Media/Entertainment : latest Business news about Media – Entertainment in China by expert / journalist Doug Young : more than two decades of experience in writting about Chinese Companies

INTERNET: Baidu’s iQiyi Raises $1.5 Bln, as Investors Hedge Bets

Bottom line: iQiyi’s issue of convertible notes to raise its latest $1.5 billion shows it continues to post big losses, and investors are increasingly skeptical that it can become profitable in the next 2 years.

iQiyi lures investors with convertible notes

It seems no one is quite ready to believe that China’s cash-burning online video sites are ready for the profit column just yet. That seems to be the message coming from Baidu-backed (Nasdaq: BIDU) iQiyi, one of the leading players, which has just raised a fresh $1.5 billion via a convertible note issue. That would indicate that investors are hoping they can convert their notes into iQiyi stock when they come due, but can also simply collect back their money with interest instead. Read Full Post…

ECOMMERCE: Wanda’s E-commerce Foray Running on Empty?

Bottom line: Wanda will continue to operate its ffan e-commerce site for another year, following the departure of its CEO, but could quietly end the initiative afterwards due to lack of synergies with its brick-and-mortar shopping malls.

Success evades Wanda in e-commerce

The headlines have been buzzing this week about the departure of the chief executive of the e-commerce unit Wanda Group, the real estate-turned-entertainment giant with a voracious appetite for global acquisitions. The big theme from the chatter is that the departure of Li Jinling, the unit’s third CEO in 3 years, marks a setback and possibly even presages a death knell for the Wanda initiative into the online shopping realm.

Wanda is speaking out on the subject, saying it never intended to launch a website that would compete directly with the likes of sector leaders Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and (Nasdaq: JD). Perhaps that’s true, though that didn’t stop Wanda and its ultra-confident chief Wang Jianlin from boasting of lofty ambitions when it signed up Internet titans Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) and Tencent (HKEx: 700) as partners to its ffan e-commerce site in 2014. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Creditor Chases LeEco; TCL Teases BlackBerry

Bottom line: A new arbitration claim by a LeEco supplier could trigger a domino effect that sends the company into crisis, while TCL’s first BlackBerry model is likely to get lukewarm reviews when it debuts in March.

TCL teases first BlackBerry model at CES

We’ll close out the week with a couple of smartphone headlines, which seems appropriate since the world’s biggest consumer electronics show, CES, is taking place this week in Las Vegas. All 3 companies in the news are showing off their wares at CES, including cellphone stalwart TCL (Shenzhen: 000100), which is teasing us with video of its first model under a new tie-up with struggling smartphone pioneer BlackBerry (Toronto: BB).

Meantime, the other company on my radar, the cash-challenged LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104), was also in CES headlines earlier this week after showing off a sexy new energy car it’s helping to develop. But the company has just landed in a far more ominous headline here in China, where one of its smartphone manufacturing partners is calling for arbitration to try and get cash for a growing pile of unpaid bills. Read Full Post…

MEDIA: Top Shanghai Newspaper Folds, Tries to Transform

Bottom line: Closure of Shanghai’s Oriental Morning Post was inevitable due to the decline of traditional media, and its online effort ThePaper stands a better than 50 percent chance of longer-term survival due to relatively good execution.

Oriental Morning Post yields to ThePaper

On this next-to-last work day before the New Year, I’m taking a break from the usual high-tech buzz to zoom in on a subject that’s even closer to my heart — and wallet. That subject is the rapid transformation sweeping through the media both in China and the west, creating huge uncertainties. That wave is in the headlines today with announcement of the closure of one of Shanghai’s largest and most respected newspapers.

Here I have to admit my own bias, since as a Shanghai resident until recently I was at one point quite fond of the Oriental Morning Post, which has just announced it will cease publication on January 1. The news is hardly shocking, as it was first rumored in the middle of the year and a couple of my sources informally confirmed it for me since then. Read Full Post…

TELECOMS: China Telecom Spins Off Content Units

Bottom line: China Telecom’s sale of several key entertainment assets to a separately run and listed unit reflects the company’s more dynamic nature compared with its 2 peers, as it tries to create services that can compete with private-sector rivals.

China Telecom (HKEx: 728; NYSE: CHA) is showing once more why it’s a telco to watch, with word that it’s formally spinning off 4 of the main entertainment businesses on its main E Surfing platform to one of its independently run and listed units. In this case the telco is spinning off the four to its fully-owned but separately managed Besttone Holdings (Shanghai: 600640) unit, in what looks like a bid to make these services more competitive with private sector rivals. Read Full Post…

IPOs: iQiyi Eyes 2017 Listing, Renren Finally Retires

Bottom line: iQiyi won’t make an IPO next year even though Baidu would like to get the company off its books, while Renren’s privatization marks one of the last buyouts for a US-listed Chinese firm from a wave dating back to last year.

iQiyi reportedly eyes 2017 IPO

The year 2016 is winding down as an unmemorable one for Chinese IPOs, thanks to a rocky start that cast a chill over the entire space. That said, the new year could be a bit more lively, amid signs that China’s securities regulator is opening the gates a bit wider to new offerings. That signal could bode well for offshore listings as well, with word that loss-making online video site iQiyi, controlled by online search leader Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU), is contemplating such an offering next year. Read Full Post…

SPORTS: Soccer Investing Reaches Fever Pitch with IDG Joint Venture

Bottom line: IDG’s new investment in a French soccer club and related joint venture providing soccer training and consulting in China looks like a savvy move to monetize growing demand for sports-related services.

IDG brings French soccer to China

Corporate China’s recent love affair with sports shows no signs of easing as 2016 winds down, with word of a new investment that will see IDG Capital form a joint venture to bring European-caliber soccer training to China. This particular deal was first reported back in August, but it seems a formal agreement has just been signed between IDG, one of the most successful foreign venture capital firms in China, and France’s Lyon Group. Read Full Post…

MEDIA: Wanda’s Worried Wang Sends Hollywood Message to Trump

Bottom line: Wanda’s cautionary words to Donald Trump are unlikely to have much impact on the incoming US president, who is likely to take a more skeptical view of Chinese M&A in Hollywood.

Wanda appeals to Trump via MPAA

Wanda Group founder and chief Wang Jianlin is used to getting what he wants, especially when it comes to overseas buying as he tries to build up a global entertainment empire. But one of China’s richest men is clearly rattled by the ambivalent or even hostile attitude towards his country by US president-elect Donald Trump.

Worried about the changing winds in Washington, Wang has turned to Hollywood’s mouthpiece, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), to tell Trump that Hollywood could face huge consequences if he tries to shut down China’s recent buying binge. Wang has been Hollywood’s most enthusiastic shopper these days, purchasing cinema operator AMC Entertainment (NYSE: AMC) and studio Legendary Entertainment over the last few years. He also announced a recent deal to buy Dick Clark Productions, and recently signed a major co-production deal with Sony Pictures. Read Full Post…

VIDEO: Embattled LeEco Sued in HK as Bills Pile Up

Bottom line: A new Hong Kong lawsuit against LeEco by a small creditor over unpaid bills could mark the start of a new wave, which could ultimately snowball into a new crisis as its partners scramble to get back money they’re owed before it’s too late.

HK newspaper sues LeEco for unpaid debt

I’ve been skillfully avoiding writing about the embattled LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104) for the past month, even as the former online video high-flyer landed at the center of a storm that could ultimately result in its downfall. So a small story in the latest headlines, involving a lawsuit against the company over unpaid bills, looks like a good opening to take a quick look at a high-tech tale that consumed the Chinese headlines for much of last month. Read Full Post…

SPORTS: Wanda Pedals to Guilin in China Sports Tour

Bottom line: Wanda’s first major made-for-China sporting event, a bicycle tour of scenic Guangxi province, looks like a well-conceived initiative that could auger well for its longer-term effort to tap the Chinese sports market.

Wanda launch Guangxi cycling event

Following its opening of several massive theme parks across China, entertainment aspirant Wanda Group has just announced the launch of what it hopes will become one of the nation’s premier sporting events that can earn a place on the global bicycling map. That announcement has Wanda pedaling its new Tour of Guangxi event, which will take cyclists through one of China’s most scenic provinces that includes the famous craggy mountains surrounding the city of Guilin. Read Full Post…

IPOs: Meitu Aims High with Price Range, Attracts Low-Brow Investors

Bottom line: Meitu’s shares are likely to price and debut weakly due to skepticism about its profit potential from big western investors, but could perform better over the longer term if the beauty app can monetize its large user base.

Meitu sets IPO price range

What’s likely to be Hong Kong’s biggest high-tech IPO in nearly a decade is creeping ahead, with word that beauty app operator Meitu has set a price range for its widely watched offering that puts it within reach of its target to raise $750 million. But a read between the lines shows that this offering could easily price at the lower end of its range, following earlier investor worries that Meitu might have difficulty leveraging its huge customer base into meaningful profits anytime soon.

Meitu’s quandary is hardly unique, in an Internet universe where having huge user numbers doesn’t always translate to big profits. In this case Meitu, operator of an app that lets users tweak selfies to make themselves look more attractive, is quite rich in terms of traffic, with 450 million active users. But it hasn’t found a way to actually make money from that audience, and instead earns 95 percent of its revenue from sales of smartphones that draw people to its app. Read Full Post…