Victor Li

CK Hutchison buys remaining 50pc share in Italian mobile provider Wind Tre for US$2.85 billion

Stock purchase is expected to consolidate company’s foothold in European telecoms market

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 7:42pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 11:25pm

Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings has agreed to buy a 50 per cent stake in Italian mobile services provider Wind Tre, it said on Tuesday. The deal, worth 2.45 billion (US$2.85 billion), makes the company, which already owns the remaining stock in the mobile operator, its sole owner.

The stock purchase is expected to consolidate the company’s foothold in the European telecoms market. “This is a key step in consolidating an important part of CK Hutchison’s telecom assets, which are being built into a globally relevant platform for the delivery of next-generation products and services,” the company said in a statement.

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The purchase of the remaining stake in Wind Tre, one of Italy’s top three mobile providers, represents another major deal for Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, who took over the reins of CK Hutchison from his father Li Ka-shing, Hong Kong’s richest man, in May.

Victor Li, who is the conglomerate’s chairman and group co-managing director, has shown a keen interest in expanding the company his father started through acquisitions around the globe.

In June, Cheung Kong Infrastructure, a company controlled by CK Hutchison, led a consortium that made an A$13 billion (US$9.8 billion) offer for Australian gas pipeline company APA Group. The same month, CK Asset Holdings, the company’s property arm, bought 5 Broadgate, a three-year-old, grade A office tower close to Liverpool Street railway station in London for £1 billion (US$1.3 billion).

Wind Tre was established in 2016 through the merger of VimpelCom’s Wind Telecomunicazioni and CK Hutchison’s 3 Italia. VimpelCom is now known as Veon.

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Veon booked a net gain of about US$1.1bn from the stake sale. The Amsterdam-based company said part of the proceeds from the sale of the stake would be used to reduce debt, while the remainder will be used to acquire the assets of international telecoms company Global Telecom Holding in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“The company has identified four immediate priorities: simplifying the group’s structure, increasing our operational focus on emerging markets, strengthening the group’s balance sheet and supporting the company’s dividend policy,” Veon executive chairwoman Ursula Burns said in a statement.

The stake purchase is subject to regulatory approvals, and is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2018.