|Day's range||56.80 - 56.80|
(Bloomberg) -- China’s No. 2 online retailer JD.com Inc. is seeking to raise as much as HK$31.4 billion ($4.05 billion) for a second listing in Hong Kong, as the Nasdaq-listed firm seeks a foothold closer to home amid rising U.S.-China tensions.JD.com is offering 133 million new shares at as much as HK$236 each, according to terms of the deal obtained by Bloomberg News. The maximum price represents a 7.8% premium to JD.com’s Thursday closing price in New York.JD.com’s share sale is set to be the largest in Hong Kong this year, coming hot on the heels of NetEase Inc.’s $2.7 billion offering in the city.Escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing are increasing risks for Chinese companies like JD and NetEase that are seeking to broaden their investor base. There have also been fears over the impact of national security legislation set to be imposed on Hong Kong, including the resumption of protests in the city.The debuts would follow Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s $13 billion stock sale last year, hailed as a homecoming for Chinese companies and a win for Hong Kong stock exchange. The city lost many of the largest tech corporations to U.S. bourses because it didn’t allow dual-class share voting at the time -- a requirement that’s since been relaxed.JD.com’s Hong Kong share sale represents about 4.3% of its total shares outstanding before an over-allotment option. The company is taking orders from institutional investors from Friday and will kick off retail investor subscription on June 8, according to the terms.It aims to price the offering on June 11 and to begin trading on June 18. JD.com plans to use the proceeds for key supply chain-based technology initiatives.Bank of America Corp., UBS Group AG and CLSA Ltd. are joint sponsors of JD’s Hong Kong share sale.(Updates with more details from sixth 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.
(Bloomberg) -- NetEase Inc. raised about HK$21 billion ($2.7 billion) in its Hong Kong stock offering, people with knowledge of the matter said, as Chinese companies grapple with rising tensions between Beijing and Washington.China’s second-largest gaming company priced 171 million new shares at HK$123 each, equivalent to a 2% discount to its Thursday closing price on Nasdaq, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. That comes after investors subscribed for many times more than the total stock offered. The company earlier set a maximum price of HK$126. The shares are expected to start trading in Hong Kong on June 11.The U.S.-listed internet giant makes its debut in Hong Kong as tensions between Washington and Beijing threaten to curtail Chinese companies’ access to U.S. capital markets, particularly after once high-flying Luckin Coffee Inc. crashed amid an accounting scandal. It’s also a victory for Hong Kong, coming on the heels of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s $13 billion share sale and the passing of a national security law that critics fear could jeopardize its status as a financial hub. No. 2 Chinese online retailer JD.com Inc. plans to start taking orders on Friday for its listing in the city .NetEase is a distant second to Tencent Holdings Ltd. in the world’s largest video game market. The creator of popular franchises like Fantasy Westward Journey and Onmyoji reported a 14% rise in online games revenue for the coronavirus-stricken March quarter, less than half of the pace Tencent’s gaming division managed during the same period.Much like Tencent, NetEase is looking globally for the next chapter of growth, teaming up with Japan’s Studio Ghibli and investing in Canadian game creator Behaviour Interactive. After selling its cross-border e-commerce platform Kaola to Alibaba, the 22-year-old company has shifted its focus to music streaming and online learning, despite worsening competition in these areas. NetEase company representatives didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.China International Capital Corp., Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase and Co. are joint sponsors.(Updates throughout as the deal is priced. An earlier version corrected the currency denomination in first 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.
YIWU, China/SHANGHAI (Reuters) - At this time of the year, Deng Jinling would normally be welcoming foreign buyers to her vacuum flask showroom or cramming her goods into containers to be shipped to customers in the United States. Now desperate exporters are turning to the domestic market, and they are seeking out e-commerce and even social media mobile apps to lift their fortunes. Stuck with unsold stock and cancelled export orders, Deng has laid off both her sales staff and 80 factory workers, and has since March begun seeking local customers on Chinese e-commerce platforms, paying livestreaming stars to market her products.
(Bloomberg) -- Grab Holdings Inc., Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing giant, is expanding delivery services from convenience stores and supermarkets across 50 cities in the region.The Singapore-based startup said it has teamed up with 3,000 stores as it accelerates delivery of groceries, toilet paper, packaged snacks and beverages to cater to consumers mostly stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Grab provided the service in two countries before the Covid-19 outbreak, and it’s now available in eight, adding the likes of Myanmar and Cambodia.Ride-hailing businesses were hammered globally during the pandemic as people stopped going to work and eliminated unnecessary socialization. While Grab is private and doesn’t disclose financial data, Uber Technologies Inc. said its global rides business is down 70% from last year. To combat the downturn, ride-hailing companies have pivoted to expand their drivers’ delivery of food and other goods.Demi Yu, regional head of GrabFood and GrabMart, said the company is boosting investment in deliveries this year to meet rising consumer demand.In the U.S., DoorDash, the biggest food-delivery app in the country, started delivering goods from convenience stores in April. In Southeast Asia, e-commerce operators such as Qoo10 and Shopee have started delivering daily essentials, while Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Southeast Asian arm Lazada Group and Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Now are seeking to meet demand for fresh groceries.How Alibaba’s Lazada Turned Discarded Vegetables Into a BusinessGrab is gearing up to expand into grocery services. In Singapore and Indonesia, consumers can now order fresh produce and premium meats from urban farmers and local suppliers. It’s also working with traditional market operators in Indonesia and Malaysia.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) -- While technology billionaires have been among the most visible champions of the fight against Covid-19, perhaps none has as much at stake as Jay Y. Lee., Samsung’s anointed heir.South Korea’s largest corporation and its de facto leader have been key players in one of Asia’s most successful coronavirus containment campaigns. Since March, Samsung has dispatched its own doctors to hard-hit zones, flown Korean engineers overseas via its private jet, doled out roughly $39 million worth of aid globally and played a central role in ramping up production of testing kits -- hailed by healthcare experts as a turning point in Korea’s battle against the disease.Samsung -- the world’s largest maker of memory chips, mobile devices and electronic displays -- and its fellow conglomerates helped flatten the virus curve. But for Lee, success comes at a time of particular scrutiny. The well-publicized effort burnished his image months before the denouement of a years-long scandal and trial into alleged influence-peddling and Lee’s succession plans. In the legal clash, which inflamed resentment against Korea’s most influential conglomerates, Lee stands accused of using thoroughbred horses and other gifts to buy government support for plans to cement his family’s control over the Samsung empire -- something both Samsung and he have denied.In a sign of how popular opinion will play into the case, Lee this week requested a public assessment of the validity of the indictment, invoking a measure allowing the formation of a civil panel to review cases. Then on Thursday, prosecutors, at risk of losing some authority, decided to seek an arrest warrant for the billionaire for alleged violations of capital market and audit laws, Yonhap News reported.“Samsung got on the prosecutors’ nerves. The move to request an outside review is something that’s undercutting prosecutors and could enrage them,” said Chung Sun-sup, CEO at corporate research firm Chaebul.com. “Lee might have thought that he could get support from people who distrust prosecutors.”Read more: Samsung Heir Vows an End to Family Rule After Succession ScandalLee could face a prison sentence of several years in the current trial. Regardless of Covid-19, the outcome could prove a watershed moment in the sensitive relationship between the country’s corporate chieftains and government. The hearings, which will likely wrap late this year, are regarded by many observers as a litmus test for whether Korea’s courts are truly independent of the powerful business interests that hold sway over the economy.The 51-year-old Samsung heir convened a rare press conference in May to apologize for his company’s mis-steps over succession. Swearing his children would never run the company, he pledged to give back to society and praised his fellow citizens’ dedication throughout the outbreak. “It gave me a chance to look back on our past and as a member of the business community, I feel a greater sense of responsibility,” Lee said. “I pledge to create a new Samsung that is level with the national dignity of South Korea.”The surprise announcement drew public support from both ruling and opposition parties as well as the chairperson of the Fair Trade Commission. But critics and academics pounced on Lee’s comments as bereft of substance. That’s because it came just before a deadline set by an internal Samsung oversight body for just such an apology. The independent compliance committee, established this year after a judge in the graft trial questioned Samsung’s measures to prevent legal violations such as bribery, assessed Lee’s apology as a “meaningful” step but wanted more details.“Samsung has never done as much in the past” to assuage critics of the conglomerates, said Kyungmook Lee, a business professor at Seoul National University. “As the largest chaebol in South Korea, the way they contributed to the nation during the Covid-19 crisis and apologized over past wrongdoings is helping soften public sentiment and improve the image of both the company and its heir.”That’s important because suspicion of the judiciary in Korea runs deep. Over the past decade, at least half a dozen high-profile industrial magnates have been sentenced to prison for corruption, only to have those jail terms mitigated or suspended by the courts -- including Lee’s father. Even President Moon Jae-in, who swept into power on promises to clean up endemic corporate malfeasance, grappled with public outrage after a judge in Lee’s first trial unexpectedly freed him after just a year in prison. In suspending Lee’s sentence, the judge concluded the billionaire couldn’t resist requests from a sitting president and that the greater responsibility lay with public officials. Park Geun-hye, who was impeached in 2017, has denied taking any money for herself.Paranoia about chaebols’ influence continues to dog the second phase of Lee’s hearings, which commenced late last year after the Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision to suspend the mogul’s sentence and ordered a retrial. Lee’s hearing has been delayed for months as prosecutors argue that one of the appeals court judges overseeing the current case is biased and inclined to go lightly on Lee. The justice in question has shown a flair for the dramatic by, among other things, lecturing the executive at length in October on how he can better run Samsung, advising him to take inspiration from Israeli businesses. The appeals court judge has so far kept out of the fray.“In South Korea, the public opinion often influences trials and sways verdicts,” said Heo Pil-seok, chief executive officer at Midas International Asset Management. “While Samsung’s facing several critical situations, it’s trying to make a plea for clemency to the public,” he said, referring to not just its Covid-19 efforts but also Lee’s apology.Read more: Samsung Warns of Profit Slide After Virus Slams Tech SphereSamsung and Lee’s approach to the sudden flare-up of the novel coronavirus was in many ways no different than his peers’. Noted philanthropists Bill Gates and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. co-founder Jack Ma donated millions or offered technical assistance. Others like Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, faced with public criticism that their companies are placing workers in jeopardy, focused their efforts on protecting the workforce. And tech corporations joined manufacturers around the globe in trying to plug a shortfall in ventilators and masks.Samsung representatives emphasized that the company’s main goal was to combat the disease, save lives and protect employees, and dismissed any suggestion they were connected to the hearing. In addition to dispatching personnel, the company also converted a training facility near Daegu into a treatment center, helped expedite business entries into China, even handed out free smartphones to quarantined patients.“Samsung Electronics is joining the global fight against COVID-19 to safeguard the health and safety of our employees, customers, partners and local communities,” it said in a statement. “The smart factory program and other global relief initiatives by Samsung Electronics have nothing to do with the ongoing legal proceedings over the case of Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee. Our efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus have always been to help our employees and their families that have been impacted by this pandemic as we are all in this together.”Samsung plays an unusually crucial role in Korea’s economy and national ethos. Its transformation from economic minnow to technology export powerhouse owes much to its family-run conglomerates. Known as chaebol -- which means “wealth clique” -- these pillars of the nation’s “miracle economy” encompass household names like LG, Hyundai and SK. They’ve supported government initiatives for decades, spearheading a modernization effort that’s created world leaders in shipping, steel, and now technology and electronics.Largest of them all is Samsung. The 82-year-old conglomerate is both a symbol of the Asian country’s technological and diplomatic rise as well as a touchstone for what many think is wrong with the economy today -- the overwhelming dominance of a handful of dynasties who call the shots in everything from cars to phones.“Samsung’s striving to overhaul its image to win a positive trial ruling,” said Chae Yibai, a former opposition lawmaker and a long-time corporate governance activist, referring to the months-long virus campaign. “The entire process is like a play, with a judge taking on the role of director and the compliance committee acting as a sub-director. The leading man is Lee.”South Korea’s Chaebol, Engines of Growth and Scandal: QuickTakeIn the current drama, Lee’s star is on the rise. His approval ratings in independent surveys have climbed since the conglomerate, heeding the government’s call, swung into action in March. The top keywords in domestic internet searches covering Lee from January to April were “virus” or “management,” according to surveyor Global Bigdata Research, pushing out trial-related terms among the top 30.He’s even won over some of the smaller businesses that’ve traditionally played second fiddle to the chaebols. Local mask manufacturer E&W said its output increased about 50% after it adopted Samsung’s solutions in its facility setup and distribution. Samsung also dispatched about 10 experts to each of four test-kit makers to instruct their engineers on how to ramp up volumes while resolving bottlenecks through automation. “Keeping a sound ecosystem of SMEs is essential to Samsung as well as for the long-term benefits of all economic players,” said Junha Park, head of Samsung’s smart factory operation team.Lee’s approval rating in surveys conducted by the Global Bigdata have risen in 2020 since the outbreak. They fell to 9.77% in the two days after his public apology, down from an average of 16.37% over the 30 days prior. But negative views also plummeted to 20.6% from 44.2%, while those on the fence shot up to 72.8% from 39.4%. That latter point is key.“Credibility is very important,” said Daniel Yoo, head of global investment at Yuanta Securities Korea. “Clearly the corporate image, about Samsung and South Korea, has been improving.”Chaebol Backlash Loses Bite as Jailed Execs Walk Free: QuickTakeThe most immediate challenge for Samsung is empowering and keeping its de facto leader free during an era of heightened uncertainty. Regardless of the personal outcome of that trial, the longer-term perceptions of chaebols may hinge on Lee’s promise to corporatize Samsung. Some view his vision as the first step in finally reining in the chaebols, by breaking decades-old succession lines. Others suspect Samsung will find some other way to safeguard the Lee family’s control. That’s because it’s not up to Lee, but to the company’s shareholders and board, said Shin Se-don, an emeritus professor of economics at Sookmyung Women’s University.“The apology was unlike Samsung,” said Shin, who worked at Samsung’s research institute in the late 1980s. “After Lee’s announcement, ruling and opposition parties both suggested Lee could be legally excused. That’s different from what most people think.”(Updates with prosecutors seeking an arrest warrant in the 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.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Hong Kong’s finance industry is thriving from the great divorce between the U.S. and China. Billion-dollar initial public offerings are on the horizon again, as New York-listed mainland companies seek a second home. The city’s blue-chip index has even revised its weighting rules so tech stocks can feature more prominently. But is this enough to rouse a sleepy stock market? While Hong Kong is on par with Shanghai in terms of total market capitalization, turnover pales in comparison, and it's practically a stagnant pool compared with the very liquid Shenzhen bourse. While mega IPOs are exciting, they are one-time events. Once bankers earn their fees and wave goodbye, trading could languish again.South Korea may offer some insights. One year ago, Seoul was still in a deep bear market, plagued by steep conglomerate discounts and historically low turnover. Now, it’s teeming with life. Since global markets started turning around in late March, the benchmark Kospi index has soared more than 40%, making it one of the world’s best performers.All of a sudden, Koreans, who dabbled in cryptocurrencies and all sorts of structured products, are frantically buying cash equities. Retail investors have single-handedly supported the main stock index as foreigners and domestic institutional investors sold.CLSA Ltd. recently conducted a fascinating study explaining what’s become one of the Kospi’s largest ownership changes in history. Survey data show a few usual suspects: historically low deposit rates, cheap valuations, and blow-ups in popular alternative investments, such as mezzanine convertible bonds and equity-linked securities. A liquidity crisis and global market meltdown have tamed Koreans’ taste for exotic products.But the most interesting finding is that investors are swapping their real estate holdings for stocks. This comes as President Moon Jae-in’s administration has made it harder to invest in residential property, with a recent ban on mortgage lending for anything valued over 1.5 billion won ($1.2 million). In the past few years, a series of tightening measures has worked: A flattening of home prices, along with dwindling sales volumes, dented investor sentiment.Apartments in Seoul were once considered one of Korea's best performing long-term assets. They registered a capital gain of 80.9% over the past 15 years, with flats in the affluent Gangnam district returning more than 200%, data provided by CLSA show. Yet property restrictions look set to remain as long as Moon’s around — and he’s not required to leave office until 2022. So people with money to invest have to look elsewhere. Samsung Electronics Co., which gained 443% over the same period, is a good alternative. Retail investors have poured $7.2 billion into the company’s shares this year. Many of the catalysts that drove Koreans to stocks are present in Hong Kong, too. Interest rates are even lower and high-profile stocks are landing, including NetEase Inc., while Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. completed its secondary listing last year. Meanwhile, local investors can no longer count on HSBC Holdings Plc for reliable dividend payouts, forcing them to look at tech companies instead. It’s no coincidence that the retail portion of NetEase’s Hong Kong listing was met with brisk demand on the first day, enabling the company to increase its allotment to local investors. The missing piece, however, is real estate. As soon as Hong Kong loosened its social distancing rules in May, secondary home-sales prices ticked up, along with transaction volume. The Land Registry recorded 6,885 property deals in May, a 12-month high. The faith that this sector can outperform stocks hasn’t broken yet. For an equity market to shine, local retail participation is essential. Overseas institutional investors, the biggest contributors to Hong Kong’s turnover, come and go. Those from the mainland, now active players through the stock connect, are equally fickle, given they’re so used to liquidity-driven markets back home. So unless Hong Kong moms and pops can learn from the Koreans — trading away their flats in Gangnam for a slice of Samsung — the Hang Seng will remain asleep. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shuli Ren is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Asian markets. She previously wrote on markets for Barron's, following a career as an investment banker, and is a CFA charterholder.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.
Thank you for standing by for Ruhnn Holding Limited's Earnings Conference Call for the Fourth Quarter and Full Fiscal Year 2020. The Company's financial and operating results were issued in a press release earlier today and are available online. You can download the earnings press release and sign up for the Company's email distribution list by visiting the IR section of the Company's website at ir.ruhnn.com.
China's second- and third-largest e-commerce marketplaces just partnered with one of its largest electronics and appliance retailers.
Top Stock Reports for Alibaba, UnitedHealth & Merck
Alibaba (BABA) focuses on helping U.S. SMBs to go online in order to counter the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) has joined forces with local partners from across Africa to identify and mobilise innovative, resilient, and mission-driven African entrepreneurs, as well as support them throughout the application and selection process of the second edition of the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition (ABH).
Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) isn't taking any chances when it comes to its ongoing recovery in China, its second-largest market. The company has taken the unusual step of offering steep discounts on its current iPhone models in the Middle Kingdom ahead of a major online shopping event -- the 6.18 Festival. Each of the latest flagship iPhone models, including the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, have all been discounted by about 15% on Apple's official store on the Alibaba Group's (NYSE: BABA) Tmall e-commerce platform.
India's top trending free app on Google's mobile app store, with more than 5 million downloads since late May, is called "Remove China Apps" and does exactly what it says on the label. Its popularity comes amid calls for a boycott of Chinese mobile apps in India as a Himalayan border dispute fuels a backlash against products from China. Popular Indian yoga guru Baba Ramdev posted a video on Twitter on Sunday showing the step-by-step deletion of several Chinese apps, a move he described as a "national service".
U.S. small businesses "Go Digital, Go Global" with three new Alibaba.com offerings that make it even easier to do business.
(Bloomberg) -- NetEase Inc. has started taking investor orders for a listing in Hong Kong that could raise as much as $2.8 billion, which could be the world’s second-largest initial share sale this year.The company plans to sell 171 million new shares in its second listing before exercising the over-allotment option, according to terms for the deal seen by Bloomberg. The offering by the Nasdaq-listed Chinese internet company is already oversubscribed, people familiar with the matter said. It has set the maximum offer price at HK$126 ($16.25) a share, meaning it could raise as much as $2.8 billion.NetEase’s listing is set to overtake coffee giant JDE Peet’s BV’s $2.5 billion initial public offering in Europe as the second-largest initial share sale this year. Only Beijing-Shanghai High Speed Railway Co. has raised more with its $4.3 billion IPO in January, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.The offering comes as tensions between the U.S. and China are intensifying. Late last month, the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that could force major Chinese companies to stop trading their shares on U.S. exchanges. On Friday, President Donald Trump announced measures including that American financial regulators would examine Chinese firms listed on U.S. stock markets with an eye toward limiting American investment in the companies.NetEase follows Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which raised $13 billion in a homecoming listing last year while JD.com Inc. won approval from Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. last week for a $2 billion offering, Bloomberg has reported.NetEase’s Hong Kong share sale represents about 5% of its total shares outstanding after the completion of the deal. The company is taking orders from institutional investors from Monday through June 4 and retail ones from June 2 to June 5, terms for the deal show.It aims to price the offering on June 5 before the U.S. market opens and to begin trading on June 11. NetEase plans to use the proceeds for global strategies and opportunities, to fund innovation and general corporate purposes.China International Capital Corporation Ltd., Credit Suisse Group AG and JPMorgan Chase and Co. are joint sponsors.A representative for NetEase declined to comment on the subscription of the offering.(Updates first, second and third paragraphs with details of share offering.)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.
Hello and welcome back to TechCrunch’s China Roundup, a digest of recent events shaping the Chinese tech landscape and what they mean to people in the rest of the world. Last week, we had a barrage of news ranging from SoftBank's latest bet on China's autonomous driving sector to Chinese apps making waves in the U.S. (not TikTok). TikTok isn’t the only app with a Chinese background that’s making waves in the U.S. A brand new short-video app called Zynn has been topping the iOS chart in America since May 26, just weeks after its debut.
(Bloomberg) -- When Justin Sun met Warren Buffett for dinner in January, he wasn’t seeking advice on stocks. The crypto mogul had spent a record $4.6 million at a charity auction for the opportunity to lecture the world’s most famous investor on the benefits of Bitcoin.It was exactly the sort of behavior that Sun’s known for -- abrasive, ostentatious and, ultimately, impossible to ignore. Like the $200 billion crypto industry itself, he is young and hungry for the respect of traditional financiers like Buffett, who deems Bitcoin basically worthless.Still shy of his 30th birthday, Sun founded one of the largest blockchain platforms, Tron, in 2017 and turned it into a virtual Las Vegas with gambling apps. He’s rubbed shoulders with Apple Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founders, hired celebrity endorsers like the late Kobe Bryant and drawn accusations of plagiarism, which he has denied, more than once. What he says and does can move crypto prices, and his aggressive acquisitions have earned him both admiration and notoriety in the blockchain community on his way to consolidating power.“I’m a true believer of blockchain. It’s once in a lifetime,” he said in a rare in-depth interview from a luxury office suite overlooking Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. “It’s only people who don’t understand it who question me.”Making his personal fortune by embracing Bitcoin as early as 2012, and now by his own account worth somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Sun is part of a second wave of crypto entrepreneurs who envision putting more than just digital money and payments on a decentralized platform. Last week, Sun and his team touted an upcoming major update to Tron, which will include more privacy features and enterprise applications.Newer blockchains like Tron let developers build so-called decentralized apps, or dapps, on their platforms. Ethereum is the foremost among them, with its co-founder Vitalik Buterin offering a simple analogy: if Bitcoin is a pocket calculator, platforms with dapps are akin to smartphones. But unlike Android or iPhone apps, dapps are decentralized in the sense that they aren’t run on one server or by any single entity.Sun’s Tron has 342 active dapps and more than 230,000 users, both roughly half Ethereum’s totals, according to data tracker Dapp Review. It’s been accused by researchers like Digital Asset Research of copying Ethereum’s code without attribution, and by Buterin himself of stealing words from other projects’ whitepapers. Tron and Sun have denied both accusations.The bulk of business done on Tron today revolves around the largely unregulated field of crypto gambling, with a January Dapp Review report describing it as “Las Vegas on the blockchain.” In the first quarter, casino dapps comprised 92% of Tron’s $411 million total transaction volume, according to the Binance-owned researcher. Sun said the Dapp Review estimate was inaccurate and over-stated the gambling activity on the Tron blockchain. In fact, such transactions are only a fraction of the total, he said.Sun “identified niche customer bases, namely gamers and gamblers, that have great reasons to use blockchain, drive a lot of transactions, and are crypto savvy,” said Matthew Graham, chief executive officer of Sino Global Capital, a Beijing-based blockchain consultancy.Since its inception, Tron has been augmented with the acquisitions of live-streaming service DLive, briefly the exclusive online home of YouTube star PewDiePie, and file-sharing service BitTorrent Inc. Through a partnership with Samsung Electronics Co., Tron dapps can be downloaded via one of the world’s most widely distributed mobile app stores.Sun has proven himself an able marketer, raising $800,000 in under five minutes through a public token sale for his lending platform, called Just. He also commands an audience of two million Twitter followers.But he’s also been challenged on basic information. While Sun said he often covers the $5 million quarterly operational costs for Tron, Ryan Dennis, a spokesman for the nonprofit Tron Foundation that coordinates the blockchain platform’s operations, denied that figure -- saying they won’t be able to get accurate cost numbers “due to the coronavirus pandemic changing everything on a day-to-day basis.”As a sociology student in the U.S., Sun founded an online magazine about current affairs -- though it closed after he was accused of plagiarism by another author. Sun has denied the accusation, saying he merely imitated the author’s style.He then made the switch to tech.After an unsuccessful attempt to set up China operations for American crypto company Ripple in 2014, Sun went back to the drawing board with $5 million of venture-capital money from backers like IDG Capital and ChinaEquity Group. He tried almost every hot idea in China’s internet space, finally finding success in Peiwo, which let users connect with random strangers via voice messages. That app would later be slammed by China’s top state news agency for spreading vulgar and pornographic content.On social media, he billed himself as Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma’s first millennial protégé, since he was picked up in 2015 by the billionaire’s MBA program. When fellow tech entrepreneurs ran into cash crunches, he was often quick to say he would lend them money. He said he had a 100 million-yuan ($14 million) charity budget for 2019, part of which was distributed in cash giveaway campaigns via his Weibo account.Sun’s dinner with Buffett is still the banner image on his Twitter profile. The meeting had been scheduled for last July, but three days before the planned date Sun rescheduled, citing a bout of kidney stones. Later that week, he took a selfie and then live-streamed himself with San Francisco’s Bay Bridge in the background to rebut a news report that he was under Chinese border control. He then apologized on Weibo to the Chinese regulators and public for his “excessive self-promotion.” He was banned from the microblogging site at the end of 2019. (Sun now has a team, including a photographer, to manage his Twitter and Instagram accounts.)Read more: Buffett Lunch Mystery Deepens as His Date Apologizes to SocietyWhen Sun finally sat down with Buffett, his entreaties crashed against a wall of skepticism.“It’s not just Buffett, the Chinese government also has the same attitude,” Sun said.Sun shut down his Beijing offices last year, after China launched a renewed crackdown on a crypto industry it views with suspicion. He said he hasn’t returned to mainland China since the end of 2018, though he’s not prohibited from doing so.During the Covid-19 pandemic, the jet-setting entrepreneur has been stuck in Hong Kong. But he has continued to stumble into controversy. In February, Sun bought the social network Steemit, billed as “owned and operated by its users,” along with 30% voting control over its platform. Fearing that gave Sun too much power, part of the Steemit community temporarily froze his stake and then split the blockchain into a whole new branch.“His playbook might be the optimal strategy during the early barbaric growth period of the crypto industry,” said Wayne Zhao, analyst and managing partner of researcher TokenInsight. “You are nothing without people’s attention, no matter if it’s good or bad.”(Updates with Sun’s comment in the eighth 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.
(Bloomberg) -- JD.com Inc. and NetEase Inc. have won approvals to forge ahead with their Hong Kong share sales that could raise billions of dollars, as political turmoil leaves the city’s status as an international finance center clouded in uncertainty.Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd. approved the secondary listing applications by the U.S.-listed Chinese tech companies, according to people familiar with the matter, asking not to be identified discussing private matters. Online gaming firm NetEase filed a preliminary prospectus with the exchange later on Friday, a confirmation that it has received the official green light.NetEase plans to list in Hong Kong on June 11, while China’s No. 2 online retailer JD aims to debut on June 18, Bloomberg News has reported. JD’s stock sale could raise at least $2 billion to help the e-commerce firm shore up its position in an increasingly competitive home market.Representatives for Hong Kong’s stock exchange, JD and NetEase declined to comment.Escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing are increasing risks for Chinese companies like JD and NetEase who seek to broaden their investor base. U.S. capital markets are becoming frosty toward Chinese firms, and fears over the impact of national security legislation set to be imposed on Hong Kong, including the resumption of protests in the city, have sent the local market into convulsions.What Hong Kong Losing Its ‘Special Status’ Would Mean: QuickTakeThe twin debuts would follow Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s $13 billion Hong Kong stock sale last year, hailed as a homecoming for Chinese companies and a win for Hong Kong stock exchange, which lost many of the largest tech corporations to U.S. bourses because it didn’t allow dual-class share voting at the time -- a requirement that’s since been relaxed.Shares in U.S.-listed Chinese companies have see-sawed since senators overwhelmingly approved legislation on May 20 that could bar the country’s firms from American exchanges. The decision cast a pall of uncertainty over hundreds of billions of dollars of shares in some of the world’s best-known companies.(Adds NetEase filing in second 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.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd <BABA.N> is emerging as one of China's biggest corporate winners of the coronavirus crisis, gaining the opportunity to expand its businesses and solidify its status as a critical part of the country's socio-economic engine. While many companies are hurting from disruption caused by the virus, Alibaba has seen traffic at its online marketplaces shoot higher and demand grow for services like food delivery. The company, which emerged as China's leading e-commerce company after the 2003 SARS outbreak, is now positioning itself as a hirer and a lender too, advertising for over 100,000 jobs and offering billions of dollars in loans to small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) at a time when many others are retrenching.
(Bloomberg) -- SoftBank Group Corp.’s Vision Fund is planning deep cuts in staffing after reporting about $18 billion in losses from the declining value of its startups, according to people familiar with the matter.The reductions could affect about 10% of the fund’s workforce of roughly 500, said two of the people, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel decisions. The Vision Fund’s headquarters are in London, with additional operations in Tokyo and California. The cuts will be across all levels of staff, said one person.A spokesman for the Vision Fund declined to comment.SoftBank founder Masayoshi Son and his $100 billion Vision Fund changed the tech industry by handing out enormous checks to relatively unproven startups. But the fund went from SoftBank’s main profit contributor a year ago to its biggest drag on earnings. It lost 1.9 trillion yen ($17.7 billion) last fiscal year after writing down the value of investments, including WeWork and Uber Technologies Inc.Son originally said he hoped to raise a new Vision Fund every two to three years, but he has conceded he can’t attract money now because of the poor performance. The fund, led by Rajeev Misra, operates as a SoftBank affiliate with most of the money coming from limited partners, led by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund and Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co.“It makes sense that SoftBank is cutting positions at the Vision Fund as they are in an extremely difficult situation, and they may start targeting highly paid workers to cut costs,” said Koji Hirai, head of M&A advisory firm Kachitas Corp. in Tokyo.The Vision Fund grew rapidly after launch three years ago as Misra recruited scores of people from the finance industry, including many of his former colleagues from Deutsche Bank. Among its managing partners are several of the German bank’s ex-employees, including Colin Fan, former co-head of its investment banking division.The fund also set up an unusual compensation structure that includes a $5 billion loan to employees. The debt is swapped for equity in the fund and generates profit when deals make money -- and losses when they don’t, scaled by seniority, people familiar with the matter have said. The poor performance so far, along with the layoffs, may prompt some employees to look for other positions.“One side effect is that the best people at SoftBank may exit to find better funds,” said Hirai. “If so, their fund business may become even worse, sliding down from a slope.”The Vision Fund has struggled since WeWork botched its efforts to go public last year and SoftBank stepped in to bail the company out. The Vision Fund currently manages more than 80 portfolio companies, but Son expects about 15 of the fund’s startups will likely go bankrupt while predicting another 15 will thrive.“Vision Fund’s results are not something to be proud of,” Son said earlier this month as he announced record losses. “If the results are bad, you can’t raise money from investors. Things aren’t good, that’s why we are investing with our own money.”The fund has already unwound some investments, including selling a nearly 50% stake in dog-walking startup Wag Labs back to the company last year. Son has said he plans to sell off about $42 billion in assets to finance stock buybacks and pay down debt.SoftBank disclosed it’s unloading some shares in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and is in talks to sell about $20 billion of T-Mobile US Inc., Bloomberg News reported. It’s also exploring a deal for its minority stake in industrial software maker OSIsoft LLC that could be worth $1.5 billion.SoftBank shares, after plummeting in March, have recovered and are little changed for the year. The stock rose just more than 1% in Tokyo trading.One emerging question is how Alibaba -- SoftBank’s most valuable holding -- will be affected by the clash between the U.S. and China. A bill just approved by the U.S. Senate could force Chinese companies like Alibaba to stop trading their shares on U.S. exchanges.“The big picture is SoftBank is caught up with U.S.-China conflict right now, and SoftBank may need to conduct a drastic restructuring if Alibaba was delisted from New York,” said Hirai. “Its main banks and the capital markets are anxiously awaiting an outcome for the situation.”(Updates with additional details starting in the first 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.
(Bloomberg) -- Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. pioneered the use of live-streaming hosts to sell everything from lipstick to smartphones in China. Now, the e-commerce giant wants to repeat that success globally with the help of a million influencers on forums from TikTok to Instagram.AliExpress, the company’s online marketplace for shoppers outside China, is on the hunt for social media personalities to hawk wares on its online malls around the world. It’s looking to attract more than 100,000 content creators this year to its recently launched AliExpress Connect, rising to over a million in three years. The platform offers a matchmaking service, helping pair social media influencers with brands and merchants looking to market their products. Its initial focus is Europe, where Russia, France, Spain and Poland comprise the majority of users.Alibaba hopes to replicate the success it’s enjoyed with so-called key opinion leaders driving sales on its China online marketplace Taobao. “For both Taobao and AliExpress, social content is a way to diversify offerings, but not to generate revenue,” Yuan Yuan, head of operations for AliExpress, told Bloomberg News. Influencers will help users stick with the platform instead of just making a one-time purchase. “The goal is to accumulate users, keep them there and encourage them to remain active.”China’s largest e-commerce company currently gets just a fraction of its retail revenue from outside its home country, but it’s harbored bigger international ambitions for years. The move marks Alibaba’s latest global push and comes at a time when Covid-19 is fueling an unprecedented boom in social media. The company’s rivals, including TikTok proprietor ByteDance Ltd. and Tencent-backed Pinduoduo Inc., are playing catch-up in live streaming and other means of social commerce championed by the Taobao Live app.Global social giants like Facebook Inc. have also added new features that support online shopping. In the U.S., more than 75 million social-network users aged 14 or older are expected to make at least one online purchase this year, up over 17% from 2019, according to research firm eMarketer.Influencers and content creators can sign up for Connect using TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and other social accounts. They can then solicit assignments from AliExpress merchants seeking help in promoting their goods or services. This gives the influencer options, from merely reposting the seller’s social media posts to creating original videos. Commission fees can be based on the sales the influencers generate.AliExpress is one of two Alibaba online bazaars for international buyers, the other being the Southeast-Asia-focused Lazada. AliExpress merchants are mainly small, export-oriented businesses in China, but global brands like Samsung and Oral-B have increasingly set up shop on the platform, targeting regional markets. Its top consumer markets include Russia, the U.S., Brazil and Spain.Yuan said AliExpress aims to help at least 100 of its army of a million influencers earn an annual income of more than $1 million within three years. “Only if they can make money will they be motivated to create good content for our platform,” she said.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.