HONG KONG - China Mobile, the country's largest mobile phone network operator, said Thursday its net profit jumped by 29.6 percent in 2008.
Profit attributable to shareholders rose to 112.79 billion yuan (US$16.50 billion) in 2008, up from 87.06 billion yuan in 2007, the company said in a statement, adding it's total subscribers exceeded 457 million, up 23.8 percent on the previous year.
The company, which is listed in Hong Kong, proposed final dividend of 1.404 HK dollars per share. Including the interim dividend of 1.339 HK dollars per share paid, the total dividend for 2008 amounts to 2.74 HK dollars, representing a dividend payout of 43 percent.
In 2008, the company's operating revenue continued its steady growth, reaching 412.3 million RMB, up 15.5 percent year-on-year.
Wang Jianzhou, chairman of the company, said he was delighted with the firm's 2008 performance, but said it was unlikely to escape the fallout from the global economic slowdown.
"The influence of (the) financial crisis that swept across the globe in 2008 will likely widen and deepen, and its impact on China's economy will continue," Wang said here at a press conference here.
"The telecommunications industry will be affected," he said.
Wang said the company was still aiming to list in Shanghai, but not in the short-term.
"Even though China Mobile is such a big company, issuing new shares now is not realistic given the conditions of the stock market," he told reporters.
China Mobile was in January awarded one of the three licenses to run third-generation, or 3G, networks across the country. The other two license holders are China Unicom and China Telecom.
He said the firm now had more than 200,000 3G customers in China, and aimed to have 238 Chinese cities covered by the 3G network by end of this year.
3G networks enable faster data transmission and services such as web-surfing and video. They are seen by analysts as another huge potential source of growth in China.
When asked when its 3G business can bring profits, Wang said that the company is busy building the network while wooing subscribers, and "it's too early to say when we will make a profit. "