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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

China Tower's planned $8.7bn IPO the biggest globally in four years

Chinese telecoms firm's listing would be largest offering since Alibaba's $25 billion New York debut in 2014

China Tower chairman Tong Jilu. The firm plans biggest IPO since Alibaba in 2014, in Hong Kong. Reuters
China Tower chairman Tong Jilu. The firm plans biggest IPO since Alibaba in 2014, in Hong Kong. Reuters

China's state-owned China Tower - the world's largest operator of telecommunications towers - announced Tuesday it will aim for an $8.7 billion initial public offering in Hong Kong, the biggest globally in four years.

China Tower is offering 43.1 billion shares globally at a range of HK$1.26 to HK$1.58 each with pricing expected on August 1 and will debut on the Hong Kong exchange on August 8.

It would be the largest IPO since Alibaba's $25 billion New York debut in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.

Hillhouse Capital, affiliates of China National Petroleum Corp and Taobao -- a subsidiary of Alibaba -- are reported to be among the 10 cornerstone investors.

The company said Tuesday at its IPO launch event in Hong Kong that "international companies and giant domestic companies" were among the cornerstone investors.

"The potential to cooperate with Alibaba is great. We have a certain level of communication as well as understanding," added Tong Jilu, chairman and executive director of China Tower, speaking at the event at Hong Kong's Conrad Hotel.

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China Tower was formed by merging the operations of state-owned China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom in 2014 in a huge joint venture to streamline the industry.

Observers said investors may see the company as a safe bet on China's mobile market because of its government backing.

But some argued the fact it was a state-backed monopoly could limit growth due to lack of competition.

Caution over China stocks due to trade disputes with the United States could also temper interest.

Hong Kong is seeking to become a destination for major IPOs after being snubbed by Alibaba's overseas listing in 2014.

But the China Tower deal comes amid a slump in the Hong Kong bourse, with the benchmark Hang Seng Index trading down about 6 per cent from the start of this year.

Chinese smartphone Xiaomi debuted on the exchange last month with shares priced at the low end of its expected range, which saw a disappointing valuation of almost half of its target.

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