Breakingviews

Jack Ma’s healthcare buyout is hard to stomach

June 9, 2016

The Alibaba boss’s buyout firm is bidding $1.4 bln-plus for U.S.-listed iKang. His minimum bid is 20 pct cheaper than an unfriendly approach from a rival, now dropped, which iKang’s CEO countered with a poison pill. Unless Ma pays more, outside investors will feel pretty icky.

SoftBank’s $8 bln Alibaba sale is late but prudent

June 1, 2016

Masayoshi Son’s tech and telecom conglomerate is offloading 4.2 pct of the Chinese e-commerce giant to pay down debt. The hugely successful investment is now more burden than blessing. As SoftBank takes a more disciplined approach to its portfolio, further disposals may follow.

Alibaba’s strong core comes with shaky periphery

May 5, 2016

The Chinese e-commerce group’s revenue soared 39 pct year on year, faster than volumes of stuff sold on its sites. Alibaba also disclosed losses on its fintech, services and logistics affiliates. Those trends can co-exist, so long as online shopping growth stays sturdy.

Jack Ma’s jewel is a $20 bln mystery for Alibaba

April 27, 2016

The e-commerce group’s financial affiliate is now valued at $60 bln. Alibaba has an option to take a 33 pct stake, or extend a profit-sharing agreement between the two. Yet their future relationship is clouded by regulatory uncertainty. Alibaba’s shareholders are in the dark.

Confucius say: Don’t confuse Ant with unicorn

April 26, 2016

The $60 bln implied value of Chinese fintech group Ant Financial suggests PayPal-style innovation on steroids. It’s not so simple, though. The Alibaba affiliate’s fortunes may be tied more closely to the vagaries of PRC state capitalism than to private-sector disruption.

Review: A short tour of Jack Ma’s virtual mansion

April 22, 2016

An insider’s account provides fresh insights into the origins of China’s most successful entrepreneur. Yet the tale of Ma’s rise reveals little about the inner workings of his e-commerce empire. Outsiders are no closer to disentangling Alibaba’s future from its founder.

Alibaba offers two insights into China economy

January 28, 2016

The e-commerce giant’s third-quarter revenue rose 32 pct, above expectations. It shows China shifting to more consumption. But it also shows that Alibaba, like China, needs new ways to grow. Forays into local services and the cloud make it a less useful proxy for the consumer.

Yahoo CEO has run out of time for a turnaround

December 2, 2015

After three years, it’s clear neither Marissa Mayer – nor maybe any top executive – can save the flailing internet company. The board’s job now should be to determine the best way to tidy up the firm’s affairs. Mayer’s best legacy may be that she got a good price for the core business.

Starboard’s Yahoo flip-flop misses the point

November 19, 2015

The pushy investor now wants the $31 bln tech company to offload its main business instead of its Alibaba holding. A switcheroo won’t erase a discount and residual tax liability on the stake. However it’s engineered, the real problems for Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer will remain.

Alibaba bid turns Youku from horror to mystery

October 16, 2015

The Chinese e-commerce group is offering $5.2 billion to buy the video site in which it owns a stake, at a 30 percent premium. Being absorbed into Alibaba ought to improve returns for the perpetually loss-making Youku. It should create value – not that either side is asking.