China Tower plans IPO next year, says China Mobile VP
China Tower Corp, a joint venture between China’s three state-owned telecom companies, is slated to go public next year in China, according to a senior China Mobile executive.
Sha Yuejia, vice-president of China Mobile, said at the company’s annual general meeting on Thursday that although there are “many conditions” necessary for China Tower Corp to go public, the company will likely list in 2017 as A and H shares.
Previously known as China Communications Facilities Services Corporation, China Tower Corp is an infrastructure-sharing joint venture set up by China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom in 2014 to handle the construction, maintenance and operation of telecommunications network towers and auxiliary infrastructure across the country. The company is estimated to manage telecommunication towers valued at 270 billion yuan (US$41.2 billion), according to Chinese media reports.
In February, China Tower general manager Tong Jielu was quoted as saying that proceeds from the company’s IPO would be used for diversification into ventures such as charging stations for new-energy cars and a surveillance camera business.
While the establishment of China Tower Corp was aimed at minimising the overlapping of resources between the three telecom companies, China Mobile chief executive Li Yue said that a certain amount of overlap is still necessary to spur market competition in the industry.
“In theory, the ideal situation is to have no overlapping resources, as that is the most efficient,” said Li. “But to encourage market competition ... overlaps are unavoidable and in some cases necessary.”
“If our customers get better service because of [competition], then that is positive for society as a whole,” he added.
Li also addressed the company’s investments in 5G resources and infrastructure, and said that China Mobile’s investment in 5G networks is “very small”. He said that the company had been researching the network for the last two years.
5G network standards will be set at the end of this year and the company hopes to begin internal trials together with other industry players in the second half of 2016, he said.
China Mobile will likely have more external 5G network trials next year, Li added, but emphasised that the company was not planning to inject major investments into the new network standard within in the coming year.