Hong-Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa squashed suggestions that its 3 Italia unit is up for sale.
The declaration by Hutchison comes after comments Telecom Italia Executive Chairman Franco Bernabe made earlier this month in which he said the Italian mobile market does not have room for four operators and should be rationalised. In response, Hutchison Managing Director Canning Fok, said: "This looks to me more like somebody's wish than the reality," according to an interview he gave with Itlian newspaper Corriere della Sera.
The implication that 3 Italia may exit the country follows its failure to win any LTE spectrum during the recent Italian auction in the highly sought-after 800MHz band. The operator was the only one of the country's four major operators not to obtain an allocation in this band.
Fok dismissed this aspect, claiming: "We had set a limit above which it was no longer economical for us to bid for the 800MHz." Pointing to the fact that 3 Italia had been first to take advantage of the boom in data traffic, Fok said: "We have the most competitive offers on data traffic," adding that Italy's consumers were now paying more attention to costs.
Interestingly, Fok also said: "Four mobile operators in Italy aren't too many. If there will be consolidation, we will be protagonists--we want to be consolidators."
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