Vodafone to partner Hutchison

Updated: 2011-09-21 06:50

By Mark Lee (HK Edition)

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Vodafone Group Plc said it reached an agreement with Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's local mobile-phone unit to offer wireless services after ending a partnership with SmarTone Telecommunications Holdings Ltd.

Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings Ltd will become the "preferred non-equity partner of Vodafone in Hong Kong," the companies said in a joint statement on Tuesday. The two carriers will collaborate in services including roaming and marketing, they said.

The accord builds on other business deals between Li, Hong Kong's richest man, and Vodafone in Australia and India. The British company is ending its seven-year partnership with SmarTone, the mobile operator controlled by Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, the world's most valuable real-estate developer.

In 2007, Li's Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd sold its controlling stake in India's third-biggest mobile-phone carrier to Newbury, England-based Vodafone for $10.7 billion. In 2009, Vodafone, the world's biggest wireless carrier by revenue, and Li's Hutchison Whampoa Ltd merged their Australian mobile-phone operations.

Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong rose 3.8 percent to close at HK$2.98, while SmarTone gained 1.9 percent to HK$17.52. The Hang Seng Index advanced 0.51 percent.

Hong Kong-based SmarTone said in a statement on Monday it was not renewing its partnership with Vodafone. The companies started their collaboration in 2004.

Separately, Vodafone said on Tuesday it reached a strategic partnership with Conexus Mobile Alliance, a group of Asian carriers including Hutchison, Japan's NTT DoCoMo Inc and Taiwan's Far EasTone Telecommunications Co.

Bloomberg

(HK Edition 09/21/2011 page2)