Siemens to name partner, buyer for mobile phone unit

Siemens to name partner, buyer for mobile phone unit

Siemens is poised to announce a partner or buyer for its ailing mobile phone unit.

An extraordinary meeting of Siemens's supervisory board, held Monday, could result in an announcement this week of a partner for the German manufacturer's ailing mobile-phone unit, a company spokesman said.

"The supervisory board held a special meeting that is focused exclusively on the mobile phone business," said Siemens spokesman Wolfram Trost. "We said in April that we planned to carve out the mobile phone unit, and now the supervisory board is meeting to discuss the options, which include forming one or more partnerships or selling the unit."

The mobile phone unit is losing around Euro 1 million (AUD$1.6 million) a day, and has slipped in global rankings of handset makers to fifth place from fourth.

Siemens has had some quality and safety issues with phones aimed at the high end of the market, including models with dangerously loud ring tones, and has been struggling to defend its position in the low end of the market which, due to fierce price competition, has seen a steady erosion of margins.

The mobile phone unit employs more than 10,000, of whom more than half are in Germany, where labor costs are high.

Names of potential partners or buyers are in the headlines of several newspapers, including the German edition of the Financial Times. The business newspaper, citing sources close to Siemens, reported Monday that the Munich-based manufacturer had reached a deal to set up a joint venture with the Taiwanese technology group BenQ.

Siemens declined to comment on the speculation, and BenQ could not be immediately reached.

Other potential partners or buyers mentioned in the German business press include China's Ningbo Bird, Motorola, LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics.

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