Hutchison Australia narrows loss ahead of merger

Hutchison Australia narrowed its net loss by 44% but still posted a deficit of A$163.1 million ($105.1 million) for 2008, the company announced.

The loss-making 3G carrier, who has announced plans to merge its operations with Vodafone Australia, said it boosted revenues by 23.1% to A$1.623 billion and posted positive EBITDA of A$200 million.

Non-voice revenue grew 65% to $464.2 million. Non-voice ARPU rose 32% to $10.30 - and now contributes to 31% of ARPU.

Mobile broadband subscribers grew 169.7% to 526,000 and the total customer base grew by 458,000 to 2.03 million.

The company said its merger with Vodafone Australia, announced last week, will help it achieve profitability. The new JV will earn revenue of around $4 billion and a market share of 27%, Hutchison said.

"The joint venture's ability to operate with a lower cost base and substantially improved economies of scale will ensure we continue on [Hutchison's] strong growth path," said Hutchison CEO Nigel Dews.

"Combined we will be well placed to be number two in the Australian mobile market."