MEDIA: Era Ends with Closure of Time Warner’s Former China TV Play

Bottom line: The closure of former Time Warner Chinese TV station CETV reflects the broader decline of traditional broadcasting worldwide, and also heavy restrictions on foreigners for operating video delivery channels in China.

CETV pulled from China airwaves

As Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) pursues a blockbuster merger deal with AT&T (NYSE: T) in the US, a much quieter story in China reflects the end of a frustrating chapter for the entertainment giant and many of its western peers that hoped to make a fortune in the world’s most populous market. That story has the relatively obscure Tom Group (HKEx: 2383) announcing the shuttering of its China Entertainment Television station, also known as CETV. Read Full Post…

TRAVEL: HNA Flies to US with $6.5 Bln Hilton Stake Buy

Bottom line: HNA’s $6.5 billion investment in Hilton marks a new high point in Chinese global hotel buying, and signals the trend may be cresting and a downturn could come next year.

HNA invests in Hilton

After I said just last week that China’s recent buying binge of foreign hotels may have crested, we’re seeing yet another blockbuster deal that seems to support that thesis. This latest deal is the biggest to date, and has the acquisitive HNA Group buying 25 percent of US hotel giant Hilton (NYSE: HLT) for about $6.5 billion. That would easily eclipse the other recent blockbuster deal announced just last week, when insurance giant China LIfe (HKEx: 2628; Shanghai: 601628; NYSE: LFC) said it was leading a Chinese group that would invest $2 billion in a portfolio of lower-end US hotels. (previous post) Read Full Post…

E-COMMERCE: Alibaba, Suning in JV; Wal-Mart Ties Grow with

Bottom line: Wal-Mart’s deepening alliance with looks like a smart pairing of leaders in traditional and online retailing, while a new e-commerce joint venture between Alibaba and Suning doesn’t appear to offer anything new.

Wal-Mart opens Sam’s Club on

Leading Chinese e-commerce operators Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) and (Nasdaq: JD) are in a series of similar headlines, as each looks for growth opportunities by pairing with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. Industry leader Alibaba has just announced a rather vague joint venture with leading electronics retailer Suning (Shenzhen: 002024), a year after the pair formed a major equity tie-up. Meantime, has announced that global retailing giant Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) will open 2 major stores on its e-commerce platform, as part of a growing alliance between the pair that also kicked off with a major equity tie-up 3 months ago.   Read Full Post…

TRAVEL: China Life Joins Overseas Hotel Train with US Buy

Bottom line: China Life’s $2 billion investment in a US hotel portfolio could mark the height of a bubble of Chinese  offshore hotel buying, and high asset values could start to deflate by the end of next year.

China Life buys into US hotel portfolio

Move over, Anbang. China’s largest insurer China Life (HKEx: 2628; Shanghai: 601628; NYSE: LFC) is joining a recent love affair between Chinese investors and overseas hotels, with the announcement that it’s leading a group investing in $2 billion worth of properties in the US. People following the trend will know that unlisted insurer Anbang has been leading this overseas charge, with its recent purchase of a US hotel portfolio for $6.5 billion and its failed bid earlier this year for hotel operator Starwood (NYSE: HOT). Read Full Post…

LEISURE: Spurned in France, China Hotelier Tries US Office Specialist WeWork

Bottom line: Jin Jiang’s $260 million investment in WeWork is part of the Chinese company’s global expansion, and could see the pair work together to accelerate a move of the shared office concept into China.

Shared office specialist gets backing from Jin Jiang

After getting a chilly reception in the US and France, Chinese companies eager to buy western hotel brands may be taking a different approach in their bid to go global. That appears to be the bottom line in a new move by state-run Chinese hotel giant Jin Jiang (HKEx: 2006; Shanghai: 600754), which has reportedly just invested $260 million in US shared office space operator WeWork.

Foreign hotels have become a flavor of the day for Chinese buyers looking to expand beyond their home market and import foreign expertise to improve their own operations. In addition to brands, Chinese companies have also developed a taste for big-name foreign hotels, led by the purchase of New York’s storied Waldorf Astoria by state-owned Chinese insurer Anbang nearly 2 years ago for an eye-popping price of nearly $2 billion. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Apple’s Cook Back in China with New R&D Center

Bottom line: Tim Cook’s latest China trip and his announcement of a new R&D center in Shenzhen are part of a campaign to boost Apple’s profile and should help to stabilize its sliding position in the market.

Apple’s Tim Cook back in China

Apple CEO Tim Cook just can’t seem to get enough of China, with word that he’s back in the world’s largest smartphone market just 2 months after his last visit. But unlike past visits, which were mostly confined to bureaucratic Beijing, Cook was in the far more entrepreneurial city of Shenzhen this time, where he attended an innovation conference and announced Apple would open a new R&D center. Read Full Post…

RETAIL: New Yum China Eyes Big Store Growth Amid Tepid Profits

Bottom line: Yum’s China operation could see profit growth accelerate as it steps up its expansion, providing a boost for its newly listed stock over the next 3-5 years. 

Yum China eyes big KFC expansion

Fast food giant Yum (NYSE: YUM) is kicking off a publicity blitz in the run-up to the formal spin off of its China business, discussing ambitious growth targets for its biggest global market. It’s not surprising that the operator of the KFC and Pizza Hut brands is focusing on the future, since its China data in the present is far from impressive. That includes a surprise same-store sales decline in its latest quarterly report, and unimpressive profit growth of around 15 percent. Read Full Post…

PCs: Lenovo Back at Old M&A Approach with Fujitsu Talks

Bottom line: Lenovo and other Chinese firms need to abandon their approach that targets declining, older brands for global M&A, and instead focus on organic growth and more strategic assets with better growth potential.

Lenovo eyes Fujitsu’s PC business

The acquisitive Lenovo (HKEx: 992) was in M&A headlines again last week, when media reported it was in talks to buy the aging PC business of Fujitsu, an operation that is largely inconsequential outside its home Japanese market. Such a purchase would continue a trend dating back more than a decade, which has seen Lenovo purchase declining global brands for bargain prices with hopes of resuscitating those names to expand its global footprint. Read Full Post…

CHIPS: China Tries New US Chip Buy with Analogix

Bottom line: A Chinese buyer’s plan to purchase US chip maker Analogix for more than $500 million is unlikely to meet with political resistance, and could mark a new template for similar cross-border chip M&A by China.

Chinese group bids for US-based Analogix

After failing at several high-profile attempts to buy US microchip technology, China is trying once again with a newly announced plan to acquire venture-backed chipmaker Analogix Semiconductor for more than $500 million. Unlike previous failed efforts that targeted more mature companies, the acquisition target in this case is much younger, since Analogix was only founded in 2002.

This new deal looks strikingly similar to another one earlier this year that saw the Shanghai-based National Silicon Industry Group purchase a similarly young Finnish chipmaker called Okmetic in a deal that valued the company at nearly $200 million. (previous post) That deal and this latest one don’t appear to be related, though one can never be completely sure due to the vague descriptions of the buyers in both cases. Read Full Post…

ENTERTAINMENT: Spurned by Paramount, Wanda Settles for Sony

Bottom line: Wanda’s new production tie-up with Sony Pictures will provide movies for its cinema chains in  China and globally, but could become a drag on its theater operations if the films are poorly received.

Wanda opens new resort in Hefei

Just days after receiving a major setback to its plans to invest in Paramount Pictures, Chinese Hollywood wannabe Wanda Group has just announced a film production tie-up with Sony Pictures. This particular deal looks decidedly like a consolation prize for Wanda, which is trying to build up a diversified entertainment empire similar to Disney (NYSE: DIS).

The company was bidding for a stake in Paramount, one of the top 6 Hollywood studios, after the studio said earlier this year it wanted to sell a strategic stake in itself. But Paramount ultimately reversed that decision following an internal battle for control of the company’s parent Viacom, leaving Wanda out in the cold. (previous post) This new Sony tie-up doesn’t involve any equity swap, and instead looks mostly like a relatively routine co-production deal that is becoming quite common between Hollywood and Chinese partners. Read Full Post…

NEW ENERGY: Tesla Takes New China Hit with Driver Death Lawsuit

Bottom line: A Beijing lawsuit against Tesla over an accident that killed the driver of one of its cars is quite possibly baseless, but will add to a recent string of negative publicity for the company and China’s problem-plagued new energy vehicle sector.

Tesla sued over driver death in China

Electric car maker Tesla (Nasdaq: TLSA) is in the negative headlines in China driving into the new week, following reports of a Beijing lawsuit against the company over the death of a driver of one of its cars. I’ll be quite direct and say that the lawsuit looks a bit dubious and perhaps unrelated to Tesla’s technology, though it’s also possible that Tesla’s carefully worded statement is designed to give that impression. But even if the lawsuit is baseless, this kind of negative headline is the last thing that Tesla needs in a problem-plagued market that it once hoped would fuel its difficult drive into profitability. Read Full Post…