3 Group on target to break even this year

Hong Kong-based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa reported a 42% fall in net profit for full-year 2008 today, but forecast that the business would breakeven this year.

Hutchison's net profit for the year fell to HKD17.66 billion ($2.26 billion) from HKD30.60 billion in 2007, when its profits were boosted by the sale of its stake in Indian operator Hutchison Essar to Vodafone. The result surpassed most analysts' expectations. Total revenue grew 13% to HKD348 billion.

Meanwhile, 3 Group saw losses (before interest and tax) reduce by 39% to HKD10.9 billion from HKD17.9 billion in 2007. Hutchison said that 'barring any significant adverse market developments or regulatory developments' it expects 3 Group to achieve a full year breakeven EBIT position in 2009.

The company said that all 3 Group markets reported improved results for the year with the exception of 3 Italia. The group's total 3G customer base rose 7% to 20.7 million by year-end, including 2.5 million mobile broadband customers, up 305% from a year earlier.

However, ARPU declined by 16% to €33.50 compared to 2007. The operator attributed this to reductions in mobile termination and roaming rates in certain markets, and the increase in the proportion of mobile broadband customers in its customer base.