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DDI to close Nippon Iridium

Japanese telco to cease funding Iridium too

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Japanese telco DDI yesterday said it will shut Iridium Nippon, the ailing satellite comms venture's Japanese operation, in which it's the majority shareholder. DDI president and chairman Yusai Okuyama said his company will also no longer fund Iridium itself -- even if its current management team are allowed by other investors to restructure. It's not clear whether DDI counts Teledesic boss Craig McCaw's attempt to take Iridium over as a restructure, but it seems likely. Analysts cited by the Nikkei newsservice certainly believe that esterday's announcement signals an end to DDI's involvement with Iridium. Okuyama said that the decision had been made because demand for Nippon Iridium's service, which launched just over a year ago, has been lower than expected. The company has 4300 subscribers; Iridium as a whole has around 50,000 users worldwide. Ironically, Iridum's attempt to stay afloat and safe from creditors which saw the company move into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last August, actually prompted DDI's decision. It said the move into Chapter 11 prevent Nippon Iridium from exploring futher business opportunities in the Japanese market. Iridium has yet to respond to DDI's announcement. ®

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