Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa’s international 3G wireless subsidiary 3 Group has posted a 39% year-on-year improvement in operating loss (LBIT) for 2008 to HKD10.857 billion (USD1.401 billion), compared to HKD17.938 billion in 2007. Annual revenues climbed 1% to HKD60.372 billion, as the group’s operations in the UK, Ireland, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Australia all saw an increase in turnover and reduced LBIT in 2008, with the exception being Italy. EBITDA rose by 25% y-o-y to HKD15.880 billion. Average revenue per user (ARPU) on a twelve-month rolling basis declined by 16% compared to 2007 to EUR33.50, partly reflecting reductions in regulated mobile termination and roaming rates in certain markets (mainly in Europe). 3 Group’s customer base now includes over 2.5 million mobile broadband access customers, a 305% increase from a year ago. According to Hutchison’s statement, barring any significant adverse market developments or regulatory changes, 3 Group expects to break even in operating income (EBIT) terms in 2009.
Capital expenditure (CAPEX) for the 3 Group reached HKD12.726 billion in 2008, down from 2007’s figure of HKD14.591 billion, in contrast to the Hong Kong conglomerate’s other telecoms unit, Hutchison Telecoms International Ltd (HTIL), where CAPEX rose from HKD3.352 billion in 2007 to HKD4.519 billion the following year. 3 Group’s registered 3G customer base increased 15% during the year ended 31 December, and currently stands at 18.462 million (as of 25 March 2009). HTIL, which reported its annual results earlier this month, saw its 2G/3G mobile customer base grow 28% year-on-year to 12.1 million at end-2008 (and reached 2.3 million 3G subscribers in March 2009), and it is investing heavily in developing markets, including Indonesia and Vietnam. HTIL’s reported turnover for the year rose 19% to HKD24.677 billion, with a net profit attributable to shareholders of HKD1.9 billion, down from HKD66.9 billion the year before, because the 2007 figure included the sale of the company’s indirect interest in CGP Investments, which indirectly held its entire interest in its former mobile business in India.