiwan last December.

However NTT DoCoMo remains confident its expansion plans will pay off. KPN Mobile is expected to start a commercial I-mode service in Netherlands and Belgium in the second quarter and KG Telecom will start the service in Taiwan this year, said Tachikawa at a Tokyo press conference. "Our investment overseas is now starting to bear fruit," he said.

Back in Japan, although NTT DoCoMo has continued to enjoy increasing I-mode subscriptions - citing more than 30 million users by the end of December - the company has not seem similar success for its FOMA 3G service, which was launched as the world's first. By last week, the service had attracted a total of 37,000 3G users, Tachikawa said.

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