China's planned state-owned telecom infrastructure sharing company is reportedly set to assume ownership of nearly 1 million telecom towers.
China Tower Company is expected to take control of the estimated 999,000 telecom towers operated by joint owners China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom, the South China Morning Postsaid, citing analysts at Barclays.
If the assets are transferred at the same time as expected, the three operators are set to book accounting gains of a combined 148 billion yuan ($23.88 billion), according to the report.
Barclays estimates that China Mobile had 540,000 towers in operation by the end of last year, while China Unicom had 279,000 and China Telecom had 180,000.
Based on mid-range estimates, China Mobile is set for one-time gains of 81 billion yuan, while China Telecom and China Unicom will receive 25 billion yuan and 42 billion yuan gains respectively.
The analysts estimate that combining and sharing towers through the joint venture could help reduce mobile capex by around 6%, translating to savings of around 76 billion yuan over the next five years.
China's three operators signed a deal to enter a $1.6 billion tower joint venture in July, and the JV commenced operations in December.
China Mobile owns 40% of China Tower, China Unicom has a 30.1% stake and China Telecom has a 29.9% share.