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3 Mobile to buy o2 Network

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Hutchison Whampoa  a company which most of the UK will not know is the company behind Three mobile (networks or 3UK).  European Reseller first became aware of this company in 2000 when they over spent on the new spectrum auction all players looked ahead to the future and saw gold. They therefore took risks and made high bids, incurring large debt, raising an unprecedented  £22.5 billion (GBP).

At a time when finance was counted in millions and not billions.

Compare this with the recent 4G auction when bidding was cautious, with the auction raising £2.34bn, £1bn less than the UK Treasury had hoped.


The UK’s four mobile network operators EE, 3UK, O2, Vodafone and Niche Spectrum Ventures Ltd – a subsidiary of BT –  all won spectrum after more than 50 rounds of bidding. 250MHz of spectrum was auctioned in two separate bands: 800MHz and 2.6GHz.

After the 2000 auction the telecom development industry was seen to hit a severe recession, some say because of the price they had to stump up for their licence.

Vodafone managed  their debt, but others including Hutchinson operating under the name of Three mobile bled money in the years to follow, being left behind in the race to develop networks.

Three networks has been offering a low cost offering, with out the bling and coverage quality offered by its UK rivals.  


Hutchison is controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, Li was born in Chaozhou, China in 1928 and left school to work for a plastics company.

After years of hard graft selling watches and learning the manufacturing process he was able to launch his own company. He started out selling plastic flowers, watchbands and belts. When things were going well he moved  into property and is reported to have taken advantage of the 1967 riots in Hong Kong. Scooping up land at cheap prices. He listed his real estate company, Cheung Kong Industries, on the Hong Kong Stock exchange in 1971.

Having reaped the benefits of land ownership, he acquired Hutchinson Whampoa Limited from HSBC in 1979, bringing him into the port and telecommunications industry. At age 86, Li Ka-Shing has been Hong Kong's richest man 17 years running with an estimated fortune of $34.1 billion (£22.7 billion).

He's currently the ninth richest person in the world and counts a luxury Sunseeker yacht, Gulfstream G550 private jet and £3.8 billion Hong Kong pad among his possessions.

The two groups said the deal would be subject to regulatory approvals that might take up to a year.

Hutchison could license the O2 brand in the UK to run alongside or instead of Three in future, according to one person familiar with the situation. However, he added that a final decision had not been made. This will all be of interest to resellers,dealers and the internet of things so we will watch very closely.