Media/Entertainment

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

MEDIA: DreamWorks Crashes Out of China Animation JV

Bottom line: DreamWorks Animation’s withdrawal from its China joint venture marks the end of an explosive phase in China-Hollywood tie-ups, with one-off co-production deals the most likely form of cooperation going forward. 

Take-two for DreamWorks Animation China JV

In what could herald a wave of the future, a highly-touted joint venture between DreamWorks Animation and Shanghai’s China Media Capital (CMC) has come unglued, with the official departure of DreamWorks from the tie-up. This particular exit appears quite symbolic, as Oriental DreamWorks was the first of what ended up becoming a huge wave of similar tie-ups between China and Hollywood. Thus the big question becomes if this abandonment of the venture could signal more unraveling of similar tie-ups ahead.

I suspect the answer to that question is yes, but perhaps not for the reasons you might expect. It appears that DreamWorks Animation’s decision to quit the joint venture owed to disappointing results, and I suspect the company’s acquisition by Comcast two years ago was also a factor. The fact of the matter is that China’s movie market still has huge potential. But Beijing has shown less appetite for these China-Hollywood tie-ups these days, less for political reasons and more because it is trying to stem the outflow of money for foreign acquisitions. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Toutiao Sues Baidu Over Search Abuse

Bottom line: Baidu’s anti-competitive behavior alleged in a lawsuit by Jinri Toutiao won’t have a long-term effect on its stock, but will draw the attention of an increasingly assertive anti-trust regulator.

Toutiao sues Baidu for manipulating search results

A humorous war of words has broken out between search leader Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) and news aggregating app Jinri Toutiao, also sometimes called Today’s Headlines, over unfair competition in the form of search manipulation. I’ll detail the allegations shortly. But on a more serious note, this particular lawsuit does raise the question of whether a search engine like Baidu is obliged to be objective in its results. Moreover, it could also open the company to allegations of abusing its market-leading position with anti-competitive actions.

This kind of monopoly-like position has become a growing issue on China’s Internet, which has recently shed the notion of being too small for antitrust treatment. The original BAT of Baidu, Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and Tencent (HKEx: 700) all now hold positions in search, e-commerce and games, respectively, that are quite lucrative and might be considered monopolies in many other markets. I personally would consider all three monopolies in China in terms of their ability to dominate their respective markets, and I suspect the regulator may someday attempt to challenge them the way that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) are now getting challenged in the rest of the world.  Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: LeEco Sells Down Coolpad Stake

Bottom line: LeEco’s sell-down of its Coolpad stake is a prelude to disposal of the remainder, and could presage a sale of Coolpad to another smartphone maker later this year.

LeEco sells down Coolpad stake

The unraveling of former online video superstar LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104) continues as we head into the new week, with word the company has sold off a significant chunk of its stake in struggling smartphone maker Coolpad (HKEx: 2369) for a fraction of what it paid. This particular news is significant for a number of reasons, only one of which involves the latest attempt to salvage LeEco. It also has large implications for the future survival of Coolpad, and China’s broader smartphone industry. Some have predicted 2018 will be the year this overcrowded industry finally sees a weed-out that is long overdue.

I and many others have predicted this particular sale for a while, so the actual news doesn’t come as a huge surprise. LeEco purchased about 30 percent of Coolpad in two tranches for a combined $500 million in 2015 and 2016, when it was at the height of its meteoric rise. Coolpad had a relatively sound name at that time, though it was already feeling the effects of intense competition in China’s smartphone space. Fast forward to the present, when the future of both companies is in serious doubt, as each loses big money and struggles under major debt piles. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Twitter Tweets Indecisively Around China

Bottom line: Twitter’s conservative approach to China reflects a broader indecision at the company that is limiting its growth potential.

Twitter shackled by indecision in China

While social networking giant Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) actively flirts with China in a bid to enter the world’s largest Internet market, the smaller, struggling Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) seems unable to make up its mind. That seems to be the key takeaway from a new interview on the prickly subject of China between Maya Hari, Twitter’s Asia Pacific chief, and Caixin, a well-respected Chinese financial media that also happens to be my current employer.

This particular message seems to be a recurrent theme with Twitter, which, like Facebook, doesn’t like China’s strict self-censorship policies but also finds it hard to ignore such a big market. In Facebook’s case, the company has made it quite clear it’s willing to tolerate China’s self-censorship policies for a chance to build a presence in the market, most likely through a future joint venture with a local partner. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Tencent Rockets Up Global Tech Value Charts

Bottom line: Tencent and Alibaba stocks have become overvalued at current levels compared with global peers, and are due for a pullback of up to 30 percent in 2018.

Tencent looks frothy at current levels

Much ado is being made about the meteoric rise in value for Tencent (HKEx: 700), the Chinese social media giant that is now neck-and-neck with global heavyweight Facebook (Nasdaq: FB). Specifically, the pair now boast nearly identical market values in the $520-$530 billion range, which one report points out is larger than the entire GDP of Taiwan. That makes them the world’s fifth and sixth largest companies by market cap.

Such a reality would have been unthinkable just four or five years ago, when the only Chinese companies that ever periodically made the global top 10 were big state-run firms like banking giant ICBC (HKEx: 1398), which were government owned behemoths operating in highly protected sectors. Tencent breaks that pattern, as the company is most decidedly private, and also operates in a highly competitive but also high growth area in the online realm. Read Full Post…

IPOs: Sogou Makes It to Market, But Will It Sell?

Bottom line: Sogou is unlikely to shed its position as a second-tier search engine anytime soon, despite its ties to Tencent ties, and its stock is also unlikely to be a strong performer over the next 2-3 years.

Sogou pops on debut, but will it hold?

After writing about up-and-coming hot new names like Qudian (NYSE: QD) and ZhongAn Insurance (HKEx: 6060) making blockbuster IPOs over these last few weeks, it feels a bit like going back to the future by writing today about a new listing for search engine Sogou (NYSE: SOGO). The fact of the matter is that Qudian, ZhongAn and just about all of the companies listing in this current wave of IPOs didn’t even exist when Sogou was born, and many of their founders were probably still in college or perhaps younger.

Anyone out there sensing just a tiny bit of skepticism from what I’ve just written isn’t just imagining things. As a longtime China tech reporter, I remember meeting with Charles Zhang, founder of Sogou’s parent Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU), more than a decade ago, at which time he told me about all the great things in store for his then-fledgling search engine. Fast forward to the present, when it doesn’t seem like much has changed, including Sogou’s ongoing status as a niche player in China’s massive search market. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Sina Pledges Change, But Then Disses Shareholders

Bottom line: The intensifying spat between Sina and a dissident shareholder is likely to ultimately cool down without any legal action, and could see the addition of 1-2 new independent directors to its board.

Sina-Aristeia tussle headed for court?

The battle for reform at Internet stalwart Sina (Nasdaq: SINA) has taken a somewhat nasty twist, with a dissident shareholder threatening legal or other action following a power play by longtime CEO Charles Chao to deprive minority shareholders of influencing the company through use of the ballot box. This particular move doesn’t come as a huge surprise, as it’s quite typical of Chinese CEOs like Chao to believe they know what’s best and do their utmost to ignore anyone who disagrees with their view.

That said, Chao did sound a slightly conciliatory note in this battle for reform, which is being led by a dissident minority shareholder called Aristeia Capital. I’ll go into that shortly, though first we should review this colorful battle and also what it might mean for Sina. The company’s share price has taken a bit of a beating these last few weeks and is now down around 8 percent amid all the brouhaha. Read Full Post…

MULTINATIONALS: Whatsapp Bows, Microsoft Visits, Google Plays

Bottom line: Whatsapp has likely been permanently blocked in China, while Satya Nadella’s visit to Xiaomi underscores Microsoft’s growing ties  with the company, and Google’s China AI push is mostly PR.

Whatsapp booted from China?

A couple of the big high-tech multinationals are in the headlines as we head into the next-to-last month of the year, which seems like a good opportunity to review where these companies stand heading into the second term of President Xi Jinping and also as Donald Trump gets set to make his first China visit. One of those headlines involves Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), and comes in a soft-ish report pointing out the company is actively pushing its artificial intelligence (AI) development software in China.

Next there is Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella, who is in China this week where he paid a visit on recovering smartphone maker Xiaomi. I’m not a huge fan of Microsoft’s strategy in general. But its growing ties with Xiaomi do look like an interesting new approach that could ultimately pay off nice dividends under Nadella’s 3-year-old leadership at the software giant.  Read Full Post…

STOCKS: Weibo Drops on Outlook, as New IPO Stocks Tank

Bottom line: Big drops for three China concept stocks recently listed in New York, combined with a pullback for social networking giant Weibo, indicate a recent round of China stock euphoria may have crested.

Secoo continues to drop

Wednesday could go down as a watershed for newly listed China stocks in New York, which posted one of their worst days since a new wave of IPO euphoria began about a month ago. Three of the largest new offerings in New York, online microlender Qudian (NYSE: QD), e-commerce firm Secoo (Nasdaq: SECO) and education firm Rise (Nasdaq: REDU) all fell by 7 percent or more in the latest session.

At the same time, the more stately but still new-ish Weibo (Nasdaq: WB) also dropped by nearly 6 percent after the company announced plans for a $700 million convertible bond and gave some preliminary third-quarter results that clearly didn’t get people too excited. It’s hard to say if there was a single catalyst for this sell-off, which didn’t really go too far beyond these new listing candidates joined by Weibo. Read Full Post…

IPOs: Rise Education Rises in Debut, iClick and Jianpu Join the Queue

Bottom line: The strong debut for Rise Education reflects good investor appetite for new China concept stocks in New York, which should bode well for a new listing by Jianpu and could also buoy iClick.

Jianpu, iClick file for NY listings

The IPO floodgates are opening wider following the hugely successful listings of microlender Qudian (NYSE: QD) in New York last week and the Hong Kong listing of online insurance provider ZhongAn (HKEx: 6060) shortly before that. Those two nice debuts may be partly behind an equally impressive launch for Rise (Nasdaq: REDU), an education services firm that looks far less high-tech than that other pair.

At the same time, two other higher-tech names have just made their first public filings, with iClick and Jianpu Technology aiming to raise $100 million and $200 million in New York, respectively.  Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Coolpad Finds New Suitor, as LeEco Retreats

Bottom line: LeEco is likely to sell its stake in Coolpad in the next six months, and new investor Centralcon could emerge as the buyer with a goal of trying to turn the company around.

Coolpad finds new suitor

A potential white knight has stepped forward to provide some funds for struggling smartphone maker Coolpad (HKEx: 2369), in a fresh sign that controlling stakeholder LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104) may be preparing to dump the company as part of its protracted reorganization. The amount of the fund-raising is relatively small at HK$582 million ($75 million), though it could be enough to help Coolpad figure out what it wants to do next.

The more interesting question is whether this signals that LeEco is planning to dump Coolpad and the smartphone business in general, which I’ve been predicting for a while since the ousting of LeEco founder Jia Yueting from the company in July. Smartphones was one of the many businesses that Jia entered at the height of his expansion euphoria, and seems like a likely candidate to be jettisoned as the company’s new managers try to right this foundering ship. Read Full Post…