Unicom to get $11.65b funding injection

17 Aug 2017

Chinese state-owned operator China Unicom will raise around 78 billion yuan ($11.65 billion) through investments from private companies including Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent.

The operator announced [PDF] it has secured approval from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) for its plan to open up to private investment under the government's mixed ownership reform pilot program.

The company will bring in 14 new strategic investors including large internet companies, industrial groups and industry vertical companies and financial enterprises.

Unicom has already signed framework agreements with internet and e-commerce giants Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent and Jingdong (owner of the brand).

Other investors include retailer Suning Holdings, technology conglomerate Kuang-Chi Group, Didi Chuxing (China's Uber) and data center services provider Wangsu Science and Technology.

As part of the ownership reform, Unicom also intends to issue around 850 million shares to employees as incentive bonuses, representing around 2.7% of the company.

Under the new structure, Unicom Group's stake in the operator would be reduced to 36.7% from the current 62.7%. The new investors will pick up a combined 35.2% stake. Public shareholders in Unicom's Hong Kong listed investment vehicle would meanwhile see their ownership reduced to 25.4% from the current 37.3%.

Unicom plans to use the funds raised from the investment to enhance its 4G capacity and coverage, conduct 5G trials and build pre-commercial trial networks and invest in innovative new businesses.

The development came as China Unicom reported a strong 68.9% growth in net profit for the first half of 2017 as the operator made progress with its turnaround efforts.

Net profit reached 2.41 billion yuan, despite a 1.5% decrease in operating revenue to 138.16 billion yuan. But service revenue improved 3.2% to 124.11 billion yuan.

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