Vodafone Poaches DoCoMo Exec To Head Japanese Unit
By Carlo Longino, Mon Aug 16 15:45:00 GMT 2004

The world's biggest carrier has lured a NTT DoCoMo exec to stem losses at its Japanese business.

The carrier generates nearly a quarter of its sales, but only a tenth of its profits, in Japan, and has been getting slammed in the market by rivals KDDI and NTT DoCoMo. Replacing former CEO Darryl Green, who resigned in June "for personal reasons", is Shiro Tsuda, a DoCoMo senior VP that was passed over for that company's top job earlier in the year.

Tsuda was rumored to be the first choice to take over from outgoing DoCoMo boss Keiji Tachikawa, but was reportedly nixed by parent company NTT because, like Tachikawa, he came from an engineering background. It looks like the snub made Tsuda look outside the company for which he'd worked for more than 30 years.

His experience in building up next-generation networks was what made him attractive for the top job at DoCoMo, but Vodafone was likely more interested in his role in helping turn around the carrier's fortunes in its battle with KDDI. New subscribers were joining KDDI's 1x network at a rate that far outpaced DoCoMo's FOMA network, though the trend has been reversed in recent months.

Vodafone is in a bad spot -- it lost customers in July, while its rivals both added about 220,000. The company's leaders have said things won't get any better until it can procure a range of more attractive handsets, and that might not happen until late in the year.