China Mobile chairman Wang to retire on Thursday

HONG KONG - China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou will retire as of Thursday, and Vice Chairman Xi Guohua will take over his position at the world's largest mobile carrier by subscribers, local media group Caixin reported on its website on Wednesday.

The news comes days after Wang appeared at a news conference in Hong Kong after it announced its 2011 results, which showed China Mobile posting a 4.6 per cent rise in fourth quarter net profit.

Wang's retirement had been widely expected, though he had declined to give a timeframe during the news conference last week. China Mobile executives were not immediately available for comment.

Wang led the firm on its first overseas acquisition, buying a majority stake in Paktel, a Pakistan telecommunications firm, and more recently bought a 20 per cent stake in the Shanghai Pudong Development bank for 39.8 billion yuan (S$7.9 billion).

But China Mobile had been lagging other carriers in attracting high-end subscribers and is the only operator without a contract with Apple to sell iPhones.

Xi, who has an engineering background and previously worked at the Ministry of Information Industry, was appointed vice chairman in July 2010.

China Mobile's shares were up 2.34 per cent on Wednesday, outperforming the Hang Seng Index's 0.5 per cent.

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