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Friday, 21 June, 2002, 05:01 GMT 06:01 UK
DoCoMo faces investor anger
Man walks past NTT DoCoMo poster
The i-mode phone has yet to take off in Europe
Japanese telecoms giant NTT DoCoMo has unveiled a range of new initiatives to calm shareholders angry about its plunging profits.

The company generated net profits of just 862m yen ($7m; 4.7m) in the year to March, after writing off 832bn yen on its overseas investments.

In an attempt to regain the initiative, the company used its annual general meeting on Friday to announce plans for both the home and overseas markets, including wireless data services in Tokyo and i-mode services in Taiwan.

Still, shareholders used the AGM - customarily a quiet, orderly occasion though on previous occasions it has been infiltrated by gangster blackmailers - to make their anger known.

The overall effect was to depress NTT DoCoMo's stock 3% to 285,000 yen.

Outspoken

"I don't think the management has taken full responsibility," one investor said to applause.

"I spent my retirement money to buy six shares. I've lost so much."

His dissatisfaction seemed widely shared, an index of yet more damage done to the telecoms world from the hubris of the 1990s.

DoCoMo was the iconic mobile operator during the boom years, capturing more than 50% of its home market and then adventuring overseas with minority "strategic" stakes in a range of operators around the world.

Its i-mode mobile data service is one of the few really successful ventures of its kind.

But the minority foreign investments have plummeted in value while failing to allow any management control.

And the expensive rollout of 3G services has so far been something of a bust, with rival KDDi's equivalent offering grabbing three times as many customers.

Off target

Both at home and abroad, the result had been complacency, shareholders charged.

"It looks to me as if DoCoMo has become too content with its dominant position in the market," one said.

The company acknowledged problems, but fought back.

"It's necessary to make overseas investments to cope with the globalisation of the mobile phone market," vice president Yoshinori Uda said.

"We will continue investments otherwise we won't be able to survive and may miss a growth opportunity."

See also:

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