NTT Docomo plans telecoms acquisitions outside Asia

Telecom Lead @ Mobile World Congress 2013: NTT Docomo is looking for acquisitions outside Asia.

Docomo had 340 billion yen in cash and cash equivalents as of December 31, 2012.

Capital expenditure rose to ¥438.6 billion in first 9 months of FY 2013, compared with ¥399.6 billion for the corresponding nine-month period in 2012.

This fiscal year (2013-14), the mobile giant will continue to work on improving customer satisfaction levels, and by aiming for 900.0 billion yen in operating income and a second straight year of increased revenue and profit.

As per its Medium-Term Vision 2015, NTT Docomo wants to evolve into an integrated service company placing mobile at the core. For this, NTT Docomo will leverage its comprehensive strengths in product lineup-primarily smartphones-and in networks, services, pricing, and safety and security.

NTT Docomo’s Japanese rival Softbank recently signed a deal to acquire majority stake in Sprint Nextel in the U.S.

Kaoru Kato, CEO of NTT Docomo

Kaoru Kato, CEO of NTT Docomo, said: “The acquisition plan of Sprint was quite astonishing for us. I hope this will lead to success for the U.S. market and for Softbank as well, but the hurdle will be very high.”

Though NTT Docomo CEO talks about acquisition plans, he does not want to share more details.

Bloomberg reported that Docomo has scaled back bets on non-Asian phone companies after earlier investments in Royal KPN (KPN) and the company then known as AT&T Wireless Services led to writedowns a decade ago.

NTT Docomo is now seeking additional income from health and retail services as Japan’s shrinking population and market saturation limits growth in its main wireless operations.

NTT Docomo has reported a 6.1 percent year-on-year increase in revenues for the last nine months of 2012, to ¥3,370.8 billion ($37 billion), thanks to LTE-based smartphones and data services.

Its net income fell 5.6 percent to ¥702.2 billion, due to an increase in operating expenses aimed at strengthening the Japanese operator’s cloud business and higher handset costs.

While Docomo has recently focused on acquiring content and platform providers, making acquisitions in the mobile industry may be worthwhile as the sector “is characterized by constant growth,” Kato said.

Last year, Docomo acquired Buongiorno, an Italian mobile-content provider, for about $340 million.

Anand B