HK Telecom ringing the changes in name swap

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 June, 1999, 12:00am

Cable & Wireless is to re-brand Hongkong Telecom, in which it has a 54 per cent stake, in a move aimed at strengthening C&W's international identity.

The strategy, which has echoes of HSBC's US$50 million global re-branding exercise launched last year, was revealed by C&W chief executive Graham Wallace in his review to shareholders published yesterday in the group's annual report and accounts.

He said 28 companies in the group had already adopted the C&W name since 1996, with the latest taking place in Australia, where C&W has a 53 per cent stake in Australia's second largest telecommunications firm, Optus.

'During the year, Optus re-branded to become Cable & Wireless Optus, and Hongkong Telecom will change its name this year,' Mr Wallace said.

'The growth of awareness of our brand reinforced the message that Cable & Wireless is one company with a single vision and consistent global standards.' The re-branding of Hongkong Telecom is thought to be well-advanced, with some reports suggesting that the name could change by the end of this month. The proposed new name was not disclosed.

It is believed Hongkong Telecom will retain some of its identity in the re-brand, but C&W is keen to ensure that its presence is more visible, and more dominant than in the past.

C&W officials say the group's strategy is to enhance its global identity, and reaffirm its worldwide network, which stretches across the United States, parts of Asia and parts of Europe.

As the group's single largest revenue-earner, C&W sees its closer integration into the brand image of the group as particularly important.

Aside from Macau's main telecoms services provider, Companhia de Telecommunicacoes de Macau, in which C&W has a 51 per cent holding, Hongkong Telecom is the group's only subsidiary that does not bear the Cable & Wireless name.

The rebranding launch was reportedly scheduled for May 30 - the birthday of Hongkong Telecom chief executive Linus Cheung Wing-lam - but was postponed due to the company's recent lay-offs.

There is speculation that the name change reflects the soured relations between C&W and minority shareholder China Telecom.

China Telecom is rumoured to be considering selling its 13 per cent stake in Hongkong Telecom as Chinese authorities have not indicated that C&W will be approved to enter the mainland market.