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Hong Kong’s Li family to reshuffle UK telco assets

The $375m deal will provide Three UK with access to a range of additional spectrum, allowing the mobile operator to expand into the fixed wireless broadband market.

CK Hutchison Holdings, the flagship investment company controlled by Hong Kong’s richest man Li Ka-shing, has agreed to acquire a UK telecommunication business from his younger son Richard for £300 million ($375 million; €352 million). 

CK Hutchison’s Three UK will pay £250 million in cash for PCCW Limited, with the balance to be settled in credit vouchers. 

The transaction will see UK Broadband become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Three UK, providing the UK mobile network operator with access to a chunk of additional spectrum. 

Dave Dyson, Three’s chief executive, said the deal was mostly driven by the value of UK Broadband’s spectrum licences, according to local reports. Dyson said Three planned to use the spectrum for its expansion into fixed wireless broadband across the country.   

UK Broadband owns and operates Relish, a mobile broadband provider based in London, providing services to 15,000 customers across the country, while Three UK currently carries 35 percent of the country’s mobile data traffic. 

CK Hutchison also invests in mobile operations across the world, with presence in Australia, Austria, Denmark, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Macau, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Vietnam.

For its part, PCCW expects to post a gain of over HK$1.3 billion ($167.6 million; €156.6 million) from the transaction, according to a filing at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The proceeds will be used to fund its operations and other general corporate purposes, PCCW said.