BABA - Alibaba Group Holding Limited

NYSE - NYSE Delayed Price. Currency in USD
223.60
+7.65 (+3.54%)
At close: 4:00PM EDT

232.22 +8.62 (3.86%)
Before hours: 8:38AM EDT

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Previous Close215.95
Open221.85
Bid232.20 x 1100
Ask232.40 x 1000
Day's Range220.06 - 225.02
52 Week Range151.85 - 231.14
Volume18,128,692
Avg. Volume18,671,100
Market Cap593.654B
Beta (5Y Monthly)1.56
PE Ratio (TTM)63.94
EPS (TTM)3.50
Earnings DateAug. 13, 2020 - Aug. 17, 2020
Forward Dividend & YieldN/A (N/A)
Ex-Dividend DateN/A
1y Target Est1,834.91
  • Revenge Doesn’t Explain Rise in Chinese Property Prices
    Bloomberg

    Revenge Doesn’t Explain Rise in Chinese Property Prices

    (Bloomberg Opinion) -- Real estate becomes a safe bet in uncertain times, and it’s proving true in China after months of pent-up demand from the pandemic runs into an outlook still filled with uncertainty.The problem, as we’ve seen time and again, is that anyone hoping for security from a market that’s heavily controlled may be in for disappointment, as the government will inevitably tighten limits when prices rise too much. Beijing should instead  ramp up secure options for investors, such as accelerating the offering of real estate investment trusts. Recent gains in mainland real estate prices have all the hallmarks of so-called revenge spending for big purchases after lockdowns eased. Prices rose in May at the fastest pace in seven months, and analysts think June will be even better. Sales by the 16 developers Bloomberg Intelligence tracks rose an average 13% in June versus a year earlier. It might look like a splurge, yet there are signs that these gains will be sustainable, even if capped by government policy that discourages speculation in favor of habitation. Expect selective rises where people feel their money is safe, like big tier-one cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, as well as Guangzhou and Shenzhen, part of the government-promoted Greater Bay Area that encompasses Hong Kong and Macau. There’s certainly a desire to scratch the spending itch. Much of China’s economy was shut in the spring as the government, keen to stop Covid-19 from spreading, halted land sales to developers and purchases of homes. Now developers have come back in with huge discounts. But there are deeper factors at play that should keep lifting prices.First, since the coronavirus hit, the government has been easing credit. Mortgage rates are at 33-month lows, with the average for a first-time home buyer at 5.28%. Many shut out from an increasingly unaffordable housing market are taking advantage, as are investors keen for something safer than volatile stocks.Second, the government is creating demand in some cities, loosening residency rules to encourage people to move in from rural areas. The theory is that a larger urban class boosts consumption — though what it has really lifted is buying homes. The reform of local residency permits includes easing access to these “hukou” for anyone with tertiary education in cities like Hangzhou, where Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is based.  The city of 10 million people added 554,000 residents last year, the biggest increase in permanent population of any city in China.Martin Wong, Greater China associate director at Knight Frank LLP  forecasts that home prices will rise between 2% and 3% this year in the first-tier cities, and between 3% and 5% in the Greater Bay Area cities. In contrast, urban areas not benefiting from hukou relaxation or lacking the kind of government-infrastructure spending drive to offset the pandemic’s economic impact should see prices stay flat or rise just around 2%, he says. In May, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shenzhen saw new home prices increase more than 1% for the second month in a row. The last time the tier-one cities experienced gains of this magnitude was in late 2016; since then, much of the climb in property prices has been in smaller cities that have fewer restrictions on buying for investment. Older homes rose around 0.6%, beating gains elsewhere. In China, unlike most countries, local authorities cap prices on the sale of new homes, so they can actually be cheaper than older ones.Still, these small percentages show that China is in no mood to allow a big housing boom, even though real estate spending and all its attendant construction and furnishings account for a quarter of the economy. Funding remains tight for developers. As an example, the one-year-loan prime rate is down 40 basis points to 3.85% since last August, but the five-year-loan prime rate on which mortgages are based has fallen just 20 basis points to 4.65%. Developers who want to build housing can only issue new onshore or offshore bonds to finance repaying existing bonds expiring in 12 months, according to Nomura Holdings Inc. analysts, and need approval for offshore loans. No wonder there’s a long queue spinning off their real-estate management arms — which tend to have better steady cash flow — for Hong Kong listings. One solution that would ease the debt burden on developers while giving investors safer diversification is to expand a real estate investment trust trial that China kicked off in April. It has been focused on pooling capital to fund infrastructure such as highways and airports — perhaps no surprise, as this could give the economy a faster boost. But at some point, why not include real estate, both commercial and residential? That would let Chinese families, who have around 70% of their wealth tied up in property — more than double the U.S. — invest in their favorite asset and still diversify into stocks. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Nisha Gopalan is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering deals and banking. She previously worked for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones as an editor and a reporter.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Zoom’s Newest Challenger: Budding Internet Tycoon Mukesh Ambani
    Bloomberg

    Zoom’s Newest Challenger: Budding Internet Tycoon Mukesh Ambani

    (Bloomberg) -- Zoom, one of the few success stories of the Covid-19 pandemic, now faces a new competitor in an app backed by Asia’s wealthiest person Mukesh Ambani.Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd., which has scored billions of dollars of investments from Facebook Inc. to Intel Corp. for its digital businesses, has launched the JioMeet video conferencing app after beta testing. The app has already garnered more than 100,000 downloads on the Google Play Store after becoming available Thursday evening.Like Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and other services, JioMeet offers unlimited high-definition calls -- but unlike Zoom, it doesn’t impose a 40-minute time limit. Calls can go on as long as 24 hours, and all meetings are encrypted and password-protected, the company said on the JioMeet website.The launch coincided with a nationwide ban on dozens of popular apps from Chinese technology giants including ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s UC Web, on grounds they threatened security and data privacy. JioMeet went viral Friday on social media alongside the hashtag MadeinIndia.The app is one facet of Ambani’s rapidly expanding digital empire, which includes India’s largest telecom operator with nearly 400 million users. On Friday, Reliance announced Intel Capital has invested $253 million into Jio Platforms Ltd., a unit of Ambani’s oil-to-retail conglomerate. The U.S. chipmaker’s arm is the 11th investor in about as many weeks to announce its backing for the digital services platform, which has now raised about 1.2 trillion rupees ($15.7 billion).“JioMeet will be a very credible disruptor in the space,” said Utkarsh Sinha, managing director of boutique consultancy Bexley Advisors. “Just the fact that it has no time limits on calls makes it a serious challenger to Zoom, despite its entrenchment.”Jio Platforms is amassing a wide range of services from music streaming to online retail and payments, fast turning into an ecommerce juggernaut that can take on Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Amazon.com Inc on its own home turf. Like elsewhere, video conferencing apps have become lifelines for millions of Indians working in cramped homes during Covid-19 lockdowns.JioMeet is also debuting at a time Zoom users have accused the service of security flaws. It’s been accused of siding with China after deactivating accounts of pro-democracy activists in the U.S and Hong Kong, which it said was intended to comply with Chinese law.(Adds total investment in Jio in fifth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Google, Temasek Are Said to Be in Talks to Invest in Tokopedia
    Bloomberg

    Google, Temasek Are Said to Be in Talks to Invest in Tokopedia

    (Bloomberg) -- Google and Temasek Holdings Pte are in negotiations to join a funding round of between $500 million and $1 billion for Indonesian e-commerce giant PT Tokopedia, according to people familiar with the matter.Tokopedia, the online marketplace backed by SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund, has held talks with U.S. internet giants including Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc., the people said. But Google and Temasek have been more active in their negotiations and those talks may conclude in coming weeks, they said, asking not to be identified because the discussions are private.America’s largest internet corporations have looked increasingly toward Asia as growth in the U.S. and Europe slows, seeking to tap the region’s rapidly growing smartphone-savvy population. Facebook is buying a stake in India’s Jio Platforms, while its WhatsApp unit struck a deal last month to invest in ride-hailing and food delivery giant Gojek. Representatives for Tokopedia and Temasek declined to comment. Google didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.The backing of Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Singaporean state investment firm Temasek would mark a major boost for one of Southeast Asia’s biggest e-commerce operators. Tokopedia co-founder and Chief Executive Officer William Tanuwijaya built the country’s most valuable startup after Gojek after scoring early backing from SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder Jack Ma. It now plans to list shares at home as well as in another as-yet-undecided location, Tanuwijaya told Bloomberg News in October.Read more: SoftBank’s Bet on Sharing Economy Backfires With CoronavirusTokopedia came close to finalizing its latest financing this year before news emerged of a recent data theft attempt that may have affected 15 million of its users, one of the people said. It was also held back by the Covid-19 pandemic, which is rapidly changing the online shopping landscape in the world’s fourth most populous nation.E-commerce platforms are now moving quickly to serve the millions of people forced to make their first online purchases during widespread lockdowns. Singapore-based rival Shopee -- a unit of Sea Ltd. -- is catching up, while Alibaba last month appointed a longtime veteran to head up Lazada and “fight harder” as competition heats up.Indonesia has become a key battleground between the regional rivals: The country’s e-commerce market is projected to expand from $21 billion in 2019 to $82 billion by 2025, according to a recent study by Google, Temasek and Bain & Co.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • His Wealth Surged by $25 Billion. Then Jack Ma’s Rival Quit
    Bloomberg

    His Wealth Surged by $25 Billion. Then Jack Ma’s Rival Quit

    (Bloomberg) -- Colin Huang’s ascent is one for the history books: In just six months, his fortune swelled by $25 billion -- one of the biggest gains among the world’s richest people.His Pinduoduo Inc., a Groupon-like shopping app he founded in 2015, has become China’s third-largest e-commerce platform, with a market value of more than $100 billion. In the first quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic caused most of the nation’s economy to grind to a halt, PDD’s active users surged 68% and revenue jumped 44%, the company said in May.Now Huang, who has overseen the firm as its American depositary receipts have more than quadrupled in less than two years, has stepped down as chief executive officer.At one point, his net worth climbed as high as $45 billion, placing him just behind China’s wealthiest people -- Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s Pony Ma and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Jack Ma -- on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That’s even as PDD continued to post losses, primarily because it chases growth with the help of generous subsidies and has been known to spend more on marketing than it earns in sales.“Pinduoduo was perfectly positioned for people being stuck at home,” said Tom Ronk, CEO of Century Pacific Investments in Newport, California.Huang, who controlled 43.3% of PDD shares, has reduced his stake to 29.4%, according to a June 30 regulatory filing. His fortune now stands at $30 billion.That excludes a $2.4 billion charitable holding that he shares with PDD’s founding team, and $7.9 billion that went to Pinduoduo Partnership, of which Huang and newly named CEO Lei Chen are members. The partnership will help fund science research and management incentives, according to a letter following Huang’s resignation. The wealth estimate also excludes $3.9 billion that people familiar with the matter said was transferred to an angel investor.PDD declined to comment on Huang’s holdings or net worth.Facing ChallengesHe will remain chairman and work on the company’s long-term strategy and corporate structure to help drive the future of the e-commerce giant, PDD said.“PDD is still facing some high-level challenges in product supply, relationship with brand merchants, logistics and payments,” said Shawn Yang, an analyst at Blue Lotus Capital Advisors. “Colin may want to focus more on these issues.”PDD’s success hinges on deals, which have become particularly popular with customers looking for bargains as the world’s second-largest economy slows. Most of its users come from smaller Chinese cities, and the app gives them extra discounts when they recommend a product through social networks and get friends to buy the same item.Fen Liu, a homemaker in Quanzhou, a provincial city in Fujian, said she accrued enough coupons with her friends’ help to reduce the price of a suitcase to zero.“I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw my suitcase arrive in the mail,” she said. “It’s made me a loyal Pinduoduo user ever since.”‘Bargain Hunters’While PDD’s aggressive price-reduction strategies have helped win over people with lower incomes, they may stifle the company’s efforts to attract wealthier consumers, according to Charlie Chen and Veronica Shen, analysts at China Renaissance Securities in Hong Kong.“PDD’s users are largely bargain hunters reluctant to buy large-ticket items,” they wrote in a June 29 note, adding that the company’s image remains a key obstacle to users spending more. “We believe PDD is working to change its low-price brand image -- but this could be costly.”That may require heavy marketing and hurt margins further despite a strong user-base foundation for future growth, the analysts said. And PDD’s management has offered no clear path to profitability.Last year, the company’s “10 Billion RMB Subsidies” campaign, which is ongoing, led to a $2 billion increase in sales and marketing expenses to $3.9 billion, and those costs have been at 90% to 120% of revenue for the past two quarters, China Renaissance said.For the nation’s June 18 shopping festival, PDD provided a subsidy program with no cap across different product categories to push spending and attract more users. Other fast-growing Chinese startups -- including rival Meituan Dianping, ride-hailing app DiDi Chuxing and Starbucks Corp. competitor Luckin Coffee Inc. -- have also adopted subsidies strategies to maintain customer loyalty.Huang, 40, grew up in the eastern city of Hangzhou, where Alibaba has its headquarters. After receiving a degree at Zhejiang University, he went to the University of Wisconsin for a master’s in computer science. He began his career at Google in 2004 as a software engineer and returned to China in 2006 to help establish its operations in the country.He then became a serial entrepreneur. He started his first company in 2007, an e-commerce website called Ouku.com that he sold three years later after realizing it was too similar to thousands of others. He then launched Leqi, which helped companies market their services on websites like Alibaba’s Taobao or JD.com Inc., and a gaming firm that let users play on Tencent’s messaging app WeChat. Both took off and Huang found himself “financially free,” according to a 2017 interview.After getting an ear infection, he decided to retire in 2013 at age 33. But following a year of pondering what to do with his life -- he contemplated starting a hedge fund and moving to the U.S. -- he came up with the idea of combining e-commerce and social media. At the time, Alibaba dominated the online business, and WeChat became a must-have application on smartphones in China.The tables have turned since. In 2018, Alibaba launched a PDD-style app in an attempt to lure smaller-town users with bargains. It came months before Huang took his company public in New York, raising $1.63 billion in its July 2018 initial public offering. Since then, PDD has surged 389%, while Alibaba has gained just 13%.In 2017, Huang had said he was unlikely to spend the rest of his life at PDD. While he’s still chairman of the company, he now wants to give more responsibility to younger colleagues to keep the entrepreneurial spirit as PDD matures, he wrote in a letter to employees.“We envision Pinduoduo to be an organization that creates value for the public rather than being a showoff trophy for a few or carry too much personal color,” Huang said. “This will allow Pinduoduo to continually evolve with or without us one day.”(Updates PDD, Alibaba moves in 22nd paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected Fen Liu’s location.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • In cloud clash with Alibaba, underdog Tencent adopts more aggressive tactics
    Reuters

    In cloud clash with Alibaba, underdog Tencent adopts more aggressive tactics

    For Chinese cloud services companies, the coronavirus outbreak has become a rainmaker, bringing in new business far and wide as firms shift work online and authorities develop apps and systems to help contain outbreaks and manage social restrictions. For Tencent Holdings Ltd <0700.HK> in particular, it has also become the perfect time to flex new muscles as it seeks to catch up with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <BABA.N>, its arch-rival and the dominant player in the country's cloud market by far. Tencent began to display a new level of aggressiveness after positioning its cloud business as a major area of growth in September 2018, and that has only amped up amid the pandemic, employees say.

  • China tech giant Alibaba dismisses livestreaming head, citing nepotism, gifts - document
    Reuters

    China tech giant Alibaba dismisses livestreaming head, citing nepotism, gifts - document

    Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has fired Zhao Yan, the head of its fast-growing livestreaming division, on grounds of nepotism and accepting gifts, according to an internal memo announcing his termination, seen by Reuters. The undated document, produced by Alibaba's human resources department and published on June 29 on the company's internal intranet for staff, says Zhao was fired after he used his position to help third-party livestreamers score favourable positioning on Taobao Live, Alibaba's main platform for live-streamed e-commerce.

  • Two in Five Fortune 500 Companies Choose Alibaba Cloud
    Business Wire

    Two in Five Fortune 500 Companies Choose Alibaba Cloud

    Alibaba Cloud, the digital technology and intelligence backbone of Alibaba Group, said today it has supported 38 percent of the Fortune 500 companies over the past fiscal year.

  • Business Wire

    Alibaba Cloud and Unilever to Usher in Next-Generation Digital Marketing Initiatives

    Alibaba Cloud and Unilever pioneer a strategic initiative that will enable Unilever to action on next-generation digital marketing campaigns

  • Tech Tycoons Flood H.K. With $20 Billion of Stock Listings
    Bloomberg

    Tech Tycoons Flood H.K. With $20 Billion of Stock Listings

    (Bloomberg) -- China’s tycoons are flooding Hong Kong’s exchange with $20 billion worth of new listings.While the city’s rich are preparing for a worst-case scenario amid a controversial national-security law, major mainland billionaires are coming in. The latest to do so: William Ding of NetEase Inc. and JD.com Inc.’s Richard Liu, whose companies completed secondary listings there last month. They follow Jack Ma, whose Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. stock issuance in November was the city’s largest since 2010.Together, the three moguls’ firms have raised $20 billion from share sales in the former British colony, and that may be just the start of a new wave of listings by mainlanders.“Chinese billionaires’ tech companies are helping the capital market in Hong Kong for a pivotal change and secure its Asia financial hub status,” said Edward Au, managing director of the southern region at Deloitte China. “The city’s stock exchange is also trying to make it a more appealing destination for new-economy companies.”The national-security law that was approved on Tuesday is threatening to erode Hong Kong’s judicial independence from the mainland, a key part of the city’s appeal to international companies and investors. The U.S. has already started to make it harder to export sensitive American technology to Hong Kong, and the House of Representatives passed a bill imposing sanctions on banks that do business with Chinese officials involved in cracking down on pro-democracy protesters.While Chinese billionaires have myriad reasons for pursuing listings there -- including a less welcoming political environment in the U.S. -- their choice of the city over alternatives on the mainland may help ease concerns that the former British colony risks losing its status as a financial center.Chinese tech tycoons with companies trading in the city now have a combined net worth of $182 billion, more than the 10 richest people in Hong Kong, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. For them, Hong Kong is becoming increasingly appealing as Chinese companies listed in the U.S. face growing scrutiny and potential delistings following an accounting scandal at Luckin Coffee Inc. and mounting tensions between the world’s two largest economies.JD.com and NetEase have raised a combined $7 billion with their secondary listings last month -- almost two-thirds of the total for Hong Kong in the first half of the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Deloitte expects that as many as six Chinese companies currently traded in the U.S. will choose the city for a second listing by year-end. Robin Li’s Baidu Inc. is among those weighing that option.The city eased listing rules in 2018 to attract companies such as smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. and Meituan Dianping, China’s largest on-demand food delivery service. The move could eventually reshape the composition of the benchmark Hang Seng Index, according to Deloitte’s Au. In May, the index manager announced new criteria to allow companies such as Alibaba to be included in the gauge.“The influx of these companies will greatly increase the representation of new-economy companies in Hong Kong, adding vibrancy and diversity to the market,” said Louis Lau, partner at KPMG China’s capital markets advisory group. “The continued listing of mega-sized Chinese firms also reinforces Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s financial hub.”(Updates with new U.S. bill in fifth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • China Upstart CEO Steps Down After Building $44 Billion Fortune
    Bloomberg

    China Upstart CEO Steps Down After Building $44 Billion Fortune

    (Bloomberg) -- Colin Huang stepped down as chief executive officer of Pinduoduo Inc. after building the five-year-old startup into a force in China’s e-commerce industry and, in the process, becoming one of the country’s richest people.He’s turning the role over to Lei Chen, another founder at the Shanghai-based company, effective immediately, PDD said in a letter to employees posted on its website. Huang, 40, will remain chairman.“I hope that through the management changes, we can gradually hand over more managerial duties and responsibilities to our younger colleagues, give space and opportunities for the team to grow, and drive Pinduoduo to become a more mature company with continuous entrepreneurial spirit,” Huang wrote in the letter.While tech founders often eventually cede management duties to lieutenants, Huang is handing over the reins just a few years after PDD’s start. Huang and his co-founders began the group-shopping app in 2015 at a time when Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. seemed to have a lock on the e-commerce business in China.But PDD provided an innovative service with discounted goods and customized offerings, and went public in 2018. The company’s shares have soared more than four-fold since then and its market cap is about $102 billion. Huang’s net worth is $44.3 billion, the third-highest in China, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.Analysts at Jefferies and Citigroup Inc. said the move was unexpected and a surprise. PDD’s shares were little changed in U.S. trading.Huang, previously an engineer at Google, said in the letter that he had transferred around 371 million ordinary shares currently under his name to the Pinduoduo Partnership, and that he wanted some of the stock to be used for research and social responsibility. That transfer is equal to about 7.7% of total shares, he said. In addition, Huang said he had officially set up a charity foundation and that together with the founding team, had donated to it around 114 million Pinduoduo shares, or about 2.4% of total shares.In a separate Q&A circulated to media, Huang said he would step back from day-to-day management to work on the company’s long-term strategy and corporate structure, and devote more time to fundamental research that could drive the future of PDD.A data scientist by training, Chen has served as chief technology officer since 2016. He said he will focus on growing the company’s newer business units, citing its shipping information system as an example. “This division of labor will help us steer the company in its next phase of growth and development,” Chen said.(Adds more detail throughout)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Why Beyond Meat Stock Jumped Today
    Motley Fool

    Why Beyond Meat Stock Jumped Today

    Shares of Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND) climbed on Wednesday after the meat alternatives company announced a new partnership with one of the largest and most powerful companies in China. Beyond Meat's plant-based burger patties will be sold at 50 of Alibaba's (NYSE: BABA) Freshippo grocery stores in Shanghai, beginning this weekend. The two companies plan to roll out the Beyond Burger to additional Freshippo stores in Beijing and Hangzhou in September.

  • Beyond Meat Partners With Alibaba to Expand in China
    Motley Fool

    Beyond Meat Partners With Alibaba to Expand in China

    Alternative meat producer Beyond Meat (NASDAQ: BYND) announced a new partnership with Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) to expand its reach in mainland China, according to CNBC. The company's Beyond Burgers will initially be sold in 50 of Alibaba's Freshippo grocery stores in Shanghai beginning Saturday. Beyond Meat already has a presence in mainland China through partnerships with Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Yum China (NYSE: YUMC).

  • India TikTok Ban Threatens China’s Rise as Global Tech Power
    Bloomberg

    India TikTok Ban Threatens China’s Rise as Global Tech Power

    (Bloomberg) -- China over the past decade built an alternate online reality where Google and Facebook barely exist. Now its own tech corporations, from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to Tencent Holdings Ltd., are getting a taste of what a shutout feels like.India’s unprecedented decision to ban 59 of China’s largest apps is a warning to the country’s tech giants, who for years thrived behind a government-imposed Great Firewall that kept out many of America’s best-known internet names. If India finds a way to carry out that threat, it may present a model for other countries from Europe to Southeast Asia that seek to curtail the pervasiveness of apps like ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok while safeguarding their citizens’ valuable data.The surprise moratorium hit Chinese internet companies just as they were beginning to make headway in the world’s fastest-growing mobile arena, en route to going global and challenging American tech industry supremacy. TikTok had signed up 200 million users there, Xiaomi Corp. is the No. 1 smartphone brand, and Alibaba and Tencent have aggressively pushed their services.But India’s policy jeopardizes all those successes, and could have wider geopolitical consequences as the U.S. seeks to rally countries to stop using Huawei Technologies Co. for 5G networks. With China’s tech companies poised to become some of the most dominant in emerging industries like artificial intelligence, India’s actions may spur countries around the world to weigh the extent to which they let China collect user data -- and potentially economic leverage in future disputes.“Techno-nationalism will manifest itself increasingly across all aspects of geopolitics: national security, economic competitiveness, even social values,” said Alex Capri, a Singapore-based research fellow at the Hinrich Foundation. “It will be increasingly difficult to separate Chinese tech firms from the CCP and China’s geopolitical ambitions. They will find themselves increasingly locked out.”Read more: TikTok Among 59 Chinese Apps India Bans on Security FearsChinese internet firms have struggled to replicate their online services beyond their home turf, even before Washington lawmakers began raising concerns about the wisdom of allowing the Asian country’s corporations -- like ByteDance -- to hoover up valuable personal data. India amplified those concerns by accusing apps including TikTok, Tencent’s WeChat, Alibaba’s UC Web and Baidu Inc.’s map and translation services of threatening its sovereignty and security.India’s prohibition provides further evidence that nations are using tech to assert themselves geopolitically, following the Trump administration’s worldwide campaign to contain China and national champions like Huawei. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s actions follow the worst military clash between India and China in almost half a century.“Beijing should certainly worry that the impact of the deadly clash could push India toward the U.S.,” said Zhang Baohui, director of the Centre for Asian Pacific Studies at Lingnan University. “But these recent economic measures by India may not by themselves concern Beijing too much as it understands that Modi’s government, facing rising domestic nationalism, has to do something to soothe the public sentiments and retain legitimacy.”China-India Tensions Continue Despite Pledge to Disengage It remains unclear how India will enforce its decision, given TikTok -- for one -- has already been downloaded by roughly one in six people. But it follows a series of steps to curb China’s presence in the country, demonstrating the administration’s hardened resolve since long-simmering tensions boiled over after a deadly Himalayan border clash that killed 20 Indian soldiers.The country’s government procurement website has barred purchases of Chinese-made goods. Authorities have asked the largest e-commerce companies, including Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart, to start showing “country of origin” on goods sold. And India is said to be dragging its heels on clearing goods imported from China, stranding electronics at ports.“The Indian government thinks about governing the internet in a very similar way to China, which is blanket bans, asserting national boundaries on the internet and essentially carving out what would eventually become a version of the Indian Great Firewall,” said Dev Lewis, a research fellow at Digital Asia Hub in Shanghai. “Everyone’s struggling to deal with governing technology companies and apps, especially ones that cross borders. So when India takes a step like this, it sets a precedent for the things that you can do.”In terms of the immediate business consequences, ByteDance could be hardest-hit. India is its biggest market with more than 200 million TikTok users. During a brief ban last year, the Chinese company estimated it was missing out on half a million dollars a day of revenue. In a statement posted to Twitter, TikTok India head Nikhil Gandhi said the company complies with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any user information with any foreign government, including Beijing.India’s prohibition could also give American companies a possible edge over Chinese players in a rare global tech market that is both populous and not yet saturated. While WeChat never made it big in India, banning it may help shore up Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp. Cutting out TikTok immediately gives Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube a boost.On Tuesday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said China was “strongly concerned” about India’s actions. “The Indian government has a responsibility to uphold the legitimate and legal rights of the international investors including Chinese ones,” he said.The Chinese Embassy in Delhi criticized India’s measure in a separate statement saying it “selectively and discriminatorily aims at certain Chinese apps on ambiguous and far-fetched grounds.”In India, TikTok Takes On YouTube in a Nasty Fight for DominanceBut for now, China doesn’t have many great options to retaliate. “While Beijing is highly adept at economic coercion, in this case it has somewhat limited options to act in a reciprocal manner,” analysts for the Eurasia Group wrote in a research note. “Bilateral trade is heavily weighted toward Chinese exports to India. Attempts to hurt India economically could blowback on Chinese companies.”(Updates with comment from the Chinese Embassy in India in penultimate paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • India Bans TikTok and 58 Other Chinese Apps Citing Security Concerns
    Bloomberg

    India Bans TikTok and 58 Other Chinese Apps Citing Security Concerns

    (Bloomberg) -- India banned ByteDance Ltd.’s viral short-video service TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps, citing threats to its sovereignty and security as relations between the world’s two largest populations worsened.The unprecedented moratorium, announced days after border tensions in the Himalayas left 20 Indian soldiers dead, deals a blow to the most prominent names in Chinese technology. The banned services included e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s UC Web, social media leader Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and Baidu Inc.’s map and translation platforms.The move marks another attempt by India to reduce dependence on its neighbor’s products and hampers efforts by China’s largest corporations to expand beyond their own borders -- a collective endeavor encapsulated by TikTok’s phenomenal success abroad and particularly in India, ByteDance’s largest international market. The world’s most valuable startup responded by saying it will meet with Narendra Modi’s government to discuss the matter.“TikTok continues to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese government,” said Nikhil Gandhi, the company’s local chief, in a tweet on its official account. “Further if we are requested to in the future we would not do so.”Click here for the Indian government’s statement and full list of banned Chinese appsIn an emailed statement, TikTok also said that its “team of around 2,000 employees in India is committed to working with the government to demonstrate our dedication to user security and our commitment to the country overall.”The ban threatens to ramp up tensions between two of Asia’s largest economies. As the border standoff that had simmered for nearly two months worsened, customs officials began halting clearances of industrial consignments coming in from China at major Indian ports and airports. The ban announced Monday also includes smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp.’s Mi Video Call and Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like service.The unauthorized transmission and storage of Indian users’ data in overseas servers and “its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defense of India” is a matter of deep and immediate concern requiring the emergency measures, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said in a statement on Monday. Representatives for Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu didn’t have immediate comment when contacted.“China is strongly concerned about the relevant notice issued by the Indian side. We are checking on and verifying the situation,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a briefing in Beijing Tuesday. “We want to stress the Chinese government always asks Chinese businesses to abide by international rules and local laws and regulations in their business cooperation with foreign countries. The Indian government has a responsibility to uphold the legitimate and legal rights of the international investors including Chinese ones.”Still, it’s unclear how the ban will be implemented as most of these apps already reside on users’ phones. The government might need to block the app servers and prevent new users from downloading them. One in three smartphone users in India will be impacted by this ban, Tarun Pathak, associate director with Counterpoint Technology, told BloombergQuint.Meanwhile, the government’s decision to bar the apps began garnering support on social media.“It’s time to take some hard decisions to get out of China’s cyber clutches,” Nirmal Jain, chairman at financial services conglomerate IIFL Group, tweeted.While banning other Chinese-made products and hardware is challenging in Asia’s third-largest economy, the blockade of a wide swath of Chinese apps ranging from gaming and news content to music streaming and online retail is particularly significant.India, with its half-billion internet users, is an emerging arena for global technology companies from the U.S. to China. As hundreds of millions of first-time users come online in India, they do so on Chinese smartphones. Myriad Chinese apps are their doorway to the internet.For ByteDance, which counts India as its biggest market with over 200 million TikTok users, the move is a particular blow. ByteDance faced a brief ban in India last year, and is being scrutinized in Europe. It also faces mounting questions from U.S. policy-makers over whether it jeopardizes national security.“Some of these Chinese apps are not just for commerce but have deeply entrenched into the social fabric of our lives,” said Anil Kumar, chief executive officer of technology researcher RedSeer Consulting. “They know what you do, what you say, where you go. In the current context, they can be viewed as a threat to our national security.”(Updates with comment from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the eighth paragraph. A previous version of the story was corrected to remove reference to Clash of Kings.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Chinese Smartphone Giant Vivo Is Latest to Splurge on Tech Tower

    (Bloomberg) -- China’s No. 2 smartphone brand Vivo Mobile Communications Co. has broken ground on a high-rise office in Shenzhen to house its future headquarters, highlighting a construction boom from the country’s burgeoning tech sector.Scheduled for completion in 2025, the gadget maker’s 32-story abode will house 5,800 workers and was designed by NBBJ, the architects behind Samsung’s Silicon Valley campus and Seattle’s Amazon Spheres. The new building will feature Vivo’s flagship store, indoor gardens at every level and a spiraling exterior with self-shading glass, according to the architectural firm.Vivo joins the likes of Tencent Holdings Ltd. and ByteDance Ltd. in spending big on new office space -- much of it in the bustling tech hub of Shenzhen -- adding to a mega-building splurge at a time when economic turmoil is forcing other businesses to cut back. WeChat operator Tencent is building an adjacent campus roughly the size of midtown Manhattan on reclaimed land in Qianhai Bay that cost the company $1.2 billion. Vivo paid 1.3 billion yuan ($182 million) for the site of its new headquarters and TikTok owner ByteDance recently spent 1.1 billion yuan for land in the city’s downtown area, according to the local land authority.Kuaishou, a YouTube-like video platform backed by Tencent, is spending 3 billion yuan on a base for its fledgling e-commerce business in Chengdu, complete with studios for live-streamers hawking wares.Some economists say building booms signal an overheated economy that precedes a crash. But NBBJ, which also designed campuses for Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Group, argues China’s tech giants have outgrown their old digs and are now merely seeking space to anchor a potential wave of future global expansion.Vivo, which began life in the midst of Android’s rise a decade ago, has steadily grown into a leader at home and across Asia and Europe, alongside compatriots Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. Its development encapsulates the way Chinese names have started making waves abroad.“What we’ve seen now is part of a natural life cycle of these companies where they’ve outgrown their current facilities, and they need new ones to operationally support their growing global reach,” said NBBJ partner Robert Mankin, who’s responsible for the Vivo project. “It’s increasingly rare in the U.S. for companies to build their individual headquarters campus, and you still see it in Asia.”Read more: ByteDance Launches Global Hiring Spree With 10,000 New JobsThe tech campus boom coincides with a trillion-dollar effort in China to both stimulate the economy and lay the networking and data-center foundations for next-generation internet technology. In terms of offices, Tencent has the most ambitious expansion plans among its peers. Dubbed Net City, its latest project includes solar panels, arrays of automated sensors, mangroves to prevent flooding and a pedestrian-friendly transportation network. It will take around seven years to complete.Tencent currently has 38,000 workers in Shenzhen, with the headcount expected to more than double in seven years, according to the local government. ByteDance has said it plans to create 40,000 new jobs this year, and the startup has rented new offices in Hong Kong and bought a Beijing shopping plaza to convert into a workplace.Vivo’s crosstown rival Oppo is also building new headquarters in Shenzhen. The project, designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, will feature a 20-story vertical lobby, an art gallery, shops and restaurants. Construction is expected to complete in 2025.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Tencent, Primavera Said to Fund Grocery App at $3 Billion Value

    (Bloomberg) -- Investors including Tencent Holdings Ltd. and private equity giant Primavera Capital are joining a funding round that values Chinese grocery delivery upstart Xingsheng Youxuan at $3 billion, people familiar with the matter said.The two companies are bankrolling one of the more recent entrants to a sector galvanized by the pandemic. The latest financing of about $300 million for Xingsheng Youxuan triples the company’s price tag from its last funding round in 2019, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. Tencent -- which also backs grocery-delivery rival Missfresh -- will participate though it hasn’t decided on how much capital to put in, one of the people said.The latest fundraising precedes an eventual initial public offering though neither timeframe nor venue has been finalized, they added. Tencent and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. are bringing their multifaceted competition to the burgeoning realm of online fresh produce. Xingsheng Youxuan, which loosely translates as “prosperous first choice,” is among a group of online services that’ve benefited from people confined to home during Covid-19 crisis.Based in the central province of Hunan, it focuses on delivering produce from seafood to noodles to some 400 towns from western Sichuan to Guangdong in the south, but is just one of a plethora of deep-pocketed players including Alibaba and Meituan.Its current round of financing is slated to finish in July though details may change depending on Tencent’s investment amount, the people said. Representatives for the startup and Tencent had no immediate comment when contacted. Primavera said it won’t comment on market rumor.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Jack Ma’s New Chieftain Lays Out Plan to Fend Off Tencent
    Bloomberg

    Jack Ma’s New Chieftain Lays Out Plan to Fend Off Tencent

    (Bloomberg) -- Billionaire Jack Ma’s newest chieftain is accelerating Alipay’s evolution into an online mall for everything from loans and travel services to food delivery, in a bid to claw back shoppers lost to Tencent Holdings Ltd.Ant Group Chief Executive Simon Hu is aggressively pitching digital payment and cloud offerings to the local arms of KFC Holding Co. and Marriott International Inc., expanding the firm’s focus from banks and fund managers on its ubiquitous app.The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate’s strategy is two-pronged. It halts Tencent and food delivery giant Meituan Dianping’s run-away success in attracting local merchants to their platforms, eroding Ant’s dominance of China’s $29 trillion mobile payments space. It also diversifies Ant’s business into less-sensitive areas after the firm drew regulatory scrutiny for its blistering expansion in financial services with in-house products.“We want to help digitize the services industry,” said Hu in his first interview with foreign media since taking on the CEO role in December. “We’ve been pursuing the strategy to evolve Ant into a tech company, with an open-platform strategy for many years.”Hu wants users to think of Alipay not as a niche provider of financial services and the payments gateway for the world’s biggest e-commerce platform, but as the go-to app for a wide array of needs from groceries to wealth management, and hotel booking to loan applications. He aims to simultaneously peddle technology solutions like artificial intelligence, blockchain and risk control to the businesses that use the platform.His goal is for more than 80% of Ant’s revenue to come from local merchants and finance firms in five years, up from about half at the end of 2019. The contribution from proprietary services, such as Ant’s own money market fund and loans, would shrink as a result.“We want to share the technology and resources we’ve developed as an online financial platform with more companies in finance, local services, public services and other countries,” he said. The shift doesn’t hinder any initial public offering plans and the company is still open to listing, he said, declining to provide a time frame.To mark the transformation, Ant changed its registered name to Ant Group Co. from Ant Financial Services Group at the end of May. Alibaba owns a 33% stake in Ant.Unusual PositionThe focus on everyday consumer services puts Ant in the unusual position of underdog, despite its reach into the spending patterns of 900 million users. While Alipay still controls more than half of all mobile transactions in China, it’s been late to so-called mini programs, an innovation championed by Tencent three years ago.The lite apps have allowed the gaming and social media giant to host more than a million service providers in its WeChat environment, with 400 million users a day tapping in to rent bicycles, order food, pick cinema seats and even buy apartments through a single interface. Their popularity has swelled Tencent’s share of mobile payments and ad revenue.Hu’s most important task has been to fend off competition from players like Tencent. But companies like Meituan and live-streaming site Kuaishou have added to the challenge, encroaching on the greater Alibaba ecosystem, chipping away at e-commerce and payments.“Ant and Alibaba are battling companies traditionally not even operating in their fields of payments and e-commerce,” said Mark Tanner, founder of Shanghai-based research and marketing company China Skinny.Personalized ContentThe Alipay platform offers some natural advantages to make up lost ground, Hu said. Its interface lets users personalize and pin frequently-used services and the company plans to use algorithms to further customize Alipay’s landing page.Ant currently has about 600 million monthly users for its 2 million mini programs after two years. Hu didn’t provide a forecast for its expansion.For the first time, the app has elevated local neighborhood services to the same level as its finance vertical. Its moved services such as Ele.me and Fliggy, Alibaba’s food delivery and travel units, to Alipay’s front page. Alipay will also enhance the importance of its search function, so people can find the mini programs of local services more easily, Hu said.“Alipay is weaving the advantages of a super app with that of mini programs, users can have faster access to services via our platform compared with WeChat,” he said.Such efforts are showing results. Alipay’s share of mobile payments has increased for three consecutive quarters, rising to 55.1% in the fourth quarter, according research consultant iResearch. Tencent has 38.9% of the market.Hu, who joined Alibaba in 2005 after working at China’s second-largest lender China Construction Bank, has built a reputation for rolling out new innovations such as using data analytics to offer collateral-free financing services to small businesses and helping Alibaba beat Amazon.com Inc. to build Asia’s largest cloud business.His experience will help Ant target small companies in the consumer services sector looking to digitize, said Michael Norris, research and strategy manager at Shanghai-based consultancy AgencyChina.Hu must also navigate Ant through a coronavirus-induced economic downturn, which will test the resilience of the lending portfolio it has built in the past decade along with about 200 partner banks in China.Its Huabei, which means “just spend,” is on track to help banks issue 2 trillion yuan ($283 billion) of consumer loans by 2021, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts. Online lender MYbank, where Ant is the largest shareholder, has helped banks issue 600 billion yuan of credit to 10 million small and medium businesses as of end May.So far, the company’s risk controls have held up, Hu said. The bad loan ratio for Huabei and MYbank rose to about 2% compared with about 1.5% before the virus outbreak, the company said. By comparison, Fitch Ratings estimates that the non-performing loan ratio for Chinese banks may rise 2 percentage points to 3.5% compared with the first half of last year.“We’ve seen a slight up-tick in non-performing loans among our SME and young credit borrowers after Covid,” said Hu, adding that he expects the bad loan ratio to drop to pre-Covid levels by March next year.Wealth ManagementAlongside easy loans, Ant is also keen to introduce the 600 million users of its money market fund platform Yu’e Bao to wealth management options.It will cross-sell products such as equity and bond-backed investments offered by banks as well as work with more foreign asset managers to provide advisory services, similar to a venture established with Vanguard Group. The robo adviser with Vanguard has attracted 100,000 people since its April launch.“An open platform strategy is what we’ve always pursued, so we will definitely work with more partners in the future,” Hu said.(Adds final three paragraphs on wealth management services)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Alibaba Replaces CEO of Southeast Asian Arm Lazada
    Bloomberg

    Alibaba Replaces CEO of Southeast Asian Arm Lazada

    (Bloomberg) -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has appointed a longtime veteran to replace Pierre Poignant as Lazada Group Chief Executive Officer, the latest top-level reshuffle at the Chinese e-commerce titan’s Southeast Asian operation.Chun Li, who currently runs Lazada’s Indonesian business, will take the reins from July, Lazada said in a statement. Li served as chief technology officer for Alibaba’s business-to-business division between 2014 and 2017 before joining Lazada. He was a chief architect of the firm’s technology platform and currently serves as a Lazada president, the Singapore-based company said.Lazada has gone through frequent management shuffles since getting absorbed by Alibaba. Poignant, who co-founded Lazada for Rocket Internet in 2012, was promoted to CEO in 2018 and will now become special assistant to Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang.“Over the past three years, at the regional and country level as well as on the technology and business fronts, I had a full view of both the enormous opportunities as well as challenges facing us,” Li said in an email to staff on Friday. He said Lazada will double down on technology investment in the region. “With a customer-first mindset, we will strategize better, work smarter and fight harder.”Read more: How Alibaba’s Lazada Turned Discarded Vegetables Into a BusinessLazada was the first e-commerce outfit to serve six countries in Southeast Asia. The company has grown into an instrumental facet of Alibaba’s push to expand beyond its home market, spearheading the Chinese firm’s thrust into a region that’s one of the world’s fastest-growing e-commerce and digital payments arenas. Lazada aims to serve 300 million Southeast Asians by 2030, up from 65 million now, Poignant told Bloomberg News earlier this year.But fiercest rival Shopee, a unit of Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed Sea Ltd., has expanded aggressively in the past year and overtaken Lazada as the region’s most visited website in 2019, according to research firm iPrice Group. In Indonesia, the largest and most promising market, Alibaba-backed Tokopedia ranks as the top e-commerce company based on web traffic, followed by Shopee, Bukalapak and Lazada.“The fundamental shift in global business environment as a result of Covid-19 has created new expectations for Lazada in how to better serve our customers and create value. Under Chun’s leadership, I believe we will broaden our horizons and further leverage our technology,” Lazada Chairwoman Lucy Peng said in a statement.Read more: New Alibaba Chief Explains Why He Wants to Kill His Own Business(Updates with incoming CEO’s comments from the fourth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Lazada, Alibaba's Southeast Asian arm, appoints its third CEO in three years
    Reuters

    Lazada, Alibaba's Southeast Asian arm, appoints its third CEO in three years

    Southeast Asian e-commerce firm Lazada, a unit of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <BABA.N>, on Friday named its third chief executive in three years - a move that comes after it lost ground last year to rival Shopee. Chun Li, Lazada co-president and head of its Indonesia operations, will take the helm from July, replacing co-founder Pierre Poignant. Singapore-based Shopee, which is backed by Tencent Holdings <0700.HK>, was the most downloaded e-commerce app and the most used in Southeast Asia as of end-2019, knocking Lazada to second place, according to research firm iPrice.

  • SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Alibaba’s Jack Ma Part Ways
    Bloomberg

    SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son and Alibaba’s Jack Ma Part Ways

    (Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. founder Masayoshi Son ended his company’s annual shareholder meeting with a surprise Thursday by announcing he’s stepping down from the board of Chinese e-commerce titan Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.The billionaire said his departure shouldn’t be interpreted as signifying any disagreements, even though Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma is quitting SoftBank’s board at the same time. Ma and Son have maintained a close friendship since the Japanese entrepreneur was an early investor in Alibaba and helped it along to its current value of roughly $600 billion, calling it the crown jewel of SoftBank’s portfolio.“It’s not like we had a fight,” Son said during the virtual shareholder meeting. “This was perfectly amicable.”While the mutual departures are unlikely to have an immediate impact on either company, they mark the end of an era. The two men are among the most successful entrepreneurs of their generation and have been able to rely on each other’s advice for decades. Son was on Alibaba’s board as it went public in 2014 in the largest initial public offering in history. When SoftBank ran into trouble with investment losses this year, Son was able to use his Alibaba stake to raise much-needed capital.Read more: Alibaba Co-Founder Jack Ma to Quit SoftBank’s Board in June“The joint board membership was a big positive for both companies because it gave them a way to benchmark their respective business models,” said Michiaki Tanaka, a business school professor at Rikkyo University in Tokyo. “Not having that board-level contact is a big loss.”Alibaba remains Son’s most successful investment by far and SoftBank’s most valuable asset. In early 2000, Son invested $20 million into the then-unknown web portal connecting Chinese manufacturers with overseas buyers, a stake that is now worth more than $150 billion. That spectacular return cemented his reputation as an investor and later helped him raise the $100 billion Vision Fund. Son has previously spoken highly of Ma.“He had no business plan, zero revenue,” Son said about Ma on The David Rubenstein Show. “But his eyes were very strong. I could tell from the way he talked, he has charisma, he has leadership.”Son is known for anointing the entrepreneurs he finds particularly promising as “the next Jack Ma,” and Alibaba has long served as the standard against which he has judged SoftBank’s other startup investments. But that’s also made Son vulnerable to charismatic founders like WeWork’s Adam Neumann, whose many governance transgressions led to the office-sharing firm canceling its initial public offering last year. WeWork, once thought to be worth $47 billion, has lost more than 90% of its value.Son’s recent track record has been spotty. Starting with the WeWork fiasco, he has suffered a string of setbacks at portfolio companies including Wag Labs, Zume Pizza and Brandless Inc. SoftBank lost almost $18 billion writing down the value of its startup companies in the last fiscal year.Still, Son struck an optimistic note at the shareholder meeting Thursday. He began the presentation to investors in typical fashion, reaffirming his conviction that a global digital transformation and the advent of artificial intelligence -- both accelerated during the pandemic -- will help his investments in the likes of TikTok-owner ByteDance Ltd. and British chip designer Arm Ltd.Read more: How Jack Ma Made Rich Capitalists Acceptable in Communist ChinaSoftBank is in the process of offloading 4.5 trillion yen (about $42 billion) of assets to bankroll stock buybacks and slash debt to reassure investors. On Thursday, the company announced a third 500-billion-yen buyback, having completed an earlier one this month.The company this week agreed to sell a stake in T-Mobile US Inc. for as much as $20 billion. Together with the $11.5 billion from issuing contracts to sell Alibaba stock and a sale of stock in its domestic telecom unit, Son’s company has now completed 80% of its envisioned asset unwinding, he said.Son said he was “graduating” from Alibaba’s board. But the two-decade-long relationship produced few cooperative venture of note, even while the two companies were constructing e-commerce empires in their respective markets. In 2010, the two agreed to link their online platforms to allow users of SoftBank’s Yahoo Japan to buy products on Alibaba’s Taobao site, but the project failed to gain momentum. In 2015, Alibaba backed SoftBank’s failed bipedal robotics business.“Following Jack Ma leaving the SoftBank board, Son stepping down from Alibaba is merely a symbolic end of an era,” said Justin Tang, head of Asian research at United First Partners in Singapore. “It will be business as usual for both companies.”A shareholder asked at the Thursday meeting how many of the 88 companies SoftBank’s Vision Fund currently has on its books will be the next Alibaba. Son’s answer was that there are one or two “mini-Alibabas.”(Updates with new share buyback plan in 11th paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Top Research Reports for Amazon, Alibaba & NIKE
    Zacks

    Top Research Reports for Amazon, Alibaba & NIKE

    Top Research Reports for Amazon, Alibaba & NIKE

  • Jack Ma Dethroned as China's Richest by Tencent's Pony Ma
    Bloomberg

    Jack Ma Dethroned as China's Richest by Tencent's Pony Ma

    (Bloomberg) -- Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s $40 billion surge this week and the recent ascent of Pinduoduo Inc. have reshuffled the ranking of China’s richest people.The country’s largest game developer has surpassed Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. as Asia’s most-valuable company, with its shares rising above HK$500 in intraday trading Wednesday for the first time. Pinduoduo, a Groupon-like shopping app also known as PDD, has more than doubled this year.The rallies have propelled the wealth of their founders, with an added twist: Tencent’s Pony Ma, worth $50 billion, has surpassed Jack Ma’s $48 billion fortune, becoming China’s richest person. And Colin Huang of PDD, whose net worth stands at $43 billion, has squeezed real estate mogul Hui Ka Yan of China Evergrande Group out of the top three earlier this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the digitization of the workplace and changed consumers’ habits, boosting shares of many internet companies. Now tech tycoons are dominating the ranks of China’s richest people. They occupy four of the top five spots: Ding Lei of Tencent peer NetEase Inc. follows China Evergrande’s Hui.‘Perform Strongly’Tencent has come a long way since hitting a low in 2018, when China froze the approval process for new games. Since then, the stock has almost doubled, and last month the tech giant reported a 26% jump in first-quarter revenue.“Tencent’s online games segment will probably perform strongly through the Covid-19 pandemic, and most of its other businesses are relatively unscathed,” said Vey-Sern Ling, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.That has been a boon for Pony Ma, 48, who owns a 7% stake in the company and pocketed about $757 million from selling some 14.6 million of his Tencent shares this year, data complied by Bloomberg show.The native of China’s southern Guangdong province studied computer science at Shenzhen University and was a software developer at a supplier of telecom services and products before co-founding Tencent with four others in the late 1990s. At the time, the company focused on instant-messaging services.It has been a long comeback for Pony Ma. He overtook real estate tycoon Wang Jianlin as China’s second-richest person in 2013 and topped Baidu Inc.’s Robin Li as the wealthiest in early 2014. Later that year, Alibaba went public in the U.S., catapulting Jack Ma’s fortune.Bloomberg Intelligence’s Ling notes, however, that Tencent’s jump this year has lagged behind some internet peers, especially those in e-commerce, games and online entertainment. Just consider: Tencent shares have climbed 31% in 2020, while PDD’s American depositary receipts have more than doubled. Alibaba, meanwhile, has advanced just 6.9%.(Updates with Alibaba shares in last paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

  • T-Mobile Prices Shares at $103 Each in SoftBank Deal
    Bloomberg

    T-Mobile Prices Shares at $103 Each in SoftBank Deal

    (Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp. offloaded a large chunk of its stake in wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc. stake at a discount, cementing a series of transactions that could fetch as much as $20 billion for the Japanese investment giant.The Tokyo-based company raised $14.8 billion from a sale of T-Mobile shares to institutional investors, SoftBank said in a statement. The offering of 143.4 million shares was priced at $103 apiece, representing a 3.9% discount to T-Mobile’s record high closing price on Tuesday.SoftBank is set to raise another $4.1 billion through several related deals that will see shares sold to Marcelo Claure, a T-Mobile board member, and other investors, according to the statement Wednesday. The total proceeds would rise to $20 billion if so-called over-allotment options are exercised.The deals are part of SoftBank’s broader $42 billion push to unload assets to finance stock buybacks and pay down debt. Masayoshi Son, the company’s founder, is dealing with steep losses in his Vision Fund after writing down the value of investments in the sharing economy from WeWork to Uber Technologies Inc.T-Mobile’s controlling shareholder, Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG, has also been granted the right to buy 101.5 million shares in the U.S. carrier currently held by SoftBank, according to the statement. The stake is worth about $10.9 billion based on Wednesday’s closing price. Deutsche Telekom can exercise its options to buy the stock up to June 2024, according to a T-Mobile filing.SoftBank will now turn its attention to other assets in its portfolio and may pursue an outright sale of part of its stake in e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Son has said $11.5 billion raised from issuing contracts to sell stock in the Chinese company was a first step toward unwinding more of its holdings. SoftBank also plans to sell a 5% stake in its Japanese wireless subsidiary.Read more: SoftBank to Sell Slice of T-Mobile in a $21 Billion DealSoftBank agreed to pay T-Mobile $300 million as part of the transaction and will cover all fees and expenses related to the deal. The company became a co-owner of T-Mobile with Deutsche Telekom after the carrier took over Sprint Corp. this year in a $26.5 billion merger.SoftBank “needs to further enhance its cash reserves,” the Japanese company said in a statement on Tuesday, citing concerns for “a second and third wave of spread of Covid-19.” The Japanese investment giant may invest the proceeds in high-quality securities until they are used for buybacks or debt reductions.The stock offering was overseen by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Morgan Stanley, Citigroup Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Plc, Bank of America Corp., Deutsche Bank AG and Mizuho Financial Group Inc. PJT Partners Inc. served as financial adviser to T-Mobile’s board.(Updates with details of related transactions from third paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.