Magic circle duo get call for $10bn IPO of Chinese state-owned telecoms infrastructure company

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Clifford Chance (CC) have won lead roles on the planned Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) of China Tower, which analysts say could raise $10bn.

China Tower, the largest telecom tower infrastructure owner in the world, filed an application with the Hong Kong Exchange on Monday (14 May), 11 days after smartphone maker Xiaomi applied for a Hong Kong listing that is expected to raise at least $10bn.

The last time Hong Kong saw two IPOs worth $10bn or more in the same year was in 2010, according to the South China Morning Post, when state-owned Agricultural Bank of China raised $22bn and insurer AIA Group raised $20bn.

China Tower was established in 2014 as part of a reorganisation in the telecoms sector. In 2015, the three state-owned telecoms operators – China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom – sold their tower assets to China Tower for $36.4bn in a share-and-cash transaction.

Freshfields Hong Kong partner Teresa Ko and Beijing partner Richard Wang are leading a team advising China Tower. The magic circle firm also represented China Unicom and China Telecom on the 2015 asset injection and reorganisation.

King & Wood Mallesons is serving as Chinese counsel to China Tower.

CC Hong Kong partners Fang Liu and Amy Lo and Beijing partner Tim Wang are acting for China International Capital Corp (CICC) and Goldman Sachs as joint sponsors, while Zhong Lun and Commerce & Finance Law Offices are acting as Chinese counsel to the sponsors.

China Tower was created to encourage integration among China’s three top mobile carriers and improve overall reception quality for users. The deal will be one of the largest Hong Kong IPOs by a Chinese state-owned company in recent years. Mega Chinese state-owned enterprise listings once populated the Hong Kong market, but the size and number of such deals have both declined in recent years.