Hutchison Telecommunications International moved a step closer to privatisation after its independent board committee, formed to assess the HK$4.23 billion buyout bid from parent firm Hutchison Whampoa, advised shareholders to approve it. Documents sent yesterday to interested parties, which include option holders, said Hutchison Telecom was expected to delist from the Hong Kong bourse on May 24 and the New York stock exchange on June 4. The delisting plan shows Hutchison Whampoa chairman Li Ka-shing's renewed faith in privatising local firms, a process he described as difficult last year. The conglomerate offered in January to take Hutchison Telecom private for HK$2.20 a share in a cash buyout being arranged by Goldman Sachs (Asia). That amount represents a 37 per cent premium to the operator's closing price on December 31 of HK$1.61. Its shares were up 0.47 per cent to close at HK$2.15 yesterday. Independent board committee members Kwan Kai-cheong and Kevin Westley, who are both non-executive directors of Hutchison Telecom, described the offer as 'fair and reasonable' in their recommendation of acceptance to independent shareholders and option holders. Macquarie Research analyst Lisa Soh said: 'We've always thought this privatisation will be successful; we don't see any major hiccups.' A favourable outcome would be sweet for Li, who last May said it was easier to close down a company in Hong Kong than privatise it and deal with shareholders who oppose such a transaction. Hutchison Whampoa's buyout bid has come about a year after Li's younger son, Richard Li Tzar-kai, failed to take PCCW private. Financial services firm Somerley, adviser to Hutchison Telecom's independent board committee, gave several reasons why the privatisation should go ahead. It said Hutchison Telecom, which runs mobile-phone networks in Asian emerging markets, has been divesting strategic assets over the past three years to maximise returns to shareholders. Those included the disposal of its entire stake in India's Hutchison Essar in May 2007, the spin-off of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings in May last year and the sale of its controlling stake in Partner Communications, Israel's second-biggest operator. This left the operator with networks in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand, a market it also wants to exit. 'None of the remaining businesses is among the top three operators in their respective markets and all generate negative cash flow, which is likely to result in short and medium-term uncertainty and potentially high share price volatility,' Somerley said. This made the firm 'less suited to remain as a publicly listed entity'.