According to Bouyges Telecom CEO Olivier Roussat, the tender offer for France’s fourth 3G mobile license is also the reason behind the companywide hiring freeze. Earlier, the company used to recruit young graduates but this has also stopped. Currently, Bouygues Telecom has 8650 employees.
The pricing structure that was placed on the new license has been opposed by carrier judging it to be anti-competitive and it filed two appeals with the State Council to challenge the award procedure.
The carrier also wants to shake-up the fixed-line market, since it can access 3.3 million potential fiber-optic clients through its deal with French cable operator Numericable.
China Unicom, the second largest mobile telecom carrier in China’s mainland, in which SK Telecom Co invested in July this year, has agreed to jointly buy mobile phones with the South Korean mobile operator, betting the two companies’ increased purchasing power will reduce costs.
The two cell operators are negotiating to buy mobile phones from Motorola Inc, Samsung Electronics Co and LG Electronics Inc, Seoul-based SK Telecom said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. The mobile phones will be offered to both companies’ customers during the first half of next year, the statement said.
SK Telecom, the world’s first provider of third-generation mobile services, joins Spain’s Telefonica SA and the UK’s Vodafone Group Plc in trying to access a market with more cell- phone users than the combined populations of the US and Japan.
Beijing-based China Unicom will use the partnership to boost buying power and tap SK Telecom’s experience providing 3G service.
“This is pretty positive for China Unicom in the long-term; it means more purchasing power,” said Judy Zhang, an analyst at Sun Hung Kai Research in Hong Kong. SK Telecom “has a lot of experience with the 3G business.”
China Unicom and SK Telecom plan to initially buy six types of mobile phones, with orders for each model ranging from 300,000 to 500,000 mobile phones, according to the statement.
In July, SK Telecom, Korea’s largest cell phone operator, bought USD1 billion of bonds convertible into a 6.7 percent stake of the Chinese company. China’s number of mobile users is expected to rise to 568.1 million in 2010, according to US researcher IDC.
China had 437.5 million cell phone subscribers at the end of August, according to government data, compared with South Korea’s 38 million. About 30 percent of China’s 1.3 billion people own mobile phones, compared with South Korea’s 80 percent.
SK Telecom said last month it would help China develop its own standard for 3G wireless networks, the first alliance China’s government has signed with an overseas operator for the high-speed mobile technology.
SK Telecom agreed in June to buy up to USD1 billion worth of China Unicom’s bonds, giving it an option on a near 7 percent stake in China’s second-biggest mobile firm and suggested joint sourcing of mobile phones.
SK Telecom is looking to China’s fast-growing market as expansion becomes more difficult in the already mature home market, where four out of every five people have a mobile phone.
Last month, SK Telecom said it had agreed with the Chinese government to jointly develop a third-generation mobile standard in the world’s largest mobile market by subscribers.
Founded in 1994, China Unicom is the only large-scale, state-owned telecommunications operator approved by the State Council in China. China Unicom offers basic and value-added telecommunications services including wireless mobile telecommunications, data communications, international and domestic long distance calls, local calls, wireless paging, satellite communications, value-added telecommunications services and other associated businesses.
China Unicom has more than 300 subsidiaries across China. It is also the only Chinese telecom operator simultaneously listed at New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai Stock Exchanges. China Unicom’s successful IPO in Hong Kong and New York in June 2000 raised a total of USD5.65 billion for the company, ranking one of the top 10 IPOs around the world. In October 2002, the company was listed at Shanghai Stock Exchange as the largest domestic listed company in terms of market capitalization.