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Tesla Recalls Nearly 50,000 U.S.-Made Cars in China over Suspension Problems
BUSINESS & TECH

By Ding Yi / Oct 28, 2020 05:01 PM / Business & Tech

Canadian e-commerce company Shopify has clinched a deal with TikTok to let its merchants more easily sell products on the hugely popular short video app that is still under U.S. government scrutiny for its data processing activities.

Under the agreement, Shopify merchants will be able to create a TikTok For Business account by installing the TikTok channel app which will help them make video ads using their existing imagery that could nudge consumers to their Shopify stores for checkout, Shopify said in a statement released on Tuesday.

Some ad templates have been put in place so that the TikTok channel app can be used by merchants of any size, according to the statement.

The two companies will also work together to test new commerce features over the coming months that will further help merchants reach new audiences and drive sales on TikTok, the statement said.

The tie-up contrasts with TikTok’s Chinese sister app Douyin, which has recently announced plans to ban links to third-party e-commerce platforms such as JD.com and Alibaba’s Taobao on its live-streaming channels as it aims to build a closed-loop for its e-commerce business.

The TikTok channel app is now available in the U.S., where TikTok still faces the threat of being blocked over data security concerns, before expanding to other markets throughout North America, Europe and Southeast Asia in early 2021, according to Shopify.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: TikTok Downloads Surge After Pakistan Lifts 10-Day Blackout


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BUSINESS & TECH

By Nikkei Asian Review / Oct 28, 2020 11:50 AM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Japanese convenience store chain Lawson will rapidly expand its presence in China by opening stores that cater to new-economy customers.

New stores will feature round-the-clock delivery and register-less mobile payments. Lawson has also tapped location technology to conduct market surveys for opening new stores.

China, which serves as a sandbox for Lawson to test out new innovations, will assume an increasingly prominent role in sustaining the company's growth for the next generation amid a slowdown in Japan.

Lawson has about 3,000 stores in China, or about triple the number three and a half years ago. The size of the operation puts it in the lead among foreign-owned convenience store chains and in fifth place overall.

The company plans to double that number to 6,000 by 2022, and further increase it to 10,000 by 2025. This aligns with the Chinese government goal of doubling the number of convenience stores to 300,000 by 2022, in a bid to improve quality of life.

Lawson has been fielding requests from local government authorities to open locations. The company's store count in China is all but guaranteed to surpass the roughly 14,000 outlets in Japan.

The Tokyo-based company first entered China in 1996. It used to directly manage most of the outlets, but has actively signed franchise contracts since 2014. Major local retailers signed on to the arrangement.

Lawson stores in China sell products that have become hits in Japan, such as Akuma No Onigiri rice balls or its brand of Basque-style cheesecake. The fact that Lawson differentiates itself from its Chinese competitors has led to growth in franchise contracts.

Scale is not the only way Lawson is making an impact in China. Since 2016, the chain has offered 24-hour delivery in which convenience stores serve as depots. The service makes use of drivers at Ele.me, a food delivery platform under Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding, and at Meituan Dianping, a rival backed by tech giant Tencent Holdings.

A mobile phone order can reach a customer within 30 minutes. The Lawson app gives customers immediate access to stores' inventory data so they can check product availability.

The delivery service is available at all of Lawson's Chinese minimarts. The operation accounts for 15% of sales in Chongqing, a key Lawson market, and 10% in other Chinese cities.

Lawson imported the service back to Japan in August last year. This time, the chain partnered with Uber Eats drivers, with more than 1,000 stores offering deliveries.

The company did the same with mobile checkout technology, trying it first in China before bringing it to Japan. The tech lets users pay for items by scanning product bar codes with their smartphones. This way there is no standing in line for a human cashier. As of September, 117 Japanese locations had adopted it.

At first, there were fears that the innovation would lead to shoplifting, but there have been virtually no problems in China since the tech was rolled out in 2017.

Lawson's business strategy in China is a step ahead in terms of store openings as well. The company has employed the services of AutoNavi, Alibaba's mapping unit, to analyze location data, incomes and other personal data in a prospective new operating area.

"For example, we know how many people in an income bracket congregated in the vicinity of a store during the noon hour yesterday," said Motonobu Miyake, the CEO of Lawson (China) Holdings.

The data gathering is able to accurately predict daily sales, which lends to efficient store openings. In Japan, such market data is largely limited to the twice-a-decade census, which can create discrepancies between projections and actual customer traffic. Lawson started using location data for some Japanese stores this month.

Some of Lawson's Chinese competitors are further ahead in the technology game. Bianlifeng, founded in 2016, made its name with freshly made dishes and cashier-free stores. Customers pay for items with QR codes and other cashless options while staff takes care of cooking and sales promotion.

"They take advantage of cashier-free registers by having store clerks perform high-added-value work," said an industry insider. Bianlifeng has grown into a formidable rival with 1,500 outlets in 20 cities.

Lawson took in 5.3 billion yuan ($790 million) in revenue from its Chinese stores last fiscal year, amounting to only 3% of group sales, excluding some regions and operations. Still, that represents four times the sales level of four years prior. The Chinese business is on track to post its first operating profit this fiscal year after a string of losses.

Once Lawson reaches 10,000 locations, the Chinese operation "can potentially earn an annual operating profit of over 10 billion yen ($95 million)," said a Lawson executive.

Back home, Lawson is facing a saturated market. The convenience store count in Japan shrank for the first time last year. The industry is also grappling with a shortage of workers.

For Lawson, China has served as a laboratory of sorts due to its digital innovations and relaxed regulations. Now the region is turning into a crucial segment on the earnings front as well.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba Snaps Up China’s Leading Hypermarket Operator


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By Anniek Bao / Oct 27, 2020 05:13 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The founder of dating app Momo Inc., sometimes called the Tinder of China, is breaking up with his 10-year-old company.

Tang Yan, who founded Momo nearly a decade ago, will step down from his position as company CEO and hand over the reins to chief operating officer Wang Li, endorsing the successor in a press release Friday. “I can think of no one better to lead Momo than Li Wang,” he said.

This news comes as no surprise to Momo’s staff, who told Caixin that Tang has been removing himself from the company’s day-to-day business and handing over his duties to Wang since 2017.

Some say the entrepreneur appears to be abandoning a ship that has failed to reverse a long-term downward profit trend, which also saw its U.S.-listed stock lose more than half its value over the past year.

Read the full story here.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Poor Quarterly Earnings Break the Hearts of Investors in Dating App Momo


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By Ding Yi / Oct 27, 2020 12:27 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Tencent, the world’s largest gaming company by sales, has led a $100 million funding round for Shanghai-based e-sports event organizer Versus Programming Network (VSPN), boosting its bet on the booming e-sports market.

After the funding round, which was also joined by Tiantu Capital, Susquehanna International Group and Kuaishou, VSPN plans to establish an e-sports research institute, build an e-sports culture park and further expand its global presence, according to a statement released by VSPN on Monday.

Founded in 2016, VSPN focuses on organizing e-sports tournaments and content creation. In May, the company launched its first overseas e-sports venue in Seoul.

“VSPN’s long-term company vision and leading position in e-sports production is vital for Tencent to optimize the layout of the e-sports industry’s development,” said Mars Hou, general manager of Tencent E-Sports, in a statement.

Tencent is making the investment after pushing for the merger of DouYu and Huya, the two major video game-centric live-streaming platforms in China, both of which counted Tencent as a major stakeholder.

Meanwhile, short video platform Kuaishou is also increasing its investment in game broadcasting in an effort to diversify its revenue sources. The Beijing-based firm says that its game broadcasts attract 220 million active users every month.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Tencent Engineers $11 Billion Combination of Huya and DouYu


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By Ding Yi / Oct 26, 2020 05:05 PM / Business & Tech

Baidu-backed video streaming service iQiyi is betting big on developing three genre-specific content libraries in the coming year for lovers of scripted content.

The three content libraries will include the existing Mist Theater, which is known for airing suspense dramas, the new Sweet On Theater, which will focus on romance dramas and the new Laugh On Theater, which will feature comedy shows, iQiyi said in a company statement released on Friday.

The Mist Theater, which was launched this year as a stylized theater-like category for online dramas, has so far aired five drama series including “Kidnapping Game”, “The Bad Kids”, “Crimson River”, “Sisyphus” and “The Long Night’, with VIP subscribers reaching 68 million as of earlier this month, according to iQiyi.

Besides drama content, iQiyi will also expand its offerings in global sports, variety shows and animation, according to the statement.

Last month, iQiyi Sports, a joint venture between iQiyi and Super Sports Media, and FC Barcelona agreed to jointly create a dedicated channel in China for the top-tier Spanish football club in the 2020/2021 season, offering exclusive and non-exclusive video content including behind-the-scenes access, player challenges, training session and interviews.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Video Streamer iQiyi Kicks Up Its Sports Game with FC Barcelona Tie-Up


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By Ding Yi / Oct 26, 2020 01:11 PM / Business & Tech

Tesla is recalling two of its most popular models which were made in the U.S. and exported to China over potential suspension problems. 

The recall affects 29,193 Model S and Model X vehicles manufactured between Sept. 17, 2013 and Aug. 16, 2017, and 19,249 Model S vehicles produced between Sept. 17, 2013 and Jan. 15, 2018, according to a notice by China’s State Administration for Market Regulation on Friday.

For the 29,193 Model S and Model X vehicles, Tesla will replace the rear linkages of their left and right front suspension. And for the 19,249 Model S cars, the company will replace the upper linkages of the left and right rear suspension. All replacements will be made at no cost to the car owners, according to the notice.

This is Tesla’s fourth recall of cars exported from the U.S. to China, with earlier recalls involving replacing faulty airbags made by Takata and fixing or preventing steering problems, according to CNBC.

The latest recall comes as Tesla is deepening localization in China with plans to make more core car parts, including electric motors and motor controllers, at its Shanghai factory where the bestselling Model 3 is built. Earlier this year, the U.S. carmaker selected China-based Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) as one of its battery suppliers.

Last week, Tesla reported its fifth straight quarterly profit despite fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, with China playing a more important role in its global strategy due to enhanced production at its Shanghai plant. The company has increased its Model 3 production capacity at the Shanghai factory to 250,000 units a year, and priced the model lower than ever thanks to lower-cost batteries and higher level of local procurement, according to its third-quarter financial report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Tesla to Start Exporting China-Made Model 3 Cars to Europe

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By Anniek Bao / Oct 23, 2020 06:43 PM / Business & Tech

China Resources Microelectronics, one of China’s largest semiconductor makers, plans to sell $751 million in new shares at an aggressive discount, a signal investors might take to mean the company needs cash and believe its stock is overvalued.

The company’s stock price fell 12% in response to the news that an additional 135 million new shares will be sold at 37 yuan, well below its Monday market close of about 58 yuan.

The departures of two major developer employees also added to the market’s uncertainty, even though the company in question has seen an uptick in profit in the third quarter as the nation’s economic recovery has accelerated, boosting factory activities to meet semiconductor demand.

After launching its IPO in Shanghai earlier this year, the company’s stock rallied strongly on expectation that it will get generous government support as part of China’s technology ambitions.

Read the full story here.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: China Calls Time on Chipmakers With No Experience, No Technology and No Talent

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By Ding Yi / Oct 23, 2020 05:40 PM / Business & Tech

Alibaba will extend the number of days people can buy goods as part of the “Double Eleven” online shopping extravaganza from the usual one day to four, as some vendors face supply chain pressures related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The e-commerce giant will add the first three days of November as the first “sales window” for the upcoming festival, followed by the traditional day on Nov. 11, according to the company.

The three additional days could reduce delivery pressures for merchants as sales are expected to grow, said Jiang Fan, president of Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao e-commerce platforms.

Alibaba hopes to take advantage of rebounding consumer spending following the pandemic, and has added items not seen previously as part of the sales lineup such as property and automobiles.

Alibaba predicts that about 14 million products from 250,000 brands will be promoted on the Tmall platform during this year’s festival.

Despite the sizable offerings, some merchants are facing supply chain pressures, especially those in the textile industry who import products from India and Southeast Asian countries where the pandemic has affected production, Alibaba vice president Liu Bo warned.

Liu added that some textile plants in those regions have started moving some production capacity to China under the shadow of the coronavirus.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba-Backed Lender in Credit Frenzy for ‘Double Eleven’ Shopping Fest


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By Ding Yi / Oct 23, 2020 12:53 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

JD.com is expanding its use of autonomous delivery robots with the addition of a new Chinese city to its pilot program launched earlier this year.

The company will roll out 100 autonomous delivery robots in Changshu of South China’s Jiangsu province by the end of this year, JD Logistics CEO Wang Zhenhui announced at a company event, according to a statement.

Powered by a self-developed autonomous driving system, the robots can plan delivery routes and send messages or call recipients shortly before reaching the designated stations where parcels can be picked up with a passcode, the statement said.

The robots also use technology that lets them lower their power consumption to 10% of the industry average, the statement added.

Announcement of the launch comes eight months after JD.com deployed a fleet of driverless delivery minivans in Wuhan, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in China, in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus by limiting human-to-human contact.

According to Wang, JD.com plans to deploy more than 100,000 autonomous delivery vehicles in the next five years.

Last month JD.com rival Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce company, unveiled an autonomous logistics robot for use of last-mile deliveries. The robot can plan delivery routes, identify obstacles and predict pedestrians’ intended movements using advanced technologies such as deep learning and high-definition positioning, according to the company.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Alibaba Unveils Delivery Robot to Meet ‘Last-Mile’ Demand


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By Ding Yi / Oct 22, 2020 06:38 PM / Business & Tech

China Unicom, one of the country’s three biggest mobile carriers, maintained its revenue and profit growth in the first three quarters, according to its latest financial report.

The company’s revenue rose 3.8% year-on-year to 225.4 billion yuan ($33.8 billion) for the first nine months, according to the report, unchanged from the growth rate for the first six months of the year.

China Unicom’s profit was 10.8 billion yuan for the nine months, up 10% year-on-year, and also unchanged from the growth rate in the first half of the year.

By the end of September, China Unicom’s mobile billing subscribers totaled 309 million, down from 325 million a year earlier.

Currently, China Unicom is locked in fierce competition with rivals China Mobile and China Telecom for signing up new subscribers for their 5G services which offer faster data speeds, more stable connectivity and reduced latency.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China Unicom Profits Rise in First Half, Stock Soars

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By Nikkei Asian Review / Oct 22, 2020 12:22 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Truck manufacturer Hino Motors and electric vehicle maker BYD Auto Industry will set up a 50-50 joint venture in China next year to develop electric trucks and buses for the Asian market.

The venture will also develop EV components under the plans announced Wednesday.

The move shows a broader push into next-generation energy sources by Tokyo-area-based Hino, a member of the Toyota Motor group that also has a tie-up with Volkswagen truck and bus unit Traton.

New electric commercial vehicles will be released in Asian markets in the first half of the 2020s under the Hino brand. The companies, which announced a partnership in April, did not what models or markets will come first.

Earlier this month, Hino and Toyota announced plans to develop a prototype hydrogen-powered truck for the North American market in the first half of 2021 and begin mass production by 2024.

Hino's alliance with Traton in electric vehicles and other emerging fields was formed in 2018.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: New-Energy Vehicle Resurgence Turbocharges BYD Profits


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By Ding Yi / Oct 21, 2020 04:00 PM / Business & Tech

“Honor of Kings”, a fantasy multiplayer role-playing battle game developed by Chinese internet giant Tencent, overtook “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (PUBG Mobile) as the world’s highest-earning mobile game in September, helped by huge popularity in its home China market.

Last month, “Honor of Kings” raked in $240 million in revenue, representing a year-on-year increase of 87%, according to research firm SensorTower.

The Chinese mainland accounted for the lion’s share 96% of “Honor of Kings” total revenue for the month, followed by Taiwan with 1.5% and Thailand with 1.2%, the statistics showed.

PUBG Mobile, a battle royale title also developed by Tencent, generated $198 million in revenue, taking the second spot, putting an end to its months-long dominance in SensorTower’s ranking lists of the world’s top mobile games by revenue.

In September, about 56.5% of PUBG Mobile’s revenue came from the Chinese mainland, where the game is known as “Game For Peace”, followed by the U.S. with 12.4%, according to SensorTower.

In September, the Indian government banned PUBG Mobile and 117 other Chinese-owned apps due to alleged national security risks, against the backdrop of mounting geopolitical tensions between the two Asian giants.

A senior Indian government official recently said the ban on PUBG Mobile was unlikely to be lifted anytime soon, according to a Reuters report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Tencent’s PUBG Still Highest Earning Game Despite Indian Ban


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By Ding Yi / Oct 21, 2020 12:20 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Xpeng announced on Tuesday that the 10,000th P7 long-range electric sports sedan rolled off the production line at its wholly owned plant in the southern Chinese city of Zhaoqing. The landmark number was reached five months after the company started production of the flagship model.

The announcement comes as the Chinese Tesla rival continues to expand its production capacity to meet the growing demand for its electric vehicles.

In September, the U.S.-listed carmaker sold 3,478 electric vehicles consisting of 2,573 P7s and 905 G3s, making a new monthly delivery record. The September sales figure represents a year-on-year increase of 145%. The company has also begun making inroads into the European market, to which it shipped its first batch of 100 electric cars last month.

Apart from the Zhaoqing factory, Xpeng is also building a “smart” manufacturing base in Guangzhou, where it is headquartered, in partnership with Guangzhou GET Investment, which is wholly owned by Guangzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone. The company said that the manufacturing base, which will double as a center for research and development, is scheduled to go into operation by December 2022.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: China’s Homegrown Electric-Car Makers Charge Ahead in September


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By Bloomberg / Oct 21, 2020 05:30 AM / Business & Tech

A visitor looks at luxury wristwatches on display during day two of the 2019 Baselworld luxury watch and jewellery fair in Basel

A visitor looks at luxury wristwatches on display during day two of the 2019 Baselworld luxury watch and jewellery fair in Basel

Swiss watch exports extended their longest decline in three years as the industry becomes even more dependent on the Chinese market.

Shipments fell 12% to 1.6 billion francs ($1.76 billion) in September, dropping an eighth consecutive month, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.

Exports to the Chinese mainland surged 79% while falling almost everywhere else. The mainland market has been one of the few bright spots amid the gloom this year, replacing Hong Kong as the top destination for Swiss luxury timepieces.

Hong Kong had been the biggest market for more than a decade as wealthy Chinese often traveled there to buy watches to avoid luxury taxes on the mainland. Swiss watchmakers in turn overly relied on that market and suffered when social unrest erupted in the region and China started trying to engineer a shift of luxury consumption to the mainland.

Now Swiss watchmakers are eyeing the southern Chinese province of Hainan as business there is booming amid resorts and casinos, according to Julien Tornare, the head of LVMH’s Zenith brand. China in July increased the tax-free shopping limit in Hainan to 100,000 yuan ($14,930) annually per person, up from 30,000 yuan.

Swiss watch exports dropped 28% in the first nine months of the year.

Related: Chart of the Day: China Duty-Free Sector Booms Amid Loosened Policies, Pandemic

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By Anniek Bao / Oct 20, 2020 06:16 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: IC

Photo: IC

Alibaba is splashing out $3.6 billion to take over China’s biggest hypermarket operator Sun Art Retail Group Ltd., which runs the Auchan and RT-Mart hypermarket chains in China. Observers see the move as Alibaba’s play to consolidate its e-commerce dominance with the world of traditional offline grocery stores.

The deal will add Sun Art’s 484 physical outlets to Alibaba’s broad e-commerce offering, along with its food takeout platform Ele.me and logistics subsidiary Cainiao.

Alibaba’s long-running efforts in online grocery retail – a sector that saw 35% growth in the first eight months of this year — paid off in 2020, as people turned to online groceries and home deliveries during the pandemic.

Apart from transforming traditional hypermarkets, Alibaba has also opened its own Freshippo grocery retail chain, which now runs 200 stores across China. Sun Art is the market leader in brick-and-mortar hypermarkets, with 14.1% of the market, followed by China Resources and Yonghui, in which Tencent owns a 5% stake, according to market research firm Euromonitor.

Read the full story on Caixin Global here.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: China’s Takeout Wars — Is Meituan Set to Eat Alibaba’s Lunch?


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By Ding Yi / Oct 20, 2020 01:07 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has unveiled wireless charging technology that can top-up a 4,000mAh battery in just 19 minutes, as handset manufacturers scramble to roll out such chargers to win over the hearts of time-conscious consumers.

The 80W technology can also juice a standard 4,000mAh battery — one of the most common types — to 10% and 50% in just one minute and eight minutes respectively, Xiaomi said in a WeChat post on Monday.

The announcement comes two months after the launch of Xiaomi’s new flagship smartphone, the Mi 10 Ultra, which comes with a 50W wireless charger that can fully charge its 4,500mAh battery from empty in 40 minutes.

However, Xiaomi did not disclose when a phone compatible with the new 80W wireless charging technology will come out.

Xiaomi’s push into wireless charging dates back to March 2018, when the company launched the Mi Mix 2S phone that came with 7.5W wireless charging technology.

Xiaomi’s domestic rivals including Oppo and Huawei have also been delving into fast wireless charging for a while. In July this year, Oppo announced 65W wireless charging technology which it claimed is able to fully charge a 4,000mAh battery in 30 minutes.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Xiaomi Vice Chairman Promises Not Sell More Stock After Selling Over $1 Billion in Company Shares


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By Bloomberg / Oct 19, 2020 12:00 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: Bloomberg

Photo: Bloomberg

Tencent Holdings Ltd. has chosen a co-working space for its first office in Singapore, joining other Chinese tech giants in using the city state for a launching pad into the rest of Asia.

The WeChat owner will have almost 200 seats at JustCo’s co-working space in OCBC Centre East at Raffles Place, according to people familiar with the plans, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. The space amounts to 10,000 square feet (929 square meters).

The lease runs for one year, giving China’s largest social media and video-gaming company flexibility to seek a larger space as it adds staff, the people said. Tencent said in September that it would open an office in Singapore.

Representatives for Tencent and JustCo didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The deal paves the way for Tencent to make Singapore its beachhead for a push into Southeast Asia. Bytedance Ltd., the owner of popular video app TikTok, is also expanding its office space in the city-state, while Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. earlier this year bought a 50% stake in a Singapore office tower.

The demand from Chinese tech firms could also boost Singapore’s office market, which has been battered by the coronavirus pandemic, with some companies vacating leases and landlords forced to cut rents. Tech firms have taken up 350,000 square feet of office space in new leases and expansions this year, and that could rise to 400,000 to 500,000 square feet next year, Cushman & Wakefield estimates.

Singapore is seen as an attractive base as it provides a gateway to Southeast Asia’s 650 million smartphone-savvy population. It also offers relative political stability and developed financial and legal systems.

China’s tech giants are increasingly turning their attention to the region amid growing hostility from the U.S. and India. The Trump administration wants to remove WeChat from mobile app stores in the U.S. and impose other restrictions, though a court has blocked the move. India has barred the company’s hit games “PUBG Mobile” and “Arena of Valor.”

Choosing a co-working space gives companies “the advantage to be flexible in markets where headcount growth is unclear and there is a possibility that business can grow so quickly that they run out of space,” said Christine Li, head of research and business development services for Southeast Asia at Cushman. It’s a common strategy for tech firms entering a new market, with Alibaba and Facebook having done so when they started in Singapore.

Related: In Depth: Is the Sharing Economy Bubble Bursting?


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By Nikkei Asian Review / Oct 16, 2020 11:24 AM / Business & Tech

Toyota Motor has decided to provide Guangzhou Automobile Group, a joint venture partner in China, with its gasoline-electric hybrid technology system, Nikkei has learned. This is the first time Toyota will offer its core hybrid technology to a foreign company.

The move follows a decision by China to include hybrid vehicles in the eco-friendly vehicle category under new emissions standards starting next year. At present, hybrid vehicles are treated in the same way as gasoline-powered ones. Japanese companies, including Toyota, hope to take advantage of the new rules to expand sales in China.

The hybrid technology will be provided to Guangzhou Automobile by BluE Nexus, a company jointly owned by Toyota, Denso and Aisin Seiki.

BluE Nexus, which develops and supplies drive systems for hybrid vehicles, has reached an agreement with Guangzhou Automobile on the technology transfer. The Japanese company is also believed to have agreed to offer the technology to Geely, a privately owned Chinese automaker.

Toyota already shares its hybrid technology with Japanese partners such as Mazda and Subaru.

Under the new emissions rules, hybrid vehicles will count as low-emission vehicles, making it easier for Japanese companies, which excel in hybrid technology, to meet China's tight emissions requirements. The rule change has also prompted Chinese automakers to adopt hybrid technology more broadly.

In an effort to expand the market for hybrid cars in China, Toyota has offered specific patented technologies free of charge since the spring of 2019. But that did not lead to a major shift to hybrid models, due in part to the difficulty of making them locally. This prompted calls for Toyota to make the entire hybrid system available to other manufacturers.

Toyota's market share in China remains around 6%, even after it sold a record 1.62 million vehicles last year. It sought to lift sales with the release of an electric vehicle this year, but sold fewer than 2,000 in the first eight months.

Toyota supplies hybrid vehicles in China through a local joint venture. The automaker has now gone a step further, offering a key technology to a Chinese company in which it has no ownership stake.

Japanese rival Nissan Motor is also beefing up its hybrid vehicle business in China before the new emissions rules take effect.

The company will release a model equipped with its ePower hybrid technology. Nissan intends to make hybrid versions available for five or six of its models over the next three years in China, including its hot-selling Sylphy sedan.

British research specialist LMC Automotive predicts hybrid cars will rise to26% of global sales in 2030, up from 7% in 2020. New emissions rules in Europe are also expected to boost demand for hybrid vehicles.

The share of electric vehicles is also expected to increase, as gasoline vehicles will be banned from the roads by 2035 in the U.K. and by 2040 in France.

In the U.S., the state of California has mandated that all new vehicles must be emissions-free by 2035, which may accelerate the shift to such vehicles, pushing their share in California much higher than the 16% currently forecast. Many predict that a move to zero-emissions vehicles, such as EVs and fuel-cell vehicles, is inevitable in the long term.

In light of the coming changes, Japanese automakers' survival will depend upon whether they are able to develop competitive electric models while hybrid vehicles are still on the market.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: Meet the Cheap Chinese Electric Car Selling Twice as Fast as Tesla’s Model 3


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By Nikkei Asian Review / Oct 15, 2020 01:11 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese smartphone maker Oppo is seizing on the headwinds facing compatriot Huawei Technologies to pursue rapid growth in Europe, where it recently inked a deal with the EU's largest mobile carrier to sell 5G handsets.

China's No. 2 smartphone maker aims to have a market share of at least 5% in Europe by next year and plans to be one of the top players there in the next three years, Alen Wu, Oppo's vice president and president of global sales, told Nikkei Asia in an exclusive interview.

"2020 is the second full year since we entered the Western and Eastern European markets and we aim to become a real player [with a market share of over 5%] there in the third year," Wu said. "We see tremendous room for us to grow and elevate our market position in Europe, a strategically important market for Oppo."

Wu said Oppo's sales in Western Europe, its fastest-growing market, have tripled this year, while sales in Eastern Europe grew nearly as quickly. "But for any smartphone maker, one has to achieve a share of some 10% to 15% in a market to be called a leader and to reach that break-even point. ... We aim to reach that goal in the next two to three years."

Currently, Samsung tops the chart with a 35% market share in Europe, followed by Apple at 17%, according to data from research company Counterpoint.

Oppo, the fifth-largest smartphone maker globally, is setting its sights on Europe as Huawei, its biggest domestic rival, loses ground overseas due to Washington's crackdown on the company. Other smartphone makers, including Xiaomi and Samsung, are also looking to grab market share from Huawei.

On Tuesday, Oppo announced it had signed a deal with Deutsche Telekom to sell the company's 5G smartphones -- the Reno 4 series-- in Germany, Netherlands and Poland this month. The deal is expected to give Oppo further momentum after it tripled its European market share from 1% in the second quarter of last year to 3% in the April-June quarter of 2020, according to data from research company Counterpoint. That puts the company in fifth place in Europe after little more than two years' of engagement with key telecom operators there, including Deutsche Telekom Vodafone, Telefonica and Orange.

Huawei's European market share, meanwhile, plunged to 16% in the June quarter, from 22% last year, while Xiaomi's share grew from 6% to 13%, Counterpoint's data showed.

Oppo's ambitions are not limited to Europe. In late July, the smartphone maker teamed up with two key Japanese carriers, KDDI and Softbank, to start selling 5G smartphones in Japan, a highly competitive Japanese market where premium devices dominate.

While Oppo's main focus next year will be on the higher-end segment with 5G-capable models, Wu said the company will also continue releasing some entry-to-mid-level 4G models for Europe and emerging markets, as the rollout of 5G mobile networks has been slower than expected due to the coronavirus pandemic and delays in bandwidth auctions.

"China's deployment of the 5G network is faster than we expected. Looking forward to next year, we expect some 80% of smartphones in China will be 5G phones, from some 60% this year, while South Korea is also fast," Wu said. "In many overseas markets, however, 5G adoption is a bit slower than we thought."

Wu said the coronavirus pandemic and geopolitical tensions have made 2020 a very challenging year for the smartphone industry as a whole, and that Oppo has taken steps to address both risks.

"We've been taking compliance with local laws more seriously than ever this year. We make sure everything we do complies with the local regulations of each market," Wu said. Oppo also reviewed its manufacturing process and increased the number of suppliers in areas where it was single-sourced, he added.

Unlike rivals such as Apple and Xiaomi, which outsource all of their smartphone production, Oppo makes more than 80% of its smartphones itself. Its manufacturing bases are spread across several countries, including in Indonesia, Bangladesh, and India, which allowed the company to adjust production in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Oppo's overall smartphone shipments are expected to rise more than 38% next year, from some 118 million units to more than 164 million units, according to Luke Lin, an analyst with Digitimes Research. Compatriots like Xiaomi and Vivo will also similarly high growth of between 30% and 46%. Huawei's shipments, on the contrary, will likely plunge more than 61% from this year to around 64.5 million in 2021, Lin estimated, while the overall smartphone market will return to growth at a rate of 12% in 2021.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: Under Competitive Pressure From Huawei in China, Oppo Reshuffles Management Team


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By Anniek Bao / Oct 14, 2020 07:06 PM / Business & Tech

SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd., China’s largest carmaker, has Tesla in its crosshairs.

The automaker has plans to separate its battery-powered vehicles from fossil-fuel burning cars, as it yearns for the big success of electric vehicle specialist Tesla Inc.

SAIC’s launch of an independent new-energy vehicle (NEV) brand follows the trend of homegrown rivals that are scraping over turf in the world’s largest auto market, especially in the EV race.

A slew of Chinese automakers has raced to the market with stand-alone NEV brands, led by the EV unit of state-owned Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co. Ltd., also known as BAIC BJEV. Its premium NEV brand ARCFOX unveiled its first mass-produced model, named the Alpha-T, earlier this year.

Separate NEV brands would help traditional carmakers differentiate their more expensive battery-powered vehicles from their cheaper, gas guzzling conventional models, an NEV company executive told Caixin.

Although China’s economy has showed signs of returning to normal, distressed market demand and big cuts to state subsidies for EV purchases have eaten into the revenue of Chinese carmakers during the pandemic, with SAIC experiencing a 24.6% drop in revenue in the first half of 2020.

Read the full story on Caixin Global.

Contact reporter Anniek Bao (yunxinbao@caixin.com) editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

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