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TRADE–Tech Conference Offers International Flair



Qualcomm Tells Shareholders Kyocera Wireless Phone Deal Worth $235 million

Several international companies from Asia and Europe are participating in an upcoming San Diego conference aimed at the wireless technology and video streaming industries.

Wireless VideoCon 2000, scheduled May 3 at the San Diego Concourse, is co-sponsored by San Diego-based Computer Technologies of America, a wireless consulting firm, and the San Diego Software and Internet Council.

Philip Cenedella, CTA’s president, said the one-day conference is designed to bring together representatives from three distinct industries , wireless, video and entertainment.

“The convergence of these three industries have created real products that are only recently hitting the public and business markets in the last six months,” Cenedella said.

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A key aspect of the conference is its international flavor. Of companies that have made commitments to attend, three are from Japan, and others are based in Sweden, Northern Ireland and Germany, Cenedella said.

Thus far, three local firms have committed to attending the conference: Intervu Inc., a Solana Beach-based maker of streaming video software which was recently purchased by Akami Inc.; Inetcam Inc., another San Diego streaming video firm; and Leap Wireless International Inc., a spinoff of Qualcomm, Inc. doing business in international markets.

The keynote speaker is Gurnad Sodhi, vice president of international business for Deutsche Telekom AG, one of the world’s largest telecommunications firms.

Deutsche Telekom recently dropped plans for a planned acquisition of two of the largest U.S.-based telecommunications companies, Quest Communications Inc. and U.S. West Inc. Both are based in Denver.

A key aspect of the conference is a series of seven-minute presentations by 20 companies. The participants are there to develop partnerships, share their visions of the future and explore business opportunities, Cenedella said.

Following the presentations, the audience will vote for star of the show awards, one for emerging companies, and the other for established companies, he said.

The conference is charging $1,750 for presenters, and $155 for attendees.

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Qualcomm Price Revealed: Qualcomm’s sale of most of its wireless phone operation to Kyocera fetched $235 million, according to an SEC filing by the company. The price was disclosed by the company at its shareholders meeting earlier this month.

Kyocera acquired nearly all the assets of what was called the terrestrial CDMA wireless handset business. The assets consisted of cell phone inventory, customer sales orders, and manufacturing equipment. Kyocera is leasing the plant and contracting with Qualcomm for most of the labor to continue the business operation.

Christine Trimble, a Qualcomm spokeswoman, said before its sale, the cell phone operation that was started as a joint venture with Sony Corp. several years ago had about 4,000 workers. The deal provided that only a certain number of former Qualcomm manufacturing workers would be hired by Kyocera.

Jay Scovie, a Kyocera spokesman, said Kyocera Wireless Corp., the new entity that owns the cell phone business, has 2,300 employees, including all contracted, temporary and full-time staffers.

Qualcomm created a new subsidiary, QCP Inc., which has more than 1,000 workers , primarily engineers, marketing and sales, and distribution people , who are working at the La Jolla plant, Trimble said.

Although one published report said the Kyocera acquisition resulted in the layoff of “hundreds” of workers, Trimble declined to reveal how many people were laid off.

Kyocera Corp., based in Kyoto, Japan, operates Kyocera America, Inc., a manufacturing subsidiary based in San Diego that makes ceramic casings for computer chips.

PriceSmart Expansion: PriceSmart Inc., the San Diego-based international warehouse retailer, said it entered into a long-term lease for real estate in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of a planned expansion in the Caribbean. The company expects to open a new store in 2001.

PriceSmart, which now has nine warehouse stores in Central America and the Caribbean, said it anticipates opening six to 10 new warehouses over the next several years. It recently opened warehouse stores in Honduras, Panama and the Dominican Republic. The company will add a second warehouse in El Salvador this spring.

It also has four stores in China and one in Saipan in Micronesia.

In its most recent quarterly report, PriceSmart reported a net loss of $2.8 million on revenues of $54 million, compared with earnings of $518,000 on revenues of $22 million.

PriceSmart also said it sold a travel services business to a private company for an undisclosed price.

“While the travel business has been profitable, its sale will enable the company to focus all of its resources on its core business, international membership shopping warehouses,” said CEO Gil Partida.

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Deal Means Global Entry: U.S. Laboratories Inc., a San Diego-based provider of quality control services for the construction and engineering markets, purchased Intertek Technical Services for $1.65 million last month.

The deal means U.S. Labs will gain entry into international markets now served by Intertek.

The Fairfax County, Va.-based Intertek, which has about 4,000 employees worldwide and averaged about $10 million in sales in recent years, has clients in the defense, aerospace and telecommunications industries including Lockheed Martin, Microsoft and Qualcomm.

China Connection: Sonik Technologies, a San Marcos-based manufacturer of wireless products, formed an alliance with Shanghai Motorola Products Co., Ltd. for distribution of the Chinese maker’s goods in the Americas.

Sonik is a privately held wireless solutions company which supplies paging infrastructure products and custom solutions to the wireless industry.

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Doing Business in Mexico: Southwestern College in Chula Vista is offering a series of free courses called Doing Business in Mexico.

The four-week course is aimed at helping students gain an understanding of cultural differences and other aspects of doing business in Mexico. Other four-week courses offered at the college starting April 1 center on goal setting strategies; project management; and supervisory skills. Classes are flexible with a practical approach, the college said. For information, call the college at (619) 482-6391.

Trade Winds: The San Diego World Trade Center scheduled a trade mission to Guadalajara in Mexico for May 22-26. The SDWTC holds its monthly breakfast meeting April 13 at the University Club in Symphony Towers Ninth Annual Latin American Energy Conference, Energy 2000, happens May 15-16 at the Hilton La Jolla Torrey Pines Hotel.

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