Geely, Tencent buy stake in train Wi-Fi firm

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Geely, Tencent buy stake in train Wi-Fi firm A passenger buys food with her mobile phone on a bullet train. [Photo/Xinhua]

Automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd are joining hands to provide wireless internet services on China's high-speed trains by acquiring a stake in the country's bullet train Wi-Fi operator.

The pair won the joint bid to acquire a 49 percent stake in Bullet Train Networks Technology Ltd, a subsidiary of State-owned China Railway Corp, the companies announced on Thursday. The estimated value of the company is 8.78 billion yuan ($1.37 billion yuan). The deal was transacted at 4.3 billion yuan, according to the website of China Beijing Equity Exchange.

Tencent said it would hold 10 percent in the joint venture while Geely will have 39 percent.

Geely and Tencent will cooperate to increase the number of Wi-Fi hotspots and create a platform offering value-added service through the high-speed rail network, the companies said.

The move was part of China's broader efforts to reform and rejuvenate State-owned enterprises by infusing private capital and expertise.

"As an automotive technology company, Geely has continuously advanced the development of cutting-edge technologies and a[Photo/Wang Yang]ccumulated rich experience in the areas of mobility and smart ecology while providing a leading user experience," said Geely Chairman Li Shufu in a statement.

"As the country deepens its reforms, we are joining hands with Tencent to provide passengers with highly integrated smart mobility services in order to meet their diverse travel needs."

The new platform is part of a wider move toward creating a smart and intelligent transportation network across China, offering ticket services, shopping, tourism and catering services based on the jointly developed Wi-Fi platform.

"The digital era in China is undergoing a period of change and opportunity," said Tencent Chief Executive Officer Pony Ma. "Tencent hopes to become a digital assistant, where it will share its spirit of 'digital craftsmanship' to help everyone achieve transformation and upgrade themselves digitally."

High-speed rail has become an important means of transportation in China. In 2017, the number of high-speed railway trips exceeded 1.7 billion, according to official figures.

With the continued development of high-speed rail infrastructure, passengers have increasingly pushed for better services, including stable, high-speed and comprehensive mobile network services.

"The move marks the reallocation and optimization of industrial resources and further integration of the traditional sectors with the internet and technology-backed economy,16" said Wang Yue, an internet veteran and founder of MTrend, a technology portal.

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