SIM Technology is hoping to raise up to US$100 million, but analysts question the timing of its offering One might question the timing of mobile handset designer SIM Technology, which aims to tap Hong Kong equity markets for up to US$100 million in the coming weeks despite competition from several high-profile initial public offerings. The Hong Kong firm, which designs all the components of mobile phones - including LCD modules, circuit boards and casings - will soon start telling international investors that its design and sourcing capabilities are in high demand from mainland handset makers keen to recover market share lost to foreign giants such as Nokia and Motorola in recent years. As well-placed in its industry as the company may be, it will be hard-pressed to compete for fresh capital with the likes of China coal mining giant China Shenhua Energy, No5 national lender Bank of Communications and shipping colossus China Cosco Holdings - all of which are conducting multibillion-dollar initial public offerings this month. 'The timing is not very opportune,' said one trader. 'Perhaps [SIM] hopes that by running with the big boys, it will garner a larger audience. But even Shenhua is having trouble in the current climate.' Nonetheless, Raymond Tsang, executive vice-president and chief operating officer, is certain his firm will succeed on it own merits. 'We are confident that our design input can help mainland handset makers recapture their previously leading positions,' he said. 'Chinese handset makers are weaker in design, so our designs should benefit them.' Half of the mainland's top 10 mobile handset makers are SIM clients. It designs handsets for companies such as Lenovo, CECT, Ningbo Bird and TCL Corp. According to Gartner, the top three handset makers in China last year were all foreign brands, led by Nokia with 19.7 per cent of the market, Motorola with 12.09 per cent, and LG with 11.91 per cent. SIM also designs 2.75G handsets based on Edge (enhanced-data GSM environment) technology for Italy's biggest mobile operator, TIM. Last year, SIM designed 56 models, up from fewer than 10 in 2003. Net profits reached US$25.5 million on revenues of US$200 million, 70 per cent of which came from mobile solutions design. The bulk of its income is derived from royalties. SIM started designing handsets in 2003. Previously, it was a distributor of telecommunications components, primarily on the mainland. It employs 372 staff at its Shanghai plant, where it designs and produces LCD modules. CLSA is the sole arranger of the share offering. The international roadshow is expected to kick off next Monday.