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China Telecom unveils plan for Shanghai listing

Facing delisting from the New York Stock Exchange, China Telecom has announced plans to list up to 13% of its stock on the Shanghai main board.

The company, along with China Unicom and China Mobile, has been suspended from NYSE since January 8, following a ban by the Trump administration. The three telcos are appealing the decision.

Releasing the IPO plan in Hong Kong Tuesday, China Telecom did not reference the US ban, but it said the Shanghai float would provide "more flexible and diversified financing channels."

If approved, the new listing would reduce the proportion of shares listed in Hong Kong from 17.15% to 14.63%, it said.

The announcement came as the operator unveiled a modest full-year result, with 1.6% higher net earnings of 20.9 billion yuan (US$3.2 billion) on a 4.7% lift in revenue to RMB393.6 billion ($60.5 billion).

The improved topline performance was driven by a surge in 5G subscriptions, another strong year in enterprise, and the home broadband business.

It also slashed debt and finance costs, but the gains were crimped by a hike in operating costs that overtook the rise in revenue.


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It expects to maintain 5G capex this year at RMB39.7 billion ($6.1 billion), compared to RMB39.2 billion ($6 billion) in 2020.

The company made promising gains in mobile, finishing the year with a 22% market share up more than one point and was the only operator to record positive net adds.

It said its 86.5 million 5G "package subs," which account for 24.6% of its mobile base, is slowing the decline in ARPU.

It reported 5G ARPU of RMB65.6 ($10.07), which is nearly 50% higher than the blended mobile ARPU of RMB44.1 ($6.77).

In home broadband, smart family services are playing a similar role in reviving ARPU, with blended broadband ARPU 4.2% higher to RMB44.4 ($6.82).

Sales of smart home services, which includes family cloud, whole-of-home Wi-Fi and IPTV, jumped 37.5% to RMB11.1 billion ($1.7 billion), while the core broadband access business lifted 5.1%.

The company clocked up another positive period in its enterprise businesses. Combined, the segments grew 9.7% to RMB84 billion ($12.9 billion), with industry cloud up 58%, data centers 10% higher and IoT growing 16%.

It said it would strengthen innovation in core technologies and "accelerate the integration of 5G, cloud and AI to develop new information infrastructure."

China Telecom's stock on the Hong Kong exchange was flat at HK$2.65 ($0.34).

Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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