New World Telephone (NWT) has confirmed it is talking with potential partners over its fixed telephone business. A New World Telephone spokesman said: 'We are in the process of negotiating with some strategic partners. 'There is no absolute decision to be made at the moment.' The disclosure comes days after rival Hutchison Telecom announced a US$1.2 billion joint venture with Bermuda-based Global Crossing. The Hutchison deal raised the stakes for New World Telephone and fixed-line rival New T&T, pressuring them to forge similar partnerships. Analysts said the deal gave Hutchison 'significant advantages' and it was only a matter of time before New T&T and New World brought in foreign partners to their fixed telephone networks. New T&T marketing director Tony Cheung Tung-lam said: 'In the past, some international telecom players did approach us, but at the moment we don't have any plans [to form a strategic partnership].' Credit Suisse First Boston analyst Niq Lai said: 'The industry is globalising and it's very difficult to compete if you do not have strategic partners.' Potential investors included United States-based MCI WorldCom, Australia's Telstra and Germany's Deutsche Telekom, analysts said. The three shared a common strategy of building a global network targeted at high-end multinationals. MCI WorldCom had approached New World but the Hong Kong company had been 'too greedy', according to one analyst. 'MCI WorldCom have been looking to acquire one of the [fixed telephone network services] licencees,' the analyst said. Singapore Telecom was seen as another possible suitor as it wanted to expand its regional reach. The Government is expected to issue three to four wireless local network licences next month, increasing competition for existing fixed-line operators. The fixed-line networks of Hutchison, New World and New T&T are all making losses, despite a Government moratorium on fixed telephone network services licences that will end in 2003. The three carriers have only about 5 per cent of the market dominated by Cable & Wireless HKT. The Hutchison deal would make it 'the clear No 2 player' in the fixed-line sector after HKT, said Peter Milliken, DBS Securities analyst. The 50-50 venture will combine Hutchison's fixed-line telephone network with Global Crossing's international cable capacity. Global Crossing would help Hutchison lower its service costs 'and help with the burden of losses they [Hutchison] are suffering at the moment', he said. Mr Milliken said New T&T parent Wharf (Holdings) would like to sell down its stake but this was complicated by the planned spin-off of its i-Cable Communications multimedia division.