Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong-based conglomerate that owns 3G operator 3 with licenses to operate in Ireland and the UK, is understood to be planning to spin off its 2G and 3G mobile phone activities in emerging markets into a separate company that will list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
Hutchison plans to create Hutchison Telecommunications International and will consolidate its fixed line, second generation mobile and third generation mobile assets into one company for a flotation in Hong Kong. The company will be listed as a newly incorporated subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa.
However, it is understood that Hutchison’s 3 operations in Ireland, the UK, Italy and elsewhere in Europe and Australia will not be impacted by the restructure and will carry on operations as normal. HTIL will incorporate Hutchison’s operations in India, Thailand, Macau, Sri Lanka, Ghana and Paraguay.
3’s third generation network in Ireland is in the process of being constructed by Esat BT as part of a €100m contract and already part of its network in Dublin is already offering services to corporate users. Under the terms of its license agreement with the Irish Government, 3 must be providing services to the rest of Ireland later this year as well as hosting a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) service. A national roaming agreement has been reached with Vodafone, which will allow 3 Ireland to offer nationwide voice services to customers outside its own network coverage.
In a recent report in siliconrepublic.com, the company declined to commit to when full 3G services would be available in the Irish market. “The 3 network is live and is available to key corporate customers,” says Ed Brewster of 3 UK. “We expect, however, it will be some time before the service becomes available through retail outlets. At the moment we have over 100 people working on the project in Ireland and we are focused on rolling out the network in the Dundrum area of Dublin.”
By John Kennedy