To facilitate renewed expansion into emerging foreign markets, Hutchison Whampoa has offered to privatize its Hong Kong phone unit, Hutchison Telecommunications International (HTI), in a cash deal valued at HK $4.23 billion (US $545 million). Under the proposal, announced last Friday, Hutchison Whampoa would repurchase the 40% of HTI stock it does not already own at HK $2.20 per share, which represents a premium of 33% over HTI’s last closing share price of HK $1.65 before trading in HTI shares was suspended on January 4. At its peak three years ago, HTI was valued in excess of US $12.3 billion. Since then, HTI has sold or spun off operations in India and other key foreign markets and has taken a substantial hit on its valuation. (Sources indicate that HTI was valued at just over $1 billion in the days immediately preceding the buyout announcement.) Once privatization is complete, Hutchison Whampoa intends to focus its investments on the expansion of current HTI operations in Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.