Will Hutchison Sell 3UK?

Rumors are rife that Hutchison may sell 3UK, although these appear to have been fuelled more by Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin saying the British mobile market was ripe for consolidation and Vodafone “would consider the European assets of 3, should they become available”, rather than any indication by Hutchison that they wanted to sell. Kind of like speculating Vodafone would sell its share in Verizon Wireless because Verizon made an offer…
Mark Newman, chief research officer at Informa Telecoms and Media, has some details about 3UK. It’s got 3.7 million customers, a 5.5% share of the UK market, but customer acquisition is slowing. However, it does have the highest ARPU figures in the UK. “In the second quarter of 2006, 3’s blended ARPU – averaged out across postpaid and prepaid customers – was £41.51, according to Informa Telecoms & Media of which £10.16 was derived from messaging and entertainment services.”
I don’t know if Hutchison is planning on selling any of its mobile operators, but considering its strength is on the content side rather than the number of subscribers it has it would be interesting to see how a buyer incorporated that into its own service without destroying the value.