Oct 09, 2018 02:18 PM

Tuesday Tech Briefing: CloudWalk, TCL, Fan Bingbing

1. State-Owned Investment Companies Back Facial Recognition Startup CloudWalk

Chinese artificial intelligence startup CloudWalk announced it has completed its B+ round funding Monday. The company, founded in 2015, makes facial recognition technology that has been deployed by over 400 banks in the country, including China Merchants Bank and the Agricultural Bank of China.

According to a report by tech blog TMTPost, the company raised more than 1 billion yuan ($144 million) from state-owned investment companies including China Reform Holdings Corp Ltd, Guangzhou’s SFund International Holdings, Shanghai’s Atlas Capital and Bohai Capital Holding Co. The company is said to be planning an IPO in the Chinese stock market. (TMTPost, link in Chinese)

2. TCL Confirms Talks With Dutch Semiconductor-Equipment Maker ASM

Chinese television maker TCL Corp. has begun preliminary talks with ASM International NV to purchase stakes in its Asian affiliate ASM Pacific Technology Ltd, TCL confirmed in a filing Monday.

TCL said it’s interested in investing in the semiconductor industry, but no agreement or contract has been signed at this stage. Bloomberg reported last week that TCL has been working with an adviser to buy the 25% stake in ASM Pacific. The holding is worth around $1 billion. (Company filing)

3. U.S. Government Backs Apple, Amazon Denials of Alleged Chinese Hacking

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a statement on China’s alleged computer supply chain compromise reported by Bloomberg Businessweek, saying that, like the UK National Cyber Security Centre, it has at this time "no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story."

The Businessweek article accused the Chinese government of conducting a precise operation to infiltrate and modify the computer hardware manufacturing process, inserting tiny malicious chips on motherboards headed to specific U.S. companies, government and military organizations.

Amazon, Apple and Supermicro, named in the story, have denied the allegations. At a press conference this week, China’s Foreign Ministry said that given the DHS statement and company denials, there was no need for China to respond. (Official statements: U.S., China)

4. China Vows to Clean Up Tax Evasion in Film Industry

China’s State Administration of Taxation said Monday that individuals and companies in the entertainment industry must pay any outstanding taxes dating back to 2016.

The announcement comes after Chinese actress Fan Bingbing was ordered to pay 884 million yuan ($129 million) in fines last week.

At least five senior tax officials were issued warnings, reprimanded or lost their jobs for negligence and mismanagement over the Fan case, state-owned Xinhua News Agency reported Monday, among them head of the taxation bureau of the eastern city of Wuxi, where Fan’s company is based. (Caixin)

5. Tencent Stock Plunges to 15-Month Low

Tencent Holdings. Ltd. stock prices plunged to a 15-month low in Hong Kong trading Monday, wiping out more than a third of the company’s market value since its peak in January.

The Shenzhen-based company finished the day at HK$299($38.20), down 1.97% and below HK$300 for the first time since July 2017. Tencent’s stock has now lost about HK$1.68 trillion ($216 billion) in market value since late January, when it reached a record intra-day high of HK$476.60. The lost value nearly matches the entire market cap of Intel.

Tencent faces growing challenges to maintaining momentum after years of uninterrupted growth. The company posted its first quarterly profit drop in 13 years in the second quarter as its core gaming business grapples with increasing government scrutiny. (Caixin)

6. China Sets Up Its First Blockchain Pilot Zone in Hainan Province

Hainan Province officially launched China’s first blockchain pilot zone Monday within an industrial park called the Hainan Resort Software Community.

The pilot is aimed at exploring the application of blockchain in areas such as cross-border trade, inclusive finance and credit rating, according to Wang Jing, head of Hainan's department of industry and information technology.

Hainan, an island located in southern China, was named a free trade port earlier this year. The province has recently attracted blockchain companies including cryptocurrency exchange Huobi China, which chose to set up its headquarters in Hainan. (Xinhua, link in Chinese)

Compiled by Zhang Erchi

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