PCCW Group has set a date of 30 December for shareholders to vote on China Netcom and Richard Li’s proposal to buy out and take private the company, reports Telecom Asia. Crucially, it has cleared Li – its chairman and largest single shareholder – to vote on the transaction, greatly increasing the possibility the deal will be completed. The proposed deal is worth HKD15.9 billion (USD2.05 billion), representing a 53% premium on the latest active trading price of the telco’s stock. The fixed, mobile and broadband operator’s shares were suspended from trading in October, following the announcement of the joint offer. China Netcom paid USD1 billion in cash for a 20% stake in PCCW in January 2005, making the Chinese state-owned operator the second largest shareholder behind Richard Li, who owns part of his 28% stake via his 75%-owned, Singapore-registered holding company Pacific Century Regional Developments (PCRD). According to Reuters, PCCW expects the deal to increase its debt from USD3.1 billion to USD5 billion.