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.

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.

Marissa Mayer has only one last job to do at Yahoo

April 20, 2016

Underscoring the lack of progress in her nearly four years as CEO, the web company’s quarterly revenue fell another 11 pct. Google and Facebook are cleaning up in ads, especially mobile. It’s time to offload Yahoo’s core business before bidders like Verizon lose interest.

Yahoo could be good home for sidebar of shame

April 11, 2016

The parent of scandal-peddler Daily Mail may bid for the U.S. media group. That could catapult the MailOnline onto ad buyers’ agendas. Since owner Viscount Rothermere has spent a decade diversifying away from news, the best deal might be one that breaks the UK group up.

Twitter may score big with football digital rights

April 5, 2016

Jack Dorsey’s social-media firm won permission to stream 10 NFL games for a reported $10 mln. That’s the price of a one-minute Super Bowl ad, making the deal a cheap way to up the $12 bln service’s user base. Twitter may finally gain some ground against rivals like Facebook.

Pandora sends out bad signal with CEO change

March 28, 2016

The $2.5 bln streaming-music service abruptly replaced its boss with co-founder Tim Westergren. It’s a worrying sign with Pandora reportedly up for sale amid stiffer competition from Spotify and others. Companies that call on entrepreneurs later in life also have a mixed record.

CBS exit from radio in tune with the times

March 16, 2016

The $24 bln broadcaster is mulling a sale of its 117 U.S. stations, just as internet service Pandora may be on the block. The moves could make sense, given stiff competition from the likes of Spotify, waning advertising and other industry disruption. The trick is to find buyers.

Baidu still searching for local-services profits

February 26, 2016

China’s top search engine reported better-than-expected sales and rising margins, lifting shares more than 10 pct. Pulling back from online travel helped boost profitability. Still, it is far more important that Baidu delivers on its costly and opaque bet on local e-commerce.

Time plus Yahoo conjures ghoulish AOL past

February 23, 2016

Merging the $1.5 bln magazine publisher with the troubled $30 bln internet company’s core would be much like a smaller version of the epically bad Time Warner deal. Combining print and digital might make more sense now than in 2000. The financial contortions it would take don’t.

China web finance craze sows confusion and risk

February 19, 2016

Web giants, insurance groups and even China’s top taxi app are piling into online finance. Fast-growing services like payments and wealth management are attracting big valuations. But competition is fierce, and investors have little way to judge which business models are viable.