Hutchison Telecommunications International yesterday scaled down the size of its planned initial public offering for the second time in a matter of weeks in response to anticipated weak demand from investors. The operator, which has a raft of fixed line and mobile assets across the Asia-Pacific region, reduced the price range of the offering from HKD6.52 – HKD7.55 per share to HKD6.01 – HKD7.04 per share, meaning the maximum it can raise from the placement has fallen by 8.5% from USD1.13 billion to USD1.04 billion.
Hutchison is in dire need of a capital injection to help offset growing losses at its third-generation mobile telephony operations: the company’s 3G subsidiary recently reported pre-tax losses of USD1.55 billion for the first six months of 2004, although a one-off gain of HKD1.3 billion from the sale of fixed assets in Hong Kong helped boost net profits to HKD773 million. On a more positive note, the company has revealed that its UK subsidiary is now adding around 65,000 new users a week, giving it a comfortable head start over the UK’s four incumbent cellcos in the race to sign 3G subscribers. Vodafone, Orange and T-Mobile UK are all planning to launch their full commercial 3G offerings in the run-up to the busy Christmas period, whilst mmO2 has said it will wait until next year.