Breakingviews

China’s online arms race shows no sign of cooling

January 20, 2016

Meituan-Dianping has raised $3.3 bln – a huge sum for a startup. The group deals site was created from a merger that was meant to curb brutal competition in China. But this new warchest, plus the huge resources of rivals like Alibaba, suggests the subsidies will keep flowing.

Facebook’s free internet faces big test in India

January 5, 2016

Mark Zuckerberg is fighting hard to save his plan to offer a free mobile web service to the country’s poor. If India shuts it down, other developing nations may follow. It’s another case where the social network founder’s apparently noble goals have sparked a furious backlash.

Viacom, Time Warner among 2016 merger wannabes

December 31, 2015

U.S. media distributors such as cable outfit Comcast have bulked up, and Apple, Amazon and the like have built new streaming models. The giants have 12-digit valuations. With the exception of Disney, traditional content makers are looking puny. They’ll feel the urge to merge.

Netflix will be recast from ally to villain

December 22, 2015

Once derided as the “Albanian army” by Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes, the video-streaming service is now valued at about the same $55 bln as his company. With some 69 mln subscribers globally, it may be too late for media bosses to do anything about this beast they helped create.

China will stop ignoring Facebook’s friend request

December 22, 2015

The People’s Republic has blocked access to the $300 bln social network since 2009. Boss Mark Zuckerberg is eager to leap the Great Firewall. LinkedIn and Apple have shown China’s censors that foreign groups can play by local rules. Finding a local partner should seal the deal.

Qihoo buyout depends on China’s retail investors

December 3, 2015

The Chinese web group is finalizing an $11.8 bln take-private bid. After contributing their own shares and tapping banks, bosses still need to find half that amount in fresh equity. Onshore wealth management firms who tap China’s mom-and-pop shareholders may help fill the gap.

South Korean web bank hopes ignore offline gloom

December 1, 2015

The country has given the green light to two groups to set up internet-only banks. Foreign web giants including Alibaba and eBay have joined local companies to back the new ventures. The euphoria is oddly disconnected from the poor returns earned by country’s largest lenders.

Jack Ma paper chase is test of newsprint’s appeal

November 26, 2015

The Alibaba founder is interested in buying Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. The 112-year old title’s earnings are under pressure, and the financial logic looks thin. But as fellow e-commerce boss Jeff Bezos showed with the Washington Post, newspapers still have trophy value.

Alibaba throws a wrench in web fundraising wars

November 24, 2015

The e-commerce giant is offloading its stake in Meituan Dianping at the same time as the Chinese startup raises up to $3 bln in new funds. The parallel sales will test investor demand for “online-to-offline” services. Alibaba’s exit will offer a clearer picture of valuations too.

Asian online giveaways echo past internet follies

November 23, 2015

The drug firms are shrugging off Uncle Sam’s latest attempt to prevent mergers predicated on relocating to low-tax jurisdictions. The largest-ever inversion, at some $150 bln, ought to raise pressure on lawmakers to find more comprehensive fixes to the great M&A tax dodge.