Taipei, May 12 (CNA) Taiwan Mobile Co., one of the top three telecom operators on the island, is maintaining efforts in mapping out a plan to start a distribution business in China, eyeing the fast growing mainland market, officials said.
However, Cliff Lai, one of Taiwan Mobile's co-presidents, told reporters Friday that his company still needs to work out a comprehensive expansion plan before going to China, and that timingis not the most important issue for the company.
Lai said the China expansion plan needs approval from the company's board of directors before implementation. Based on the progress of the planning, he said, it is unlikely for the investment project to secure such approval and move towards implementation by the end of this year.
Earlier, Taiwan Mobile Chairman Richard Tsai said the company was considering the possibility of working with its counterparts on the mainland to set up a joint venture which will focus on cell phone sales and provide value-added services.
Tsai said the joint venture is expected to mimic the telecom operator's experience achieving growth in marketing and sales.
In the first quarter of this year, Taiwan Mobile posted NT$3.36 billion (US$114 million), up about 2 percent from the NT$3.29 billion recorded a year earlier. Its earnings per share during the same period stood at NT$1.25, up from NT$1.10 registered a year ago.
Taiwan Mobile took the title as the top earner in the first quarter among the three largest telecom operators in Taiwan, ahead of Chunghwa Telecom Co. with NT$1.22 in EPS.
Lai made the comments at a ceremony where Taiwan Mobile launchedsales of Apple's latest version of the iPad.
The Taiwan Mobile executive said he expects sales of the new iPad will be higher than sales of iPad2 due to a wider distribution network islandwide since the company and its rival Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. have joined 3C retailers to sell the gadgets.
In the past, only retailers such as Tsann Kuen Enterprise Co. and DataExpress Infotech Co. were permitted to distribute iPads in Taiwan.
Taiwan Mobile and Far EasTone have forecast they will each sell 200,000 units of the new iPad by the end of this year.
Meanwhile, several foreign brokerages, such as JP Morgan Chase and HSBC Securities, have raised their target prices on Taiwan Mobile shares after the telecom operator reported improving earnings for the first quarter.
JP Morgan Chase has upgraded its target price to NT$105 from NT$96, while HSBC Securities hiked its figure to NT$NT$99 from NT$95.
Shares of Taiwan Mobile closed up 1.91 percent at NT$95.90 on the Taiwan Stock Exchange Friday, while the benchmark weighted index ended down 1.10 percent at 7,401.37 points.
(By Lin Ye-fong and Frances Huang)