Vodafone Battles BT in Japan

London, ENGLAND — Vodafone’s rivalry with BT is set
to become most intense in Japan, if widespread reports
of an imminent Vodafone bid for AT&T’s 10 percent
stake in Japan Telecom are accurate.

The acquisition of a further 10 percent would bring
Vodafone’s holding to 25 percent, giving it more
influence than BT which currently owns 20 percent
of the Japan telco.

In December 2000, Vodafone purchased a 15 percent
stake in Japan Telecom for 249.2 billion yen
(US $2.19 billion), setting the stage for the
battle with BT. Despite declining values in the
industry, Vodafone may have to pay over US $1.5
billion for the holding, according to British
newspaper reports.

At the time of Vodafone’s orginal investment in
Japan Telecom, Chief Executive Chris Gent was
very bullish about prospects in the Japanese
market — and it was clear that he would fight
aggressively to secure a larger share. He
called JT’s mobile operator J-Phone “a powerful
force in an increasingly competitive Japanese
marketplace.”

Analysts are now saying that the latest strategic
move by Vodafone could prove to be a bitter blow
for BT, which is being restructured to concentrate
its attention on Western Europe and Japan.

Meanwhile, BT on Monday announced a massive TV
and print promotion for its Genie mobile Internet
service in the U.K. Commercials shot in London,
Hong Kong, New York and Mexico are themed
“Same World, Different Planet,” and attempt to
show how the service can overcome “some of the
less attractive aspects of urban living.”

According to Genie, its new TV commercials will
“juxtapose chaotic images of the rat race and stress
with tranquil sounds of the countryside, seaside
and laughing.”

At least, BT’s top management will know how to
relax if the going gets really tough in Japan.
Let’s hope their medicine is as effective as they
claim.

News Around the Web