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SYDNEY, Feb 25

February 25 2013, 8:49PM

Hutchison Telecommunications (Australia) has widened its full year loss to almost $400 million as nearly half a million customers abandoned its poorly performing joint venture network.

However, the beleaguered telecommunications company expects to improve its performance through this year and into 2014, but did not give any guidance.

Vodafone in Australia is a 50/50 joint venture between Hutchison Telecoms and Vodafone Group of the UK, and has been plagued by customer complaints about poor service and reliability.

During the year Vodafone's customer base declined by 443,000 to 6.6 million, leading to a fall in customer revenue by 16.8 per cent to $1.7 billion.

Earnings before interest, tax and depreciation decreased 43.3 per cent to $177.3 million.

Hutchison Australia chairman Canning Fok said Vodafone was implementing a turnaround plan with the full support of its shareholders.

He said in a statement that the network had made "meaningful inroads" in stabilising customer numbers and financial performance.

"Although continuing losses are anticipated in 2013, HTAL (Hutchison Telecommunications Australia Ltd) expects improvements in VHA's (Vodafone) performance through the year and into 2014," he said.

Hutchison Telecommunications on Monday reported a $393.5 million loss for calendar 2012 compared with a loss of $167.7 million in the previous year.

In the statement released after the close of share marketing trading, the company said its share of its joint venture in Vodafone Hutchison Australia (Vodafone) was a net loss for 2012 of $408.8 million. This compared with a net loss of $175.4 million in 2011.

Law firm Piper Alderman on Monday announced plans to proceed with the class action against Vodafone but did not reveal further details.

Piper Alderman lawyers will outline details of the legal action at a media conference in Sydney on Tuesday morning.

The legal move comes more than a year after Vodafone said it was working hard to improve its service.

This followed a damning report that outlined more than 12,000 complaints ranging from patchy network coverage to poor customer service.