Conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa is postponing the launch of two e-commerce initiatives, according to company executives. The delays come amid a global plunge in technology stocks and growing concern over the profitability of start-up Internet ventures. Portsnportals.com, an online trading platform for the shipping industry, would delay its official launch to next year, said Eric Ip, executive director of Hongkong International Terminals (HIT). 'We want to consolidate different pieces into a platform which, once it starts, will be a successful launch,' Mr Ip said. Portsnportals.com aims to bring together buyers and sellers of sea, rail and air transport services, with Hutchison acting as an agent and charging transaction or membership fees. The venture was expected to be the group's major e-commerce initiative this year. It was at one time valued at more than HK$100 billion by analysts. Mr Ip denied a lack of industry participation was a reason for the delay but said the company would take a more cautious approach to its online business. 'We have been quite sceptical about its business model from day one,' an analyst at a European brokerage said. 'Why would those major transport industry participants be willing to join this portal and give away business?' Meanwhile, Hutchison Telecom deputy managing director Stephen Ngan confirmed there would be a slight delay in launching its online securities trading service. He gave no reason. DLJ Hutchison Direct, a 50:50 joint venture formed early this year, was also scheduled to be launched in the third quarter, but Mr Ngan said it would still launch this year. Questions over the fate of the venture were raised after Credit Suisse First Boston's takeover of DLJ Direct parent Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette in September. Spokesmen for Hutchison E-commerce Resources were not available for comment. Analysts said a third Hutchison e-commerce joint venture - with Nasdaq-listed Priceline.com to sell air tickets online in Asia - could also be in danger after the US company pulled out of two online ventures this month. Priceline.com shares have fallen more than 90 per cent this year on investor concerns over whether its online air tickets strategy will work. 'If this model does not work in a bigger US airline market with domestic flights, why would it work for a smaller Asian market without domestic flights?' one analyst said. Of Hutchison's e-commerce ventures, only Bigboxx.com, which sells stationery online, has managed to launch on schedule. Nevertheless, Hutchison is pushing ahead with intra-group e-commerce activities, with two subsidiaries announcing a joint venture enabling truck drivers to access container information from HIT via Orange phones.