Hong Kong conglomerate The Wharf (Holdings) may be forced to close down its struggling pay-TV and broadband unit i-Cable. Wharf announced in January this year that its residential cableco business was up for sale, but the parent has now issued a statement saying that no buyers have come forward. According to a report from The South China Morning Post, Wharf will cease investment in i-Cable once its current HKD400 million (USD51.6 million) in funding runs out.
Wharf’s chairman Stephen Ng Tin-hoi stated: ‘The possibility to see i-Cable turning around is low. We have tried very hard to talk with many investors, but no one intended to buy.’ i-Cable will now hire a financial advisor to review its future strategy. Ng added: ‘For now, we can’t answer whether i-Cable will close down. All decisions will be subject to the assessment by the future financial advisor. First, we will see if we can find other financial support. If not, we will see if the company’s business can continue.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, i-Cable is the fourth largest player in Hong Kong’s fixed broadband sector, with 156,000 subscribers at the end of 2016, down from 171,000 a year earlier, giving it around 5% of the overall market in user terms. Although it became the territory’s first cableco when it received its licence in 1993, it has struggled to compete with players such as Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN). i-Cable reported a 7% drop in revenues last year to HKD1.4 billion, with net loss widening to HKD313 million. Parent company The Wharf (Holdings) is looking to exit the telecoms sector completely, having already sold its business-focussed telco Wharf T&T in 2016.