August 24, 2015 / 6:05 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-China's state-owned telecoms firms shuffle top executives

* MIIT vice minister Shang Bing named China Mobile chairman

* Chairmen at China Unicom, China Telecom swap posts

* China occasionally rotates state-owned sector chiefs (Combines three firms’ appointments, context)

By Gerry Shih

BEIJING, Aug 24 (Reuters) - China’s state-owned telecoms firms announced management changes on Monday which saw a vice minister appointed to helm China Mobile Ltd, and the chairmen swapping roles at China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd and China Telecom Corp Ltd.

Effective immediately, Shang Bing, vice minister of industry and information technology, will chair the world’s top mobile carrier by subscribers. Chang Xiaobing will move from domestic No. 2 China Unicom to China Telecom, with Wang Xiaochu moving in the opposite direction.

None of the three provided reasons for the changes.

China’s periodic rotation of top bureaucracy at state-owned firms is aimed at preventing political networks becoming entrenched. The last such instance in the telecoms sector was in 2004 when Shang became president at China Unicom.

At China Mobile, Shang replaced the retiring Xi Guohua at a time when the carrier is increasing revenue from data services to offset a decline in voice calls and text messages, brought about by the rise of Internet-based communications apps.

The carrier on Thursday said revenue rose 5 percent in January-June, but increased expenses left net profit falling 0.8 percent. That compared with a 4.5 percent rise in net profit at China Unicom, and 1 percent decline at China Telecom.

Shang will also inherit a carrier investing to build fourth-generation network (4G) towers nationwide and expand its services.

On Thursday, China Mobile said it may buy fixed-line carrier China TieTong Telecommunications Corp to offer high-speed mobile phone and broadband Internet service bundles.

Analysts estimated the deal as worth 30 billion yuan ($4.69 billion) to 50 billion yuan.

Shares of China Mobile were down 5.5 percent in Hong Kong afternoon trade, versus a 4.6 percent decline in the broader market. China Telecom was down 6.7 percent, while China Unicom was unchanged. ($1 = 6.3946 Chinese yuan renminbi) (Reporting by Gerry Shih; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

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