China Telecom Corp, the Hong Kong-listed arm of the mainland's largest fixed-line carrier, has announced a long-awaited multi-billion-yuan plan to acquire six networks from its parent. In a brief announcement late last night, China Telecom said it has begun preliminary talks with its parent, China Telecommunications Corporation. The company is targeting its parent's operations in Anhui, Fujian, Jiangxi and Sichuan provinces, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Chongqing City. The announcement of the talks comes a few months behind the carrier's original schedule. In November, the parent group packaged four of its most profitable provincial networks - Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shanghai, and Zhejiang - into an H-share company and raised US$1.43 billion by floating shares in Hong Kong and New York. During the international roadshow to sell the share offering, China Telecom chairman Zhou Deqiang tipped off fund managers and the press that the carrier was considering acquiring about five networks from its parent once a six-month restriction period ended. The H-share has been free to acquire new assets since May, but the acquisition plan has not been announced until two months later. BOC International analyst Allan Ng estimated the enterprise value of the targeted assets at about 35 to 40 billion yuan (HK$32.8 billion to HK$37.49 billion), and the equity value at about 30 to 35 billion yuan. He estimated the six networks had about 40 million subscribers at the end of last year. China Telecom said it would consider various alternatives to fund the acquisitions, including the listing proceeds raised last year. One source said China Telecom was conducting due diligence on the target networks' first-half earnings results and was expecting to come up with final terms by October. The deal was expected to be completed in late November, the source said.