July 15, 2015 / 2:19 PM / 5 years ago

Hutchison to introduce low-cost mobile operator in Austria

VIENNA, July 15 (Reuters) - Hutchison Whampoa will introduce a low-cost mobile phone operator in Austria to increase market share, it said on Wednesday.

Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing’s Hutchison is on a European expansion spree, which included its 2013 takeover of Orange Austria, and plans to establish a recently acquired niche player as an independent brand called Eety, using Hutchison’s existing network infrastructure.

Eety, which Hutchison bought from an Austrian consortium for an undisclosed price, will offer cheap phone and data services with the aim of achieving a significant increase to the group’s 60,000-strong Austrian customer base, Eety manager Melanie Weber said without giving further details.

Mobile phone services piggy-backing on the infrastructure of bigger rivals in Austria is beginning to exert downward pressure on prices that had been rising since the Hutchison-Orange merger reduced the number of network operators to three in 2013.

Since the integration of Orange Austria, Hutchison’s Drei has established itself as the country’s third-ranked mobile operator — behind Telekom Austria and T-Mobile — and is targeting a 30 percent market share, up from its current 27.6 percent.

Hutchison Whampoa’s European expansion plans also include the purchase of Telefonica’s British business, O2 UK, and a merger of its mobile phone business in Italy with that of Russian telecoms group Vimpelcom. (Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; Editing by David Goodman)

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