Chunghwa Telecom Co (CHT, 中華電信) yesterday said it plans to restart an asset rejuvenation program for a number of underutilized properties this year by converting them into social housing units.
The announcement represented a U-turn on the nation’s biggest telecom’s conservative stance over its idle properties at a time when the company is facing flagging revenue.
Chunghwa Telecom saw its revenue contract by 1.1 percent year-on-year to NT$227.55 billion (US$7.76 billion) last year, falling short of its estimate of NT$231 billion, attributable to a faster-than-expected decline in voice call services.
“Chunghwa Telecom owns immense assets with a big portion of them being underutilized for a long time. Those properties were only for telecom facilities in the past,” chairman David Cheng (鄭優) told a news conference yesterday.
“This year, we will be more active about revitalizing those assets and transform them into social housing units and lease them to company employees, or underprivileged young people, matching the government’s housing policies,” he added.
The first batch of social housing units in Taipei and New Taipei City are to be available this year, the firm said.
Chunghwa Telecom owns more than 400 hectares of idle land nationwide, with one-tenth in downtown or sightseeing areas, according to company statistics disclosed in 2006, when the company launched its first land development projects.
However, only a small number of those assets were revitalized due to regulatory hurdles and time-consuming urban renewal rules.
“The circumstances are different now. As the government is pushing for social housing, it will offer new incentives and loosen its grip over social housing construction,” Cheng said.
Separately, the company said it would continue efforts to spin off its technology research team this year.
The company plans to create a new cybersecurity software company as it continues seeking new growth engines, Chunghwa Telecom president Sheih Chi-mau (謝繼茂) said.
The cybersecurity software provider would offer software and solutions to prevent illegal hacking that use artificial intelligence technology, Sheih said.
The company has spun off a research team to form Chunghwa Precision Test Technology Co Ltd (CHPT, 中華精測), which has become the nation’s largest wafer testing service provider.
CHPT generated 21 percent more net profit at NT$733 million, or NT$23.44 per share, last year compared with 2016.
Chunghwa Telecom last year made good progress in its Multimedia-on-Demand (MOD) business and expects the service to become the nation’s biggest digital content platform later this month as subscriber numbers have increased to about 1.66 million.
Chunghwa Telecom aims to expand its MOD user base to about 2.2 million by the end of this year.
Kbro Co (凱擘) and Taiwan Broadband Communications (TBC, 台灣寬頻), two cable TV system operating arms of Fubon Financial Holding Co (富邦金控), have combined users of 1.68 million, making Fubon the biggest cable TV system operator in Taiwan.
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