China Mobile (HK) Ltd, recently reported its slowest pace of profit growth in more than four years, as the company cut rates to retain customers and new users spent less.

Net income for the third quarter rose 1.8% to 8.73 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) from 8.58 billion yuan a year ago. The company's revenue grew at an average of 50% a year in the past four years as the company spent US$50 billion acquiring cellular networks from its parent. China Mobile is currently experiencing growth through signing up users in China's less wealthy provinces and offering discounts to stop nearest rival China Unicom Ltd from grabbing subscribers.

"The honeymoon period — when China Mobile could easily get profitable customers from its parent — is over," said Winson Fong, a Singapore-based fund manager at SG Asset Management Ltd. "It's a market with 200 million plus users. New subscribers' spending is bound to come down." China Mobile's shares are down 71 percent from their peak in 2000, losing more than US$40 billion in value.

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