CANNING FOK KIN-NING AFTER MONTHS AWAY, Hutchison Whampoa group managing director Canning Fok Kin-ning is back. On Saturday, he called a media briefing to give an update on Hutchison's new business - '3' - following the launch last Monday in London. A committed salesman for third-generation (3G) mobile services, he stepped into Hutchison's headquarters with a hearty grin. Deliberately or not, he showed a two-minute movie clip from Steven Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can before switching to a replay of an Arsenal soccer match. Thirty minutes into the media conference, a Cheung Kong executive interrupted with a video call. This new service would be available in June, Mr Fok said, adding that Hutchison would be the first to offer 3G in Asia. 'I fell in love with it,' Mr Fok said after an hour-long demonstration. Here is part of his talk with reporters on Saturday. Q: Describe the 3G launch on March 3. A: We launched an advertising campaign, and I visited some of our UK stores. March 3 was quite an emotional thing for me. My team and I have been working almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In the past 13 or 14 weeks, I have been away from Hong Kong at least 12 weeks. Q: Is it a personal gamble? A: As those who know me know, I never gamble. This is a business. People can say what they say, we are here, and we started our business. (Vodafone chief executive) Chris Gent, my dear friend, said there would be no video calls for two years. We are offering them in early 2003. A lot of my competitors, analysts, fund managers and the press said there were no handsets available. I have to say that 700,000 handsets will be available in March, April and May. I think (3G) works, and it works very well. Q: How confident are you in '3'? A: I think we are there, we are very, very happy. The feedback from our customers is very good, and very enthusiastic, and I'm very optimistic. Are we going to have one million customers? My immediate answer is yes. Q: How many models do you have for '3'? A: We have three NEC models, and we'll have another two models coming from Motorola in April. We are also in discussions with Sony Ericsson. Q: How's progress on winning 3G licences in Finland and Norway? A: I like it. We've had discussions, but there have to be synergies, and we don't plan a new investment. Q: What is your total investment? A: I don't think in terms of accounting, I think in terms of actual money going out. For example, in the UK, everybody thinks I paid GBP4.4 billion (about HK$55 billion) for a 3G licence. In fact, my cost for a 65 per cent (stake) was about GBP2.2 billion because I got GBP2.2 billion from NTT DoCoMo and KPN. In the UK, we haven't put a cent into the 3G business, the banks supported us on that. We are looking for GBP1 billion in funding. So if you're asking about my UK business, my funding from Hutchison was GBP2.3 billion, plus GBP650 million (invested into the joint venture). In Italy, we paid two billion euros (about HK17.2 billion), and so far we haven't put any more money in. Q: However you calculate it, when will you get it back? A: I think this time the experience will be better than what happened with Orange . . . I didn't have funding from banks. Secondly, the way I got my one million subscribers at Orange took at least two years. (For 3G), I think we can achieve that this year. The average revenue per subscriber we are getting from subscribers is higher, much higher. We are getting the cream of society today . . . So I think the business plan we have today is more attractive. Q: But you invested much more this time than in Orange? A: Not exactly. For Orange, everything came from us. For '3', we raised the money from 2G sales. The money for '3' comes from the profit we raised, and hopefully we'll make more profits for our shareholders.