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.

  • 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

News Digest: August 28, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on August 28. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.

  • Alibaba Announces Q2 Results, Transaction Volume Approaches 1 Trillion Yuan (Chinese article)
  • Wanda, Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU), Tencent (HKEx: 700) To Form E-Commerce JV (English article)
  • Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) In Talks To Buy Stake In Chinese Smartphone Chipmaker (Chinese article)
  • Youku Tudou (NYSE: YOUK) Announces Up To $300 Mln Share Repurchase Program (PRNewswire)
  • Yingli Green Energy (NYSE: YGE) Reports Q2 Results (PRNewswire)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

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