China United Network Communications Group Co, the country’s second-largest mobile carrier by subscribers, has set up two operating centers to deepen cooperation with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

The move signals that Alibaba and Tencent are almost certain to become shareholders of China Unicom, as the State-owned telecom carrier accelerates its push for mixed-ownership reform, analysts said.

Supervised by China Unicom’s headquarters, the two centers are engaged in product design, event planning and research and development, and other activities which will support the telecom carrier’s nationwide cooperation with the two tech heavyweights, the document said.

The Alibaba-oriented center has started with 50 employees, and the Tencent-centered one starts with 34. The staff lists will be adjusted as needed. A screen capture of recruitment information shows that the Tencent center is recruiting employees including product managers, designers and engineers. China Unicom said in a filing in late July that its mixed-ownership reform plan was approved by the country’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission.

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