Vodafone, HP buy into China Mobile subsidiary

Vodafone Group PLC and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) have announced plans to invest in a subsidiary of China Mobile (Hong Kong) Ltd., the publicly-listed arm of China's biggest mobile operator, China Mobile Communications Corp.

Vodafone will pay almost US$35 million for a 9.99 percent stake in Aspire Holdings Ltd. while HP will make an investment of undisclosed size to raise its stake in the company to 7 percent. HP first invested in the company in January 2001, according to a China Mobile statement.

As part of the deal, Vodafone will work on research and development of wireless data services for China. Aspire develops and provides wireless data services, as well as systems and gateway integration services for China Mobile in mainland China, the company said.

Both Vodafone and HP will compete in the provision of wireless data application software and hardware related services for Aspire's Mobile Information Services Center (MISC) platform, a standardized nationwide platform for wireless data services in China, the company said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vodafone will continue to work with China Mobile in offering roaming services for wireless data subscribers in China, the statement said.

U.K.-based Vodafone currently has a 2.2 percent stake in China Mobile, although it has made known its plans to increase it to a 25 percent stake in the company.

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