China Telecom eked out a slender rise in profits in the first quarter despite a corruption investigation having ensnared its chief executive at the end of 2015.

Net income rose 1.4 per cent year-on-year to Rmb5.1bn, while operating revenues were up 6.1 per cent over the same period to Rmb86.4bn.

The results come after the state-owned telecommunications group’s promotion of president and COO Yang Jie to chairman and chief executive on Sunday. That was done to replace Chang Xiaobing, who had stepped down after the Chinese Communist party’s discipline arm announced in late December he was under investigation for corruption.

In January China Telecom announced a wide-ranging agreement with fellow state-run telecoms firm China Unicom outlining areas of strategic co-operation with an eye toward unseating China’s dominant carrier, China Mobile.

Among the key components of the deal was an agreement to share a new rural 4G network. The number of 4G users reached 74.9m by the end of March, up 16.45m from December.

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