PCCW, Hong Kong's main fixed-line telecom service company, said it was in talks to sell a stake to mainland operator China Network Communications (China Netcom). According to news reports, the sale could amount to a 50% stake in the company worth as much as a US$3.8 billion. Officials said talks were at an advanced stage but a definitive agreement had yet to be signed. PCCW, which has been losing market share in Hong Kong's overcrowded market, was first known as Pacific Century Cyber Works when Richard Li, younger son of tycoon Li Ka-shing, beat out Singapore Telecom to take over Hong Kong Telecom from Britain's one-time monopoly holder Cable & Wireless. The company bought stakes in Chinese portal sohu.com and other properties, including a Japanese start-up that claimed it could digitize smells. To pay down debt from the original acquisition, PCCW sold its mobile operation, which once dominated the Hong Kong market.
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