Hutchinson denies it will pull out of the UK

Hutchison Whampoa, which sounds like a trade union in Willy Wonker’s chocolate factory, has denied that it will pull out of the UK market if its 3UK subsidiary does not get any spectrum.

Over the weekend The Sunday Times revealed that Hutchison’s managing director Canning Fok had told prime minister David Cameron that his firm will stop investing in the UK, and even pull out altogether, if it does not get spectrum guarantees in the auctions.

The company has apparently had a gutsful of the spectrum auctions which have been much delayed.

Telcos have been fuming about the delays but also the fact that the playing field does not appear exactly level.

While it is unlikely that the Times made it up, Hutchinson told Rethink Wireless  that it is not pulling out of the UK and said it was “happy with its current investments in the country”.  In fact it was thinking of splashing out on a few more businesses over here.

But there is some weight behind the rumours. David Dyson, head of 3UK, which is a Hutchison subsidiary recently called for the auction to go ahead this year, but only with “fair” conditions.

3UK has made it fairly clear that it will be left in an uncompetitive position if special measures are not taken to keep it viable in 4G spectrum.

Smaller UK companies have less ability to bid large sums than its larger rivals, and it looks like Everything Everywhere, Vodafone and Telefonica O2 will clean up.