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Softbank CFO lashes out at Hikari, PCCW - Ich glaub die mögen sich nicht...

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Softbank CFO lashes out at Hikari, PCCW - Ich glaub die mögen sich nicht... rabbit

Softbank CFO lashes out at Hikari, PCCW - Ich glaub die mögen sich ni.

10.03.00 16:41
21:23  10-MAR-2000
FOCUS-Softbank CFO lashes out at Hikari, PCCW

(Adds PCCW statement) By Tan Ee Lyn HONG KONG, March 10 (Reuters) - Softbank Corp's <9984.T> chief financial officer launched a blistering tirade against the Japanese Internet investment giant's competitors on Friday, calling them copycats and ruling out any cooperation with them. The remarks by Yoshitaka Kitao were aimed at Japanese rival Hikari Tsushin Inc <9435.T> and Richard Li's Hong Kong-based Pacific Century Cyberworks Ltd <1186.HK> (PCCW) and surfaced at a news briefing on Softbank's new Hong Kong-listed arm. PCCW spokeswoman Joan Wagner later said Softbank founder and president Masayoshi Son had called Richard Li to clarify the remarks and confirm the company's openness to business ties with him. "We understand that the Softbank president has made a statement to clarify earlier remarks by Mr Kitao. No need to say anything more," Wagner said. A visibly angry Kitao had made clear his feelings for Hikari Chief Executive Yasumitsu Shigeta, who also sits on the Softbank board of directors.

"What he's (Shigeta) doing is basically imitating everything that Softbank is doing, particularly after he joined the board. I hate what he's doing," he told a bemused press corps. "I strongly urge him to get out of our board." Neither did Kitao hide his feelings for PCCW Executive Chairman Li, who is outshining his tycoon father, Li Ka-shing, as an object of local adulation after pulling off a US$35.9 billion merger with Cable & Wireless HKT <0008.HK>, Asia's biggest-ever corporate takeover.

PCCW and Hikari have close business dealings and cross shareholdings.

"In my view, he (Li) is just doing it to make money for himself.

Making money is one thing, I want to do that too. But more important for us is to do something good for society," Kitao said, adding that Softbank and PCCW had conflicting philosophies.

"My style is totally different from Richard Li. I will not have any cooperation or have future ties with him." A representative of Softbank's public relations agency in Hong Kong later said that Kitao did not intend to disparage Li and that Softbank would welcome business cooperation with PCCW. "They would welcome investment from them in any online or offline venture such as Cheung Wah and intend to be a tenant in the Cyber-Port," she said. The PCCW spokeswoman confirmed that Softbank is one of the initial anchor tenants for Cyber-Port, a high-tech business park it is developing in Hong Kong. SOFTBANK'S PHILOSOPHY While Kitao did not give detailed reasons for his unflattering remarks about Hikari and PCCW, he said Softbank's philosophy was "totally different".

Softbank's approach entails striking joint ventures with non-web based or "offline" companies, providing them with infrastructure to go online and possibly helping them list. "We want to make companies change to become profitable...In total our venture funds are over US$2.3 billion in Asia." Of that amount, US$1.3 billion is for Japan, which the company said will be invested in 1,000 Japanese companies.

Shares of both Softbank and Hikari fell sharply on Friday as institutional investors reaped profits on Internet shares.

Hikari shares fell 24.8 percent to 94,000 yen while Softbank's fell 13 percent to 99,200 yen. Softbank planted its flag in Hong Kong in January when it bought control of a sleepy dyestuffs and garment maker, Cheung Wah Development Co Ltd <0648.HK>, for US$26.6 million in order to gain its stock market listing.

The deal was approved in a shareholders' meeting on Friday and Cheung Wah will be renamed Softbank Investment International (Strategic) Ltd (Softbank Strategic).

((Hong Kong Newsroom +852 2843-6934, Fax +852 2845-0636 .

Softbank CFO lashes out at Hikari, PCCW - Ich glaub die mögen sich nicht... Chris_Ba

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