ENTERTAINMENT: Newly Re-Listed Giant Joins Global Game Hunt

Bottom line:  Giant Interactive’s new bids for Caesars Entertainment online game unit and Supercell show it has lots of cash for global acquisitions, which it hopes to use to vault it into the big leagues of Chinese online game companies.

Giant chases global acquisitions

Online gaming company Giant Interactive may be mostly a memory for US investors, following its de-listing from New York in 2014. But the company wants the world to know it still has global aspirations. That’s my interpretation of the latest series of reports, which have Giant pursuing several major global acquisitions in Finland, Israel and the US.

Two of the reports appear to be related, and say Giant is in talks to buy the online game unit of US gambling giant Caesars Entertainment (Nasdaq: CZR), which includes Israeli game developer Playtika. One of the reports adds that Giant is also in talks to potentially join a group led by Chinese Internet giant Tencent (HKEx: 700), which has agreed to buy a controlling stake of Finnish game giant SupercellRead Full Post…

INTERNET: Baidu Maps South America as Rio Games Near

Bottom line: Baidu’s rapid expansion of its global mapping services is mostly targeted at Chinese traveling abroad, and is unlikely to attract many local users because better services are already available in most markets.

Baidu maps South America
Baidu maps South America

Still suffering from a spate of negative news at home, leading search engine Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) is trying to draw attention to the more upbeat subject of its global expansion that is slowly inching forward. The company has squarely focused its global drive on emerging markets, and is continuing that trend with word that it’s launching new editions of its mapping services for most of South America. Baidu has already launched a version of its core search business in Brazil, and many will probably view this move to launch mapping services in 13 countries as a prelude to future launches for search service in those markets. Read Full Post…

Shanghai Street View: Grouped Out

Groups explode on WeChat
Groups explode on WeChat

This week’s Street View takes us to Shanghai’s cyber realm, where I feel compelled to write about a recent trend that has seen an explosion in chat groups on the hugely popular WeChat mobile messaging platform. I write occasionally about cyberspace in this column, usually focusing on apps that make life easier for Shanghai residents for things like hailing taxis and locating nearby public toilets.

But the chat group phenomenon is slightly different, as it doesn’t have any real-world applications and is solely designed to facilitate better communication among groups of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, family members, or simply people with a common interest. Such groups really are quite useful in some cases, for example by helping people to plan an outing or for students to pass on messages about their latest class assignments. Read Full Post…

China News Digest: July 23-25, 2016

The following press releases and news reports about China companies were carried on July 23-25. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • MasterCard (NYSE: MA) May Apply for China Payment License This Year (English article)
  • Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) Maps Enters 13 South American Countries as Olympics Nears (Chinese article)
  • Samsung (Seoul: 005930) Countersues Huawei in Lawsuit Tug-of-War (Chinese article)
  • Giant Interactive Said to Lead Group Bidding for Caesars Online Game Unit (English article)
  • Private Car Service Provider UCar Lists on China OTC, Valued at 40 Bln Yuan (Chinese article)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

INTERNET: Didi, Uber Seek Truce, China Merger Ahead?

Bottom line: Didi and Uber may reach a truce in their China price wars under pressure from their investors, and could ultimately merge their China operations in discussions that could begin later this year.

Didi, Uber under pressure to end price wars

The past year has seen some mergers of former bitter rivals due to financial pressures, and the latest reports indicate yet another such marriage could be coming between hired car services giants Didi Chuxing and Uber. The reports are grounded in word from insiders that the pair have begun talks about ending their bitter price wars, which have helped them to gain big market share but are also costing them millions or even billions of dollars in losses. Those talks have naturally led some to speculate that the pair might even merge, though in my view that possibility seems rather low, at least right now. Read Full Post…

NEW ENERGY: BYD Waters Down Buffett, Welcomes Samsung

Bottom line: BYD’s latest new share issue, including a sale to Samsung, reflects a dire need for cash as its electric vehicles fail to gain traction, and could be followed by more fund raising in the next 12 months.

BYD issues more new shares

Sputtering electric car maker BYD (HKEx: 1211; Shenzhen: 002594) is making some big adjustments in a bid stabilize its financial footing, with word of a major new share sale that includes the addition of Korea’s Samsung (Seoul: 005930) as a stakeholder. At the same time, that same new share issue has further diluted one of the company’s oldest and most loyal stakeholders, US billionaire investor Warren Buffett. Following this latest shift, Buffett’s holdings in the company are about half of what they were when he first purchased nearly 10 percent of BYD in 2008, when it looked poised to become a new energy car superstar. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Facebook Inches Closer to China with Tencent Poach

Bottom line: Facebook’s new hire of a top WeChat executive could be the latest signal that it expects to get permission to launch a China-based service soon, possibly by the end of this year.

WeChat exec defects to Facebook

Following several months of relative silence, social networking (SNS) giant Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) is back in the China headlines, with word of a major executive poach from China’s leading SNS company. This particular headline is filled with mixed signals. On the one hand, the hire of a former top executive from WeChat looks like a significant move closer to China, since the hugely popular Chinese SNS operator would be Facebook’s main rival if it’s ever allowed into China. But on the other hand, the executive is a foreigner from WeChat’s international division, which has been a poor performer in the service’s weak attempts to go global. Read Full Post…

China News Digest: July 22, 2016

The following press releases and news reports about China companies were carried on July 22. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • Uber, Didi Chuxing Want to End Rivalry, Discuss Possible Merger – Source (Chinese article)
  • Citic Securities (HKEx: 6030) Announces Preliminary H1 Results (HKEx announcement)
  • Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) Releases Indexes Spanning Labor to Apple’s China Sales (English article)
  • China Launches New Alert System to Tame Wind Power Investments (English article)
  • BYD (HKEx: 1211) Says to Raise 14.4 Bln Yuan Through Additional A-Shares Issue (HKEx announcement)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

IPOs: China Film, Babytree Eye China; Lending Firm Opts for NY

Bottom line: IPOs by China Lending, China Film and Babytree should all do relatively well, and their diverse listing destinations reflect the growing choices available to Chinese companies for public offerings.

Babytree raises 3 bln yuan

A trio of mid-sized entrepreneurial companies are in the IPO headlines, including one headed for New York, another opting for Shanghai and a third eyeing a possible listing on Hong Kong’s underutilized board for high-growth companies. The first of the trio, which will make its trading debut this week in New York, comes from micro lender China Lending Corp (Nasdaq: CLDC). The second comes from China Film Co, the nation’s largest movie distributor; and the third comes from baby products seller and online community operator Babytree, which has just raised a nifty 3 billion yuan in pre-IPO funding. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Huawei Snagged in Global Smartphone Slowdown

Bottom line: New data shows Huawei’s smartphone sales growth slowed sharply in the second quarter, and the company will be lucky to log 20 percent annual growth due to saturation in its home China market.

Huawei smartphone growth slows sharply in Q2

The first of many reports for second-quarter smartphone sales has just come out, revealing one of the first declines in more than a year for the surging Huawei. At the same time, the new data from TrendForce show that surging Chinese brands Oppo and Vivo are also seeing rapid slowdowns in their recent breakneck growth. The bigger picture is that the global smartphone market is slowing sharply or even contracting after years of rapid growth, with global leaders Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Samsung (Seoul: 005930) also suffering big drops this year. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: TV Maker AmTRAN Next Target for LeEco?

Bottom line: LeEco is likely to buy a controlling 30-40 percent of struggling low-cost Taiwanese TV maker AmTRAN in a deal to be announced next week, as part of its bigger plan to build an ecosystem of entertainment products and services.

LeEco to invest in Vizio?

Media have been buzzing these last few days about rumors of a potential acquisition by online video superstar LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104) of the struggling low-cost TV brand Vizio, owned by Taiwan’s AmTRAN Technology (Taipei: 2489). In usual fashion, LeEco has denied such a takeover, and even took the unusual step of issuing a formal statement saying it has no such plans. But that wouldn’t rule out a major strategic investment in money-losing AmTRAN, or an acquisition of the company by a non-listed unit of LeEco, formerly known as LeTV. Read Full Post…