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China Unicom Continues Bond Plan
China Unicom Corp, the country's second largest mobile operator, denied yesterday that the company is going to halt its plan to issue corporate bonds, according to an official with China Unicom.

"The plan is still being studied right now as it is one of the most effective ways to raise funds for our future development," the official, who declined to be named, said.

Late last year, China Unicom set in motion a plan to issue corporate bonds worth 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) this year to fund its CDMA (code division multiple access) network expansion and improve its performance.

However, rumours have been rife in the past few days that the plan had been put on hold or even called off.

"We will definitely continue our corporate bonds plan, but have to figure out the right timing," the official said.

She said the company is going to unveil an explanation on the delayed corporate bonds issuing this week given the wild guessing from the media and the public.

Analysts predicted that complex procedures required by regulators for corporate bonds issuing are the main reason to blame.

"If the corporate bonds issuing plan is halted, it won't have much impact on its business operation," said Dai Chunrong, an analyst with Huaxia Securities.

She believes that China Unicom will not have much difficulty in fulfilling its year-end target on the expansion of its CDMA network given a series of promotional activities that the company has taken.

The company has recruited more than 9 million new CDMA subscribers in the first half of the year, and aims to recruit 13 million new CDMA subscribers for the whole year.

In an effort to realize the goal, China Unicom launched a pre-paid service last month to lure more low-end customers.

"The slashing of prices of CDMA chips and our mass order from CDMA handset-makers enable us to attract subscribers with an acceptable price," said Li Weichong, general manager of the Marketing Department of China Unicom.

(China Daily July 15, 2003)

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