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China’s Phone Companies in Talks for Base-Station Venture

China’s three largest phone companies are in talks to set up a joint venture to develop infrastructure for mobile communication towers as a way of cutting the cost of developing and operating their networks.

Discussions among China Mobile Ltd., China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. will continue and no agreement has been reached, according to separate filings to the Hong Kong stock exchange yesterday. The companies didn’t elaborate on their plans.

With the rapid shift to fourth-generation mobile networks in China, companies including China Mobile are looking at ways of curbing the rising cost of investment and installing new equipment. The new venture will promote environmental protection, cut costs and benefit users, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on its website yesterday.

Shares in the three companies rose in Hong Kong yesterday after the magazine Caijing reported that China will set up a state-owned company to lease base stations to the three phone service providers.

China Unicom gained 5.9 percent to close at HK$11.90, China Telecom rose 3.1 percent to HK$3.98 and China Mobile advanced 0.8 percent to HK$73.70.

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