20090810

Star fees and Hutch

Hutchison Whampoa is selling its 51% participation in Partner Communications (to Scailex), which seems to make sense as far as geography and marketing are concerned :

- the Israeli operation carried the Orange brand

- the group operates in Europe and Asia-Pacific :
. via "3" : Austria, Croatia, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, UK, and Australia (the new 50/50 Vodafone Hutchison Australia JV runs both Vodafone and "3" brands),
. via Hutchison Telecom International Limited / HTIL : Indonesia as "3", Sri Lanka and Thailand as "Hutch", and Vietnam as Vietnamobile
. via HTIL's spin off Hutchison HK Holdings / HTHKH : Hong-Kong & Macau as "3".

"Hutch" as a brand has been dead ever since the group sold its participation in India (see "
3GSM 2007 - A brave new World ? A new and improved Vodafone ?/em>"). Lately, Sri Lanka and Thailand operations have been struggling in most unstable contexts. HWL shall either try to dump them or to switch to "3", as the hybrid logo in Thailand seem to tell. Without India (now Vodafone Essar), Sri Lanka has a relatively limited potential : 20 million inhabitants vs 63 for Thailand, 86 for Vietnam, and of course 237 for Indonesia.

Switching from CDMA to GSM in Vietnam costs a lot. Rolling out networks in emerging countries costs a lot. Competing in the handset arena, even with smart solutions*, costs a lot. Running operations in highly competitive, saturated markets in Europe as well as Hong Kong, costs a lot. And this conglomerate is not as ripe with cash as it used to be.

Rumor has it more dividends could be shed. Such a counterproductive heresy should be counterbalanced with counterproductive promises of productivity increases. Depending on a financial holding can be such a drag.


* Facebook, Skype, and now Twitter shortcuts : after the INQ1, the group announced the INQ Mini 3G, along with a INQ Chat 3G with a full keyboard



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