Stiff Competition

Aug 13, 2009 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's Hutchison Telecom International unit lost subscribers in the June 2009 quarter, but the firm is continuing network expansion that will see 65 percent population coverage by the end of the year, the company said. Hutchison said subscriber dropped to 536,000 by end June from 772,000 in March. In June 2008, the firm said its reported 1.29 million subscribers would be cut as it was overstated.

Sri Lanka's mobile market is in the middle of a stiff price-war following the entry of Bharti Airtel as the fifth operator.

"The first half of 2009 still saw the performance of Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka (Private) Limited severely hampered by adverse economic conditions and fierce competition," Hutchison Telecom International said in a statement.

Hutch said the Sri Lanka unit posted a 39 million Hong Kong dollar loss before interest tax depreciation and amortization (LBITDA) for the 6-months to June.

Average revenue per user (ARPU) had fallen to 119 rupees by June 2009 quarter from 148 rupees in March. Minutes of use (MOU) were steady at 77.

Earlier this week, Hutchison Telecommunications International said it was selling 51 percent stake in Israel’s Partner Communications Ltd. to Scailex Co

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