To make its European wireless dreams come true, conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa needs the financial and technological backing it will gain from its expected partnerships with Japan's NTT Docomo and Dutch carrier KPN Telecom, analysts said.
HONG KONG, 7 July 2000 (MaxisNet) - According to an industry source, NTT Docomo and KPN will take a combined 35 percent stake in Hutchison's third-generation (3G) British wireless venture with Canada's TIW for 2.8 billion euros (US$2.94 billion).
Hutchison and its two partners would then set out to conquer Europe's next-generation wireless market by launching bids for 3G licenses starting with Germany, France and Belgium.
Through what could be one or several European holding companies, Hutchison would hold a roughly 60 percent stake in the venture, which in a year or two would be partially spun-out through initial public offering, analysts said.
"They want to be vying with Vodafone as the major brand player in European wireless communications," said analyst Robert Sassoon of SG Securities. "(Hutchison has) moved from analog to second-generation, and now they're reinventing themselves and moving into 3G."
Both Hutchison and NTT Docomo declined comment. A KPN spokesman said on Tuesday the company, together with Hutchison and NTT Docomo, was looking at 3G possibilities in Europe, including Britain.
The barrier to European 3G entry is high - Hutchison's 90.1 percent-owned British TIW 3G venture paid 4.4 billion pounds for one of five 3G licenses awarded in Britain in April.
While analysts say 3G licenses may not be so costly elsewhere in Europe - partly due to consolidation among would-be bidders - the expense of licenses and network buildouts forces Hutchison to enlist partners to share the burden.
"It's pretty clear that to bid in the rest of Europe, they do need strong financial and technical partners," said analyst Sanjeet Devgan of Prudential Securities.
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