DoCoMo Rises on Speculation Carrier to Release Apple IPhone

NTT DoCoMo Inc. rose in Tokyo trading, while rivals KDDI Corp. and SoftBank Corp. fell, after a media report suggested Japan’s largest mobile carrier may start selling Apple Inc.’s iPhone.

Chief Financial Officer Kazuto Tsubouchi said there are compelling reasons for Apple and his company to reach an agreement, according to an interview published in SankeiBiz. For Apple, it doesn’t make business sense not to allow Japan’s largest wireless carrier to sell the iPhone, while DoCoMo wants to be able to sell most popular handsets, Sankei said.

No deal has been reached and the two companies may not be able to come to terms, Sankei reported. DoCoMo has had to compete against smaller rivals who have been able to offer the popular handset. Apple, whose market value has declined as sales growth has slowed, is looking for expansion opportunities.

“Speculation DoCoMo may sell the iPhone is dragging down KDDI and SoftBank,” said Tomoaki Kawasaki, an analyst at Iwai Cosmo Holdings Inc. in Tokyo.

DoCoMo shares rose 2.1 percent to 159,600 yen at the close in Tokyo, the highest level since May 22.

KDDI fell 2 percent, while SoftBank dropped 0.5 percent. Japan’s benchmark Topix index lost 0.1 percent.

A report related to DoCoMo potentially releasing the iPhone affected KDDI’s share price, Takeshi Ota, a spokesman for the company, said by phone. He declined to elaborate.

IPhone Stance

Jun Otori, a Tokyo-based spokesman for DoCoMo, declined to comment on the Sankei report. He said there had been no change in DoCoMo’s position on whether to sell the iPhone.

Fumihiro Ito, a SoftBank spokesman, declined to comment.

DoCoMo may consider altering its stance on the iPhone if it can limit the smartphone’s share of sales to less than 30 percent of the company’s total, Tsubouchi said this month in an interview with Bloomberg News.

DoCoMo is trying to spark growth as it adds users at a slower pace than SoftBank and KDDI, which both sell the iPhone. DoCoMo is reducing the number of models in its stores by as much as half as its focuses promotions on Sony Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. handsets, Tsubouchi said in the interview this month.

While the company has 45 percent of the Japanese market, compared to 28 percent for second-ranked KDDI, it has the slowest growth among the top three in adding new users.

NTT DoCoMo added 172,500 users in July, compared with 225,200 at KDDI and 254,500 for third-ranked SoftBank.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.