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from Breakingviews:

Alibaba deal spree turns from romance to thriller

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba’s investment story has turned from romance to thriller. Its Hong Kong movie-making affiliate has uncovered “possibly non-compliant” accounting just four months after the Chinese e-commerce giant bought a 60 percent stake. It’s not clear whether Alibaba’s controls were flawed – but it certainly raises questions about the value of the company’s recent investment binge.

The stake in ChinaVision, as the company was previously known, is just one of a string of recent deals. In total, Alibaba and its affiliates have spent $7.5 billion on acquisitions and investments this year, according to figures compiled by Reuters. While the company has made light of its deal-making processes in the past – founder Jack Ma supposedly agreed to buy a stake in a soccer team after a drinking session - the ChinaVision deal was approved by the board following due diligence by an outside accounting firm, according to people familiar with the situation.

Still, it’s a blow to the idea that Ma always deserves the benefit of the doubt. Like many of Alibaba’s investments, the logic of buying a film studio was fuzzy for a company whose main business is matching buyers and sellers of goods online. Alibaba did little to explain. That didn’t stop investors from rushing to ride on the company’s coat-tails. Before the shares were halted, the renamed Alibaba Pictures had a market capitalisation of HK$34 billion ($4.4 billion), more than triple the valuation implied by Alibaba’s investment.

from Breakingviews:

IPO exuberance ensnares Deutsche, Wells Fargo

By Robert Cyran

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

IPO exuberance has ensnared Deutsche Bank and Wells Fargo. The two banks nixed a biotech deal last week - six days after it started trading. Their reasoning looks defensible, but their due diligence beforehand less so.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba payments cleanup makes for neater IPO

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba just can’t stop tinkering with its corporate structure. Weeks before the Chinese e-commerce juggernaut is due to start a roadshow for an initial public offering, it has tidied up relations with its payments affiliate. Though the new arrangement is still messier than shareholders might want, it should make for a neater IPO.

from Breakingviews:

China’s e-commerce secret weapon: the delivery guy

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Want a Big Mac delivered to your door in minutes? Or a refrigerator by the end of the day? While U.S. retailers puzzle over how to make that happen, China’s e-commerce companies are already there. Servicing the country’s web-connected consumers at ever-faster speeds is driving some big businesses, not to mention stock market valuations. The secret weapon: the humble delivery guy.

from Breakingviews:

Line’s $13 bln valuation shows chat app exuberance

By Robyn Mak and Una Galani

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Line’s apparent $13 billion valuation sends a strong signal about chat app exuberance. The Japanese mobile messaging app’s quarterly revenue jumped 26 percent from the previous three months, its parent company reported on July 31. That pushes up valuation expectations ahead of its planned initial public offering. Yet Line’s valuation hangs on the assumption that new overseas users will spend like those back home. That seems like wishful thinking.

from Breakingviews:

The perks and pitfalls of depending on Jack Ma

By John Foley 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Buy a share in Alibaba and you place your trust in Jack Ma. The Chinese e-commerce giant’s founder, executive chairman and spiritual sultan will remain a controlling force even after the company completes its massive initial public offering later this year. The $100 billion-plus question for prospective shareholders is whether they can depend on him to always act in their best interests.

from Breakingviews:

WH Group’s revived IPO shows one lesson learnt

By Una Galani

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

WH Group’s revived initial public offering shows it has learnt at least one lesson. After an attempt to sell shares two months ago ended in disaster, the Chinese pork producer has returned, cheaper and with fewer banks working on the deal. But it’s not clear why it is rushing back to market at all.

from Breakingviews:

Internet ads add up for China’s party mouthpiece

By Katrina Hamlin

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

Xinhuanet is an investment rarity: an online media group that is both fast-growing and profitable.  Booming advertising revenue is propelling the digital arm of China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua towards an initial public offering that could value it at close to $1 billion. Its success doesn’t depend on headlines or scoops, but on being the Communist Pary’s main mouthpiece.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba is case study in U.S.-China legal gulf

By Richard Beales

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba’s coming U.S. initial public offering will probably value the Chinese e-commerce firm at more than $100 billion. But will shareholders actually own the business? That’s the timely concern raised by a U.S. congressional commission. Lack of clarity in PRC law is mainly to blame.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba’s slow unveiling shows good and bad sides

By Peter Thal Larsen

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba is lifting its veil to reveal both good and bad sides. The e-commerce giant has released more information ahead of its highly anticipated initial public offering. Though some of the disclosures will persuade prospective investors its business is relatively robust, the rapid shift by users to mobile phones is squeezing margins.

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