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China Mobile Dials Mainland Bourse
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China Mobile, the world's largest cellphone company in terms of user numbers, may float shares on the mainland this year, vice-chairman of the securities regulator said yesterday.


The move will make China Mobile probably the first overseas-incorporated company to list on the Shanghai bourse.


"Hong Kong-traded companies can sell shares directly in China" and no longer need to use Chinese depositary receipts (CDRs), said Fan Fuchun, vice-chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), on the sidelines of the annual session of the National Committee of the CPPCC.


He did not give a specific timetable for the listing.


China Mobile, which was listed in Hong Kong in 1997, submitted an application for mainland listing of CDRs about five years ago, said Rainie Lei, a spokeswoman for China Mobile.


Though there have been media reports of China Mobile submitting an application to the Shanghai Stock Exchange this year, Gao Songge, a senior press officer at China Mobile Group, said he knew nothing about it.


Analysts said China Mobile's decision to head to the mainland is spurred by the imminent licensing of 3G (third-generation) mobile technology, which will require plenty of fresh capital to build a suitable infrastructure.


Inspired by a 130 percent jump in the Shanghai index last year and the successful dual listing model of blue-chip companies such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, more "red chips" seem eager to head to the mainland market.


Those interested in moving to the mainland include CNOOC Ltd, China Insurance International Holdings and COFCO International Co Ltd.


Red chips are companies incorporated and listed in Hong Kong, but whose main sphere of business is on the mainland. Most red chips are large conglomerates that listed in Hong Kong in the 1990s.


By the end of November, 85 red chips with a combined market value of HK$2 trillion were listed in Hong Kong, accounting for 21 percent of the bourse's market capitalization.


The regulator believes the presence of red chips will boost the quality of the mainland bourse and offer more opportunities for mainland investors.


Although some analysts believe issuing CDR is a more feasible choice for China Mobile, the regulator is inclined to adopt a simple and direct plan.


"CDRs involve a lot of aspects and are more complicated, so we prefer letting them list on the A-share market directly," Shang Fulin, chairman of the CSRC, said while attending the annual session of the National People's Congress a few days ago.


(China Daily March 16, 2007)


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