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Hutchison and NTL withdraw from Dutch auction
Posted: 06-Jul-2000 [Source: FT]

[Only six groups remain in the bidding for five licenses as the first day of bidding begins.]

Amsterdam -- "The Dutch auction for third generation mobile licences was left with only six bidders on its first day after the withdrawal of Hutchison 3G Netherlands, part of Hong Kong's Hutchison Whampoa, and NTL-owned Nogenta Swedish Acquisitions.

"The companies gave no reason for pulling out only hours before the auction was due to begin on Thursday. However, the withdrawals were not entirely surprising given NTL's links with France Telecom, which is also bidding in the auction, and the 3G alliance between Hutchison and KPN, the dominant Dutch carrier, believed to have been formed this week.

"Both groups had been probed by the Dutch ministry of transport, public works and water management in the weeks leading up to the start of bidding.

"The ministry had been concerned about links between Dutchtone, France Telecom's Dutch subsidiary, and NTL, in which France Telecom has a 25 per cent stake, but ruled that the French operator's stake in NTL was too insignificant to influence a rival bid.

"However, a ruling had still been pending on whether an alliance to pursue UMTS licences in Europe between KPN, which is also bidding for a licence, and Hutchison Whampoa might affect the Dutch auction.


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