Three’s profits edge up ahead of 5G launch

Mobile operator Three has booked rising annual revenues and profits as it prepares for the launch of its 5G network later this year.

The group, which is ultimately owned by Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison Holdings, posted a 1% rise in sales to £2.4 billion in the year to December 31 2018.

Earnings rose 7% to £752 million as the firm was boosted by a rise in customer numbers and connections.

Contract customer numbers rose 1% to 7 million and its active user base stands at more than 10 million. Average monthly data usage per customer hit 8.3GB.

The mobile operator also said it made “significant progress” across its network to launch 5G late in 2019.

Three has committed to investing £2 billion in building a 5G network, and is also updating tech infrastructure.

Boss Dave Dyson said: “Despite this investment in technology for the future potential of the business, we have improved our profitability and delivered a consistent financial performance through a rigorous approach to cost control.”

The update came alongside full-year results released by Hutchison, which also owns British retailers The Perfume Shop, Superdrug, and Savers.

The Hong Kong conglomerate saw profits rise 11% to 39 billion Hong Kong dollars (£3.8 billion) while turnover rose 7% to 453.2 billion Hong Kong dollars (£40 billion).

Hutchison, which is also behind Felixstowe Port, said volatile economic conditions, uncertainty as to monetary policy direction, and the outcome of trade disputes and Brexit negotiations had dampened investment and trade flows.

Last year Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing retired as chairman of Hutchison and handed control to his eldest son.

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