NTT DoCoMo to target U.S. with $100 million venture fund

NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's largest cell phone network operator, will soon open a new U.S. venture capital subsidiary, it said Monday.

DoCoMo Capital Inc. will be based in San Jose, California and will begin operation on July 1, according to a company statement. It will focus on investing in mainly U.S.-based venture companies developing advanced mobile communication technologies.

The company is expected to invest about US$100 million over 10 years, said Masanori Goto, a spokesman for NTT DoCoMo in Tokyo.

It's focus will be on the research and development field and through its activities NTT DoCoMo hopes to shorten technology development times and lower its research and development costs, he said.

The new unit is the carrier's second major venture capital subsidiary in the U.S. In 1996, it established DCM Investments Inc., which is based in Boston and targets telecommunication-related companies and venture funds.

NTT DoCoMo opened a Japanese venture capital unit in 1999. In late 2003, it invested US$10 million into a venture fund jointly operated with Gobi Partners Inc. that targeted mainly China-based high-tech companies.

In addition, NTT DoCoMo has recently been putting money into ventures in Thailand including a $1.9 million investment in digital mapping provider MappointAsia (Thailand) Co. Ltd. and about $546,000 in location-based service provider Mobile Innovation Co. Ltd.

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