China Mobile

Bosses of China Mobile, Unicom and Telecom reshuffled as Beijing revamps state-owned telecommunications firms

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 August, 2015, 12:47pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 August, 2015, 8:18am

The three major state-backed telecommunications network operators in China have reshuffled their senior leadership amid ongoing efforts to upgrade their mobile and fixed-line broadband infrastructure across the country.

China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless network operator by number of subscribers, on Monday named Shang Bing, previously a vice-minister at regulator the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), as its new chairman, replacing the retirement-bound Xi Guohua.

That announcement was followed by separate notices from China Unicom and China Telecom to the Hong Kong stock exchange of a high-level switch in their senior management.

Unicom chairman and chief executive Chang Xiaobing has resigned to take on the same roles at China Telecom. Wang Xiaochu also left his duties as chairman and chief executive at China Telecom to assume the same roles at Unicom.

Those changes validated recent wide speculation in the mainland Chinese media about a big leadership reshuffle at the three nationwide telecommunications services providers.

“We see these changes broadly positive for Unicom, negative for China Telecom and neutral for China Mobile,” Bernstein Research analyst Jimmy Chen said yesterday.

Chen said the appointment of Shang, a former regulator with previous experience in the commercial telecommunications sector, as the new chairman at China Mobile followed standard operating procedure at the company, which had 818.77 million total 2G, 3G and 4G subscribers as of July 31.

Xi had also served as an MIIT vice-minister before he assumed the chairman’s role at China Mobile in 2012, when he replaced Wang Jianzhou who was due to retire then.

Born in 1955 in the northeastern province of Liaoning, Shang had worked at the MIIT since 2011 after stints at China Telecom and Unicom. He served as the president and chief operating officer at China Telecom from 2008, following his tenure as president at Unicom from 2004.

Shang will now preside over China Mobile’s aggressive 4G network expansion and ambitious plan to build up its fixed-line broadband network operations with the acquisition of China TieTong Telecommunications Corp, formerly known as China Railway Communications.

Bernstein’s Chen said new Unicom chairman Wang is rated “very highly” in the domestic telecommunications industry, after he strengthened mobile services revenue at China Telecom, which had 192.26 million total mobile users at the end of July.

New China Telecom chairman Chang, however, is blamed for a “lackluster 4G strategy” at Unicom, which saw weak mobile revenue in the first half and loss of high-value 4G users. It had 288.41 million total mobile subscribers at the end of last month.