Telenor ‘discussing’ AsiaInfo billing deal

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Telenor discussing AsiaInfo relationship after Chinese billing software company moves staff back to China

Chinese software vendor AsiaInfo is pulling back on its European operation, and some of its staff are being moved back from Europe to China.

AsiaInfo, which set up a UK office three years ago following a significant order from the Telenor group, says that it will “continue to support all our existing customers and international products”.

But it’s clear that the decision marks a significant withdrawal from the European market, where Telenor remains the only announced customer. Global Telecoms Business asked Telenor for a comment, and received the following: “We are in discussions with AsiaInfo in relations to their deliveries to Telenor in Europe, but we have no comments to the details in these discussions.”

AsiaInfo announced its first deal with Telenor in November 2013, when the company said that it will steer Telenor’s business software systems transformation for the company’s operations in Denmark, as well as provide implementation, operational, and maintenance support.

The project was due to include AsiaInfo’s proprietary billing, customer relationship management and real-time analytics software, including the company’s Veris BSS solution.

AsiaInfo was founded by Chinese students in Silicon Valley in California in 1993. The company then moved to China and delisted from the Nasdaq exchange in 2013 following a private equity buyout.

The company expected the Telenor business to grow. In January 2015 in opened what it called its European nearshore delivery centre in Budapest, within Telenor Hungary’s own headquarters.

AsiaInfo said at the time it expected to employ some 180 staff in the centre within two years and was planning to recruit more than half the workforce locally, working alongside experts relocating from China.

It said the centre would be providing support services for up to eight European operator projects by 2016.

Now the company’s message is very different. “We are not laying off any staff from international projects or technology development roles. Some staff, however, will return from Europe to China, either because their part of a project is completed, or their work can be better carried out within our main R&D facility,” AsiaInfo said in a prepared statement to Global Telecoms Business.

It added: “We intend to continue new business development activities in EMEA and APAC (and more widely in the longer term).” It said: “AsiaInfo remains committed to continuing its development as a global software business”, but warned: “Although the strategic aims of the company remain the same, the structure will change.”

The company said: “In particular, we are planning to change our approach to new business development in the international market, including a move away from direct sales and marketing. We are laying off a relatively small number of staff from our European sales and marketing organisations.”

Earlier this year Amazon said that it was launching a suite of telecoms BSS software in the cloud with AsiaInfo. The companies had formed a strategic partnership to promote the service, and were intending to begin marketing in Europe before moving on to Asia.

But the Asian market, where China Telecom has been a significant customer, remains AsiaInfo’s core. A year ago the company announced an agreement with the Reliance corporate IT park to build and develop what it called innovative services for enterprises in India and worldwide.

The future of these projects is unclear. AsiaInfo said: “There will be no further comment at this stage.”