State-owned mobile phone operator China United Telecommunications, the parent of China Unicom, is facing its first large senior management reshuffle with the departure of its chairman. The firm's top management was told by the State Council on Tuesday that Yang Xian Zu, 63, would retire and be replaced by his deputy, Wang Jianzhou, 54. It is not known when the change will take place. Under mainland regulations, government officials are supposed to retire between 60 and 65. A company source said Mr Yang would take up a new post with the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, where he is a member of the economic committee. A former vice-minister of the Ministry of Information Industry, Mr Yang was seconded to head China United in 1999 when the carrier was being restructured to pave the way for a listing. Unicom was spun off for a listing on Hong Kong's main board and the New York Stock Exchange in June 2000. Mr Yang is also chairman and chief executive of Unicom, while Mr Wang is president of both the parent company and the red-chip firm. A Unicom spokeswoman confirmed the management changes at the parent company. 'The changes are only at the parent level. But for the red-chip company, we haven't received any formal notices from either the State Council or relevant authorities,' she said. Mr Yang's departure from the company was not totally unexpected because there had been widespread market speculation about his future since March. However, both Mr Yang and China United repeatedly dismissed the speculation. 'Mr Yang has been gradually off-loading his work since last year to pave the way for his retirement. There won't be much impact on the firm's operations,' a company source said. Analysts said the management change was unlikely to affect Unicom's share price. 'It won't have much impact on Unicom's operations or share prices as investors had been expecting the change, and the company had done a lot to get ready for Mr Yang's retirement,' BOC International telecommunications analyst Allan Ng said. However, DBS Vickers Securities analyst Wallace Cheung said Mr Yang's departure might spark speculation about management reshuffles among other telecommunications operators.