INTERVIEW-China's ZTE aims for fifth of global GSM gear market

HONG KONG, Nov 18 (Reuters) - China's ZTE 0763.HK expects to take about a fifth of the world's market share for wireless mobile equipment based on the GSM standard by year-end, and it should maintain strong growth into next year, an executive said on Wednesday.

The company's revenue from GSM equipment sales has doubled over each of the last few years, propelling ZTE to the world's third biggest vendor, behind global leader Ericsson ERICb.ST and Chinese rival Huawei [HWT.UL], Zhao Yizhe, vice president in charge of GSM equipment, told Reuters.

He said his division was on track to match the doubling pace in the first three quarters of this year, with an aim to maintain a similar high growth rate in 2010.

“Our market share is now around 18 percent,” Zhao said in an interview on the sidelines of a telecoms show in Hong Kong. “We could pass the 20 percent share mark by the end of this year.”

Both ZTE and Huawei have maintained their growth this year despite the global downturn in part due to generous support from the Chinese government, which has made easy equipment financing available through its policy banks.

ZTE early this year was given access to $25 billion in cheap money to help its customers finance their purchases. Since then, about half of its new GSM equipment customers have drawn on that credit to fund their purchases, Zhao said.

(Reporting by Doug Young; Editing by Ken Wills)

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