New Probe Rattles Shanghai Corporate World

Shanghai probes former Bright Food chairman

The national string of investigations against executives at major Chinese firms appears to be going local, with word that a man associated with some of Shanghai’s biggest companies is being probed for corruption. In this case the person under investigation is Wang Zongnan, whose name is tied to such Shanghai giants as the Lianhua (HKEx: 980) supermarket chain, as well as food products giant Bright Food. This latest case has several major potential implications, showing local investigators may be joining Beijing’s anti-corruption campaign that began a year ago. At the same time, the investigation could also ultimately cast doubt on several major recent cross-border acquisitions by Bright Food. Continue reading

Weibo: Huawei’s Loss, Smartisan’s Headaches

Smartisan hits capacity bottleneck

Smartphone chatter has dominated the microblogging realm among tech executives this past week, led by nonstop debate surrounding the hyperactive Xiaomi and its newly launched fourth-generation model. But I’m personally growing a bit tired of this company, and thus thought I’d turn my attention this week to smartphone chatter from 2 lower profile brands, namely the unappreciated Huawei and recently launched Smartisan brand.

Huawei executives were in a state of mourning over the past week following the sudden death of one of their colleagues, cellphone chip executive Wang Jin. Meantime, Smartisan’s top executive was bemoaning problems facing his young company due to capacity constraints, as several CEOs of similar young rival brands looked on in sympathy that was perhaps mixed with just a touch of gloating. Continue reading

News Digest: July 31, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on July 31. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.

  • Chinese Vendors Outpace Market As Smartphone Shipments Grow 23.1% In Q2 – IDC (Businesswire)
  • EU/China Solar Deal Offers No Dumping Protection: EU Producers (English article)
  • Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU), The9 (Nasdaq: NCTY) Establish Gaming JV – Source (English article)
  • LDK Restarts Polysilicon Production At Facility Idled For 2 Years (Chinese article)
  • Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) To Launch China Xbox Sales Sept 23, Starting At 3699 Yuan (Chinese article)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

Fake Goods Sellers Take Polish Off Jumei

Jumei exposed for piracy

Investors have taken some of the shine off of recently listed online cosmetics seller Jumei International (NYSE: JMEI), following reports that some third-party merchants on its site were engaged in the sale of fake goods. In an interesting twist, the news had little or no effect on another recently listed e-commerce firm, (Nasdaq: JD), which was also mentioned in the same reports. To some extent the mixed reaction shows that investors are still less familiar with Jumei, which is a younger firm and was far less known to Wall Street before the company’s recent listing. Still, this kind of selling of knock-off goods is always a risk for any e-commerce firm that allows third-party vendors to sell products on its sites. Continue reading

GUEST POST-WeChat Story Part 3: Self-Made Media Machine

The following is Part 3 in a multi-part series about the rise of WeChat, the popular mobile instant messaging service owned by Tencent.

WeChat thrives on self-made media

By Lanie Nie

While many popular WeChat subscription accounts are still affiliated with established organizations, the social media upstart has also given rise to a new generation of “self-media”. This new group of publishers comes as a welcome development in the Chinese media space, comprising independent professionals from sectors like tech, finance, fashion, media and education who have seized the opportunity to broadcast their know-how and build online audience networks of their own.

Without some expert “gatekeepers” from traditional hierarchical publication systems standing in their way, this new group of voices on WeChat have become a celebration of grass-root content creators. Articles from these new publishers can be easily found online, and members of this group are gaining personal influence among readers, listeners and viewers on WeChat who want to hear their latest views.

Continue reading

News Digest: July 30, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on July 30. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.

  • China Retail Executive Wang Being Probed In Bribery Case (English article)
  • GAPPRFT Mulls Quota System for Foreign Online Video Content – Source (English article)
  • Jumei (NYSE: JMEI), (Nasdaq: JD) Suspected Of Knowingly Selling Fake Goods (Chinese article)
  • Chery Receives Order For 13,000 Cars From Venezuela (Chinese article)
  • McDonald’s (NYSE: MCD) Japan withdraws profit guidance after China food scare (English article)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

Shanghai Street View: Media Milestone

Husi scandal puts Shanghai on China media map

The latest food safety scandal involving one of our city’s largest meat suppliers has been consuming headlines for the last week, as the story unfolds about unsavory things that happened at Shanghai Husi Food. It turns out the list of companies that were buying meat from Husi reads like a who’s-who of major foreign restaurant operators in China, including such big names as KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s and Starbucks, just to name a few.

But from the perspective of a veteran journalist like myself, one of the more interesting and untold stories beyond the bigger news is the way this latest scandal was exposed. The news wasn’t broken by any of the usual suspects, including city food inspectors or investigative reporters from deep-pocketed giants like CCTV or Caijing magazine. Instead, the revelations came from an investigative reporting team here in our very own Shanghai, based out of local TV giant SMG. Continue reading

Microsoft Spotlights Rise Of JD, Anti-Trust Probes

Microsoft probed by Commerce Ministry

US software giant Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the subject of 2 major news stories today, casting a spotlight on a pair of very different trends involving e-commerce and foreign companies in China. The first news bit has the world’s largest software company formally launching sales of its Xbox gaming console in China through a tie-up with (Nasdaq: JD), spotlighting the rapid rise of China’s second largest e-commerce company following its own tie-up with Internet giant Tencent (HKEx: 700) earlier this year. The second news bit looks more ominous, with word that Microsoft is being probed by one of China’s anti-trust regulators. Continue reading

News Digest: July 29, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on July 29. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.

  • SAIC Visits 4 Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Offices In New Investigation (Chinese article)
  • Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Taps Tencent And For Xbox Sales In China (English article)
  • (Nasdaq: SOHU) Reports Q2 Unaudited Financial Results (PRNewswire)
  • Scandal-Hit Husi Food Admits To Management Problems, Downplays Issues (Chinese article)
  • China Condemns US Anti-Dumping Duties On Solar Imports (English article)
  • Latest calendar for Q2 earnings reports (Earnings calendar)

Tencent Beats Alibaba To Banking License

Tencent beats Alibaba to banking license

Earlier reports of e-commerce leader Alibaba’s strong political ties appear to be overstated, following word that archrival Tencent (HKEx: 700) has become the first of China’s major Internet firms to win a highly sought banking license. Both companies had been aggressively expanding into financial services over the past year, though each was reliant on partnerships with other companies that already had licenses to offer services in the highly regulated sector dominated by big state-run companies. But now Tencent will be able to offer many of those services on its own, following this ground-breaking award of a license from the nation’s banking regulator. Continue reading

Lenovo Expands Into Smart Devices

Lenovo tries out smart devices

PC giant Lenovo (HKEx: 992) has never been a company to sit still for very long, which is both a positive and negative trait, as it announces yet another new foray into the smart devices sector. The company’s inability to be satisfied with the status quo has helped propel it to the world’s top PC maker through a series of acquisitions over the last few years, making it one of China’s best known global brands. But that same inability to focus also means Lenovo is constantly venturing into new areas, both for products and geographies. Some of those look good, but many often lead to headaches and disappointment. Continue reading