Tuesday, May 16, 2017

China telecoms market monthly update - Part 1

Mobile subscribers for March 2017 (millions):


            Total subs       Added March   4G subs  Added March
China Mobile 856.485           2.787   568.074           9.471
China Unicom 266.265           0.641   122.726           6.613
China Telecom 221.53           3.010   137.640           5.930
Total 1,344.28        6.438   828.440           22.014

Comment on the above

There has been a slight acceleration over the last few months in China Mobile's new mobile additions and the March numbers were the highest since 2.831 million in September 2016 and the second highest of the last 15 months. However, the numbers for the first three months of 2017 are surprisingly similar to those of the first three months of 2016, so year on year the collective total for the first quarter was virtually flat. The standout number for the quarter was China Telecom's net addition of 3.01 million, which was not only higher than the China Mobile number for March but also almost 1 million higher than its own previously highest over the last 15 months of 2.02 million.

On the 4G side, while China Mobile continues to lead in new additions the level is now only about 50% of its average monthly additions in 2016. By comparison, China Telecom net additions in March were its second highest for the last 15 months and the China Unicom figure was by far its highest for the same period. Clearly, since both companies' share of net 4G additions during the month are higher than their share of cumulative 4G subscriptions to date both must be gaining share against China Mobile, but the gains are at a very slow rate.

Companies with 61% stake in Singapore telco M1 seeking sale

On April 21st Reuters reported that sources had told it that the three principal investors in Singapore operator MI, namely Malaysia's Axiata Group, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) and Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation, which collectively own around 61% of the $1.36 billion valued telco, had been contacting a number of telecoms firms, including China Mobile, and private equity companies, cash-rich business groups in China and Japanese tech firms, to gauge their interest in bidding for their majority ownership of the business.

M1's share price has nearly halved over the past two years due to its weak business performance amid increased competition, which is about to get even more intense once TPG Telecom of Australia, which has been awarded Singapore's fourth mobile licence, launches its services in 2018. Despite being by far the world's largest telco in terms of subscriptions served, China Mobile has historically been very tentative in terms of overseas expansion and so far has focused on investments in operators that serve neighbouring countries to China, i.e., in 2007 it bought a minor operator in Pakistan and in 2014 bought an 18% stake in Thailand's True.

Foxconn, with growing interests in electric vehicles, invests in CATL

On March 30th Taiwan News reported that Foxconn of New Taipei City, Taiwan and the world's largest electronics equipment manufacturing subcontractor with over 1.3 million workers and revenue of $136 billion in 2015, would invest NT$4.4 billion ($147 million) for a 1.19% stake in six year-old Chinese electric vehicle battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL). CATL is based in Ningde, a 3rd tier city of 252,000 people in the north of the south western coastal province of Fujian, which faces across the Straits of Taiwan to Taiwan.

CATL was founded by Robin Zeng, who has a doctorate in Chemistry and also previously founded Amperex Technology (ATL), also headquartered in Ningde but now majority owned by TDK of Japan, focused on consumer lithium-ion battery development and production for Apple, TDK, Amazon, HTC, Lenovo, Huawei and Coolpad. Under China's 13th 5 Year Plan (with 2020 targets including halving battery costs to below  RMB 1 (14.4 cents) per kilowatt hour, and improving energy density by two-thirds), CATL is one of three government-nominated Chinese battery makers (along with Guoxuan and Lishen) that will receive around $15 million in support funding if it meets those targets.

According to a Reuters report, CATL overtook global rival LG Chem of South Korea in battery output in 2016 and is close on the heels of two other international leaders - Japan's Panasonic and Warren Buffet-backed BYD of Beijing. CATL is aiming to grow its battery capacity six-fold by 2020 to 50 gigawatt hours, which if achieved would by then possibly put it ahead of Tesla Motor's Nevada Gigafactory. CATL electric car battery clients include German luxury car brand BMW, Chinese brands Yutong (Xiamen King Long United Automotive) and BAIC Motor.

In addition to its recent investment in CATL, Foxconn has increased its investments in self-driving electric vehicles in recent years, signing, in March 2015, a strategic partnership agreement with dealership chain China Harmony Auto and Chinese Internet specialist Tencent Holdings to launch the joint venture Zhejiang I-car Internet and Intelligent Electric Vehicle in Zhengzhou City, Henan province to develop connected smart electric vehicles.

In November 2016 it was reported that the above start-up had signed an agreement with local government officials to build a $2 billion assembly plant in the Chinese city of Shangrao in the south eastern province of Jiangxi, with the capacity to build up to 300,000 electric vehicles annually, as well as a production line to assemble battery packs for EVs.

Tencent, Harmony Auto and Foxconn have also formed a partnership to establish another EV start-up, China Future Mobility, to develop connected and automated electric cars. According to China Harmony Auto's financial report released in mid-2016, Future Mobility expected to unveil its first model next year and put it on sale in 2019. In late January 2017, it was reported that Future Mobility planned to invest RMB11.6 billion ($1.7 billion) to build a new factory in 2019 in Nanjing (the capital of Jiangsu province) with the capacity to produce 300,000 cars a year, with its first car likely to have a price tag of about RMB300,000 ($43,700).

Foxconn currently China Harmony Auto's second largest shareholder


A recent report by Taiwan's United Daily News also noted that two Foxconn subsidiaries (Eson Precision Industry, a module manufacturer, and BizLink Holding, a supplier of automotive equipment cabling and both important suppliers to the electric vehicle market) were key suppliers of Tesla electronic vehicle components, and speculated that Foxconn could play an important role in any future electric car developments by Apple.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

See also