The long-awaited restructuring of the Chinese telecom industry appears to have begun today, with news that China Mobile Group – parent company of China Mobile, the world’s largest operator by subscribers – is to take over nationwide fixed-line peer China Railcom. The firm will continue to operate as an independent business, but a fully-owned unit. China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou will head the combined company.

Word of the restructuring sparked a share-dealing frenzy in Hong Kong, and shares in mobile operator China Unicom, as well as fixed line players China Netcom and China Telecom, spent part of Friday trading suspended after a huge increase in ‘buy’ orders. China Unicom and China Netcom both soared 12 percent before trading stopped. China Telecom rose 7 percent. Media reports suggest that future deals are imminent, and are expected to include the merger of China Netcom and China Unicom. According to a Reuters report, China Mobile will also absorb executives from rivals, including Zhang Chunjiang, chairman of China Netcom.