• United States
by Dan Nystedt

BenQ: Old Habsburg ties continue to serve Austria

Apr 25, 20063 mins
EnterpriseNetwork Security

BenQ Mobile GmbH & Co. OHG, the former mobile phone unit of Siemens AG, has tapped its Vienna office to take over all marketing and sales efforts in Eastern Europe, saying close ties from the old Austro-Hungarian Empire made it the best choice.

The decision was part of an ongoing restructuring effort to raise the company to profitability after its purchase by Taiwan’s BenQ Corp.

The issue for the company is that the Vienna team understands and works better with Eastern European customers, said Clemens Joos, CEO of BenQ Mobile, on the sidelines of an investors’ conference Monday. The reason could reach back to the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or Habsburg Empire as it is sometimes referred to, when Vienna ruled over a vast area that included lands in modern-day Hungary, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovakia and Slovenia.

“There were closer ties between Austria and Eastern Europe even when the borders were closed,” Joos said. “After the borders reopened, the ties became even closer.”

Strong ties and a better business sense for the area is one reason BenQ Mobile handed the entire responsibility of Eastern Europe marketing and sales to 50 representatives in Vienna.

“They seem to understand Eastern Europe very well and they asked for [the responsibility], so we gave it to them,” Joos said.

The group will have its work cut out for it in coming months. Ahead of the World Cup in June, the premier soccer event of the world, BenQ Mobile will launch a marketing blitz aimed at getting its new line of BenQ-Siemens cellular phones into more users’ hands. The company has announced several new handset models and expects to have a few more in stock by the time the World Cup begins.

The Vienna team also will have to overcome slumping mobile phone sales that partly caused BenQ Mobile’s parent company to report its second straight quarterly loss on Monday. The company blamed worse-than-expected handset sales on a lack of new products and a decision to stop selling low-profit margin handsets during the first three months of the year.

BenQ Corp. posted a loss of NT$4.99 billion new Taiwan dollars (US$154.6 million) during the three months ending March 31, compared to a net profit of NT$303.2 million during the same time a year ago. It was the company’s second straight setback.

In the fourth quarter of last year, its first after acquiring and setting up BenQ Mobile, the Taiwanese firm reported an NT$6.02 billion loss.