Coolpad Plans India Comeback, Settling LeEco-Incurred Debts

Coolpad is planning a major comeback in India following half a year of inactivity in the South Asian country and is also currently in the process of settling debts incurred as part of LeEco's aggressive expansion strategy which ended up proving unsustainable, according to Syed Tajuddin, Coolpad India Chief Executive Officer. In a recent interview with the Indo-Asian News Service, Mr. Tajuddin said the Chinese original equipment manufacturer is looking for "a fresh start" after an unsuccessful episode with LeEco which recently sold its majority stake in the company at a significant loss, being pressured to do so due to a rising pile of debts that brought its operations to a halt, forcing it to liquidate some of its assets in an attempt to stay afloat.

Coolpad's new plans for India will largely be funded by a $300 million injection the firm managed to receive earlier this year from China's real estate tycoon Chen Hua, i.e. his family trust Power Sun Ventures. The OEM sees India as one of its largest growth opportunities, with the United States being its other focus market going forward, according to Mr. Tajuddin. The phone maker's top executive believes Coolpad will soon start placing an even smaller focus on its home country than it already does due to the generally oversaturated state of the local market which allows for a small number of opportunities. In the near term, Coolpad remains focused on settling any debts taken on as a result of LeEco's decisions and returning to India on a significant scale with a new product family focused on artificial intelligence applications. The company already confirmed it's planning to implement Amazon's Alexa into some of its offerings at MWC 2018 and also used the Barcelona-based trade show as an opportunity to announce it's working on new wearables meant to be released over the course of this year.

Not all future Coolpad-made smartphones will support Alexa but many of them will, Mr. Tajuddin suggested, adding that the company will already be introducing new devices in India over the first half of the year. Its local product launches should ramp up by the second half of 2018, whereas the firm is now also looking toward wireless carriers to help it bring its offerings to a wider audience. Coolpad's presence in India diminished in 2017 as LeEco found itself in legal issues due to numerous defaulted loans. Prior to the troublesome period, the company was shipping 34 million handsets and generating $3 billion in revenue on an annual basis. Coolpad has yet to elaborate on its stateside ambitions that it previously described as a core component of its long-term strategy. Washington presently isn't particularly open to China's tech companies, having recently blocked the likes of Huawei and ZTE from doing large-scale business in the country, citing spying concerns. Coolpad could still avoid such scrutiny as it doesn't have a presence in the telecom segment which the U.S. is primarily worried about, being interested in safeguarding its future 5G infrastructure.

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