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ZTE to improve branding for consumer push

China telecom equipment maker ZTE is aiming to improve its branding and corporate image by setting up more training centers in emerging markets, shares one senior executive, even as it faces scrutiny over its business practices by foreign regulators.

ZTE's senior vice president Zhang RenJun noted that as the company makes a deeper push into the consumer space with its smartphones and tablets, its efforts to work on its global image will help.

Very strong business-to-business player

"We used to be a very strong business-to-business player, however now we're moving more into business-to-consumer," the executive added while an interview. He was in Singapore recently to attend the imbX trade show.

Part of the plan includes setting up more facilities to provide training services, especially in emerging markets, he said. "These are like schools where the public and our employees can learn more about the latest innovation, and where they can get more knowledge," he explained, nevertheless declined to share details on how many training centers will be built and the timeframe for this.

The threat of scrutiny from overseas governments

Scrutiny won't derail growthZhang as well dismissed the threat of scrutiny from overseas governments, saying that it would not derail the company's business plans. He noted that the company is currently the fourth largest telecom equipment maker globally in terms of revenue, and is on track to hit its target of being in the top three by 2015.

"It's no problem, it won't affect," said Zhang. "We always do business under local law. At times in some countries it may be individuals or politics involved, [however] as a listed company we do everything legally."

Key strategy going forward

Focusing on smartphones to drive profitabilityThe senior vice president pointed out that growing smartphone sales will be a key strategy going forward, event as it aims to boost profitability. In its full year results for 2011, revenue for the company grew 23 percent last year to 86.25 billion yuan, however net profit fell near 37 percent to 2.06 billion yuan. "Handset margins are going down, that's why we are aiming to focus on selling more smartphones than feature phones," Zhang said.

Earlier this week in a statement, the company had pledged to increase investments in the United States by 10 percent a year, betting on its smartphone market. This commitment came amid an ongoing investigation by U.S. authorities on whether the company's possible ties to the Chinese government were a security threat.

The company is as well looking out for business opportunities in integrated ICT solutions, especially cloud computing for the government sector. In 2012, ZTE is targeting to achieve US$2 billion in revenue in the segment, up from US$1.38 billion last year.

"The modernization of networks will as well be a market possibility for us," he said, referring to Long Term Evolution and 4G services, in terms of both handsets and network services.

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Chinese telecoms giant looking to set up more training centers to enhance global image even as it looks to push into consumer business and break into markets just as the U.S., company exec says.

More information: Zdnetasia