China reshuffles chairmen at big three telcos

telecomasia.net

China has reshuffled the heads of its three state-owned telecom carriers, in its biggest ever changeover in telco leadership since 2008.

China Unicom and China Telecom have swapped out chairmen, while market leader China Mobile is getting a new chairman from the government, the companies said in separate statements.

China Unicom’s chairman Chang Xiaobing will head to China Telecommunications Corporation, parent of the Hong Kong-listed China Telecom Corporation Limited.

China Telecom’s departing chairman Wang Xiaochu is meanwhile taking over at Unicom parent China United Network Communications Group Company Limited.

Both Chang and Wang have also resigned from their posts as executive director, chairman and CEO at the two companies’ Hong Kong-listed arms.

The changes take effect on Monday, the companies said.

Shang Bing, a vice minister of the telecom watchdog the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), takes over as chairman at China Mobile Communications Group, the state-owned parent of the world’s biggest mobile firm by subscribers.

Shang, 60, replaces retiring Xi Guohua, China Mobile said in a statement released yesterday.

Xi, who was a former vice minister at the MIIT, replaced Wang Jianzhou as chairman of China Mobile in 2012.

Shang, a senior economist, had previously been president at China Telecom between the period of 2008-2011 and at China Unicom before that.

The three telcos didn’t offer any explanations for the reshuffling, but the changeover aligns with the Beijing government’s continuous efforts to reform the telecom sector in recent years.

China had its last telecom industry makeover in 2008, which merged the six state-owned telcos into three.

Earlier this year the government issued directives requiring the three telcos to cut tariffs and boost network speed and coverage.

The three telcos also agreed last year to set up a joint venture, China Tower, to manage the construction, maintenance and operation of telecom towers and supporting facilities for the telcos, to reduce duplicate investment in telecom infrastructure.

Monday’s changes come a few days after the three state-owned telcos reported mixed financial results for the first half year.

Last week Unicom reported a 4.5% increase in net profit, while both China Mobile and China Telecom saw their first year profits down 0.8% and 4%, respectively.

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