Hutch hits back at 3G critics

Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa hit out at the critics on Thursday, saying that industry watchers should look at its business as a whole, rather than focusing on the loss making 3G unit.

Frank Sixt, the group’s finance director, basically said that it was unfair for the media and analysts to have the same focus on the company’s 3G efforts now as they did three years ago at launch.

For the six months to the end of June, Hutchison narrowed its loss (LBITDA) at the 3G division by 6 per cent, bringing it down from HK$11.9bn last year to HK$11.3bn (Eur1bn).

The group’s registered 3G customer base increased 7 per cent during the period to reach 15.9 million customers, while average monthly customer churn dropped to 2.7 per cent from 3.2 per cent in the same period last year.

Higher-value contract customers as a percentage of the registered customer base increased to account for 48 per cent of the 3 Group’s base, compared to 45 per cent at the end of 2006.

3’s flagship Italian operation notched up 7.6 million subscribers, while the UK and Ireland reported 4 million. While ARPU (average revenue per user) in Italy fell 7 per cent to Eur31.54, the UK made a slight gain, reporting ARPU of £46.81.

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