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China Mobile Board Approves Shanghai Exchange Listing Plan

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·3-min read
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(Bloomberg) -- China Mobile Ltd., the country’s largest wireless carrier, has announced a plan to list in Shanghai after being removed from the New York Stock Exchange due to an investment ban ordered by former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The proposal approved by the state-owned firm’s board would see it issue as many as 965 million shares, it said in a Hong Kong exchange filing late Monday. The company will seek sign-off from shareholders, and will submit applications to the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

The proceeds will be used for the development of 5G mobile networks and new infrastructure for cloud resources as well as research and development for next-generation information technology, the statement showed.

China Mobile shares in Hong Kong rose as much as 4.8% on Tuesday, their biggest intraday move since March 1.

Bloomberg News reported on the company’s listing plan earlier this month, citing people familiar with the matter.

The NYSE suspended trading in China Mobile shares in January, along with the country’s two other major state-owned operators, China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. China Telecom is also seeking a share sale in Shanghai, while China Unicom already trades in the city as China United Network Communications Ltd. All three have listings in Hong Kong.

The New York de-listings followed an order barring U.S. investments in Chinese companies that the Trump administration deemed a threat to national security. With no sign of a change in course under President Joe Biden, the telecom giants are looking back home for capital to fund their spending on 5G networks. They spent $27 billion last year in China in the world’s largest 5G expansion.

Earlier this month, the three carriers said they expected the NYSE to proceed with the firms’ delisting after attempts to have the decision overturned failed.

Chinese authorities have said the three firms’ removal from U.S. markets would have a limited impact on the carriers. The affected shares are worth less than 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) and account for 2.2% of the total issued by each company, the CSRC said in January.

Still, the three companies combined lost more than $30 billion in market value in the final weeks of 2020 as investors withdrew following Trump’s order in November.

China Mobile and China Telecom shares have both performed well in Hong Kong in 2021, climbing 10% and 19%, respectively as of Monday. China Unicom shares have declined 0.2% since the start of the year.

In March, China Mobile said its net income rose 1.1% to 107.8 billion yuan last year, bouncing back from a 9.5% drop in 2019. The improvement came as the company accelerated implementation of 5G networks. It also announced a full-year dividend of HK$3.29 ($0.42) a share.

(Updates with Hong Kong share price in fourth paragraph.)

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