In a rare visit to Austria, Hutchison Whampoa boss Canning Fok has assured the media that the Hong Kong-based conglomerate has no intention of exiting the Austrian wireless market, despite making scant progress since launching Hutchison 3G Austria (H3G) in May 2003. Austrian financial newspaper Wirtschaftsblatt reports that Fok told assembled journalists that the lean period is over for the cellco, commenting: ‘We are now in the fat phase. In 2010 we started making money. We are still here. Everyone thought we should go, but we are still here. We are very bullish’.
Although Fok readily acknowledges that H3G is the ‘small potato’ of the Austrian wireless sector, he remains optimistic that the cellco can grow its 9.6% market share. However, he was coy with regards to rumours that Hutchison is circling Orange Austria, which was put up for sale in July 2011 by parent company France Telecom (FT). Fok admitted: ‘[Orange] are a very good company, but I cannot comment on rumours’. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, as a result of slow growth in European markets, FT is attempting to maximise profitability by pulling out of countries where it is not one of the top two operators and where it does not have a controlling stake in the company.