Report: CK Hutchison still seeking ways to expand Three UK


CK Hutchison continues to nurture growth ambitions for its UK mobile unit following the failure of the Hong Kong group’s plans to by O2 UK and merge it with Three UK.

Frank Sixt, the finance director of CK Hutchison Holdings -- the flagship company of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing -- told Bloomberg that the group is “lobbying very hard” on buying more spectrum licences to enable it to expand its UK business.

Indeed, analysts have previously cited spectrum as one of the biggest challenges facing Three UK after the European Commission (EC) blocked the company’s plan to merge with O2 UK. The merger would have created the market’s largest mobile operator by subscribers.

CCS Insight has previously described Three UK’s situation as “precarious”, and said this is set to underpin the next "feisty and potentially acrimonious debate" over future spectrum allocations.

"The operator claims to carry over 40 per cent of UK data traffic, but holds only about a 15 per cent share of the airwaves -- an unsustainable position that has already forced Three to raise prices on some tariffs," CCS Insight observed.

Three UK CEO Dave Dyson continues to call on regulator Ofcom to impose restrictions on rivals at an upcoming spectrum auction. Several media outlets recently reported that Dyson and TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding, among others, signed an open letter to Ofcom calling for it implement a spectrum cap of 30 per cent on each operator.

Speaking about the EC’s decision to block the O2 merger, Sixt said he did not think this was the right conclusion. “I don’t think there’s any ability to effectively reverse the competition decision,” he added.

CCS Insight also recently suggested that Three UK could be a good fit for Liberty Global, which sells mobile services via Virgin Media but lacks an LTE offering.

For more:
- see this Computer Business Review article
- see this Bloomberg article

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