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China's state-owned China Tower, the world's largest operator of telecommunications towers, announced it will aim for an $8.7 billion initial public offering in Hong Kong, the biggest globally in four years.

China Tower is offering 43.1 billion shares globally at a range of HK$1.26 to HK$1.58 (US$0.16 to US$0.20) each with pricing expected on August 1 and will debut on the Hong Kong exchange on August 8.

It would be the largest IPO since Alibaba's $25 billion New York debut in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. Hillhouse Capital, affiliates of China National Petroleum Corp and Taoba, a subsidiary of Alibaba, are reported to be among the 10 cornerstone investors.

The company said at its IPO launch event in Hong Kong that "international companies and giant domestic companies" were among the cornerstone investors. "The potential to cooperate with Alibaba is great. We have a certain level of communication as well as understanding," added Tong Jilu, chairman and executive director of China Tower.

China Tower was formed by merging the operations of state-owned China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom in 2014 in a massive joint venture to streamline the industry.

Observers said investors may see the company as a safe bet on China's mobile market because of its government backing. But some argued that the fact it was a state-backed monopoly could limit growth due to lack of competition.

Hong Kong is seeking to become a destination for major IPOs after being snubbed by Alibaba's overseas listing in 2014. However, the China Tower deal comes amid a slump in the Hong Kong bourse, with the benchmark Hang Seng Index trading down about 6 percent from the start of this year.

Chinese smartphone Xiaomi debuted on the exchange last month with shares priced at the low end of its expected range, which saw a disappointing valuation of almost half of its target.

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