Euro 3G delay hits Hutchison

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 12:00am

Hutchison Whampoa shares fell to a 10-month low yesterday on further negative news about the European third-generation (3G) mobile telecommunications business.

The conglomerate's biggest rival, Britain's Vodafone Group, said it would delay launching its 3G service until early next year.

The delay, blamed on a shortage of suitable handsets, follows a series of pull-outs or stalls in the 3G business by European telecoms.

Shares in Hutchison, which has committed to invest US$16.7 billion in the 3G business, fell as much as 3.3 per cent before closing 2.36 per cent down at HK$51.75 yesterday, against a 0.5 per cent gain in the blue-chip Hang Seng Index.

The company has now lost more than HK$100 billion in market capitalisation this year, even before it is ready to launch its 3G services.

On Wednesday, France Telecom's Orange asked to postpone its 3G roll-out in Sweden and to reduce the scope of its services. That followed a decision by Spain's Telefonica and Finland's Sonera to halt a joint operation in Germany last month.

Despite setbacks for other operators, Hutchison said its roll-out schedule was not affected, and it would have enough handsets.

Analysts said Hutchison had budgeted at least 100,000 3G handsets in countries where it planned to launch services.

A Hutchison spokesman welcomed the news of a possible delay in its rival's service, saying: 'It would mean we have less competition when we launch.'

Graphic: hut10gbz