Banking/Finance

YoungChinabiz – Top news about Banking in China & Finance from Reuter reporter based in China

RETAIL: Alibaba, Tencent Take Wars to Convenience Stores

Bottom line: Alibaba’s move into unmanned coffee shops could stand a strong chance of success due to its relative simplicity, while WeChat’s move into Hong Kong convenience stores should also be relatively well received.

Alibaba samples coffee shops

Convenience stores are shaping up as the next battlefield in the wars for supremacy between Internet titans Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and Tencent (HKEx: 700), at least based on the latest headlines. One of those has Alibaba preparing to roll out an unmanned coffee store concept in its hometown of Hangzhou, while the other has Tencent’s WeChat rolling into Hong Kong in a big way in a new tie-up with 7-Eleven convenience stores.

Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) probably doesn’t need to be too worried just yet about the new threat from Alibaba in coffee shops, though many of the dozens of smaller coffee chains that have set up shop in China these last few years might take note. Likewise, Hong Kong’s incumbent electronic payments service, Octopus, probably doesn’t need to worry just yet either. Read Full Post…

FINANCE: Jack Ma’s Yu’ebao Fund Gets Too Fat

Bottom line: Yu’ebao’s further lowering of investment limits shows the Ant Financial-owned fund is growing too unwieldy, and the company would be better advised to diversify its wealth management product portfolio.

Yu’ebao gets too fat on cash

Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) founder Jack Ma is quickly discovering that his super-aggressive promotional ways can sometimes yield too much success. That’s my quick assessment of the bottom line from reports that Yu’ebao, the phenomenally successful fund launched by Alibaba’s former financial unit Ant Financial, is further capping the size of individual investments it will take.

The new cap is being set at a relatively low 100,000 yuan ($15,000), and comes just three months after Ant set an initial upper limit of 250,000 yuan per individual Yu’ebao account. The limits are clearly being put in place to avoid Yu’ebao spiraling out of control, as the fund has already become the world’s largest just four years after its launch. Read Full Post…

IPOs: Logistics Provider Beats Fintechs to NY IPO Gate

Bottom line: Best Inc.’s IPO is likely to price and debut weakly due to its loss-making status and concerns about China’s economy, which could also weigh on an upcoming flurry of fintech offerings in Hong Kong and New York.

Best Inc loads up logistics IPO

After waiting months for this year’s first major New York IPO by a Chinese company, I was surprised to read the distinction looks set to go to a logistics firm backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA). In this case the winner in this race to the IPO gate appears to be a company called Best Inc, with plans to raise a relatively sizable $750 million.

I say I’m surprised because all this time I’ve been waiting for one of a number of financial technology companies, often called fintech, to finally break through the IPO gate with the year’s first big offering. Peer-to-peer (P2P) lender China Rapid Finance (NYSE: XRF) actually took the distinction for first notable IPO of the year with its May listing on the New York Stock Exchange. But that offering was quite small at just $60 million. What’s more, the stock hasn’t exactly been a huge performer since then, and is now trading just slightly above its IPO price. Read Full Post…

FINANCE: SEC Hedges in Chicago Stock Exchange Sale Approval

Bottom line: A Chinese group’s plan to buy the Chicago Stock Exchange could get vetoed by the US securities regulator over concerns about the buyer’s inability to prevent the market from becoming a breeding ground for financial abuses.

SEC takes time on Chicago Stock Exchange sale review

Nearly a year and a half after it was first announced, the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange to an obscure Chinese buyer is still awaiting approval, in what would be a relatively landmark deal in the finance space. I’ll admit I was a bit surprised to read that this particular deal was still pending, as I figured it was either dead or had closed by now.

The deal announced in February last year would see a group led by Chongqing Casin Enterprise Group purchase one of America’s oldest but also most irrelevant stock exchanges. Some politicians had voiced concerns about the deal for the usual reasons, namely the exchange could provide a foothold for China to wreak mischief in US financial markets. But CFIUS, the agency that reviews deals for national security concerns, previously approved the deal, leading all of us to believe it would get done. Read Full Post…

FINANCE: Ant Financial Pushes Sesame Credit in New Tie-Ups

Bottom line: Sesame Credit’s new tie-ups with Unicom and a shared phone company are part of a string of deals to aggressively build up its credit rating business, and could add buzz to Ant Financial’s future IPO.

Sesame Credit in 2 new deals

Lest anyone think Alipay is the only asset in financial services giant Ant Financial’s portfolio, the company’s newer Sesame Credit unit is also hankering for headlines these days, with a couple of new deals for its service. The larger of those will see China Unicom (HKEx: 762; NYSE: CHU), the nation’s second largest wireless carrier, waive deposit requirements for some of its users with high credit scores, based on Sesame’s system. The other deal looks similar, and will see a shared phone operator also waive deposits for people with similarly high credit.

This kind of aggressive promotion is quite typical of Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and one of the main people calling the shots at both companies. Ma likes to be ahead of the curve, and is quite aggressive about peddling his vision for emerging sectors like credit ratings. That strategy has served him well in e-commerce and electronic payments, where Alibaba now dominates. Read Full Post…

FINANCE: Ant Makes Case, No New Offer, for MoneyGram Buy

Bottom line: Ant Financial’s open letter to MoneyGram could hint at a new raised offer coming soon for the company, though rival suitor Euronet is likely to bid equally aggressively and has a slightly better chance of winning the contest.

Ant makes case to MoneyGram workers, US politicians

Three weeks after being surprised by an unsolicited counterbid for US money transferring specialist MoneyGram, China’s Ant Financial is finally speaking out on the matter beyond its initial reaction to the rival bid. The former financial unit of e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) frankly isn’t saying much about future plans in its open letter to the MoneyGram community, and there’s no hint on whether it will raise its offer for the US company.

Instead, the letter seems aimed at reassuring MoneyGram employees that their jobs will be safe, and on reassuring wary government officials that information on MoneyGram users won’t be recklessly used. Those messages look squarely aimed at quelling the very real possibility that such a deal could get vetoed by Washington on national security grounds, even though the jobs issue doesn’t really fall into that category. Read Full Post…

IPOs: Qudian Moves Toward Blockbuster NY Listing

Bottom line: Qudian’s IPO will get a moderately warm reception in New York, drawing interest due to its status as a major private fintech firm but also wariness owing to many uncertainties in the young sector.

Qudian moves closer to IPO

Anything involving movement of money has always been slightly problematic in China. Be it paying for things online, paying to play computer games, or even borrowing small sums to buy something like a smartphone, nothing has ever been easy for Chinese consumers. That’s mostly due to the creaky financial system they inherited when the country began its march into the modern era starting in the 1980s and ’90s.

That lack of services has been a godsend for a new generation of companies that are now making their way to market by supplying some of the many basic financial services that consumers crave. An IPO by one of the largest of those looks set to happen in the next 3 months, with word that microlender Qudian has made its first private filings for a New York listing to raise up to $1 billion. Read Full Post…

E-COMMERCE: Ant Trumped in US, Alibaba Reorganizes Video

Bottom line: Ant Financial will counter bid for MoneyGram, following a surprise rival bid for the company, while Alibaba Pictures’ absorption of the former Youku Tudou looks like a logical consolidation of Alibaba’s filmed entertainment assets.

Ant’s MoneyGram offer attracts rival bidder

Two of Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) founder Jack Ma’s biggest endeavors outside his core e-commerce business are in the headlines, led by a counter bid for a US financial services company his Ant Financial is trying to acquire. That particular deal has a US company called Euronet Worldwide announcing a bid for MoneyGram that’s 15 percent higher than Ant’s own $880 million bid made back in January. The other news is slightly more mundane but still significant, and has Ma’s Alibaba moving its Youku Tudou online video service into its separately listed Alibaba Pictures (HKEx: 1060) filmed entertainment unit. Read Full Post…

IPOs: China Rapid Finance, Lakala Join Race for Financial Listings

Bottom line: This year is likely to see at least a half dozen privately owned financial services companies make public listings in the U.S., Hong Kong and China, with Lakala and Lufax likely to be among the first.

Lakala files for ChiNext IPO

We’re already three months into the new year, and still awaiting the first of what looks set to be a bumper crop of IPOs by a new generation of privately owned financial services firms that are far more dynamic than their state-run peers. Two more of those are in the headlines today, led by China Rapid Finance, a peer-to-peer (P2P) lender that says it’s eyeing a $100 million IPO in New York. At the same time, the popular Lakala electronic payments service has filed to make a listing on the Nasdaq-style ChiNext board in Shenzhen.

That pair are joining a few other notable names that are reportedly aiming to list in the not-too-distant future. That group includes Lufax, which bills itself as China’s largest P2P lender and is aiming to list in Hong Kong. Then there’s Qudian, a microlender that is looking to raise hundreds of millions of dollars with a New York listing. And of course, the granddaddy of them all is Ant Financial, which could raise more than $1 billion with a listing in Hong Kong or dual listing in Hong Kong and China. Read Full Post…

FINANCE: IDG China Affiliate Roars with US Parent Buy

Bottom line: IDG Capital is likely to buy out the venture funding business of US affiliate IDG in the next year, setting the stage for the emergence of China’s first global venture capital firm.

IDG Capital roars with purchase of US parent

A sort of “mouse that roared” story is in the headlines today, with word that US tech finance and information giant International Data Group (IDG) has been bought out by its China affiliate. The China affiliate, IDG Capital, is actually teaming up with another major local partner, China Oceanwide Holdings, to purchase Boston-based IDG, whose assets include the well-respected market research firm International Data Corp (IDC), as well as PCWorld Magazine. Read Full Post…

FINANCE: WeChat Sips with Starbucks; Alipay in Europe, Australia

Bottom line: Starbucks’ selection of WeChat before Alipay for in-store electronic payments is a symbolic victory for the former, while Alipay’s aggressive global expansion could eventually help it to overtake UnionPay outside China.

WeChat ties with Starbucks

China’s two leading mobile payments services are both in the headlines, led by word of a major new tie-up between Tencent’s (HKEx: 700) WeChat and coffee lifestyle titan Starbucks (NYSE: SBUX). I have to admit that my interest in this particular tie-up is somewhat personal, as I’m a big fan of both of these companies and have been waiting a long time for such a partnership.

But equally significant is the fact that Starbucks chose WeChat before archrival Alipay. That same Alipay is in a couple of its own headlines, both showing how it’s trying to expand abroad to compete with China’s other major electronic payments system, the state-owned UnionPay. One of those headlines has Alipay in a new tie-up in Australia, while the other has it announcing partnerships with four major financial companies to expand its footprint in Europe. Read Full Post…