NTT DoCoMo Inc. is close to agreeing on the sale of its 20 percent stake in Hutchison Whampoa Ltd.’s third-generation mobile phone business in Britain, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.
The sale would leave the Hong Kong conglomerate as the sole owner of 3 UK, the British economic daily reported, citing informed sources.
Hutchison and NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s biggest mobile phone service provider, are aiming to reach an agreement by the end of the month, the newspaper said.
NTT DoCoMo spokesman Takumi Suzuki said the company has engaged in various talks with Hutchison, adding, however, that the company could not comment on the news report.
“Our relations with Hutchison have been good and there has been no change in our relations,” Suzuki said.
The Financial Times said NTT DoCoMo has been reviewing its four-year investment in 3 UK, which has failed to realize its goal of starting i-mode Internet-capable mobile phone services in Britain and promoting the rapid spread of 3G services there.
If the sale is successfully concluded, NTT DoCoMo will lose its foothold in the British market for 3G and i-mode services and will have to find a new partner quickly for its British ambitions and rebuild its European strategy, the report says.
The move to explore a potential exit from 3 UK comes as NTT DoCoMo reviews its global strategy, including the possible sale of its 16 percent stake in AT&T Wireless Services Inc.