Hutchison Telecom in deal with Apple on iPhone

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hutchison Telecommunications (2332.HK: Quote, Profile, Research) has sealed a deal with Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) to market the U.S. firm’s popular iPhone handset in the city and Macau as soon as the next quarter, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Friday.

Existing subscribers of Hutchison Telecom, a unit of conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa (0013.HK: Quote, Profile, Research), were expected to be the first users of the iPhone in an early program starting this summer, the South China Morning Post said.

“Due to the confidential agreement with Apple, we can’t say too much beyond the formal announcement,” the newspaper quoted a Hutchison Telecom spokesman as saying.

The South China Morning Post, citing a statement from the international mobile and telecommunication services provider, disclosed the deal but did not specify whether Hutchison Telecom would launch the 2G or 3G model.

Hutchison Telecom officials were not immediately available for comment.

At present, Hong Kong people can only buy the iPhone, a mobile phone that allows Internet access and plays music, through unofficial channels often in the form of parallel imports.

Other mobile operators in Hong Kong were expected to announce similar partnerships with Apple to launch 3G iPhones shortly, the newspaper said.

China Mobile (0941.HK: Quote, Profile, Research), the world’s largest mobile phone operator, said earlier this year it had called off talks with Apple to launch the iPhone in China.

Analysts had expected talks to fail at least initially, predicting that the two sides would lock horns over revenue sharing and a series of technical difficulties.

(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree)

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