Interfax China is reporting that Virgin Mobile is close to signing a partnership with wireless carrier China Unicom that would make the UK-based company the first foreign MVNO in post-WTO China. Although Virgin would still require approval from the Chinese government, which carefully scrutinizes all proposed foreign business presences, the company will benefit from past deals in which Spain's Telefonica and Germany's Vodafone have made invesments in domestic telecom firms. Virgin already has offices in Shanghai, and CEO Richard Branson recently told reporters to expect a Chinese launch this fall, so it would seem pretty likely that this venture, which is well over a year in the making, has the necessary government support to proceed.

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Virgin Mobile poised to launch MVNO in China