China’s second largest player China Unicom is currently in talk with the country’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) to obtain 700MHz spectrum in exchange for shares.
A deal looks set to be agreed following China’s new laws on mixed ownership, but it could be some time before a conclusion is reached as there are around ten ministries and commissions participating in the talks. China Unicom is listed on the Shanghai stock exchange.
SARFT has been in possession of the highly desired 700MHz spectrum for several years, which has not gone unnoticed by the country’s mobile operators. While the agency is believed to have run trials on the airwaves in preparation for deploying LTE, it did not end up launching a network.
In April, China Unicom announced that its ownership structure was being reviewed by its parent company to allow it to accept private investment, in a trial aimed at encouraging private investment in China’s state-run enterprises.
Following this, rumours began circulating that internet retail firms Alibaba and Tencent were planning a CNY70 billion ($10.3 billion) investment into China Unicom. In June, the operator stated that it had not signed any binding documents nor reached agreements with any investors.