RealTime IT News

Tiscali and Hutchison Whampoa Eye UMTS Market

[MILAN, Italy] The Internet and telecommunications service provider, Tiscali, announced that an agreement has been reached with Hutchison Whampoa to form an Italian-Chinese super-power, under the title Andala. The new company will compete for one of five licenses to be issued by the Italian Communications Commission for UMTS, a third-generation cellular telephone service.

"I am extremely happy with this agreement," said Renato Soru, founder of both Tiscali and the new company, Andala. "This union insures us one of the five licenses, as well as the ability to maximize participant value... It took great faith for Hutchinson Whampoa to provide its financial backing on this project."

Under the agreement, Hutchison Whampoa will control 51 percent of the new company, with Tiscali holding 25.5 percent. Other investors include Cir, Hdp, Gemina, San Paolo Imi, and Franco Bernabh.

In a separate announcement, Tiscali confirmed it was in talks with World On Line to expand its Internet services.

"The current talks are of an exploratory nature," said a spokesperson of Holland-based, World On Line. "We cannot say at this point whether a future cooperative effort will result or not."

TiscaliFreeNet is Italys 3rd largest ISP with 1.4 million subscribers as of April 1st. This market accounted for 90 million page views -- 29 percent of the Italian Internet user population -- during that same month.

In January, Tiscali acquired Datacomm, Switzerlands number 2 ISP, with nearly 90,000 subscribers and in February it took control of Link Line, followed by Interweb in March. These latter two have more than 163,000 subscribers, making Tiscali Belgiums second biggest ISP.

Other aggressive moves came recently when, in March, Tiscali became a leading ISP in Germany (237,000 subscribers) with the purchase of Nikoma. It also launched portals this summer in France, with plans to include Spain by the end of the year.