Hutchison hunts agency for 3G phone task

Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa is hunting for an advertising agency to promote the third-generation (3G) mobile phone network it bought for £4.4bn. The UK ad spend is thought to be worth at least £30m.

Hutchison, which is controlled by chairman Li Ka-shing, backed the Canadian consortium TIW to become the UK’s latest mobile phone market entrant by winning a licence to build a 3G network.

The search for a UK agency is being led by Hutchison Europe director of product and marketing Dick van den Bergh and conducted through the AAR.

The company has vast resources to support its global businesses, which span telecoms, port operators, energy, retail and property. In 1999, the company reported a $15bn (£10bn) profit.

Hutchison was this week poised to sell a 35 per cent stake in its UK operating company, which owns the 3G licence, to Dutch and Japanese telecoms groups KPN and NTT DoCoMo, which are paying between £1.5bn and £2bn for 15 per cent and 20 per cent respectively.

The agreements will help spread the cost of building the 3G networks and open up the UK market to Japan’s largest mobile phone operator, NTT DoCoMo.

Hutchison launched Orange in 1994 but sold it to Mannesmann in November 1999. Mannesmann was sold to Vodafone, which, for regulatory reasons, then sold on Orange to France Telecom for £31bn last month.

Orange’s ad spend last year was £32m. It is reviewing its agency arrangements. Following the sale to France Telecom, its global ad spend could rocket to £100m.

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