3G service delayed in HK
Hutchison Whampoa Ltd, Asia's biggest investor in high-speed mobile-phone networks in Europe, will delay the start of third-generation (3G) wireless service in Hong Kong by two months to next month, blaming a shortage of cell-phones. Hutchison Wham-poa said demand for phones in Europe and Australia resulted in "handsets being shipped to those markets first." The March start-up in the service in the UK, the biggest of Hutchison's nine markets worldwide, was delayed by three months because of network glitches. The new service by Hutchison 3G H.K. Ltd will allow users to video conferences on handsets next month, the company said in a statement. Group managing director Canning Fok, who estimated in March that Hong Kong service would start last month, said Hutchison's priority was to develop European markets, where Hutchison doesn't already provide mobile-phone services. In Hong Kong, Hutchison Whampoa owns the city's top mobile-phone company, Hutchison Tele-communications (HK) Ltd.
Shenzhen to get theme park
The French high-tech theme park Futuroscope is hoping to begin operations in Shenzhen in 2005, park officials said in France on Monday. A memorandum of understanding on the deal is expected to be signed with Chinese partners in the next few weeks, said Futuro-scope coordinator Philippe Mouroux. Futuroscope, which specializes in new imagery technology, opened in 1984 and is now one of France's three leading theme parks, along with Disneyland Paris and Asterix. But the facility had a tough year last year, when it nearly went bankrupt as the number of visitors fell to 1.553 million from 1.9 million in 2001.
MGM to sell cable stake
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc agreed to sell its 20 percent stake in three cable chan-nels to Cablevision Systems Corp. for US$500 million, raising cash that may help finance a bid for Vivendi Universal SA's US media assets. MGM will sell its interest in the channels -- American Movie Classics, the Independent Film Channel and WE: Women's Entertainment -- to Cable-vision's Rainbow Media for US$250 million in cash and a US$250 million note payable in five months in cash or Cablevision stock. Santa Monica, California-based MGM said in a statement that it would record a US$93 million loss on the sale. MGM is one of six bidders competing to buy Vivendi's film studio, cable networks and theme parks.
Singapore Press cuts jobs
Singapore Press Holdings, the country's main media publishing group, has cut 111 jobs, citing an uncertain business climate created by the war in Iraq and the SARS outbreak. The layoffs will save the publisher of the Straits Times news-paper S$5.7 million (US$3.2 million) a year, its news-papers reported yesterday. "The truth is our staffing levels are not in line with our current business volume," chief executive officer Alan Chan said in a statement. The majority of the layoffs were in the group's editorial, marketing and newspaper services divisions. About 3 percent of the group's 3,700 staff were cut, the statement said. The publisher said it could not rule out future layoffs if Singapore's economy continues to deteriorate.