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December 23, 2004

Hutchison increases stake in Italian unit and hints at listing

Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa Ltd has surprised the market after its managing director said that its 3G mobile unit in Italy, 3 Italia, could be listed on the Milan Stock Exchange in the second half of 2005.

By CBR Staff Writer

According to the Financial Times, managing director Canning Fok has been approached by investment bankers with plans to spin off its 3G businesses in the UK and in Italia. However, he said a listing of the latter was more likely, given its better performance than its UK counterpart.

3G Italia has been a small success story for Hutchison Whampoa which has overcome a lot of market concerns with its ambitious and expensive rollout of a 3G mobile network in various countries around the world. In Italy, the unit has 2.65 million customers and has a book value of more than E4.2 billion ($5.66 billion). However analysts predict a stock market valuation of at least twice that.

Hutchison has also raised its stake in the Italian venture to 89.3%, after paying debt and interest to Cirtel, the financial arm of Italian industrial group CIR, and buying back its 1.6% stake for a total amount of E469 million ($632 million).

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