Hutchison offers to buy rival mobile service provider Orange Austria for $1.87 billion


Mobile operator Hutchison 3G is offering $1.87 billion to
buy larger rival Orange Austria.


The deal could go through next month if regulators approve, according to a
report in Economic Times.


The deal would boost Hutchison from number four to number
three in the competitive Austrian market, behind T-Mobile and market leader A1.
Hutchison plans to sell excess base stations, frequencies and the Yesss
brand to A1.


According to BMI, the Austrian mobile market grew by 7.4 percent during 2010,
to reach a total subscriber base of 12.268 million and a penetration rate of
146.4 percent. Although positive mobile subscriber growth will likely continue
over the next few years, BMI cautions that moves by the operators to discount
significant numbers of inactive prepaid users would result in a notable fall in
Austria’s mobile penetration rate.


France Telecom, which owns 35 percent of Orange Austria,
has said it was not looking to buy private equity firm Mid Europa Partner’s 65
percent stake this year.



France Telecom, Europe’s third-largest telecom operator by market
capitalization, and Mid Europa Partners acquired Austrian mobile operator One,
which they rebranded as Orange Austria, for an enterprise value of about 1.4
billion euros in 2007.



Orange Austria, which has 2.3 million customers, is valued at 740 million euros
to 1.1 billion, and Mid Europa’s stake would be worth 481-715 million, the
Wirtschaftsblatt paper has reported.


There were 5.422 million active 3G subscribers at the end
of September 2010. This was equivalent to almost 44 percent of the mobile
market, according to a report in Market Research.


The regulator reports strong growth in the number of
mobile broadband subscribers who use a USB stick or another mobile device to
access the internet through one of Austria’s HSPA-enabled 3.5G networks.


Investments in LTE are expected to push mobile broadband
services to the next level. Broadband bundles also helped slow down the rate of
decline in the fixed-line market in 2010, with Telekom Austria seeing a return
to positive growth in the fourth quarter.


However, usage of its ageing PSTN and ISDN infrastructure
continues to fall and it is only its slightly faster increase in xDSL uptake
that is powering this return to form. Its new IPTV service – which had 151,000
subscribers at the end of 2010 – is more than playing its part in this


By Team
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