Tencent, Sinopec Look Beyond Oil

Sinopec in new Tencent tie-up

Just a week after Internet giant Tencent’s (HKEx: 700) name emerged as an unlikely bidder for a stake in the retail business of leading oil refiner Sinopec (HKEx: 386), the pair have announced an unrelated tie-up to co-develop a number of Internet-related, non-energy businesses. The new partnership does seem a bit odd, as these 2 companies are about as different as they could possibly be. One is a fast-growing private company in the high-tech space, while the other is a slow-growth giant in a traditional space monopolized by state-run behemoths. Continue reading

China Prepares Yet Another Homegrown OS

China set to unveil new desktop PC OS

Sometimes reporting on China’s high-tech industries feels like being trapped in a world where the same things happen again and again, as Beijing and companies repeatedly make the same mistakes. The nation is famous for its boom-bust cycles fueled by companies piling into the latest hot products, leading to price wars and battles for market share before most players go bankrupt or leave the space. A similar phenomenon has occurred in computer operating system (OS) space, where China has tried repeatedly to foster development of products that can supplant Microsoft’s (Nasdaq: MSFT) dominant Windows OS and more recently Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) popular Android OS for smartphones. Continue reading

Shanghai Street View: Too Much Trouble

Subway riders avoid fainted man like poison

An incident involving a foreigner who fainted on a Shanghai subway, touching off a stampede of passengers trying to get away from him, is sparking heated discussion this week in the ongoing debate about whether many Chinese lack compassion for strangers. The debate got so heated on the Internet that the subway operator took the unusual step of releasing video of the incident so people could see exactly what happened.

I saw the video on the news, and it’s a bit bizarre and almost humorous the way everyone around the unfortunate man panicked and fled the car after he passed out. That got me to thinking whether Americans might have reacted the same way if this happened in the US, and my conclusion was the answer is probably “no”.
Continue reading

News Digest: August 27, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on August 27. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
══════════════════════════════════════════════════════

  • Sinopec (HKEx: 386), Tencent (HKEx: 700) Join To Develop Non-Oil Business (Chinese article)
  • Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Probe Also Includes Browser, Media Player – SAIC (Chinese article)
  • China Investment Corp Boosts SMIC (HKEx: 981) Stake To 12 Pct From 11.25 Pct (HKEx announcement)
  • KKR Agrees To Buy 18 Pct Of China Chicken Firm For $400 Mln (English article)
  • Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL) Announces Q2 Results (PRNewswire)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

Hunan Satellite: A Media Consolidator

Hunan Satellite pumps 1 bln yuan into Mango TV

A new report on big investment plans in digital media by Hunan Satellite Television is shining a spotlight on this aggressive company in interior China, and its potential to become an important consolidator as Beijing looks to revamp the stodgy traditional media sector. According to that report, Hunan Satellite is planning to invest 1 billion yuan ($160 million) in its Mango TV service, which delivers video over the Internet and other digital platforms and competes directly with private sector firms like Youku Tudou (NYSE: YOKU) and Baidu’s (Nasdaq: BIDU) iQiyi. Continue reading

iKang Growth Steady, A Long-Term Play

iKang posts solid but unspectacular Q2 results

Let’s take a break from the usual tech and trade war chatter today to look at the healthcare sector, focusing on the newly released maiden results from private clinic operator iKang (Nasdaq: KANG). The results look relatively solid but unspectacular, though that didn’t stop investors from dumping iKang’s shares in after-hours trade after the report came out. Even if that 17 percent sell-off holds in regular trading on Tuesday, iKang’s shares are still up about 40 percent from their IPO price back in April. Continue reading

Qualcomm, IBM Try Conciliation In China Clashes

IBM in new partnership with Inspur

After months of hostile exchanges, accusations and negative publicity, the tone in a series of disputes between Chinese and foreign companies and governments abruptly shifted late last week with new signs of conciliation from both the foreign companies and Chinese government. One case involved leading global smartphone chip maker Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM) , which is being probed by Beijing for anti-competitive behavior. The other involved computing giant IBM (NYSE: IBM), whose hardware could soon be shunned by many state-owned banks after Beijing warned of national security concerns earlier this year. Continue reading

News Digest: August 26, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on August 26. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
══════════════════════════════════════════════════════

Xiaomi Ties With Ouya, Tangles With Pirates

Xiaomi loses control of company spin

You know a company is starting to mature when it becomes the subject of headlines beyond its control, which is what we’re seeing in the case of 2 of the latest news bits involving smartphone sensation Xiaomi. In the brief 4 years since its founding, Xiaomi has proven itself a master of marketing, able to keep its name constantly in the headlines through a strategic series of news leaks, sensational sales figures and other media savvy tactics. The latest headlines themselves are relatively benign, one involving a new gaming tie-up and the other involving a minor scandal related to pirated products. Continue reading

Qihoo At Search Milestone, Revenue Elusive

Qihoo search reaches new milestone

Rising online search star Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU) has reached a major milestone, winning 30 percent of China’s traffic for the first time just 2 years after the launch of its So.com search engine. Despite that huge achievement, Qihoo’s newly released quarterly results show it’s having a harder time monetizing its search business, which may partly explain why its shares are down 20 percent since a peak in the spring. From the perspective of an observer, these latest signs still look quite encouraging and might even prompt a Qihoo skeptic like myself to consider buying the company’s stock at its current price. Continue reading

Amazon In Shanghai, Wal-Mart In Drugstores

Amazon opens shop in Shanghai FTZ

Two of the world’s biggest retailers are in the e-commerce headlines, led by a move into Shanghai’s new pilot free trade zone by global giant Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN). At the same time, Wal-Mart-controlled (NYSE: WMT) Yhd has become China’s first e-commerce firm licensed to operate online drugstores, giving it a potential edge over other rivals also eying the space. Both of these stories highlight how the big international names are trying to use their clout and global connections to carve out a space in China’s fast growing but highly competitive e-commerce space, which is now dominated by the domestic pair of Alibaba and JD.com (Nasdaq: JD). Continue reading