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China takes half of Intel's Asia sales ex Japan
( 2004-01-18 09:44) (Agencies)

China has consolidated its position as Intel Corp's number two market since surpassing Japan last year, and now accounts for more than half of regional consumption ex-Japan, its Asia Pacific chief said on Thursday.

Since overtaking Japan, China's share of Intel's overall sales had climbed steadily, while Japan's had hovered at about nine percent, John Antone, Asia Pacific General Manager for the world's largest microchip maker, told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"China has been...a very fast-growing country in terms of unit growth year on year," he said. "Even though it's gotten to be a big one, we're forecasting it'll continue to grow."

He declined to give China's specific share of sales, but said the country accounted for more than half of the 20 to 23 percent of Intel's fourth-quarter worldwide sales consumed in Asia excluding Japan.

Antone has previously told Reuters that Intel, whose microprocessors form the brains of most of the world's PCs, expects China to surpass the United States to become the company's biggest market by 2010.

He said the United States now accounted for more than 20 percent of worldwide computer sales.

In its fourth-quarter results released on Wednesday, Intel said the Asia Pacific region excluding Japan accounted for about 40 percent of its record US$8.74 billion in quarterly sales.

But only slightly more than half that volume was for chips that ended up in PCs bought by Asia-based consumers, Antone said. The rest was used in products that were built in the region but shipped to other parts of the world.

Intel's bullish China outlook comes amid a flurry of activity by the company in one of the world's fastest-growing PC markets, where shipments were expected to reach more than 152 million units in 2003, according to data tracking firm IDC.

Last August, Intel said it would build a US$375 million chip test and assembly plant in the Chinese city of Chengdu, complementing a similar US$500 million plant in Shanghai.

This week, Intel said it had signed memorandums of understanding to supply chips to China's top two computer makers, Legend Group Ltd and Shanghai Founder Yanzhong Science and Technology. Intel already does business with both companies.

The firm has also recently acted as a consultant on development of a technology zone in the city of Xi'an.

"We've proven to be pretty helpful to governments that are looking to take advantage of technology to improve their productivity or services to the community," Antone said.

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