After announcements that Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent, JD, and ten other companies will acquire China Unicom (中国联通) shares at a price of RMB 78 billion ($11.7 billion), sales of shares in China Unicom’s Hong Kong listed units were suspended without explanation on Wednesday leading to confusion in the market. Trading of the company’s Shanghai-listed shares was stopped in April.
However, China Unicom issued a public announcement yesterday, saying that the suspension is due to technical reasons and that will be no changes in the agreement. The company will disclose the non-public offering plan and other relevant documents within three trading days and resume trading on Monday, according to TMT (in Chinese).
Unicom is set to sell 10.9 billion shares, or 35% of its shares, to a total of 14 companies, which besides BAT, include JD, Didi, and Suning. The shares will be sold for RMB 6.80 each. In addition, Unicom employees will be able to buy 850 million shares at a discounted price.
The deal is the biggest one yet in China’s push to encourage private investments into state enterprises and create mixed ownership companies. Unicom notes that it looks forward to a “powerful alliance” with the internet firms to develop areas such as content aggregation, retail, big data, online finance, and cloud computing.
China Unicom has been cooperating with BAT (in Chinese) since October last year, launching data traffic cards both with Tencent and Ant Financial and setting up joint operation centers.
China Unicom is the second largest Chinese wireless carrier. On Wednesday it published its first half 2017 interim results showing revenues growth of 3.2% year-over-year in local currency terms thanks to the rising number of 4G users in China, Forbes reported.