Giant Chinese mobile handset maker ZTE Corporation (000063.SZ) said its 100 millionth handset rolled off the assembly line Monday, China Business News reported. “We will probably produce 50 million handsets this year, and I am hopeful we will be in the world’s top three within five years,” chairman Hou Weigui said. He added that ZTE will launch hybrid models with Vodafone in the fourth quarter. The company inked a deal to make handsets for the world’s second largest mobile service operator in 2006 and has so far delivered 10 million units. Industry watchers say ZTE, which is currently the world’s sixth largest manufacturer, will need to sell 100 million handsets worldwide by 2010 to even challenge the current number five. ZTE sold 31.06 million handsets in 2007 but sales shot up 66% year-on-year to 20 million units in the first half of this year, 80% overseas. A ZTE official said the company set a US$10 billion sales target for 2008 and is 50-60% towards it. Performance in the European and US markets in the fourth quarter will be key to whether or not it hits the target.

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