Vodafone Sale of China Mobile Stake Highlights Tense Ties

Vodafone Group PLC’s $6.65 billion sale of its stake in China Mobile Ltd. highlights the challenges faced by foreign carriers looking to link up with Chinese telecommunications companies and underscores the reduced need for foreign capital at China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier by subscribers.

Foreign companies have few possible paths into China’s telecom sector, which is dominated by the giant state-owned parents of China Mobile, China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. Investing in those Hong Kong-listed units, like Vodafone and others have done, grants little influence over the operation of their parent companies and doesn’t license a foreign company to offer telecom services in China.

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