Chinese mobile phone tower operator plans $8.7B IPO

HONG KONG — The state-owned monopoly that operates China's vast network of mobile phone towers said Tuesday it plans to raise up to $8.7 billion in the biggest global stock offering in four years.

China Tower Corp. said 60 percent of the money will be invested in its operations. It gave no indication of plans to expand outside its home mainland China market.

If the company raises the total forecast, the initial public offering would be the biggest since Alibaba Group, the Chinese e-commerce giant, raised $25 billion in 2014 in New York. It would surpass the $5.4 billion raised last month by Xiaomi Corp., the Chinese smartphone brand, in its Hong Kong stock market debut.

China Tower was formed in 2014 through the merger of the transmission operations of China's three major state-owned phone companies — China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Ltd. and China Unicom Ltd. They account for nearly all its revenue.

China Tower says it operates 1.9 million cell tower sites across China.

The company said it is offering 43.1 billion shares at a maximum price of 1.58 Hong Kong dollars (20 U.S. cents) per share. Trading is due to begin Aug. 8.

The company has lined up $1.4 billion from 10 investors including Hillhouse Capital, Alibaba Group, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and China National Petroleum Corp., according to Hong Kong news reports.

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