Alibaba Eyes More Money, Jack Ma Visits HK

Alibaba in spotlight as end draws near for IPO

I usually don’t write about any company more than once a week, and certainly not twice on the same day. But today I’m making an exception for the upcoming IPO of Alibaba, which will finally come to an end with its trading debut on Friday. The latest news bits in the run-up to what’s likely to be the world’s biggest IPO of all time have media reporting that Alibaba may raise the upper end of the price range for its shares, allowing it to raise even more money. At the same time, Alibaba’s talkative and charismatic founder Jack Ma has made a surprise appearance in Hong Kong as part of the company’s road show, where he was warmly greeted by investors. Continue reading

Alibaba’s NY Listing Is China’s Loss

China stock markets come up empty on Alibaba IPO

A year of hype surrounding what’s likely to become the biggest IPO in history will officially end later this week, when homegrown Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba formally lists on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO will give most global investors access to Alibaba’s shares and a chance to profit from one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing e-commerce markets. Continue reading

News Digest: September 16, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on September 16. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • Alibaba To Expand IPO, May Raise Upper Price Range To $70 – Source (Chinese article)
  • Huayi Bros (Shenzhen: 300027) To Invest $130 Mln In New US Subsidiary (Chinese article)
  • 13 Workers At Foxconn (HKEx: 2038) Shenzhen Plant Get Leukemia, 5 Dead (Chinese article)
  • Cellular Tower Operator To Finish Formation By Year End, Seek Private Money (Chinese article)
  • NetEase (Nasdaq: NTES) Invests 28 Mln Yuan In Recruiting Site Jobtong (English article)

China Falls Off iPhone 6 Launch Map

China comes up empty in iPhone 6 launch

Now that Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) unveiling of its new iPhone 6 is finally in the past, we can finally sit back and take a look at the specifics of the company’s launch plan for China. The only problem is that there isn’t any such plan yet, even though China is now one of Apple’s largest global markets. Instead, there seems to be lots of confusion about when the newest iPhone will officially go on sale on the Chinese mainland.

I can partly sympathize with Apple, as I’m nearly certain the latest confusion is the result of Chinese bureaucracy that’s impossible to control. But at the same time, this kind of sloppy move will only further undermine Apple’s reputation, which is already under  regular attack by central Chinese media that are constantly looking for new ways to find fault with this trendy but secretive company. Continue reading

Sinopec Picks Partners, Dilutes Beijing Private Capital Plan

Sinopec picks 25 partners for retail JV

It seems that oil refining giant Sinopec (HKEx: 386) just can’t say “no” when it comes to choosing partners for its new retail joint venture, which is part of Beijing’s pilot program to inject more private money into big state-owned enterprises. That’s my quick assessment, following the company’s announcement that it has chosen a whopping 25 mostly domestic partners for the new venture, which will own and operate the company’s vast network of gas stations and convenience stores throughout China.

I’ve been covering the Chinese corporate scene for quite a while now, and can truthfully say that 3 or 4 partners in a single joint venture is already considered a lot. In short, I’ve never seen so many partners named for a single joint venture, and suspect Sinopec is taking this strange move to avoid having to give any of these numerous partners any actual voice in the running of its retail unit, Sinopec Sales. Continue reading

Xiaomi Eyes Finance, Phoenix Tries News Feeds

Xiaomi invests in Jimu Box

A couple of smaller deals are in the headlines today, with smartphone sensation Xiaomi dipping its toe into the financial services market and online news portal Phoenix New Media (NYSE: FENG) eying the news feed business. Both deals are relatively small in terms of size, but each provides some interesting insight on the thinking at these 2 different companies in the tech and new media space. The first deal has Xiaomi joining a group of investors betting on a peer-to-peer (P2P) online lending platform called Jimu Box. The second has Phoenix investing in Particle Inc, maker of an app that lets users design personalized feeds to receive news over their mobile phones. Continue reading

News Digest: September 13-15, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on September 13-15. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • China’s Fosun (HKEx: 656) Fights Back With Counterbid For Club Med (Paris: CU) (English article)
  • Sinopec (HKEx: 386) Sells $17.5 Bln Retail Unit Stake to Investors (English article)
  • S&P Dow Jones Indices Says Alibaba Could Be Added To Global Benchmarks (English article)
  • Total Active Users On Weibo (Nasdaq: WB) App Down by 10.95 Pct in August 2014 (English article)
  • Suning (Shenzhen: 002024) Makes Low-Key Entry To Cross-Border E-Commerce (Chinese article)

Huawei In Bad PR Move With Anti-Corruption Campaign

Huawei internal anti-corruption drive nets 116 workers

If telecoms equipment giant Huawei was trying to convince the world it’s not closely linked to Beijing, then its new campaign to root out internal corruption certainly looks like a bad strategic move. Of course I’m being just slightly facetious, as any good corporation should always be vigilant against corruption within its workforce. But in terms of public perception, this new internal anti-corruption campaign seems strikingly similar to the much larger and high-profile campaign being waged throughout China by the 2-year-old administration of President Xi Jinping. Continue reading

Strikes Trip Up JD.com, Apple Supplier Wintek

Workers strike at JD warehouse in Shanghai

Two new strikes, one in Shanghai and another in Guangdong, are shining a spotlight once more on the constant challenge of labor unrest in China, following a similar wave of such strikes earlier this year. One of the latest strikes saw thousands of workers go off the job at Wintek (Taipei: 2384), a Taiwanese maker of touch screens and a supplier to gadget giant Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL). The other saw employees walk off the job at a warehouse owned by recently listed e-commerce JD.com (Nasdaq: JD) in Shanghai.  Continue reading

News Digest: September 12, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on September 12. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
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  • China Misses Out On First Wave Of New iPhone Releases (English article)
  • Tech Factory Workers Strike In China Over Mooncakes, Benefits (English article)
  • FAW, Volkswagen (Frankfurt: VOWG) Fined 248 Mln Yuan After Antitrust Probe Of Audi (Chinese article)
  • McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) August Sales Metric Hurt By China Scandal (English article)
  • JD.com (Nasdaq: JD) Responds To Reports Of Strike, Says Has Made Necessary Preparations (Chinese article)

Ctrip, Qunar Go Their Separate Ways

Ctrip yanks listings from Qunar site

What nearly became a blockbuster marriage between China’s 2 leading online travel sites has instead ended in divorce, with word that industry leader Ctrip (Nasdaq: CTRP) has formally yanked its hotel listings from the site of the second largest player Qunar (Nasdaq: QUNR). My use of the divorce metaphor here isn’t completely appropriate, since the 2 companies came close but never formally consummated a marriage. Still, the final split in this tie-up is probably the best ending for everyone, since it would have been a rocky road even if the 2 companies had agreed to merge their operations. Continue reading