Hutchison Whampoa has secured financing for its Italian third-generation (3G) telephone network with loans of 4.2 billion euros (about HK$29.1 billion) from banks and equipment vendors. The company declined to disclose the loan interest. Eleven banks are underwriting 3.2 billion euros of the financing, including DBS and HSBC, with the remainder from equipment vendors. Of the bank loans, one billion euros is a non-recourse credit facility where the loan is not secured by existing assets should the business fail. Another 2.2 billion euros is secured by Hutchison's assets. These recourse rights are to fall away as its subsidiary, H3G, achieves the agreed financial and operating performance targets. The credit facility from the banks is for nine years and nine months. The one billion euro facility from equipment vendors is on similar terms to the non-recourse portion of the bank financing. No further details were given. Syndication of the credit facility from the banks, where other banks also agree to take on part of the loans, will begin this month in Europe and Asia. 'We are very pleased with the successful underwriting of our bank financing, especially given the current market conditions,' said H3G chief executive Vincenzo Novari. 'We believe being the first 3G company in Europe to have ensured availability of all our funding requirements for the next 10 years provides us with a significant competitive advantage.' Securing financing for Hutchison's Italian 3G operations was delayed by the downturn in the telecommunications and technology sectors. Last summer, Hutchison had hoped to obtain loans of 5.2 billion euros, most of them unsecured. SG Securities analyst Robert Sassoon said it looked like the loans were in line with recent market expectations, with most being secured. 'It probably comes as no surprise as there had been a lot of speculation about the sort of form that it would be and . . . Hutchison would have to guarantee more than the non-recourse element,' Mr Sassoon said. He believed the interest rate would be reasonably high, given the relatively long maturity period of the loans. Hutchison holds an 88.2 per cent stake in H3G. Shareholders injected 3.25 billion euros into the unit for an Italian 3G licence, which was awarded in December 2000.