Local 4G telecommunications operator Taiwan Star Telecom Co Ltd (台灣之星) yesterday said it is not included in its parent company’s plans for asset disposals amid mounting financial pressure.
“I have talked to company chairman [Wei Ying-chiao (魏應交)]. He has no intention to sell Taiwan Star,” Taiwan Star president Cliff Lain (賴弦五) told reporters on the sidelines of a news conference.
Wei Ying-chiao is the elder brother of Wei Ying-chun (魏應充), who chairs oil suppliers Ting Hsin Oil and Fat Industrial Co (頂新製油實業) and Cheng I Food Co (正義股份).
“Ting Hsin plans to sell its holding in Wei Chuan Foods Corp (味全食品工業) and property in New Taipei City’s Sanchong District (三重), but not Taiwan Star,” Lai said.
Food conglomerate Ting Hsin International Group (頂新國際集團) last month said that it planned to offload non-core businesses in Taiwan as the company, owned by the Wei (魏) family, is embroiled in a series of food safety scandals.
While the assets disposal plan reflects the conglomerate’s intention to avert an imminent credit crunch after local banks tighten lending to it, it has also aroused speculation that Ting Hsin would sell its 52 percent stake in Taiwan Star to raise funds.
The Chinese-language Next Magazine reported on Wednesday last week that Ting Hsin had approached Far EasTone Telecommunications Co Ltd (遠傳電信), the nation’s No. 3 telecom, to sell its holdings in both Taiwan Star and cable TV system operator China Network Systems Co (中嘉網路).
Meanwhile, Ting Hsin also plans to sell plots of land that Wei Chuan owns in a property development project in New Taipei City’s Sanchong District (三重).
However, the New Taipei City Government yesterday turned down an application by the conglomerate to change the designation of the land from industrial use to mixed residential and business use, meaning that it would now pose little profit prospects to potential investors.
As for Taiwan Star, Lai yesterday said the company does not plan to adjust its business strategies. Instead, the company has budgeted NT$10 billion (US$321 million) for building its 4G network this year and plans to reduce the spending significantly next year as it is close to completing its 4G deployment, he said.
Yesterday, Taiwan Star launched its new 3G prepaid cards, aiming to build a greater presence in the nation’s prepaid card market, which has an annual revenue of NT$12 billion.
Taiwan Star is targeting 20 percent of new prepaid card users. Taiwan currently has 3 million prepaid card users, excluding foreign workers, and the market is growing by 42,000 users a month, the telecoms company aid.
Taiwan Star plan to offer the new 3G services on Vibo Telecom Inc’s (威寶電信) network. The company aims to have 150,000 4G subscribers by the end of this year and it expects the number of 4G users to rise significantly in 2016.
Vibo, a 3G subsidiary of Taiwan Star, has 1.6 million subscribers.
The board of Vibo tapped company vice chairman William Yen (嚴偉誠) to replace Wei as the new chairman. Wei’s term was originally due in May of 2017, and he remains a member of the board.
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