HELSINKI Nokia Oyj, the largest manufacturer of cellular phones, said that it would start making its own brand-name phones in China and otherwise strengthen its presence in one of the world's largest markets.
The Finnish company said it had already begun to merge its four Chinese manufacturing joint ventures, which make locally branded phones and network equipment, into a single Beijing-based company.
Nokia will hold a 60-percent stake in the company, which has not been named. The local stakeholders will be Beijing Capital Co., Dongguan Nan Xin Industrial Development Co., Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd. and Beijing Hangxing Machinery Manufacturing Corp.
Nokia said it expected to begin making phones in China during the second half of 2003 that use CDMA, the dominant standard in North America and South Korea. CDMA stands for code division multiple access, a kind of cell technology.
China Unicom, the country's second-biggest cellular operator, supports both the CDMA standard and its major rival GSM, which stands for global system for mobile communications. The company signed up 7 million CDMA users in 2002 and expects to add another 13 million this year.
"Now it's clear that CDMA will account for some part of the Chinese handset market, so obviously we want to participate in that area of the business as well," Kari Tuutti, a Nokia spokesman, said.
Nokia already makes phones compatible with GSM, the system used by 70 percent of the world's wireless users. The company supplies more than one of every three mobile phones sold worldwide, but controls just 10 percent of the CDMA market.
China accounts for nearly one-sixth of the world's approximately 1.3 billion mobile phone users. Last week, a report from analysts at Lehman Brothers estimated that around 15 million CDMA phones would be sold in China this year.
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