HONG KONG, April 6 (Reuters) - State-owned China Unicom Hong
Kong Ltd said its top shareholder China United Network
Communications Ltd was reviewing its ownership
structure as Beijing puts pressure on telcos to bring in private
investors and boost competition.
The country's big telecommunication firms - China Unicom,
China Telecom Corp Ltd and China Mobile Ltd -
are all units of unwieldy state-owned enterprises.
Those parent firms are seen as overstaffed, inefficient and
slow to develop key technologies, prompting the call to bring in
private firms, which have shot ahead in developing cloud and big
data services as well as mobile software.
China Unicom will be among the first batch of state-owned
enterprises expected to introduce private shareholders in a
pilot scheme of ownership reform.
The Shanghai-listed parent company will be used as a
platform for the mixed ownership reform, China Unicom said in a
filing to the Hong Kong bourse late on Wednesday.
"As the related plan for these matters is still under
further deliberation, these matters are still subject to
substantial uncertainty," added China Unicom, in which China
United Network owns a 75.94 percent stake.
Hong Kong-listed shares of China Unicom, which were halted
on Wednesday, opened up 3.1 percent as trade resumed on Thursday
at HK$11.2 - the highest since October 2015. But the gains were
erased later with the shares down about 1 percent by 0255 GMT.
China United Network, which was also halted on Wednesday,
said it will remain suspended from trading until further notice.
China Unicom, the worst-performing telco among the three
state-owned firms, said in October that it was included in the
pilot mixed ownership reform scheme. Last month, it reported a
94 percent drop in profit for 2016.
Analysts expect the company to face further headwinds this
year due to the government's call on telco operators to lower
(Reporting by Donny Kwok and Sijia Jiang; Editing by Himani