Rumors that Japan’s largest mobile operator NTT DoCoMo is looking to exit its investment with UK operator Hutchison 3G UK gathered pace yesterday after the Financial Times quoted “people close to the situation” as saying it is near to agreeing the sale of its 20% stake in 3 UK.
According to the newspaper, 3 UK’s parent company Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa and DoCoMo are aiming to reach an agreement by the end of March. The two have been in talks about a sale for some time, but discussions have proven difficult and time-consuming.
The Japanese mobile phone giant is thought to be unimpressed by the returns it has received from its GBP930m ($1.72bn) investment in 3 UK, due to the company’s low subscriber figures of only 210,000 customers in the United Kingdom, well below DoCoMo’s expectations. It is also irritated at 3’s refusal to adopt i-mode.
If DoCoMo does conclude the sale, it opens the door for a possible bid or partnership arrangement with the UK’s fourth-placed mobile operator mmO2. NTT DoCoMo has already signaled its interest in a partnership with mmO2, but only if the UK operator adopts i-mode.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire