Investors Ignore Big Internet M&A, Eye Alibaba Bank

Alibaba to open small business bank

In a sign of just how overheated M&A in China’s tech sector has become, 2 major purchases by e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and online travel leader Ctrip (Nasdaq: CTRP) are receiving scant attention from investors, even though they are worth nearly $1 billion combined. Instead, the big news grabber is another headline involving Alibaba, with word that the world’s second largest Internet firm has just become one of a handful of private Chinese companies to win new private sector banking licenses being awarded by Beijing. That development will see Alibaba and several partners open an Internet-based bank that will cater to smaller savers and borrowers, an area often neglected by the current field of big state-run lenders. Continue reading

Intel Deal A Good Template For Chip Consolidation

Intel ties with Tsinghua Unigroup

A significant move of consolidation occurred in China’s fragmented microchip design sector last week, when global leader Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) purchased a strategic minority stake in a Chinese company formed through the recent combination of 2 midsized players. The step will bring together domestic smartphone chip designers RDA Microelectronics and Spreadtrum, with Intel’s huge financial resources, R&D muscle and global sales network. Continue reading

Shanghai Street View: New Night Life

Shanghai’s growing love affair with night life

Amid the recent flood of seasonal news on hairy crabs and the October 1 holiday, one headline that caught my attention was a rather dry one detailing the extended hours for the Shanghai subway during the upcoming Golden Week. The story was mostly informational, including a timetable that will see our subway take the ground-breaking step of operating the popular Lines 1 and 2 past midnight for several days around the holiday.

But underlying this mostly factual story is a far more subtle tale of Shanghai’s evolving nightlife, which has quietly pushed back bedtimes over the last 20 years in step with China’s rising economic prosperity. That growing wealth has given people more money to spend on recreation, such as dining and cultural events, much of which happens in the evening hours after work. Continue reading

News Digest: September 30, 2014

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

  • Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) Finance Arm, Juneyao Airline Get Private Bank Approval (English article)
  • Lenovo (HKEx: 992) Says $2.1 Bln IBM (NYSE: IBM)) x86 Server Deal To Close Wed (English article)
  • Ctrip (Nasdaq: CTRP) To Purchase Certain Premises In Sky SOHO For $497 Mln (PRNewswire)
  • Trina (NYSE: TSL) Announces Offering of $100 Mln Convertible Senior Notes (PRNewswire)
  • Real Estate Developer Evergrande (HKEx: 3333) To Enter Solar Power Sector (Chinese article)

Audi Looks For Road Out Of China Ditch

Volkwagen sputters under negative Audi campaign

A pair of articles in today’s English-language China Daily nicely illustrates the recent woes being felt at a number of major foreign multinationals in China, as they face an unusual wave of government hostility that may be partly due to their strong market position. German carmaker Volkswagen (Frankfurt: VOWG) is the central player in the pair of articles, as it tries to recover from a recent wave of negative publicity for its Audi brand. The saga follows years of stellar growth that has made Audi cars a must-have product for Chinese government officials and many of the nation’s newly wealthy individuals. Continue reading

eLong Shake-Up: Buy-Out Ahead?

eLong CFO, COO resign

A new management shakeup in the top ranks of eLong (Nasdaq: LONG) didn’t excite investors too much, but hints that something is happening behind the scenes at this online travel laggard controlled by US giant Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE). The shakeup has seen eLong’s CFO and COO both resign, though the company’s CEO is staying in his current position, at least for now. Rumors circulated earlier this year that a buyout could be coming for eLong from sector leader Ctrip (Nasdaq: CTRP), though such a deal never came. Continue reading

National Security Concerns Heat Up Smartphone Wars

Beijing, Taipei worry over smartphone security

A trio of headlines are shining a spotlight on a new twist in the brutally competitive smartphone market, where national security is suddenly becoming a major new headache for manufacturers. In one headline, Chinese smartphone sensation Xiaomi is being investigated in Taiwan for national security risks related to the storage of local user data on some offshore mainland Chinese-based computers. In a similar news bit, Beijing is reportedly considering forbidding government workers from using foreign-made smartphones.

And in yet another related story, global smartphone giant Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is reportedly finally on the cusp of winning approval to sell its new iPhone 6 in China, following an embarrassing delay that may be related to the cybersecurity issue. Continue reading

News Digest: September 27-29, 2014

The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on September 27-29. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.

  • Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) Invests Up To $1.5 Bln In China Mobile Chip Venture (English article)
  • Hershey (NYSE: HSY) Completes Initial Purchase Of Shanghai Golden Monkey (Businesswire)
  • LightInTheBox (NYSE: LITB) Raises Q3 Financial Guidance (PRNewswire)
  • Shanghai Stock Exchange Announces Vehicle For Experimental Link With HK (Chinese article)
  • Shake-Up At eLong (Nasdaq: LONG) As CFO, COO Resign (Chinese article)

VNO, Number Portability Programs Limp Ahead

China telcos obstruct competition

Two news stories in the telecoms space reflect the obstructionist role that the country’s big 3 telcos often play when it comes to boosting competition in their tightly regulated sector. The first story involves moves by the regulator to revive its sputtering program to juice up the sector with competitive products offered by dozens of recently licensed virtual network operators (VNOs). The second story involves the glacially slow progress in “number portability” — a years-old initiative that would encourage more competition by allowing consumers to keep their old mobile phone numbers when changing carriers. Continue reading

Chinese Media Exposed For Corporate Undermining

China Business News accused of false reporting

Major news items involving shenanigans at 2 of China’s top financial media are shining a spotlight on a phenomenon that doesn’t get much coverage in the west, but which is quite common in China and can often wreak havoc on companies’ stock prices. In one case, police have detained 2 top editors at the 21st Century Business Herald, one of China’s most respected financial newspapers, following an extortion scandal at the company’s website. In the other, leading instant noodle maker Master Kong, owned by Hong Kong-listed Tingyi (HKEx: 322), says it is preparing to sue the similarly prestigious China Business News for false reports that damaged its business. Continue reading

Intel, Microsoft On China Offensives With Deal, CEO Visit

Microsoft, Intel try to stay afloat in China

Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), the sputtering “Wintel” pair that once dominated the high-tech industry, are both in the China headlines today, as each tries to reverse its downward slide in the important market. In the first case, Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella is visiting China in his first overseas trip since assuming his current title, and is quickly finding himself quite busy putting out fires on a number of fronts. In the latter case, Intel is paying a hefty premium for a Chinese cellphone chipmaker as it attempts to find a place in a critical sector that is rapidly overtaking its core business making chips for traditional PCs. Continue reading