Game Operator Linekong Heads For HK IPO

Linekong breaks IPO silence with HK listing plan

The latest headlines about an upcoming IPO for online game operator Linekong made me realize it’s been quite a while since we last saw any news of offshore listing plans by Chinese Internet and tech firms. Such listings were coming nonstop earlier this year, and saw a wide range of names including the Twitter-like Weibo (Nasdaq: WB), e-commerce giant JD.com (Nasdaq: JD) and real estate services site Leju (NYSE: LEJU) all make IPOs in New York. But the Internet IPO pipeline has gone largely silent since early August, when mobile game operator iDreamSky (Nasdaq: DSKY) made its trading debut. Continue reading

New Criminal Actions Against VW, US Meat Supplier

6 Husi workers arrested in tainted meat scandal

Most of the recent flood of probes against foreign firms have been of the civil variety, resulting in stiff fines for anti-competitive behavior but few or no criminal charges and prison time. But that trend could be changing, with officials at car maker Volkswagen (Frankfurt: VOWG) and a former major meat supplier to McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) and KFC (NYSE: YUM) being probed or charged with crimes that could end with lengthy prison terms. It’s probably still too early to say if criminal charges against executives at major multinationals will become a trend. But if it does, it could certainly send a new chill into China’s rapidly worsening relationship with western businesses and governments. Continue reading

Tencent In M&A Overdrive With New Tie-Ups

Tencent eyes non-web firms in tie-up frenzy

I’ve become a big fan lately of top Internet company Tencent (HKEx: 700), which has taken a more focused, measured approach to M&A in a recent string of major acquisitions and tie-ups by China’s top 3 web firms. But the company seems to be rapidly moving into M&A overdrive, following word of 3 major new deals this week alone, none of which looks too exciting or focused. Whereas nearly all of Tencent’s tie-ups to date have been with other online firms, the trio of rumored new deals all involve major players from traditional industries that have little or no experience on the Internet. Continue reading

News Digest: August 30-September 1, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on August 30-September 1. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • 6 Detained, Arrested In Husi Tainted Meat Scandal (Chinese article)
  • iPhone 6 May Cost More Than 6,000 Yuan As Telcos Trim Subsidies (Chinese article)
  • Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA), Unicom (HKEx: 763) To Build Charging Outlets Across China (English article)
  • China Construction Bank (HKEx: 939) Announces Interim Results (HKEx announcement)
  • Game Maker Linekong Files For HK IPO, Gets Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) Funding (Chinese article)

Alibaba’s Ma Tops Rich List As Profits Leap

Jack Ma takes over title as China’s richest man

We’ll have to wait a few weeks to see who wins the title for China’s most valuable Internet company, but the champion for wealthiest chief executive has just been declared with Alibaba founder Jack Ma beating out Tencent (HKEx: 700) chief Pony Ma for the title. That declaration, based on estimates by Bloomberg, comes after release of the latest public filing from Alibaba in the run-up to its highly anticipated IPO that could come in less than 3 weeks. That filing also showed that profits from China’s leading e-commerce company rose 60 percent in the second quarter, an impressive feat for a company of its size. Continue reading

New Microsoft Chief Sets Sail For China

New Microsoft CEO Nadella to visit China

It’s become a sort of rite of passage for CEOs of major tech firms to visit China after moving into their job, which looks set to happen again with a September trip to Beijing set for Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) new top executive Satya Nadella. Tim Cook traveled to China just 6 months after taking the reins from Steve Jobs as Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) CEO in 2011, and has visited the country several times since then. Even Twitter’s (NYSE: TWTR) CEO Dick Costolo visited Shanghai earlier this year, just months after the social networking giant’s New York IPO, despite saying earlier that China wasn’t a market where his company could do business. (previous post) Continue reading

Bad Assets Sweet For Huarong, Sour For Saab Buyer

Huarong finds gold in bad assets

Domestic and overseas investors have been feasting on a flood of sour loans being churned out by China’s economic slowdown, mostly by buying shares in big state-run firms that try to recover money from those bad assets. In the latest wrinkle of that story, 8 major institutional buyers have spent a hefty $2.4 billion to purchase 21 percent of China Huarong Asset Management, one of the leading bad asset managers.

But bad asset management isn’t always such an easy game to play, as another group of China-backed investors is learning after their ill-advised purchase 2 years ago of insolvent Swedish car maker Saab. That group, called National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB (NEV) has declared bankruptcy, signaling an end may finally be near for the Swedish car maker that probably should have died several years ago. Continue reading

News Digest: August 29, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on August 29. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO Nadella To Visit China Amid Antitrust Probe – Source (English article)
  • ICBC (HKEx: 1398) Announces Interim Results (HKEx announcement)
  • Huarong Asset Management Adds 8 Investors, Raises 14.5 Bln Yuan (Chinese article)
  • Alibaba’s Jack Ma Becomes China’s Richest Man With $21.8 Bln Fortune (Chinese article)
  • China-Backed Investor That Acquired Sweden’s Saab Declares Bankruptcy (Chinese article)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

Intel Seeks Relevance With Spreadtrum Tie-Up

Intel eyes Spreadtrum tie-up

A headline this morning about a potential new China smartphone chip tie-up for Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) made me realize that this company that once ruled the global semiconductor market has been rapidly losing relevance these last few years. I can remember a time not long ago when finding news about Intel was a huge achievement for any reporter, as the company dominated the market for chips used to power most of the world’s PCs. Nowadays, Intel can’t even seem to attract the attention of China’s anti-trust regulators, who are conducting a series of high-profile probes on top computing names like Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM). Continue reading

Regulator Clarifies Microsoft Probe, Monopoly Stance

SAIC defends anti-trust probes at rare briefing

China’s anti-monopoly regulator wants to set the record straight: Reports that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is being probed for monopolistic behavior related to its Windows operating system and Office suite of products are incomplete. In fact, the US software giant is also being probed for monopolistic behavior related to its Internet Explorer web browser, and its media player product.

Perhaps this clarification doesn’t sound that strange to anyone outside China, but it’s actually quite unusual coming from the highly secretive State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC). The regulator is one of 2 government agencies conducting a wide range of recent anti-trust probes into mostly foreign firms, raising concerns among multinationals and western governments that they are being unfairly targeted by Beijing for such probes. Continue reading

Weibo: Lenovo, Xiaomi Company Culture; Ice Buckets For All

Tech execs get wet for ALS

Corporate culture is seldom on public display for most of China’s top tech firms, even though such culture often determines the success or failure of a company and is well known to industry insiders. The internal cultures at PC giant Lenovo (HKEx: 922) and smartphone sensation Xiaomi were the subject of chatter in the blogosphere this past week, as executives from inside and outside the companies discussed the less visible side of these well-known names. In Lenovo’s case, the talk came from a company executive herself, on the release of her new book. The latter saw a couple of outside executives comment on less attractive elements behind the inside culture at China’s hottest smartphone maker.

Meantime, the viral “Ice Bucket Challenge” was also all over the tech sphere, with nearly every major executive mentioning the topic on his personal microblog. Many also took the plunge that raises money for a rare neurological disease, but has also been derided as little more than a publicity stunt. Continue reading