Report claims China’s big three mobile operators could float up to 20% of their towers joint venture later this year.

China Tower, the mobile infrastructure joint venture co-owned by China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom, is preparing an IPO that could take place later this year, and raise up to $10 billion.

According to a Reuters report earlier this week, China Tower has invited several banks to pitch for a role in a floatation in Hong Kong.

Unnamed sources cited by the newswire said an IPO could take place in late 2017 or early 2018. If the Chinese operators were to sell a 10%-20% stake in China Tower, it could raise $5 billion-$10 billion.

China Tower is responsible for the construction, maintenance, and operation of towers and ancillary systems, such as power and air conditioning, for base stations. China Mobile owns 38% of the joint venture, while China Telecom and China Unicom own 27.9% and 28.1% respectively.

When China Tower was established in 2015, the three operators transferred assets to it worth a total of 213.9 billion yuan (€29.5 billion).

Mobile operators the world over are increasingly looking to monetise their tower assets as a means of reducing costs and de-leveraging.

In 2017 alone, there have been towers deals in Saudi Arabia, Spain, India, and Switzerland.

Late last week, America Movil owner Carlo Slim reportedly contacted potential suitors for a stake in Telesites, a subsidiary of America Movil’s domestic mobile arm Telcel, which owns and operates the company’s towers.