Red-chip conglomerate Citic Pacific has poached China Unicom executive vice-president Shi Cuiming, hoping his extensive experience and connections can give its mainland telecommunications business a boost. Sources said Unicom, the Hong Kong-listed arm of China's No?2 mobile carrier, was expected to announce Mr Shi's 'retirement' in the next couple of weeks, marking a generational transition among the carrier's top management. A Citic Pacific spokesman declined to comment on Mr Shi's appointment. Mr Shi's departure from Unicom comes as no surprise as he has reached the retirement age in the mainland. Former chairman Yang Xianzu retired from the carrier in the middle of last year and was succeeded by Wang Jiangzhou. Both Mr Yang and Mr Shi are 64 and were former senior telecommunications regulators seconded by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications - now the Ministry of Information Industry - in 1999 to help restructure and steer the listing of Unicom. Sources said Unicom's Shanghai general manager, Zhao Le, had recently been moved to become vice-president of Unicom's immediate holding company in Hong Kong. He is seen as a possible successor to Mr Shi. Once Mr Shi steps down, Unicom will be in the hands of a younger generation of executives - in their late 40s or early 50s. With more than 40 years' experience in China's telecommunications industry, Mr Shi also guided dominant mobile carrier China Mobile through its Hong Kong and New York listings in 1997. Before joining the carriers, he was finance department head at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, the government body that used to own and regulate them. Sources said Citic Pacific, which is keen to expand its telecommunications business in the mainland, was hoping to capitalise on Mr Shi's connections and experience. Owing to its Hong Kong-registered company status, Citic Pacific has been experiencing difficulties in building its telecommunications business in China, although the firm is pinning much hope on the sector as an earnings growth driver. Controlled by Beijing's China International Trust & Investment Corp, Citic Pacific hired Norman Yuen Kee-tong, the former deputy chief executive of Hong Kong's dominant fixed-line carrier, PCCW, as a deputy managing director two years ago.