Retail/Consumer

IPOs: Pinduoduo Provides Fresh Face for E-Commerce

Bottom line: A new IPO by e-commerce company Pingduoduo could do reasonably well due to its rapid growth and unusual business model, but could suffer from a “flavor of the day” element over the longer term.

Pinduoduo puts new spin on group buying

After years of basically having just two choices to invest in China’s e-commerce market, investors will soon have another new and interesting option with the upcoming listing of a company called Pinduoduo. I’ll admit that I was unfamiliar with Pinduoduo before reading about this upcoming listing. But that said, the numbers do point to a potential high-flyer in the making, including a business model that combines elements of Groupon (Nasdaq: GRPN) and Facebook (Nasdaq: FB) to let people recruit their friends to get good deals on merchandise.

The company is also noteworthy for its ties to social networking giant Tencent (HKEx: 700), whose wildly popular WeChat platform is apparently the main venue where friends can get together to get their deals. This particular deal comes as China’s own homegrown Groupon, Meituan-Dianping, prepares for its own Hong Kong listing in a deal expected to raise up to $6 billion, amid a broader bumper IPO season for China new economy offerings. Read Full Post…

IPOs: Uxin Files in NY, Battery Maker in China, Mindray on ChiNext

Bottom line: New listing plans by used car platform operator Uxin, EV battery maker Amperex and medical device maker Mindray should all do well, driven by strong growth potential and their leading positions in China.

Bumper crop of new China IPOs headed to market

The latest IPO season for Chinese firms is kicking into high gear on both sides of the Pacific, with announcement of several hot new offerings that each has a slightly different story to tell. At the head of the class is a new listing for used car platform operator Uxin, which is aiming to raise up to $500 million in New York.

That’s followed by a listing plan for electric vehicle battery maker Amperex, which is having to settle for a sharply-lower valuation than it had been originally seeking with a listing in China. Last but not least there’s medical device maker Mindray, which de-listed from New York and has just submitted a plan to list on China’s enterprise-style ChiNext board, after its initial plan to re-list on one of China’s larger main boards was rejected. 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: 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…

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: 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…

E-COMMERCE: Alibaba Salivates at Ele.me in ‘New Retail’ Vision

Bottom line: Alibaba’s potential purchase of Ele.me could be the biggest piece yet in its pursuit of a “new retail” model, but could result in a case of indigestion as it tries to make the company profitable.

Alibaba salivates at Ele.me

When it comes to acquisitions, e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) seems to have an insatiable appetite these days. After investing some 80 billion yuan ($12.7 billion) in brick-and-mortar retailing over the last couple of years, the company is now setting its eyes on take-out dining specialist Ele.me, in a deal that could cost it around another $5 billion.

This particular buying binge does seem a bit more focused than Alibaba’s previous M&A patterns, which always felt a bit more random to me and covered a wide range of areas. In this instance, the company is pursuing founder Jack Ma’s vision of a “new retail” landscape that will combine Alibaba’s mastery of e-commerce with more traditional brick-and-mortar retailing. Read Full Post…

SMARTPHONES: Xiaomi Wins India, Makes First Visit to Top Trade Show

Bottom line: Xiaomi’s taking of the India smartphone crown and attendance at a major trade show next week are aimed at boosting its profile in the run-up to its IPO. 

Xiaomi to attend MWC

Hype is building in the run-up to what’s likely to be one of the largest high-tech IPOs this year, with word that smartphone maker Xiaomi has snatched the India crown from a fading Samsung (Seoul: 005930) and is also making its first visit to the world’s top telecoms trade show next week. Both events are important milestones for a resurgent Xiaomi, as it attempts to boost its profile for a public listing that’s likely to raise in the neighborhood of $10 billion in Hong Kong.

At the same time, the list of attendees for this year’s Mobile World Congress taking place next week in Spain is also notable for a number of brands that have purchased booths in the past but aren’t doing so this year.  Leading that list is Oppo, which briefly took the China smartphone crown last year from current leader Huawei.  Also absent from the list are past attendees including Meizu and Gionee. That probably speaks to the fact that some of these brands are feeling the squeeze of prolonged competition in the space, and are choosing to spend their limited marketing budgets elsewhere. Read Full Post…

IPO: Xiaomi Partner Huami Defies Market in Trading Debut

Bottom line: A relatively solid debut for wristband maker Huami bodes well for offshore Chinese IPOs outside the financial services sector, including for smartphone giant Xiaomi.

High-tech wristband maker Huami posts modest gain in debut

Different people are putting different spins on the trading debut for the first major Chinese IPO in New York this year, for a company called Huami, which makes fitness trackers and rose 2.3 percent on its first day. From my perspective, this looks like a gravity-defying debut, since the broader market tanked on that same day, with most of the major indexes down around 4 percent in the week’s second major major sell-off.

From a broader perspective, this seems to bode well for offshore Chinese IPOs in the year ahead, at least for those that are in safer sectors like this. Companies from the more volatile fintech sector, which has been the subject of repeated regulation to rein in the sector, could be in for a tougher ride. But this kind of more consumer-related product, which is far less controversial, could enjoy some success on positive sentiment about the broader China consumer market. Read Full Post…

TELECOMS: Spurned by US, Huawei Turns to UK

Bottom line: Huawei’s latest big financial commitment to the UK is mostly for show, but Britain could still emerge as a winner over the longer term if Huawei conducts more R&D work in its British labs.

Huawei gives $4.2 billion gift to UK

After getting the cold shoulder from the US for its smartphones, telecoms superstar Huawei is turning increasingly to Europe, and specifically to Britain, for consolation. That’s the key takeaway from the latest reports that say Huawei has told British Prime Minister Theresa May that it will spend a further 3 billion pounds ($4.2 billion) on procurement from the UK on top of its other commitments to the country. (English article)

This particular move seems mostly political, and also it’s questionable how significant it is. Huawei made its commitment last week during a trip by Theresa May to China, and this kind of mega-commitment is quite common during these meetings between Chinese and global leaders. The fact of the matter is that Huawei posted 600 billion yuan ($97 billion) in sales last year, meaning it had to spend perhaps half of that amount, or around $50 billion, on procurement of various components for its core networking equipment and smartphones. Read Full Post…

FINANCE: Ant Financial Crawls Back Into Bed with Alibaba

Bottom line: Alibaba’s purchase of 33 percent of Ant Financial looks like a shrewd move for both firms, making Ant more attractive in the run-up to an IPO likely to be one of the world’s biggest this year.

Alibaba and Ant back together

In what looks like a homecoming of sorts, e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) has just announced it is taking back a major stake in its Ant Financial affiliate. Followers of this pair will know they have quite a long and complex relationship, and were actually once part of the same company. But they were split apart around a decade ago for political reasons, which apparently aren’t an issue anymore.

The other major plank to this story is Ant’s own story, including the unusual way in which this deal was structured. The company, whose core asset is the popular Alipay electronic payments service, is gearing up for what could be one of the biggest fintech IPOs of this year, likely to raise several billion dollars in Hong Kong. Thus this particular move could be designed to draw more attention to this lesser-known Alibaba offspring, and also to relieve it of some of its financial burden in the run-up to that offering. Read Full Post…