Following its announcement of a major restructuring program recently, China Network Communications Co Ltd (China Netcom, CNC), the country's fourth largest telecom operator says it will likely issue initial public offerings on the overseas markets mid next year, today's Beijing Morning Post reported, citing its senior official Tian Shuoning.

The company is the only one of China's top four telecom operators that is not listed on the US or Hong Kong markets.

Market analysts are optimistic about the IPO plan, referring to the State Council's encouraging strategy with large state enterprises' overseas listing. "Mid next year is in fact a conservative expectation," said Wang Yi, a telecom analyst quoted by the Beijing Morning Post report. According to his estimation, CNC will stage the offerings, at the latest, at the beginning of next year.

"First, CNC is under the pressure from its listed rivals; second, next year is a good timing for the listing, because it's shortly before the telecom authority's expected issue of business license for three-generation technology in 2005; Third, the company's president Zhang Chunjiang is an aggressive reformer, who is unlikely to shelve the plan for too long."

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