Sat, Dec 18, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Taiwan Cellular may delay stake sale

BLOOMBERG

Taiwan Cellular Corp (台灣大哥大), the nation's second-largest mobile-phone operator, said it may not sell more of a stake in Chunghwa Telecom Co (中華電信) for two years.

The company "won't consider selling" the stock in its larger rival until 2007, as it wanted to avoid damaging Chunghwa Telecom's share price, Josephine Juan (阮淑祥), spokeswoman for Taipei-based Taiwan Cellular, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Taiwan Cellular in October owned about 200 million shares in Chunghwa Telecom after cutting a 650 million-share stake that it bought on Dec. 17, 2002, as part of a plan for an alliance.

Taiwan Cellular started reducing the stake after plans for the partnership failed.

The Taiwan government, which owns a 65 percent stake in former monopoly Chunghwa Telecom this year said it aims to cut its holdings to less than 50 percent as part of a privatization plan. Taiwan Cellular has pledged not to sell more of its stake in Chunghwa Telecom until the privatization target is achieved.

The reduction in sales of Chunghwa Telecom shares "will result in lower earnings per share for Taiwan Cellular next year," said George Wu (吳裕良), who manages the equivalent of US$31 million for Invesco Taiwan Ltd (景順投信) in Taipei.

Taiwan Cellular had a 46 percent increase in third-quarter profit. The company had net income of NT$5.7 billion (US$170 million) compared with NT$3.9 billion a year earlier.

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