Hutchison Telecommunications Australia (HTA) suffered a net loss last year of A$137 million (about HK$549.4 million), up 48 per cent. The company, 58 per cent owned by Hutchison Whampoa, said the loss was due mainly to start-up costs associated with its investment in third-generation (3G) mobile services. The loss was in line with market expectations. HTA said it would roll out 3G services by the first quarter next year and hoped to secure another A$2 billion in funding by the middle of this year. Chief executive Kevin Russell said HTA's capital expenditure for 3G last year was A$427 million, and it planned to spend another A$900 million this year. Total subscribers of HTA fell 38 per cent to 290,000 after the company sold its resale client base to Singapore Telecommunications' Optus last year. It had 192,500 subscribers at the end of last year. Meanwhile, HTA's sister company, Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI), announced yesterday that it had been chosen as the preferred tenderer for an A$800 million road tunnel project in Sydney. This is the company's first transportation project in Australia, adding its fourth major project in the country to its existing HK$25 billion portfolio. The New South Wales Government yesterday announced that Cross City Motorway, a 50 per cent subsidiary of CKI, was the preferred bidder of a new 2km cross-city tollway tunnel linking Sydney's eastern suburbs with the city's west. The tunnel is to be in operation by 2006, and the CKI-led consortium is to start work by the end of this year. However, the company said it must first resolve outstanding issues with the NSW Government before a contract is signed by the middle of the year. DB Capital Partners has a 30 per cent share in the consortium and construction contractor Baulderstone Hornibrook has a 20 per cent interest.