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Hutchison Whampoa has pulled the planned listing of 3 Italia, the first of its mobile operations flagged for flotation, dealing a blow to its hopes of bringing the rest of its mobile businesses to market.

The decision was made at a 3 Italia board meeting on Friday, days after long-delayed clearance from Consob, the Italian regulator, for the initial public offering.

3 Italia said on Friday: “Current market conditions for European telecom stocks are very weak and, in the circumstances, the company does not believe that the market would ascribe an appropriate valuation to 3 Italia’s business on its IPO at this time.”

It is understood that Hutchison could come back to the market but is
unlikely to do so before the second half of this year.

The failure to get the IPO away casts big doubts on similar plans for 3 UK, which was expected to follow the Italian business on to the market this year.

Hutchison, the Hong Kong-based conglomerate, had hoped to use a successful flotation in Italy as a catalyst for market debuts by some of its other eight 3 mobile operations around the world.

Hutchison has spent the past five years building its mobile empire at a cost of US$25bn.

Investors had given a luke-warm response to Hutchison in the pre-marketing of 3 Italia.

Initial doubts about Hutchison’s valuation of €12bn ($14.3bn) on 3 Italia were magnified by increasingly poor stock market performance of European telecoms operators.

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