Unicom's double standards show the weakness of its support

Hutchison Whampoa''s investment in China Unicom comes at a time when institutional investors should be buying the stock.

The news that Li Ka ShingÆs Hutchison Whampoa flagship is taking a $400 million, 2% stake in China Unicom should come as no surprise. It is an astute investment by a well-connected firm at a time when valuations for telecom plays look compelling. From LiÆs point of view, it gives him huge kudos with the Chinese leadership û as if he needed any more û and immediate access to the immense possibilities of the Chinese telecom market.

But here lies the problem with this announcement. China Unicom has spent the past 12 months in a bruising battle with 40-odd international phone companies, disentangling itself from a series of joint ventures, which the central leadership...

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