Telefonica to Sell Shares Back to China Unicom for $1.4 Billion – NYTimes.com

Telefonica to Sell Shares Back to China Unicom for $1.4 Billion – NYTimes.com.

Telefónica, the largest European telecommunications operator by revenue, has agreed to sell back a 4.56 percent stake in China Unicom, part of an effort by Telefónica to reduce debt as the European financial crisis continues to hurt earnings in its main markets in Europe.

The agreement involves selling back more than one billion shares to China Unicom, listed in Hong Kong, for 1.1 billion euros ($1.4 billion). Telefónica said the sale would help improve its “financial flexibility,” according to a statement.

The deal is setback for the Spanish company, which has been active in the fast-growing Chinese mobile phone market since 2005.

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