Hutch selling the family silver to offset 3G losses

2 Sep 2004

Hutchison Whampoa is reported to be planning to sell up to 30% of its 2G mobile subsidiary Hutchison Telecom International Ltd (HTIL) when it lists the unit in New York and Hong Kong next month, according to Total Telecom. Li Ka-shing’s Hong Kong-based enterprise is hoping to post a sizeable one-off gain from the sale to help offset the massive losses it is incurring from the rollout and operation of 3G services around the world. HTIL which comprises 2G operations in eight countries, is unlikely to realise any benefit from the listing as the share offer will see Hutchison selling off old shares. Whampoa’s 3G business lost USD1.57 billion before tax, depreciation and amortisation in the first half of the year while, in contrast, its 2G businesses reported a doubling of earnings to USD48.5 million on revenues of USD1.25 billion. Hutchison Whampoa hopes to raise between USD1.5 billion and USD2 billion from the sale of HTIL shares, but some analysts have expressed concern that the sale will prove difficult as it does not include the unit’s Indian assets – seen by many as the jewel in its crown. Whampoa plans to sell off its fast growing Indian operations separately.