Wed, Jan 17, 2007 - Page 12 News List

Asia Pacific Telecom downplays raid

NORMAL OPERATIONS Caught in the whirlwind of the Rebar investigation, the telecoms company told its clients that its services would not be affected

By Lisa Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Asia Pacific Telecom Group (亞太電信集團), a unit of the financially troubled Rebar Asia Pacific Group (力霸亞太企業集團), yesterday dismissed growing speculation about its loss of customers in the wake of recent embezzlement investigations surrounding its parent company.

"We have not found anything unusual yet," said Frank Wang (王麒彥), a public relations official at the telecom group, in a phone interview.

Asia Pacific Telecom would respect the decision of its cellular and landline subscribers, Wang said, adding that the company would act in accordance with the contracts signed with subscribers.

Wang's comments came after investigators raided the telecom company's offices on Monday. Authorities suspect the Wang family, which operates the Rebar Group, misappropriated NT$30 billion (US$915 million) in Asia Pacific Telecom corporate funds via illegal transactions.

The Taipei-based phone operator's largest shareholders, China Rebar Co (中國力霸) and Chia Hsin Food & Synthetic Fiber Co (嘉新食品化纖), filed for insolvency protection on Jan. 4.

The raid on Monday prompted local Chinese-language media to speculate that the embezzlement probes could lead to a loss in subscribers over concerns that a cash crash could lead to service disruptions.

The telecom group has 1.05 million third-generation (3G) users and 140,000 fixed-line service subscribers.

To boost customer confidence, Wang Lin-tai (王令台), vice chairman of Asia Pacific Broadband Telecom Co (亞太固網), the telecom group's fixed-line unit, said yesterday that employees would continue to provide telecom services.

He said last week that the company's operations were normal and subscribers would not be affected.

The fixed-line telecom company's chairwoman, Wang Chin She-ying (王金世英), fled overseas with her husband, Wang You-theng (王又曾), chairman of the Rebar Group. Wang Lin-tai is son of Wang You-theng.

Wang Lin-tai said early last month that the company aimed to increase its cellular subscribers by 30-percent annually to 1.38 million this year.

Total revenues were expected to grow by approximately 20 percent to NT$18.5 billion this year from an estimate of NT$15.3 billion last year, Wang said at the time.

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