Tag Archives: Youku

E-COMMERCE: Alibaba Eyes Germany, UK and Video Streaming

Bottom line: Alibaba’s interest in Metro’s China operations is part of its new retail strategy, while the purchase of a British payments company by its Ant Financial unit could give it a strong toehold in the European payments market.

Alibaba in new shopping spree

After a period of relative quiet, e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) is suddenly springing into three relatively major headlines simultaneously on the investment front. Two have a European angle, one involving a major potential investment in German retailer Metro and the other in a British financial services provider by its Ant Financial affiliate. The other is a trans-Pacific deal of sorts, and has the company investing in Bilibili (Nasdaq: BILI), a leading U.S.-listed Chinese video streamer.

In all honesty, this particular flurry of deals seems a bit random and it’s almost certainly coincidence that all are in the headlines at the same time. But that said, each does reflect one or more tendencies by this hyperactive company, which I’ve previously said has far more cash than it knows what to do with.  Read Full Post…

MEDIA: Beijing’s Cable TV Consolidation Stalls, Companies Take Charge

Bottom line:  The formation of a joint venture between six leading cable operators looks designed to jump start Beijing’s stalled attempt to create a national player that can compete with the big telcos.

Five regions in cable TV joint venture

After years of snail’s-pace progress at consolidating the nation’s fragmented cable TV operators, a group of leading players is finally taking matters into their own hands with announcement of what could be a breakthrough joint venture. I’ve followed this story for a while now, and, along with everyone else, have been impatiently waiting for a state-supported national cable operator, called China Broadcasting Network Co., to take shape and provide a strong interesting alternative to the nation’s three big telcos for network-based services.

But such a development has moved forward at a pace even slower than molasses, mostly due to the huge bureaucracy involved. That mostly involves the interference of local interests, which are loathe to give up control over municipal and provincial cable TV networks, which they run as personal regional propaganda machines. As a result, all of the nation’s cable TV networks are dying a slow but certain death, as they get overtaken not only by the telcos but also by a rising generation of private sector Internet TV services like Youku and iQiyi. Read Full Post…

VIDEO: Xunlei Founder Resigns as CEO, Sale Coming?

Bottom line: The resignation of Xunlei’s founder as CEO, even as he retains his chairman’s title, could indicate a sale is coming soon, with the most likely buyer as Xiaomi.

Big shifts happening in Xunlei boardroom

The incredible shriveling online video company Xunlei (Nasdaq: XNET) is making a tiny splash in the headlines as we head toward the weekend, with word that its founder is relinquishing his position as CEO. The move seems potentially significant, since one of the main obstacles that keeps more companies from being acquired in China is resistance by their founders to relinquish their “empires” to someone else.

In this case, Xunlei’s empire is rapidly vanishing, as it gets overtaken by larger rivals like Baidu’s (Nasdaq: BIDU) iQiyi and video services operated by Tencent (HKEx: 700) and Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU). That may mean that no one really wants Xunlei anymore, including ordinary stock investors. The company’s shares have been on a downward trajectory since its Nasdaq IPO three years ago, and now trade at $3.24 apiece, about a quarter of their IPO price of $12. Read Full Post…

VIDEO: Youku, Tencent Scuffle Spotlights Video Tensions

Bottom line: A tussle that resulted in injuries to a Tencent worker by a Youku peer at an industry event reflects the big tensions that exist in China’s online video sector due to years of stiff competition that shows no signs of easing.

Wine glass incident reflects tensions in online video

Stiff competition in a wide range of online industries is pretty much par for the course in China, but a scuffle between employees of Tencent (HKEx: 700) and Youku at an industry event is underscoring just how high tensions can get. This particular case won’t really mean much for either company beyond a few sensational headlines in the next few days, and perhaps some internal emails at both companies. But it does show how tough things are in the online video space, where everyone is looking for the elusive formula for profits.

This particular story looks quite similar to another one that happened in February, in which a video of brawling take-out deliverymen from rivals Meituan and Ele.me went viral. (English article) That particular story had a very blue-collar feel, since most of these deliverymen are migrants from the countryside with relatively low education and who tend to stay at their jobs for relatively short periods. Read Full Post…

VIDEO: New Alibaba-Backed Alliance Hints at Sina Acquisition

Bottom line: A new alliance between Youku Tudou, Weibo and UCWeb, combined with reports of the imminent resignation of Youku’s CEO, point to a sale of Weibo parent Sina to Alibaba within the next 6 months.

New alliance hints at Sina sale

Two new developments involving several Alibaba-backed (NYSE: BABA) assets are hinting at a major new shakeup in the firm’s online video and social networking (SNS) division, which could include an acquisition of stalwart web portal Sina (Nasdaq: SINA) that I’ve been predicting for a while. This particular series of corporate shuffles is quite complex, but does seem to hint that Alibaba is trying to rationalize and synergize some of its major web-based entertainment and SNS assets outside its core e-commerce business. Read Full Post…

VIDEO: Wanda Moves Into Online Video, China Telecom Checks Out

Bottom line: China Telecom’s sale of its online video business looks like an exit from the space under its new chairman, while Wanda’s purchase of an online movie site could mark the start of a major new round of investment in online video.

China Telecom sells TV189 online video unit

Just days after search giant Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) abandoned plans to spin off its iQiyi video unit, 2 more online video headlines are reflecting the rapid changes taking place in the space. The larger will see China Telecom (HKEx: 728; NYSE: CHA), the smallest of China’s 3 telcos, sell its online video unit TV189 to a hotel operator called Besttone Holdings (Shanghai: 600640) for 3.9 billion yuan ($580 million). The smaller will see the fast-growing Wanda Group buy the online movie site Mtime for $280 million. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Baidu Pays $1.3 Bln Price for Transparency

Bottom line: Baidu’s long-term revenues will decline by 15-20 percent from current levels as a result of a cut-back in sponsored links and new transparency policies that will scare away some of its advertisers. 

Baidu cuts Q2 revenue outlook

What’s the cost of being honest, or at least a little more honest? If your name is Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU), apparently the answer is about $400 million, which is how much China’s leading search engine has just lowered its latest quarterly revenue forecast after taking steps to become more transparent. Put differently, the figure is about one-eighth of Baidu’s previous revenue forecast for the quarter, meaning it would translate to lost revenue of about $1.3 billion of the $10.25 billion it generated for all of last year. Read Full Post…

China News Digest: June 9-13, 2016

The following press releases and news reports about China companies were carried on June 9-13. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.

  • iKang (Nasdaq: KANG) Management, Meinian Withdraw Buyout Offers on Yunfeng Bid (Chinese article)
  • XpressWest, Seeking to Build US High-Speed Rail, Ends Deal With China Group (English article)
  • Youku Sues LeEco (Shenzhen: 300104) for Unfair Competition, Seeks 6 Mln Yuan (Chinese article)
  • JD.com (Nasdaq: JD) Shares Drop 5.6 Pct on Short Seller Attack (Chinese article)
  • China’s 4G Subscriber Base to Surpass 700 Mln in 2016 – Govt Think Tank (English article)

TELECOMS: China Mobile Surrenders to WeChat, Youku

Bottom line: China Mobile’s retirement of its Internet-based texting and video services reflect its inability to compete with private providers of such services, and underscores its growing position as a slow-growth network operator.

China Mobile shutters Internet text, video services

In a move that was long overdue, leading wireless carrier China Mobile (HKEx: 941; NYSE: CHL) has thrown up the white flag with a symbolic surrender to WeChat, Youku and the many other private companies that have steadily stolen its new business opportunities. In this case the surrender comes in the form of formal retirements for China Mobile’s Internet-based Fetion texting service, and also its lesser known mobile video product.

Fetion was once hugely popular in China, allowing users to send SMS text messages for free by routing them over the Internet. China Mobile was an early innovator in creating that kind of “over the top” (OTT) service that took advantage of the mobile Internet. But more recently it has rapidly lost that position to more nimble private companies like Tencent (HKEx: 700) and Youku. Read Full Post…

BUYOUTS: Youku Bids Adieu to NY, Wanda Properties Eyes HK Exit

Bottom line: A flurry of new de-listing activity shows that well-funded privatizations will continue despite market volatility in China, and could also spread to undervalued private companies listed in Hong Kong.

Wanda Commercial Properties eyes buyout

The headlines are brimming with new moves in the buyout wave that has swept over off-shore listed Chinese stocks, which are privatizing in droves due to disappointing valuations. Leading the news are 2 former high-flyers, online video site Youku Tudou (NYSE: YOKU), which has formally completed its buyout by e-commerce giant Alibaba (NYSE: BABA); and property giant Wanda Commercial Properties (HKEx: 3699), which has announced it is exploring a potential buyout less than 2 years after its Hong Kong IPO.

That pair are joined by 2 smaller stories involving ongoing privatizations by budget hotel operator Homeinns (Nasdaq: HMIN) and the shriveling Ku6 Media (Nasdaq: KUTV). Media are saying that Homeinns has already lined up a Chinese listing vehicle to resume its life as a publicly traded company after it de-lists from New York. And Ku6 has announced it has formally signed a buyout agreement that will result in its own de-listing. Read Full Post…

INTERNET: Alibaba Finds New Can of Worms at Youku

Bottom line: An internal review that netted a Youku Tudou executive for suspected abuse of position was likely linked to the company’s pending purchase by Alibaba, and could be followed by more similar internal actions by China’s big tech companies this year.

Internal probe nets Youku VP

E-commerce leader Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) is quickly learning that major M&A can be a tricky business, as 2 of its largest purchases deliver headaches with the exposure of problems at acquired companies. First there were a series of accounting irregularities and a criminal investigation against an official at its Alibaba Pictures (HKEx: 1060) unit purchased in 2014, and now newly acquired online video unit Youku Tudou (NYSE: YOKU) is providing yet more headaches.

The latest problems are related to a single executive, with reports that a company vice president named Lu Fanxi has been taken away for questioning by police on suspicion of using his position for personal gain. This kind of activity is quite common in smaller Chinese companies, and Alibaba itself uncovered similarly inappropriate behavior by salespeople and fraudulent merchants at its B2B marketplace unit in 2011. Read Full Post…