Hutch Aussie unit reports smaller first half loss

Australian mobile phone company Hutchison Telecommunications posted a narrower first-half net loss, saying its customer base grew strongly and margins per user remained steady, a Reuters report said.

The Reuters report quoted Hutchison, which is 58% owned by Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa, as saying that its net loss for the six months to June 30 was A$197.3 million ($157.8 million), compared with a net loss of A$524.7 million ($424 million) a year ago.

The 2006 first half included a A$299 million ($242 million) one-off charge for the closure of a mobile phone network.

Hutchison reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of A$31.4 million ($25.4 million), compared with earnings (EBITDA) of A$3 million ($2.4 million) a year ago.

Hutchison has spent heavily to roll out its third-generation mobile phone network, which allows users to access music and videos, which operates under the 3 brand.

Credit Suisse analysts had forecast a reported first half net loss of A$177 million ($143 million), and JP Morgan expected a net loss of A$205 million ($166.1 million).