China imposing VAT on telecom services

|By:, SA News Editor

The imposition of a value-added tax (VAT) , part of a broader tax reform push by the Chinese government, is expected to hurt the bottom lines of China Mobile (CHL), China Unicom (CHU), and China Telecom (CHA).

The announcement comes less than three months after the government issued MVNO licenses to 11 companies (inc. Alibaba) looking to offer mobile services using the networks of incumbents, and at a time when voice/SMS revenue streams are already being pressured by mobile messaging apps (most notably Tencent's WeChat).

Bernstein's Chris Lane thinks China Mobile's net profit could be hurt by 7%, and Unicom and Telecom's net profit by 25%, assuming an 11% VAT replaces a current 3% business tax.