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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.

Given Alibaba’s success, the question may sound absurd. Under Ma’s leadership, the Hangzhou-based retail marketplace has grown into a colossus. Almost 85 percent of China’s e-commerce activity passes through its Taobao and Tmall platforms. Revenue in the first quarter of 2014 increased 39 percent to 9.4 billion yuan ($1.5 billion). When the long-awaited IPO debuts in September, it could be one of the largest ever, likely surpassing the $16 billion raised by Facebook in 2012.

But the company and Ma are at a turning point. After years of expanding its market share, Alibaba is now under attack from Chinese rivals like JD.com, which resembles Amazon. The group is straying into new areas from mobile messaging and maps to cable TV and football. It has spent at least $7.3 billion on acquisitions since January 2014. What Alibaba’s leader does next is integral to the company’s value.

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.

from Breakingviews:

Euronext IPO will be a tough sell

By Swaha Pattanaik

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

Euronext’s initial public offering looks like a tough sell. The European exchanges group is seeking a valuation of between 1.3 and 1.8 billion euros when it floats later this month. Anchor investors have a vested interest in backing the issue. But for other buyers, it is a leap of faith.

from Breakingviews:

Jack Ma soccer buy does Alibaba investors a favour

By Peter Thal Larsen 

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

Jack Ma’s decision to buy half of China’s most popular soccer club has done prospective investors in Alibaba a favour. The $192 million investment in Guangzhou Evergrande which the internet giant’s founder hatched over a drinking session this week won’t affect Alibaba’s value when it goes public later this year. But it offers a priceless insight into how the company works.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba hints at overseas push with SingPost stake

By Ethan Bilby

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

Alibaba hasn’t even completed its U.S. initial public offering, but already it is striking out overseas. A $249 million stake in logistics group Singapore Post targets one area where the Chinese e-commerce group may be able to apply its talent. But the concrete benefits of the deal are unclear – besides focusing investors’ attention on the potential value of growth outside the People’s Republic.

from Breakingviews:

Korean chat app sends mixed valuation messages

By Robyn Mak 

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

What’s the value of mobile chat apps? Investors have been scratching their heads about the topic ever since Facebook slapped a $19 billion price tag on WhatsApp earlier this year. The recent backdoor listing of South Korea’s Kakao offers a new data point. But its user metrics and revenue numbers still offer a mixed message on valuation.

from Breakingviews:

JD.com wins rich price despite poor governance

By Robyn Mak 

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

JD.com has achieved a rich price despite poor governance. China’s second largest e-commerce group priced its shares above the expected range on May 21, raising $1.8 billion. Investors in the initial public offering seem unfazed that the company just disclosed a 5.3 billion yuan ($849 million) loss in the first quarter of 2014, caused by a gift of stock to the company’s chief executive officer. Such a large and unexplained act of generosity should raise red flags.

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