China Unicom said it is still negotiating with potential backers, following reports that China’s largest internet companies, including JD.com, Baidu, and Tencent, were set to make a CNY85 billion ($12.6 billion) investment in the state owned operator.
In a statement, it noted that there had been “media coverage about the investors proposed”. But it added that it was not aware of the source generating the information in the media, and cautioned it “had not entered any legally binding documents” with any potential investor.
China Unicom secured approval from the National Development and Reform Commission to begin a “pilot run” for mixed-ownership reform. It announced in April it was reviewing its ownership structure in a move that could see the company take on more private investment.
The company’s controlling shareholder – Unicom Group – said it was developing and progressing matters related to mixed ownership reform, which could then be used as a platform for a change in shareholding at the company.
China Unicom added in today’s statement: “The concrete implementation plan… including the identities of the investors, pricing term, investment amount and percentage share holdings, still needs to be reported to and approved by the relevant ministries”.
The company also said it will “timely perform its information disclosure obligation strictly in accordance with the requirements of the listing rules and other related laws and regulations”.
The Chinese government is particularly keen to drive more private investment in state owned companies, in a bid to improve telecoms infrastructure in the country and fuel competition.