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China Unicom deepens reform

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-25 08:04
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A customer uses her mobile phone outside an outlet of China Unicom in Yuncheng, Shanxi province.[Photo/Xinhua]

Robin Li, CEO of Baidu Inc, will shoulder a new role as a board member at China United Network Communications Ltd, or China Unicom, the country's second-largest telecom carrier by subscribers.

The move is the latest push by China Unicom to deepen its $11.7 billion mixed-ownership reform, and signals the country's determination to rejuvenate State-owned enterprises with innovation and brainpower from private companies, experts have said.

Fu Liang, an independent analyst who has been following the telecom sector for more than 15 years, said that among China Unicom's 13 new board members, four are from the private sector, which is beyond many people's expectations.

"The move signals that China Unicom really wants to revitalize its business and give private investors a say in the company's business decisions," Fu said,

China Unicom said in a filing on Tuesday night that its new board members will include Li and three representatives from tech heavyweights Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Tencent Holdings Ltd and JD.

All of these private companies are investors in China Unicom's $11.7 billion reform plan, which, announced last year, is widely seen as a test field for the country's broader SOE reform plans.

Last August, China Unicom announced that Baidu would invest 7 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in the company, for a 3.3 percent stake. Tencent invested 11 billion yuan and gained a 5.18 percent stake, with other investments also coming from Alibaba and JD.

Peter Liu, research director at consultancy Gartner Inc, said China Unicom is the biggest beneficiary of the mixed-ownership reform, and it is utilizing cutting-edge technologies from internet giants to access more channels and potential customers.

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