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Mergers & Acquisitions

Hong Kong’s Wharf T&T plots major business expansion under new owners

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 7:02pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2016, 11:01pm

Private equity companies MBK Partners and TPG Capital are gearing up to relaunch and expand the operations of Wharf T&T by next year, after completing on Wednesday their HK$9.5 billion acquisition of the fixed-line telecommunications services provider from property giant The Wharf (Holdings).

“Together with management, we’ve already started a lot initiatives to explore new products and services, as well as new strategies that will bring Wharf T&T into the next phase of growth,” Kong Teck Chien, a partner at Seoul-based MBK Partners, told the South China Morning Post.

In a press conference on Thursday, newly promoted Wharf T&T chief executive Vincent Ma said the company’s immediate target was to increase its domestic market share to 25 per cent from the current 17 per cent and increase annual profit by 50 per cent.

Wharf T&T is touted as Hong Kong’s largest enterprise-focused, fixed-line telecommunications network services provider, with more than 53,000 corporate customers.

The Wharf group and parent Wheelock and Company said in a regulatory filing last month that Wharf T&T reported profit after tax of HK$301 million last year and HK$314 million in 2014.

Ma pointed out that HKT and Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong are the main competitors of Wharf T&T in the city’s enterprise telecommunications services market.

Data from research firm Gartner showed that overall communications services spending in Hong Kong will reach US$364.72 million by next year, up from an estimated US$350.23 million this year.

Kong said the plan was to continue to build on the existing brand equity of Wharf T&T before the company transitions to a new brand in a grand relaunch some time next year.

“We know the company is very well-capitalised, so there is no need for any additional financial support at the moment,” Kong said.

Asked about an exit strategy, TPG partner Ricky Lau said the Wharf T&T owners are open to consider any viable exit opportunities for their investment in the future.

The acquisition of Wharf T&T by MBK and TPG last month marked the latest big-ticket corporate buyout in Hong Kong’s telecommunications industry since PCCW-controlled HKT bought CSL New World Mobility for US$2.43 billion in 2014.