3 shareholders moving in three different directions

16 Sep 2003

All is not well between the shareholders of the UK’s pioneering third generation mobile operator Hutchison 3G UK (known simply as 3), with 20% stakeholder NTT DoCoMo threatening to pull out of the three-way partnership. The Japanese operator’s warning comes as the prospect of 3 adopting its i-mode data services platform becomes ever more remote. The Financial Times claims that 3 insiders have indicated that the cellco has no intention of adopting i-mode, preferring instead to focus on its current range of own-branded multimedia services. This has meant that DoCoMo is preparing to find itself an alternative UK partner for i-mode, despite a company spokesperson yesterday insisting that 3 would still adopt the technology. DoCoMo has been supportive of the venture so far, agreeing to provide an extra GBP200 million in funding in March, whilst fellow stakeholder KPN refused to stump up its GBP150 million share. That landed the Dutch telco with a court appearance this November when majority owner Hutchison Whampoa claimed it was breaking their shareholder agreement. Hutchison now risks isolating both of its partners, an unwelcome distraction as 3 struggles to reach its one million customer target by year-end.

United Kingdom