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(Reuters) — Telecoms group China Unicom said it is raising $11.7 billion from investors including tech giants Alibaba Group and Tencent Holdings, as part of Beijing’s push for state-owned enterprises to be revitalized with private capital.
The board of China Unicom’s Shanghai-listed unit, China United Network Communications, has approved an issue of shares to the investors, which also includes Baidu, JD.com, insurer China Life, and some other firms.
The details of the investment were announced by group firm China Unicom Hong Kong on Wednesday. An executive of the Hong Kong unit said the Shanghai-listed arm will allot three board seats to the new investors.
The investment is part of the Chinese government’s drive to rejuvenate state behemoths with private capital, with China Unicom among the first batch of state-owned enterprises to see mixed-ownership reform.
China Unicom, formally known as China United Network Communications Group, is one of the world’s largest mobile carriers by user numbers but has faced a fiercely competitive market.
Separately, the Hong Kong unit reported a 70 percent jump in first-half profit from the year-ago period, as expected. Trading in shares of the Hong Kong unit were halted on Wednesday pending the announcement.
China Mobile, the world’s biggest mobile phone operator by subscribers, last week cheered investors with a special dividend and posted a 3.5 percent rise in first-half net profit.
Share trading in China Unicom’s Shanghai-listed unit has been halted since it said in early April it would be part of the government’s mixed-ownership pilot. It gave no further details at that time.
Prior to that suspension, the unit’s market value topped $23 billion. A person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday that the Shanghai shares were expected to begin trading on Thursday.
(Reporting by Clare Jim, Donny Kwok, Anne Marie Roantree and Julie Zhu; Writing by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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