Breakingviews

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.

Baidu shows health is a huge flashpoint in China

May 3, 2016

A dying student accused the search giant of promoting false medical information. The ensuing probe has cut $5 bln from Baidu’s market value: a big move but not an overreaction. Health scandals are highly sensitive and authorities pay close attention to outbursts of online anger.

Chinese banks’ stealth clean-up fools nobody

April 29, 2016

Top lenders like ICBC and BOC are piling up bad loans yet still reporting flat earnings. Pliable regulators are cutting them extra slack. Investors did not trust the banks’ balance sheets anyway. The latest sleight of hand will only fuel their scepticism.

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.

Top Chinese travel agent makes an odd diversion

April 22, 2016

Ctrip is buying a $463 mln stake in China Eastern Airlines, and could yet buy more. Investors in China’s largest web travel agency probably did not expect to own a minority stake in a state carrier. But this may be the only way Ctrip can avoid a damaging boycott by big airlines.

Investors need help to stop cheap Chinese buyouts

April 21, 2016

Minority shareholders are upset about a wave of stingy take-private offers from Chinese groups with U.S. listings. But they can’t do much because the firms are domiciled in offshore centres with fewer protections. Investors could find a sympathetic ear in a China-weary Congress.

China and India reform hopes are on hold

April 15, 2016

New leaders in both countries raised hopes for restructuring banks and state-owned companies. But current plans are not bold enough while the window for action is narrowing. Beijing’s investment habit and New Delhi’s obstructive bureaucracy are proving stubbornly hard to shift.

Cox: Who’s the Chinese buyer we’ve never heard of?

By Rob Cox
April 14, 2016

That’s the question every investment banker now asks when selling a company or asset anywhere in the world. M&A advisers are even flying China specialists across oceans for pitches. Anbang-like hiccups won’t stop the trend. But extra due diligence and vigilance is required.