Blackstone buys eMobile stake; cellco plans 42Mbps upgrade by year-end

7 Jul 2010

US-based asset management firm The Blackstone Group has acquired a 6% stake in Tokyo-listed mobile services provider eMobile for JPY16 billion (USD182 million), reports say. The purchase is understood to be part of a larger USD500 million financing deal that will see Goldman Sachs also taking a role in eMobile, as part of its merger with its fixed line broadband and telephony business eAccess. eMobile reportedly completed a merger with parent company and fixed line voice and broadband provider eAccess last week via a share swap. Going forward ‘the two companies will continue to work closely to create product and cost synergies,’ eMobile said.

In a separate development, eMobile plans to launch a 42Mbps HSPA+ network by the end of 2010, using equipment from Ericsson. The cellco has soft-launched the new network with plans to offer full-blown commercial services in metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, Tokai and Osaka, by year end. Commenting on the upgrade eMobile president Eric Gan said: ‘Deploying the first 42Mbps dual-cell HSDPA Evolution (DC-HSPA) network in Japan is an important milestone for eMobile … [the] technology provides eMobile with a cost-effective way to secure the fastest level, most advanced mobile broadband network in the country’. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, eMobile is Japan’s smallest mobile operator by subscribers with 2.537 million customers at 30 June, out of a country total of 113.716 million.