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Friday, 1 March, 2002, 11:04 GMT
Japan telecoms giant goes West
Man walks past NTT DoCoMo poster
NTT DoCoMo: Japan's telecoms star
Shares in NTT DoCoMo, Japan's number one mobile phone operator, begin trading for the first time in London and New York on Friday.

The mobile operator is one of Japan's biggest success stories of recent years and is now aiming to create a global brand.

NTT DoCoMo's Japanese triumph has rested on its i-mode mobile internet technology, which allows users to download data such as texts and pictures.

More than 30 million people - or 25% of the Japanese population - are hooked into the i-mode.

But there is a big question hanging over the overseas popularity of the phone and the shares of its maker.

The stock is unconventionally heavy by London standards, and is on offer at 7,947.

3G premier

NTT DoCoMo is the first telecoms firm in the world to offer 3G as a commercial service.

It began to roll out the high speed services in Tokyo last October, and is set to expand to most major Japanese cities by April.

The appeal of data services to Japanese customers stands in contrast to the initial hesitancy of mobile users in the US and Europe.

But, with the Japanese market close to saturation, NTT DoCoMo is determined to translate its domestic success overseas.

Fund raising

NTT DoCoMo is the biggest component of the Tokyo Stock Exchange by market capitalisation.

The international listing will create a framework to make it easier for foreign buyers to invest in the stock.

The move is also being seen as a prelude for its parent company, NTT, to reduce its own holding from 64% in future.

Furthermore, NTT DoCoMo would be able to finance future overseas expansion plans by raising funds on the London and New York markets.

The firm's chief executive Keiji Tachikawa will be in New York for the share debut.

The new listings will not involve the sale of any new shares.

Physical arrival

I-mode's arrival in Europe is not only limited to shares.

In Europe, NTT DoCoMo signed deals last autumn licensing its high-speed picture download technology to the Netherlands' KPN Mobile, Belgium's KPN Orange and Germany's E-Plus.

The i-mode is set to launch in Germany, Belgium and Holland in just weeks and in the UK by the end of the year.

Plans for the US are still undecided.

See also:

22 Feb 02 | Business
The secret of NTT's i-mode success
28 Jan 02 | Business
NTT DoCoMo shares surge
24 Aug 01 | Business
NTT DoCoMo in European tie-up
27 Sep 00 | Business
AOL seals Japan telecoms deal
17 Sep 01 | Business
Vodafone targets Japanese takeover
27 Jul 00 | Business
AOL, NTT DoCoMo 'in talks'
09 May 00 | Business
NTT, KPN in mobile deal
24 Apr 01 | Business
DoCoMo: Racing to 3G launch
11 Oct 00 | Business
Japan's m-commerce boom
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