Hutchison sells Hong Kong Fixed-Line to Focus on Mobile & 5G Services

Hong Kong —

Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings Ltd has finalized to sell its fixed-line telecoms business to I Squared Capital for about $1.9 billion, raising funds to invest into mobile phone services and for working capital.

The company is selling Hutchison Global Communications (HGC), which provides fixed-line phone services as well as Wifi all around Hong Kong, for HK$14.5 billion ($1.86 billion) in cash to a unit of I Squared Capital, according to a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange. The value may be adjusted later based on debt, cash levels and other financial data of the business at the time of the closing.

The unit being sold operates in Hong Kong and China as well as serving businesses in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas.

Three has big plans to invest in the UK to blanket cities with a 5G service – providing ultrafast wireless broadband, which it hopes would encourage households to scrap their fixed-line internet connections.

The funds from this sale could be allocated to develop this plan further. Mr Li’s plans depend on him being able to buy a large enough slice of the spectrum which will be sold in anticipation of the development of a 5G service.

He has sought to have a tighter cap imposed on the amount of spectrum any one network provider can buy, which would close off rival bids and make it easier for Three to snap up spectrum.

A meeting with the Prime Minister failed to deliver this outcome, so Three has appealed to regulator Ofcom to reconsider its plan to allow any network to have up to 37pc of the spectrum – Mr Li wants the limit cut to 30pc.

Earlier this month Three said it is considering a judicial review of the current framework which could delay the move into 5G across the UK.

However, the company has also run into trouble in recent months. In March it admitted that a total of 210,200 customers were affected in a data breach in 2016, up 27pc on the company’s initial estimate.