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Siemens, Bird Move Forward with Strategic Partnership

Senior executives from Germany's Siemens Mobile and Ningbo Bird Co Ltd (Bird) in east China's Zhejiang Province initiated their strategic partnership Sunday.

The all-round alliance comes in the wake of a memorandum of understanding signed between the two groups in Berlin in early May, when Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid a State visit to Germany.

Under the partnership, Bird will sell Siemens' mobile phones at its 30,000 retail outlets nationwide, while Siemens will help Bird further crack the overseas market through its global sales network.

And Bird will provide aftersales services for Siemens' mobile phones.

Siemens has 180 service centres nationwide and Bird has 450 service centres across the country.

The integration will expand Siemens Mobile's aftersales service network to cover 300 cities.

At the same time, Siemens will supply its state-of-the-art mobile phone platforms to Bird for the latter to develop its own brand of phones with its own designs, software and user interfaces for the Chinese market.

"China is Siemens Mobile's most important market in Asia," said Rudi Lamprecht, president of Siemens Mobile, which is the mobile communication group of Siemens AG and one of the world's key suppliers of mobile phones, cordless phones, wireless modules and mobile infrastructure.

"The alliance could have strategic significance in future developments for both groups and will set an example of in-depth co-operation between an international and local brand."

He said Siemens Mobile would move into China's major growth regions through Bird's extensive retail network.

Most of Siemens Mobile's retail facilities in China are located in big cities.

Bird has a much better penetration elsewhere, where mobile phone subscription is showing the strongest growth.

Xu Lihua, Bird's board director, expects the partnership to enhance the company's mobile phone research and development capability and further tap the global mobile phone market.

"The alliance is based on complementary advantages of both sides, conducive to a sharper competitive edge for both," Xu said.

Set up in 1999, Bird has become one of the leading domestic mobile phone suppliers, with some 30 million subscribers.

It sold 6 million mobile phones in the first five months of this year, more than 1 million of which were sold abroad, Xu said.

The first batch of Bird's 8,000 outlets will be equipped with Siemens mobile phones within the coming weeks. And all of Bird's retail outlets will be covered by the end of 2005.

Also yesterday, both sides signed an agreement to set up a joint training center in Shanghai with a branch in Ningbo, where Bird is located, to improve the skills of staff in terms of technology, sales and management, and other fields.

Earlier this year, TCL, one of China's electronic giants, joined with French-based mobile phone supplier Alcatel to set up a venture.

Official sources say that China has more than 290 million mobile phone subscribers. The number is expected to top 435 million by 2008.

(China Daily June 21, 2004)

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