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from Breakingviews:

China web giants take the fight offline in 2014

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By Robyn Mak

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

Remember when every offline company was desperate to become an online one? In China, it’s happening the other way round. The country’s internet giants are making forays into traditional industries, from logistics to consumer electronics. The pace will increase, but what starts as disruption could turn into overreach.

China’s internet is young, but already concentrated. Although three contenders, Tencent, Alibaba and Baidu, dominate the market, keeping and adding users is a constant battle. Gaming group Tencent has a social network of 626 million users a month, but its video streaming site ranked just sixth in September in terms of monthly viewers, according to comScore. To boost traffic, the gaming firm outbid rivals for licensed content and produced its own shows. An acquisition in the film industry would not be a surprise — LeTV, China’s number two video portal, bought a TV production studio in October.

The other two tech giants are also investing offline to get more face-time with potential web users. Alibaba the e-commerce group announced a HK$2.8 billion investment with an electronics and logistics group in December. Search engine operator Baidu has partnered with manufacturers on smartphones and wearable devices to promote its cloud platform. An investment by a web group in one of the region’s struggling handset makers – say, HTC – is not unthinkable.

from Breakingviews:

China’s shipbuilding supertanker will turn slowly

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By John Foley

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

In 1433, China abandoned its costly maritime ambitions, forfeiting for centuries its chances of oceanic dominance. It is unlikely to make the same mistake again. While the tribulations of China Rongsheng show that the country’s modern shipping industry is in trouble, a sector with such strategic and symbolic importance can stay afloat long after its financial appeal has run dry.

from Breakingviews:

Hong Kong dockers’ pay sets tone for future strife

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Hong Kong’s port strike is over, but the tensions that sparked it remain. Dockers are feeling the squeeze of Hong Kong’s rising living costs, while port operators face challenges from China’s slowing and shifting economy. Labour relations look set to stay tense.

from Business Traveller:

Why City + Airport = the Future

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United Parcel Service aircrafts are loaded with containers full of packages bound for their final destination at the UPS Worldport All Points International Hub. REUTERS/John Sommers II

United Parcel Service aircrafts are loaded with containers full of packages bound for their final destination at the UPS Worldport All Points International Hub. REUTERS/John Sommers II

It’s no longer ok to be a big city. Globalisation is Darwinian and only the hubbiest of hubs will survive. If we want best-of-the-planet goods to arrive the next morning, we must worship the airport.

from DealZone:

Deals du Jour

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Wall Street banks and lawyers could collect nearly $1 billion in fees from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and American International Group to help manage and break apart the insurer, the Wall Street Journal said, citing its own analysis.

The following M&A related stories were reported by Reuters and other media on Thursday:

from Shop Talk:

Wal-Mart on the move

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bentonvilledistributioncenterMoving goods quickly and efficiently is key to Wal-Mart's low-price strategy. On Thursday, Reuters got a first-hand look at the discounter's Bentonville, Arkansas, distribution center that serves as a prototype for any new general merchandise distribution centers the company will add.

"Logistics is the lifeblood of Wal-Mart," said Kevin Jones, a Wal-Mart regional vice president, who underscored that several of the world's biggest retailer's chief executives, including Mike Duke, Lee Scott and David Glass, led logistics operations earlier in their careers.

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