Hutchison picks up 3 UK's tab

Settles £1.5bn debt

Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong parent of mobile network 3 UK, is paying off more a billion pounds of debt for its spendthrift offspring.

Hutchison owns 80 per cent of 3 and is believed to be in talks to acquire the remaining 20 per cent from NTT DoCoMo.

It will pay the banks £1.5bn which 3 was due to pay back in March next year. The company says there was no pressure from the banks, but with disappointing subscriber numbers it is not surprising the mobile network has needed bailing out.

Hutchison told the BBC: "We have a lot of cash on hand and the UK loan is rather expensive." The 3G network owes a total of £2.5bn.

3 claims 210,000 subscriberms in the UK. It has just started offering pay-as-you-go services. ®

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