Hutchison Eyes Worldwide Wireless Push

HONG KONG (03/23/2000) - Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. this week unveiled plans to play a major role in wireless Internet and multimedia services worldwide, especially in Europe.

The company, parent of Hong Kong mobile-phone carrier Hutchison Telephone Co.

Ltd., sold a portion of its 5.14 percent stake in Vodafone Airtouch PLC, bringing in proceeds of HK$39 billion (US$5.01 billion) that it will use to expand into advanced wireless communications around the world, according to a company statement. The services will include third-generation (3G) and wireless multimedia, Hutchison said.

3G mobile technology will allow for data throughput as high as 384K bits per second (bps) for mobile users and 2M bps for stationary users of portable devices, opening up a range of possibilities for rich information and e-commerce services. The telecommunications authority in Hutchison's home market of Hong Kong this week took the first step toward issuing 3G licenses, issuing a industry consultation paper in which it envisions services being offered in 2001. (See "HK Kicks Off 3G Wireless Rule-Setting," March 24.)The company said it realized a profit of HK$1.6 billion on the Vodafone sale.

Hutchison still holds 3.58 percent of Vodafone, which last month acquired Germany's Mannesmann AG. Hutchison had held more than 10 percent of the German company. (See "Mannesmann Board Approves Vodafone Merger," Feb. 4.)Hutchison's potential to take a worldwide stake in wireless also was bolstered by a 1999 profit of US$15 billion reported yesterday, much of it from the sale of its Orange PLC telecommunications unit to Mannesmann last year.

Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., in Hong Kong, can be reached at +852-2128-1188 or online at http://www.hutchison-whampoa.com.

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