Hutchison Whampoa

3G break-even target date moved back six months

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 August, 2006, 12:00am

Hutchison has pushed back its break-even target for its controversial global third-generation (3G) mobile-telephone business by six months to the first half of next year, dragged down by fierce competition in its key British market.

The company also expected that the segment's monthly earnings before interest and taxes to become profitable by the first half of 2008.

In March, the firm had delayed its initial target by a year, aiming instead to achieve break-even before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation excluding all customer acquisition costs by this year and then to turn an operating profit next year.

Despite its break-even target running behind schedule, chairman Li Ka-shing said the group was under no financial pressure to spin off any of its 3G operations, which spanned nine international markets. 'We will only consider a spin-off when the 3G business becomes profitable,' Mr Li said.

Customer numbers in Hutchison's 3UK saw a 4 per cent growth in the first half while all other eight markets posted strong increases ranging from 16 to 60 per cent.

Hutchison's 3G loss before interest, finance costs and taxation fell 40 per cent to HK$11.99 billion from HK$20.02 billion a year ago. Revenue grew 36 per cent to HK$23.51 billion.