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BenQ-Siemens phone firm readies dual brand

BenQ Mobile launched

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BenQ Mobile, the company formed from the Taiwanese consumer electronics firm's phone division and the handset business it bought from Siemens, began operations this weekend.

The new company was formally incorporated on 1 October, but it will be Spring 2006 before it combines its two handset line-ups under a single brand.

Based in Munich, the firm is run by Clemens J Joos, CEO and Jerry Wang, chairman. Overall, the phone company has 7,000 employees worldwide, it said.

BenQ Mobile can use the Siemens name in conjunction with its own until 30 September 2010, but the company indicated it sees that time as a "transition period" while it establishes the BenQ brand. It can only brand handsets as plain Siemens for the next 18 months, but it expects to introduce a combined brand next Spring. Until then, phones will be sold as BenQ or Siemens handsets.

Taiwan's BenQ announced its plan to buy Siemens' loss-making handset division in June. At the time, a Nokia executive pointedly denounced the move by stating: "Two turkeys won't make an eagle."

With a combined H1 2005 market share of 5.2 per cent, according to market watcher Gartner Dataquest, BenQ Mobile is certainly no threat to the Finns. It's not likely to worry second- and third-placed Motorola and Samsung, either. But the likes of LG and SonyEricsson, with 6.4 per cent and 6.3 per cent in Q2 2005, according to IDC, should be looking over their shoulders.

Siemens had been looking to offload its mobile phone business since late 2004, when rumoured buyers and potential merger buyers included LG and China's Ningbo Bird. Siemens' mobile phone business lost €236m ($284m) the third quarter, which ended 30 June, of its current fiscal year.

BenQ hopes to leverage Siemens' design and R&D skills - well, what's left of them after the parent company's attempt to cut €1bn of costs at the division's costs - to make its own products more acceptable to a worldwide audience. ®

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