Internet

Latest Financial Trends & News for Internet in China

CHIPS: Beijing Approves Microchip Deal, Boding Well for Qualcomm-NXP

Bottom line: China’s approval of a small US chip merger shows Beijing is actively reviewing such deals again after a brief pause to show its displeasure over US trade tensions, and bodes well for eventual approval of Qualcomm’s purchase of NXP.

China resumes consideration of global mergers

Trade tensions between Washington and Beijing have thrown a number of major companies into turmoil, as the two sides spar over the former’s attempts to form a new, more balanced bilateral relationship. Telecoms equipment maker ZTE (HKEx: 763;  Shenzhen: 000063) has stolen a lot of the limelight in that regard, as the company’s earlier case involving illegal sales of US products to Iran gets sucked into the fray.

But lower-key on the ladder has been a form of passive aggressive behavior coming from Beijing, which had quietly halted reviews of major global M&A, most notably in the high-tech microchip space.  That behavior was costing time and frustration for several companies with pending deals, including Qualcomm’s (Nasdaq: QCOM) pending mega-purchase of Europe’s NXP (Nasdaq: NXPI). Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Struggling Coolpad Sees Money Bags in Xiaomi

Bottom line: Xiaomi is likely to quietly settle a copyright infringement lawsuit against it by Coolpad, which is opportunistically looking for some hush money before Xiaomi’s IPO and can’t afford a long drawn-out court battle.

Coolpad sues Xiaomi as latter’s IPO draws near

In a move that smells of desperation, down-and-out smartphone maker Coolpad (HKEx: 2369) has filed a lawsuit against the up-and-coming Xiaomi. Anyone with half a brain will know the timing of this lawsuit looks quite suspicious, since Xiaomi is getting ready to make what could be this year’s biggest IPO in the next month or so, likely to raise up to $20 billion.

It’s quite difficult to know if this particular lawsuit has any merit, though we do know that Coolpad was an early hot player in the smartphone space and thus may legitimately hold some intellectual property similar to things that Xiaomi is now using. But the fact of the matter is that Coolpad can hardly afford to wage a long and potentially costly legal battle. Instead, it is probably hoping for a quick settlement to give it some much-needed cash to continue funding its money-losing daily operations. Read Full Post…

PCs: Lenovo Kicked Out of Hang Seng Index

Bottom line: Lenovo’s ejection from the Hang Seng Index caps its long fall from grace over the last four years, and leaves the company in an increasingly deep hole that may be hard to emerge from.

Lenovo ejected from Hang Seng Index

Capping its long fall from grace, PC giant Lenovo (HKEx: 992) has been officially booted from the Hang Seng Index, in a move that looks highly symbolic but also has some very real ramifications for this former high-flyer. It’s probably too early to relegate Lenovo to the history books, but we can certainly say the company is down for the count with this latest blow.

As someone who has followed Lenovo for most of its life as a listed company, I can provide my own view that the company is certainly facing a life-or-death moment in its lifetime that dates back more than three decades, making it one of China’s oldest tech names. I have called repeatedly for the departure of CEO Yang Yuanqing and introduction of some newer, younger blood to the company’s top ranks. But it doesn’t seem that Yang’s boss, Lenovo founder Liu Chuanzhi, cares too much what I think, as he has repeatedly stuck with this right-hand man throughout the company’s decline. Read Full Post…

IPOs: Xiaomi Growth Charms, Losses Alarm

Bottom line: Xiaomi is hoping to attract investors to its IPO through its recent strong revenue growth, but it could still be years before it becomes profitable due to heavy reliance on low-end, low-margin products.

Xiaomi growth banks on cheap products

Everyone is fawning over the newly released IPO prospectus from Xiaomi, the smartphone maker that is aiming to make what’s likely to be the biggest listing of all time by a company from its class. Most eyes seem to be focused on the company’s top line, headlined by revenue that grew 67.5 percent last year. But from my perspective, the picture isn’t all that attractive due to the company’s huge loss, along with data that show it is clearly stuck at the lower end of the global smartphone market in terms of brand positioning.

None of that is necessarily that bad, since Xiaomi, whose upcoming Hong Kong IPO is likely to be one of this year’s largest, is clearly in an early stage of its development. Most major brands today didn’t start out as premium names. Classic cases in that category are the Japanese and Korean electronics makers, most of which started off as makers of low-end but relatively reliable cheap products that made the “made in Japan” label at one time the equivalent of the “made in China” label now. Read Full Post…

IPOs: China Biotechs Abandon New York for Hong Kong

Bottom line: Two biotech firms’ abandonment of New York IPOs for Hong Kong is part of a broader trend to make Hong Kong and China more competitive for high-growth startups, and could ultimately boost valuations in all three markets.

Pharma startups abandon New York for HK

We’ll take a break from all the trade war talk as we close out the week and instead turn to another major development taking place in Hong Kong, where the local stock exchange has just rolled out some reforms with major implications for high-growth startups. Those reforms have reportedly netted a couple of biotech firms that were originally planning to list in New York, reflecting a potential new rivalry between these two markets.

Before the reforms, Hong Kong’s stock exchange was quite traditional and also strict about a few things, including dual-class partnership structures and profitability. The former British colony refused to allow dual-class partnerships that gave disproportionate power to holders of a special class of preferential shares. At the same time, it also had strict rules saying all companies must show three consecutive years of profitability before listing. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Alibaba Devours Ele.me, Meituan Swallows Mobike

Bottom line: Alibaba’s purchase of Ele.me and Tencent-backed Meituan’s purchase of Mobike underscore the growing rivalry between Alibaba and Tencent, as each uses its deep pockets to try and dominate money-losing emerging sectors.

Alibaba swallows Ele.me

Trade wars are making all the big headlines these days in US-China news, forcing a couple of mega-mergers that would normally be front-page news into the back pages. Each of the latest deals is quite significant for China’s Internet, as both quietly underscore the increasingly intense rivalry between titans Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and Tencent (HKEx: 700).

The larger of the deals has Alibaba forking out more than $5 billion to buy the remaining stake of Ele.me it doesn’t already own, adding important fire power to the leading takeout dining service whose chief rival is Meituan-Dianping. In a separate but also quite large deal, Meituan, which counts Tencent as one of its largest backers, has acquired leading shared bike operator Mobike in a deal that values the latter at about $2.7 billion. Read Full Post…

STOCKS: Lenovo, China Telecom Mull CDR Homecomings

Bottom line:  Hong Kong-listed “Red chip” stocks like Lenovo and China Telecom could eventually make secondary listings in China under a new CDR program, but will be forced to wait behind higher-profile Internet names like Alibaba.

‘Red chips’ eye China listings under CDR program

With all of the major IPOs for the week now in the history books, as most of the world takes a vacation for Good Friday, I thought I’d close out the week here in China with yet another angle on the China Depositary Receipt (CDR) program that is creating lots of buzz. Regular readers will know this is a reference to China’s planned take on the popular American Depositary Receipt (ADR) program that lets companies with a primary listing in one market make secondary listings in another one.

Lots has been written these last couple of weeks about how the CDR program could let U.S.- and Hong Kong-listed tech giants like Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and Tencent (HKEx: 700) make new secondary listings in China, which they couldn’t do before. But today we’re getting the first few peeps about similar homecomings from top executives of a group of Hong Kong-listed companies known as “red chips”, which are major Chinese firms that are currently barred from listing at home. Read Full Post…

IPOs: Greentree Sags in Debut, as iQiyi and Bilibili Line Up

Bottom line: Bilibili and iQiyi are likely to price in the middle of their ranges and debut flat to up slightly when their IPO shares start trading this week in the US.

iQiyi, Bilibili set for weak debuts?

This week is shaping up as one of the busiest I can recall for New York IPOs by Chinese firms, with at least four major listings set to take place. The first of those sputtered out of the gate on Tuesday, with hotel operator Greentree (NYSE: GHG) dropping 7 percent in its trading debut after pricing weakly and slashing the size of its offering. That less-than-stellar showing comes just days after another non-tech offering fizzled with the new listing of education specialist Sunlands (NYSE: STG) late last week.

Those weak signals could bode poorly for the three more IPOs set to take place later this week, including a launch for online video sites Bilibili and iQiyi on Wednesday and Thursday, the latter of which could raise more than $2 billion. In between that pair will be another education firm, OneSmart, which is set to debut on Wednesday. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Baidu Rejigs Maps in Face of Competition

Bottom line: Baidu’s reorganization of its mapping unit reflects growing competition in the space, and could ultimately end in a shuttering of the service if its usage continues to decline. 

Baidu mapping service charts new direction

The wheels of restlessness at online search leader Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) are grinding into motion once more, with word that the company has made a major shift in its popular mapping division. Company watchers will know the restlessness to which I refer is a direct reference to Baidu’s founder Robin Li, who is famous for getting into new businesses, only to tire of and ultimately jettison them after just a few years.

In this case it’s probably far too early to say if that’s the case for Baidu’s mapping unit, which has been one of its most popular products for quite some time, thanks in no small part to its dominance in online search. The problem is that Baidu has failed to keep pace with more nimble competition, most notably from the Alibaba-owned (NYSE: BABA) AutoNavi. What’s more, an equally large potential rival is looming in the form of global giant Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which has recently begun updating its previously dormant China mapping service. Read Full Post…

STOCKS: China Eyes Quick Route Home for Offshore-Listed Firms

Bottom line: A new plan allowing offshore listed Chinese firms like Alibaba and Tencent to make secondary listings at home appears to have momentum and could stand a better than 50 percent chance of success.

China eyes new plan to bring home NY-, HK-listed firms

A mix of politics and business is in the air this week, as the annual National People’s Congress takes place in Beijing, including a concurrent gathering of business leaders who advise the nation’s legislature. Those leaders include most of the country’s leading high-tech CEOs, who are all getting peppered with questions about whether they would re-list at home if given the chance.

Most of those leaders are doing the politically correct thing and saying “of course,” including chiefs of Internet giants Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU), Tencent (HKEx; 700) and Ctrip (Nasdaq: CTRP), just to name a few. (Chinese article) Such talk is really a bit cheap and would be quite impractical in the current market, since de-listing such massive firms from their current markets would require tens of billions of dollars in most cases, and even hundreds of billions in the case of a massive company like Tencent. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Didi, Meituan Drive Into Each Others’ Turf in Search of Growth

Bottom line: Didi’s foray into takeout delivery and Meituan’s into private car services look like moves of desperation to make the companies more attractive as they get pressured to make IPOs by the end of next year.

Meituan eyes car services

Two of China’s biggest unlisted internet companies are in the headlines as the week winds down, each taking a shot at the other’s turf. One headline has the Uber-like Didi Chuxing hiring in preparation to launch a takeout dining service like the one operated by Meituan-Dianping. The other has Meituan-Dianping preparing to roll out its own private car services in seven Chinese cities, taking a direct shot at Didi.

The timing of these two news bits is probably coincidental, since I doubt they share information on their strategic planning. What’s more, the Meituan move into car services is just an extension of previous earlier news. From a bigger perspective, both items smack just slightly of desperation as these two companies look for growth in the face of stagnating core businesses. Read Full Post…