Hutchison Whampoa will sell a 5 per cent stake in its Hong Kong mobile telecommunications business to Japanese electronics giant NEC for US$73.1 million in a move aimed at tightening its strategic relationship with a key equipment supplier. The telecommunications and ports conglomerate said it would subscribe to new shares equivalent to a 5 per cent stake in Hutchison Telephone and Hutchison 3G HK via wholly owned subsidiary Pilot Gateway. The subsidiary will then be sold to NEC. Hutchison Telecom has signed an agreement to buy one million third-generation (3G) mobile handsets from NEC. Hutchison's stake in Hutchison Telephone and Hutchison 3G HK Holdings will be diluted from 74.63 per cent to 71 per cent after the deal, while Japan's NTT DoCoMo - the world's largest mobile operator by sales - will see its stake reduced from 25.37 per cent to 24 per cent. Hutchison Telephone runs a second-generation mobile operation while Hutchison 3G will soon launch a 3G service in Hong Kong. The deal values Hutchison's Hong Kong mobile telecoms business at US$1.46 billion or US$860 per user, based on Hutchison Telephone's 1.7 million subscribers. That is significantly lower than the per-user price PCCW received when it sold its 40 per cent stake in Hong Kong mobile unit CSL to Australian telecoms giant Telstra for US$614 million in June. Telstra paid about US$1,200 per user. In February last year, Hutchison Whampoa bought a 25 per cent stake in Hutchison Telephone for US$120 million from long-time partner Motorola. That deal valued Hutchison Telecom at only US$480 million. A Hutchison spokeswoman said the company was happy with the price paid by NEC, saying: 'We believe this is a reasonable valuation.' The deal was aimed at strengthening its strategic relationship with NEC. She said the share sale was not to raise cash for its 3G mobile network, adding 'US$73.1 million is not that much money'. Hutchison launches its 3G service today in Britain, the first country where it will roll out the service.