China Unicom, the country’s second largest mobile operator, is negotiating a deal to acquire 700MHz spectrum from China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) in exchange for shares in the listed firm, C114.net reported.
The telecoms portal noted a deal, part of the country’s new mixed-ownership reforms, is likely to be finalised, but will take time as there are as many as ten ministries and commissions involved.
SARFT held the valuable 700MHz spectrum for years and has long attracted the attention of the country’s mobile operators. The agency reportedly conducted tests on the frequency to prepare for an LTE launch, but never deployed a network.
China Unicom at the end of June denied reports it reached a deal to receive an estimated CNY70 billion ($10.3 billion) in investment from internet giants Alibaba and Tencent as part of the government’s efforts to inject private capital into state-run enterprises.
The operator said it had not signed any binding legal document or reached an agreement with any potential investor, C114.net reported.
China Unicom is listed on the Shanghai exchange.
The operator announced in early April its parent company was reviewing its ownership structure in a move which could see it take on private investment. The move followed an October 2016 announcement by the operator stating it could be selected to be in the first pilot for the mixed-ownership reform programme, which Fitch Ratings explained could see some increase in management autonomy in addition to the capital and state ownership elements.