China Mobile 2012 growth slows to 2.7%

China Mobile, the world's biggest mobile operator by subscribers, on Thursday said its 2012 net profit slowed to 2.7 percent, blaming intensified competition in the country.

The figures come after reports the firm held talks with Apple chief executive Tim Cook in January in Beijing, raising hopes it will soon begin offering the iPhone.

Net profit for the 2012 fiscal year rose to 129.38 billion yuan ($20.79 billion) compared to 125.98 billion yuan in 2011, the company said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange. Revenue was up 6.1 percent at 560.41 billion yuan.

The growth rate was slower than the 5.2 percent expansion it recorded in 2011, as more industry players compete for a piece of the pie in China, the world's largest smartphone market.

"Competition among communication operators is becoming increasingly fierce due to the increasing saturation in the communications market," the firm said.

China Mobile said its subscribers rose 9.3 percent to 710 million, including 87.93 million 3G customers, thanks to the country's "steady economic growth and the rapid development of the information and communications technology sector."

The firm said revenue for last year was mostly driven by its data business.

-- Dow Jones Newswires contributed to this report --