Carlyle Group Buys Part Of KDDI
Japanese mobile carrier KDDI has been trying to sell their DDI Pocket division for many months (leading to the inevitable joke/question of whether or not KDDI minus DDI will be simply known as “K”?). DDI Pocket offers the personal handyphone system, which is popular in Japan. It’s sort of a cheap approximation of a mobile phone system, but has found new life in supplying wireless data access to Japanese users. The expected buyer from the beginning of all this talk has always been Kyocera, who already owned a small piece of DDI pocket. Despite denials, it looks like Kyocera is buying up DDI pocket, but they’ve brought in quite the powerhouse partner – which will actually make them the smaller player in the deal. The Carlyle Group has announced that they’ll be teaming up with Kyocera to buy DDI Pocket. The Carlyle Group, of course, is known for hiring up big shot political insiders and other world leaders (such as Lou Gerstner) so they certainly have a few connections up their sleeves. They’ll now own 60% of the firm and apparently are looking to bring the technology to developing countries that might not have the infrastructure for a full mobile phone system, but could find the PHS system useful. KDDI, in the meantime, will focus on their real mobile phone market in Japan, which was starting to eat into the DDI Pocket market anyway. It’s an interesting look at how a technology that is becoming obsolete in an advanced society could present huge opportunities for developing nations instead. As the second link above shows, this also shows how Japanese firms are increasingly open to being bought by foreign firms — something that’s been rare in the past (though, Ripplewood’s buyout of J-Phone’s landline business in Japan suggests a trend).