TAIPEI (Reuters) - Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan’s largest telecoms operator, is in talks to sell Apple’s iPad and future versions of the iPhone on the island, its chairman said on Friday as it turns to data services to fuel growth.
The company believes there is sufficient demand for a media consumption device like the iPad tablet PC, Chairman Lu Shyue-ching told Reuters in an interview during the Computex PC show.
“We’re still talking to Apple, and we’re going to work actively to get (the iPad into Taiwan),” Lu said, adding that he wanted to bring in both the wifi and 3G versions.
“We’re talking, and it seems like Apple will release its next-generation iPhone soon, and we’ll also go for that.”
Like other telecoms operators, Chunghwa Telecom has been aggressively promoting its mobile data and value added services in recent years, as revenue from voice calls stagnate in an increasingly saturated market.
Chunghwa Telecom is also trying to promote the iPhone to its corporate customers as it competes with rival Taiwan Mobile, which is currently the only mobile operator that sells Research in Motion’s Blackberry smartphone.
“Customers are giving us good feedback,” Lu said. “Sales of the iPhone are going as expected, and right now, things are picking up.”
Apple has already begun rolling out its iPad internationally with Japan being the first market in Asia to receive it. Most analysts also believe that the company is likely to announce a next-generation iPhone next week at its developers’ conference.
Chunghwa also contends that its dividend yield, already one of the highest in Asia, is sustainable while it pursues a conservative expansion policy.
“Look at our track record,” Lu said. “We’re confident about our future, and if all goes well, it’s our job to ensure that we have a dividend payout that is good for everyone.”
Chunghwa Telecom had a dividend yield of 6.58 percent in 2009, according to Thomson Reuters data, higher than peers in the region such as Singapore Telecom’s 4.43 percent and China Mobile’s 3.8 percent.
Telecoms companies are generally seen as a safer investment choice because they typically have a fairly stable revenue stream and offer annual dividend payouts. By comparison, few companies in the more volatile but higher growth technology sector offer dividends.
In Taiwan, voice call tariffs are regulated by the National Communications Commission, which last ordered a cut in charges in January this year, leading to a subsequent drop in Chunghwa Telecom’s revenue.
Chunghwa Telecom shares are up about 5 percent since a capital reduction in February this year, beating a roughly 2 percent advance on the benchmark TAIEX share index.
Editing by Ken Wills