Industrial giant Siemens will sign over its mobile handset business to BenQ by the end of September. As part of the agreement, Siemens will spend about $60 million to buy a 2.5 percent stake in the Taiwanese company.

In exchange, BenQ can use the Siemens brand name for five years, giving it an opportunity to co-brand and promote the BenQ name in Western markets. The deal will combine BenQ's product line of smart phones with Siemens' mid-to-low-end mobile phone models.

But BenQ also inherits an ailing organization. Siemens's cell phone business lost about $500 million in the past year.

Market analyst Aloysius Choong of the International Data Corporation, which tracks high-technology markets, says BenQ will need to work fast to revive the business. "It is important for BenQ to make good use of the distribution network and relationships that Siemens has built up over the years and to restore some of that, some of those relationships," he said. "At the same time though, BenQ will have to build up its brand as soon as possible."

Another indicator of Asia's growing mobile industry is its growing mobile subscriber market. A report released by the International Data Corporation predicts a continued boom in subscribers in Asia.

Research manager Alayne Wong, co-author of the report, said Asia's mobile industry is the fastest growing subscriber market in the world. "The momentum has been strong, up close to 26 percent. And mainly it has been due to India, which has a very fast-growing market last year," said Ms. Wong. "The subscribers there doubled to 48 million. But at the same time China, the Philippines and Thailand were very significant contributors to that growth."

Ms. Wong says that if trends continue, the Asian subscriber numbers could exceed nine hundred million by 2009, nearly double the number of subscribers in 2004.

Thailand says its economy contracted by six-tenths of a percent in the first quarter of the year, compared with the fourth quarter of 2004. Economists attribute the slump to the December 26 tsunami, higher oil prices and a drought that cut farm output.

The government has cut its forecast for 2005 growth to between four and a half and five and a half percent. Previously, the government expected growth to be as high as 6.5 percent.

The United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organization opened a new office in Singapore to help fight software piracy in Asia.

The agency says piracy remains a serious and crucial problem in the region - with some experts saying illegally copied software in Asia cost producers more than $7 billion in 2003.