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Softbank Announces Cheung Wah Strategy, Blasts Competitors

In a briefing late last week, Internet behemoth Softbank Corp. outlined the strategy of its Hong Kong/China vehicle, Cheung Wah Development.

Softbank Corp completed the acquisition of a 61.1 percent stake in Cheung Wah Development, to be renamed Softbank Investment International (Strategic) Limited ("Softbank Strategic"), on Friday for HK$207.4 million (US$26.76 million).

The strategy outlined included the creation of three divisions - the Internet Business Development, the Net-Trans Business and the Time Machine divisions. Senior officials of the new company said the Internet Business Development division would focus on identifying and evaluating new investment opportunities for Softbank Strategic while the Time Machine Division would concentrate on rolling out successful business models from overseas operations into the local market.

The Net-Trans Business division plans to capitalize on the growing e-commerce sector by forming joint ventures with old economy businesses, providing capital and expertise to help them transform into tomorrow's e-businesses.

While the company's planned strategy was the main focus of the briefing, an emotional outburst about competitors in the market from Softbank Strategic's CEO -- Yoshitaka Kitao -- received the most attention.

Kitao, regarded as one of the smartest men on the Internet, told those at the briefing that he had no plans to co-operate with the two other major players in the rapidly developing Hong Kong-China Internet sector, Hikari Tsushin and Pacific Century Cyberworks. Kitao expressed anger towards what he deemed Hikari president Yasumitsu Shigeta's blatant copying of Softbank's business strategy.

Kitao then described Pacific Century chairman and major shareholder Richard Li as a "greedy man" only interested in making money for himself, and that because of these philosophical differences saw no reason for co-operation between the two companies.

Later, founder and president of Softbank Corp. Masayoshi Son said he did not agree with those views, that those views did not reflect those of the company and that he regarded Shigeta and Li as good friends.



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