Hutchison Whampoa's telecommunications businesses are expected to be profitable this year following several years of losses, according to analysts. It would mark the end of at least three years of losses at Hong Kong's largest mobile operator, Hutchison Telecom. It would be the first time fixed-line telecoms unit Hutchison Global Crossing has turned a profit since obtaining a licence in 1995. HSBC Securities said Hutchison Telecom generates at least HK$70 million in earnings each month before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation. Expenses from interest were said to be insignificant. The unlisted mobile operator, 75 per cent owned by Hutchison Whampoa and 25 per cent owned by Japan's NTT DoCoMo, had gross debt of HK$3.5 billion, according to HSBC. Meanwhile, Hutchison Whampoa and Hutchison Telecom declined to comment on a report that Hutchison Telecom was in talks to take over Sunday Communications. Executives at both companies suggested that there were no such talks. Sunday also declined to comment. Fuelled by the rumour, Sunday's shares jumped 13.55 per cent to 33.5 HK cents in the morning session. It closed at 31 cents, up 5.08 per cent. Analysts did not believe Hutchison would take over Sunday, citing a lack of compatibility between the two third-generation (3G) licensees in costs and network. DBS Vickers analyst Wallace Cheung estimated that between them, the companies controlled 36.2 per cent of the market at the end of last year. He said the market share brought about by a merger would raise concerns with the industry regulator. Hutchison Telecom, through the Orange brand, had about 27.5 per cent of the market, while Sunday had 8.7 per cent. Analysts said Hutchison Telecom, scheduled to launch 3G services in Hong Kong in the last quarter, would not need to make acquisitions to expand its subscriber base, despite the appearance of market saturation. HSBC analyst Carl Wong said Hutchison Telecom was no longer trying to maintain a market share of about 30 per cent, and was lowering subscriber acquisition costs by not pursuing low-usage customers. Mr Wong said the Hong Kong mobile operation, which had a significant improvement in earnings last year, could partly offset some pre-operating loss from 3G businesses last year. Meanwhile, HSBC estimated that Hutchison would share a net loss of less than US$20 million from its 50 per cent held subsidiary Hutchison Global Crossing, under Hong Kong accounting standards. Analysts predicted that Hutchison Global Crossing would still be profitable by the third quarter this year, after achieving operating break-even last May.