Alibaba Eyes Snapchat, Qihoo Raises Big Money

Alibaba in talks for Snapchat stake

The slower summer months haven’t cooled down appetite for new M&A among Chinese Internet firms, with word that e-commerce leader Alibaba is chasing a massive investment that could see it purchase a stake in US social networking high-flyer Snapchat. At the same time, software security specialist Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU) has just announced new plans to raise up to $1 billion through a convertible bond offer, in what also could be the prelude to a major new acquisition. Continue reading

Solar Tensions Grow In EU, LDK Reborn

New solar storm brewing in Europe

The war of words against Chinese solar panel makers is heating up from both sides of the Atlantic, with growing signs that Europe may reconsider anti-dumping duties as the US moves closer to imposing its own new duties on the beleaguered manufacturers. Meantime, 2 of the biggest Chinese victims of the sector’s recent turmoil have risen from the ashes, with LDK and Suntech both announcing new moves more than a year after each became insolvent. Among those 2 moves, LDK’s looks the most worrisome, potentially bringing major new volumes of polysilicon, the main ingredient in solar panel production, back into a market whose current recovery is still quite weak. Continue reading

GUEST POST-WeChat Story Part 4: Getting Into Business

The following is Part 4 in a multi-part series about the rise of WeChat, the popular mobile instant messaging service owned by Tencent.

By Lanie Nie

WeChat as a potent business partner

As China ended last year with an online population of 618 million and more and more people access the Internet over their smartphones, it has become evident that the Internet will play a growing role in the way Chinese people live and do business. Internet thinking has emerged as a concept that empowers newer start-ups to challenge older businesses not necessarily via cutting-edge technology, but more by rethinking the whole business in the context of a more connected world.

Many Chinese firms are thrilled by the widely-touted story of Xiaomi, the 4-year-old smartphone maker that calls itself an Internet company. Xiaomi is already outselling Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) in its home market using a web-only marketing strategy, redefined cost structure, fan-centric product philosophy and flat organizational composition. But Tencent (HKEx: 700), China’s undisputed Internet leader with a market cap that is challenging global online retailer Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), labels itself as an online company that partners with old industries, with service accounts hosted by WeChat as the magic tie in that relationship. Continue reading

News Digest: August 1, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on August 1. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • Alibaba in Talks To Invest In Snapchat (English article)
  • Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU) Announces Offering of $900 Mln Convertible Senior Notes (PRNewswire)
  • Mango TV To Acquire Renren’s (NYSE: RENN) 56.com – Source (English article)
  • Fosun (HKEx: 656), Shanghai Film Set Up Fund To Invest In Movie Theater Assets (Chinese article)
  • New Oriental (NYSE: EDU), Tencent (HKEx: 700) In Online Eduction JV (Chinese article)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

Weibo: Huawei’s Loss, Smartisan’s Headaches

Smartisan hits capacity bottleneck

Smartphone chatter has dominated the microblogging realm among tech executives this past week, led by nonstop debate surrounding the hyperactive Xiaomi and its newly launched fourth-generation model. But I’m personally growing a bit tired of this company, and thus thought I’d turn my attention this week to smartphone chatter from 2 lower profile brands, namely the unappreciated Huawei and recently launched Smartisan brand.

Huawei executives were in a state of mourning over the past week following the sudden death of one of their colleagues, cellphone chip executive Wang Jin. Meantime, Smartisan’s top executive was bemoaning problems facing his young company due to capacity constraints, as several CEOs of similar young rival brands looked on in sympathy that was perhaps mixed with just a touch of gloating. Continue reading

New Probe Rattles Shanghai Corporate World

Shanghai probes former Bright Food chairman

The national string of investigations against executives at major Chinese firms appears to be going local, with word that a man associated with some of Shanghai’s biggest companies is being probed for corruption. In this case the person under investigation is Wang Zongnan, whose name is tied to such Shanghai giants as the Lianhua (HKEx: 980) supermarket chain, as well as food products giant Bright Food. This latest case has several major potential implications, showing local investigators may be joining Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign that began a year ago. At the same time, the investigation could also ultimately cast doubt on several major recent cross-border acquisitions by Bright Food. Continue reading

News Digest: July 31, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on July 31. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • Chinese Vendors Outpace Market As Smartphone Shipments Grow 23.1% In Q2 – IDC (Businesswire)
  • EU/China Solar Deal Offers No Dumping Protection: EU Producers (English article)
  • Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU), The9 (Nasdaq: NCTY) Establish Gaming JV – Source (English article)
  • LDK Restarts Polysilicon Production At Facility Idled For 2 Years (Chinese article)
  • Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) To Launch China Xbox Sales Sept 23, Starting At 3699 Yuan (Chinese article)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

Fake Goods Sellers Take Polish Off Jumei

Jumei exposed for piracy

Investors have taken some of the shine off of recently listed online cosmetics seller Jumei International (NYSE: JMEI), following reports that some third-party merchants on its site were engaged in the sale of fake goods. In an interesting twist, the news had little or no effect on another recently listed e-commerce firm, JD.com (Nasdaq: JD), which was also mentioned in the same reports. To some extent the mixed reaction shows that investors are still less familiar with Jumei, which is a younger firm and was far less known to Wall Street before the company’s recent listing. Still, this kind of selling of knock-off goods is always a risk for any e-commerce firm that allows third-party vendors to sell products on its sites. Continue reading

GUEST POST-WeChat Story Part 3: Self-Made Media Machine

The following is Part 3 in a multi-part series about the rise of WeChat, the popular mobile instant messaging service owned by Tencent.

WeChat thrives on self-made media

By Lanie Nie

While many popular WeChat subscription accounts are still affiliated with established organizations, the social media upstart has also given rise to a new generation of “self-media”. This new group of publishers comes as a welcome development in the Chinese media space, comprising independent professionals from sectors like tech, finance, fashion, media and education who have seized the opportunity to broadcast their know-how and build online audience networks of their own.

Without some expert “gatekeepers” from traditional hierarchical publication systems standing in their way, this new group of voices on WeChat have become a celebration of grass-root content creators. Articles from these new publishers can be easily found online, and members of this group are gaining personal influence among readers, listeners and viewers on WeChat who want to hear their latest views.

Continue reading

News Digest: July 30, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on July 30. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • China Retail Executive Wang Being Probed In Bribery Case (English article)
  • GAPPRFT Mulls Quota System for Foreign Online Video Content – Source (English article)
  • Jumei (NYSE: JMEI), JD.com (Nasdaq: JD) Suspected Of Knowingly Selling Fake Goods (Chinese article)
  • Chery Receives Order For 13,000 Cars From Venezuela (Chinese article)
  • McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) Japan withdraws profit guidance after China food scare (English article)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

Shanghai Street View: Media Milestone

Husi scandal puts Shanghai on China media map

The latest food safety scandal involving one of our city’s largest meat suppliers has been consuming headlines for the last week, as the story unfolds about unsavory things that happened at Shanghai Husi Food. It turns out the list of companies that were buying meat from Husi reads like a who’s-who of major foreign restaurant operators in China, including such big names as KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Starbucks, just to name a few.

But from the perspective of a veteran journalist like myself, one of the more interesting and untold stories beyond the bigger news is the way this latest scandal was exposed. The news wasn’t broken by any of the usual suspects, including city food inspectors or investigative reporters from deep-pocketed giants like CCTV or Caijing magazine. Instead, the revelations came from an investigative reporting team here in our very own Shanghai, based out of local TV giant SMG. Continue reading