HTIL sells Israeli subsidiary for €971m

Hutchison Telecom International (HTIL) has arranged to sell its controlling stake in Israeli operator Partner Communications, as it revealed it had swung to a first half loss.

Israeli mobile importer Scailex has arranged to purchase the Partner stake for around €971 million.

HTIL owns a 51.3% stake in Partner. The Israeli operations contributed to over 80% of HTIL's 1H revenue.

The sale is expected to close in Q4 - subject to shareholder and regulatory approval - and will net Hutchison a pre-tax gain of around €703 million, HTIL said.

“We believe this is the right time to monetize the gain from our investment [in Partner] for the benefit of the Company and its shareholders,” HTIL chairman Canning Fok said.

Hutchison will now concentrate its emerging market strategy on its existing operations in Indonesia, Vietnam and Sri Lanka, the company added.

Meanwhile, the company reported a €22.2 million  net loss for 1H09, compared to a €105 million  profit a year ago.

HTIL said its results had been negatively impacted by the depreciation of the new Israeli shekel against the Hong Kong dollar, as well as other side-effects of the economic downturn.

The group increased its total customer base 36.5% year-on-year to 11.6 million. Its Vietnamese operation alone signed up 624,000 new subscribers.

HTIL declined to give guidance for the full year, citing economic uncertainty, but said it was “optimistic” about the second half.