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BUSINESS & TECH

By Zhao Runhua and Zhang Erchi / Sep 18, 2019 05:02 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus plans to launch on-demand helicopter services in China, the company said Wednesday during a briefing.

George Xu, Airbus China’s CEO, told reporters that the company expects to roll out the services in southern China's Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area sometime around the end of this year, adding that the area’s high urban density and consumption power show the business potential of short-distance air trips. Some of the flights may eventually be piloted by unmanned helicopters, Xu said.

Airbus’ helicopter manufacturing arm is the first foreign company to have established an assembly line in China, according to state news outlet China Daily. But it’s not the only company interested in on-demand air trips: Earlier this month, well-known domestic carmaker Geely agreed to invest $55 million in German flying-car developer Volocopter to beef up the latter's research capabilities and turn its airborne-taxi project into a commercial reality within three years.  

Related: Chinese Auto Giant Invests in Flying-Car Startup Volocopter

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BUSINESS & TECH

By Zhao Runhua / Sep 18, 2019 03:23 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Alibaba’s smart speaker Tmall Genie can now grant the wishes of Chinese coffee lovers thanks to a tie-up with Starbucks.

Caffeine aficionados can verbally place orders through Genie as part of an expanded partnership between the two companies, Alibaba announced Wednesday.

The e-commerce giant’s food delivery affiliate Ele.me will then process the order and consumers can expect to be sipping on a brew within 30 minutes, Alibaba said.

Previously, Chinese consumers were able to order Starbucks online either through the American coffee chain’s on-demand service app Starbucks Now or through Alibaba’s other e-commerce offerings such as supermarket chain Freshippo, also known as Hema.  

The cooperation will better allow Starbucks to serve tech-savvy Chinese customers, said Molly Liu, an executive at Starbucks China, adding that the voice ordering service will make user experience “truly personal” and more convenient.

The service might also pep up Alibaba’s smart-speaker business in China, as more and more tech companies establish partnerships with existing service providers in a bid to boost sales and user base. Baidu, China’s leading player in the smart-speaker sector, offers users a special membership program jointly supported by Baidu and iQiyi, one of China’s leading video streaming platforms.

Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (runhuazhao@caixin.com)

Related: Chart of the Day: Smart Speaker Shipments Surge

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By Yang Ge / Sep 18, 2019 03:10 PM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

Gaming giant Tencent and smartphone maker Xiaomi have been trying their hand at the old game of share buybacks this year with quite different results. Companies typically launch such repurchases when their stock comes under pressure, using idle cash to try and convince investors the shares are undervalued and a good buy.

Tencent came under pressure for much of last year after the government froze approvals of new online game titles that are its main breadwinner. In response, the company launched its first buyback in four years last September.

Meanwhile, Xiaomi, which has had difficulty winning investor respect since its IPO last year, has come under the microscope this year as its sales have dropped sharply in its home China market. It launched its buyback at the start of the year as its shares traded around all-time lows at that time.

Both companies are still in the market buying shares, with a new Tencent disclosure revealing it has bought back its stock over the last seven trading days through Monday. A similar Xiaomi disclosure said the company’s board met on Sept. 2 and “formally resolved to utilize” its buyback plan, which authorizes the repurchase of up to HK$12 billion ($1.5 billion) worth of Xiaomi stock.

Tencent’s plan seems to have worked, as the stock has stabilized and is now about 10% higher from where it was when the original buyback began. Xiaomi has been another story, however, with the stock now trading about 10% below where it stood when it first launched its plan.

Related: Tencent Buys Own Stock for First Time in Four Years as Shares Sag

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By Zhao Runhua / Sep 18, 2019 01:16 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese telecoms giant Huawei unveiled Wednesday a homegrown artificial intelligence (AI) training cluster the company claims is the fastest in the world.

Called the “Atlas 900,” the cluster consists of around 1,000 Huawei Ascend 910 AI processors and has the computing power of half a million personal computers, Huawei said. It trained the much-lauded ResNet-50, a residual-network AI model often used in image recognition, in merely 59.8 seconds, Huawei Vice Chairman Hu Houkun said during the annual Huawei Connect conference in Shanghai.

The Atlas 900 has already been integrated into Huawei’s cloud infrastructure and is available for use, Hu said. Citing the research and advisory company Gartner, Hu said the computing sector’s market size is expected to reach $2 trillion within five years.

The development of the data and AI industries has created a need for technology companies to provide infrastructure that supports high computing power. Computer clusters fill that need by linking large numbers of computers into a single system and setting their nodes to perform the same task, resulting in higher speeds and increased capacity and scalability while reducing costs.

Huawei will continue to offer developers both hardware and software support, some of which will be open-source, Hu added. The company said at the conference that its Huawei Developer Program, which encourages developers to innovate on Huawei products and systems, will receive $1.5 billion to grow its number of participating developers from 1.3 million to 5 million.

Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (runhuazhao@caixin.com)

Related: Experts: Huawei’s Offer to License 5G Technologies a ‘Smart PR Move’

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By Bloomberg / Sep 18, 2019 08:46 AM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — The U.S. government will need to agree to talks with Huawei Technologies Co. as part of a future trade deal with China, a top executive at China’s largest technology company said.

Huawei has become a focal point for U.S.-Chinese tensions and is regarded by some as a bargaining chip in the negotiations. Washington’s decision to stop the company buying American technology has cut it off from vital supplies such as Qualcomm Inc. chipsets and Google’s Android operating software.

Chief Security Officer Andy Purdy said he “can’t imagine” a trade deal in which the U.S. government doesn’t agree to hold discussions with Huawei.

“The most that a trade deal would do relative to Huawei would be to result in the U.S. government having discussions with Huawei, to try to work out the agreement between Huawei and the U.S,” Purdy said at a briefing in Budapest on Sept. 10.

The U.S. has urged countries and companies to reject Huawei technology in the next generation of wireless networks, telling allies it could put their citizens’ data at risk. Huawei has denied any wrongdoing and accused the U.S. of singling it out for political reasons.

Purdy said the U.S. crackdown against Huawei is hurting American companies and workers more than Huawei. He said the company spent $11 billion on U.S. supplies last year and an estimated 40,000 U.S. jobs depend on its business.

Huawei wants “transparent mechanisms” for evaluating its equipment and that of its competitors, which would build “trust through verification,” Purdy said.

“We’re not asking we should simply be allowed to sell without any scrutiny,” he said. “We believe there has to be scrutiny for everyone.”

Contact editor Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)
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By Han Wei / Sep 18, 2019 02:36 AM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

China will spend more than $2.9 trillion on new aircraft and ground services over the next 20 years as its civil aviation market continues expanding to become the world’s largest, according to Boeing Co.

China will need 8,090 new planes worth nearly $1.3 trillion by 2038 to meet the demands of its rapidly growing air traffic, Boeing said in its annual outlook on the commercial aviation market released Tuesday.

Chinese airlines will also need to spend additional $1.6 trillion on ground services such as cargo operations and maintenance over the next 20 years, Boeing said.

The total estimate is 7% higher than Boing’s forecast last year.

Boeing said passenger traffic within China is set to grow at more than 6% a year until 2038 as China’s middle class is expected to double in size within a decade.


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By Ye Zhanqi and Denise Jia / Sep 18, 2019 02:24 AM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

A Chinese self-driving truck startup attracted $120 million of funding from a group of investors including package logistics giant UPS.

TuSimple, based in San Diego and Beijing, said Tuesday that other investors in its Series D round of financing include Chinese private equity firm CDH Investments and Korean auto parts supplier Mando Corp.

TuSimple raised $95 million in a funding round in February led by Chinese internet giant Sina Corp. At that time, the company was valued at $1 billion. The new investment brings TuSimple’s total funding to $298 million.

The company said the new funds will be used to expand long-haul services for fleets and develop a commercial self-driving truck.

TuSimple is working on the validation of its self-driving truck solution with UPS and the U.S. Postal Service, aiming to transform the $800 billion U.S. trucking industry, the company said in a press release. Currently UPS and TuSimple conduct daily testing between Phoenix and Tucson.

The company has 50 trucks on the road worldwide serving 18 contracted customers.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com)


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By Han Wei / Sep 18, 2019 02:09 AM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

China will release 10,000 metric tons of pork from state reserves this week to cope with a supply shortfall of the staple food ahead of the week-long National Day holiday.

The frozen pork will be auctioned online Thursday afternoon, according to a statement (link in Chinese) published Tuesday by China Merchandise Reserve Management Center, which manages the state pork reserves.

Each company whose business record qualifies it to participate in the bidding is restricted to buying as much as 300 tons of pork, according to the statement.

China is the world’s largest consumer of pork, but a devastating outbreak of African swine fever has wiped out about a third of its hog herds and sent pork prices to record highs.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, the average pork price in 22 major Chinese provinces and cities surged 31.4% during August. That forced Nanning, the capital city of South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, to make a rare government-led price intervention by offering subsidies to meat vendors to cut pork prices.

Central government bodies have pledged measures to support pork supplies, such as increased subsidies to boost domestic production and raising purchases from overseas.

Related: China Vows to Ensure There’s Enough Pork to Eat


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By Zhao Runhua / Sep 17, 2019 05:29 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

The husband-and-wife former chairpeople of an Inner Mongolia-based home appliance wholesale company were seemingly so inseparable that they even manipulated the firm’s stock prices together.

Now, the erstwhile chairman of Benteng Technology Industry Group, Zhang Yuda, along with his wife, former vice chairwoman Zhang Xiaomin, have been banned from participating in securities-related activities for manipulating stock prices and “maliciously” attempting to hinder a malpractice investigation by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the regulator said in several recent announcements.

During one week from Dec. 30, 2016 to Jan. 6, 2017, the Zhangs used their senior positions to manipulate nine affiliated trading accounts on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations (NEEQ), China’s over-the-counter stock market, according to the CSRC. The Zhangs’ actions caused Benteng’s stock price to almost double in value.

The unscrupulous duo also had Benteng publish untrue statements with the aim of misleading investors, the investigation showed. The illegal trading and abnormal price fluctuations affected NEEQ indexes, the regulator said.

When the CSRC later opened an inquiry into the Zhangs’ shenanigans, the couple threatened investigators and even installed wiretaps at their workplaces in a bid to derail their progress, the regulator said, adding that the pair showed “contempt” for Chinese law.

The CSRC said it will confiscate the couple’s ill-gotten gains of 703,692 yuan ($99,528), issue a 3.52 million yuan fine, and ban them from future securities-related activities.

Benteng said in a Monday filing that Zhang Xiaomin is now Benteng’s chairwoman, while Zhang Yuda’s position is unclear. The company added that it is aware of the CSRC’s conclusions and will ask for the case to be reviewed.

Contact reporter Zhao Runhua (runhuazhao@caixin.com)

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By Liu Yukun and Tang Ziyi / Sep 17, 2019 03:41 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

A Chinese battery-maker wants to cushion its cash pile by raising funds on the country’s new Nasdaq-style stock market, as the company appears on track to post a second straight year of losses amid Beijing’s ongoing phase-out of electric vehicles subsidies.

Farasis Energy (Gan Zhou) Co. Ltd. has been accepted for a Shanghai high-tech board listing to offer 214.1 million shares of its stock, according to a company prospectus filed to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The company said it plans to plow the proceeds into its lithium-battery production project and other operating expenses.

After deducting gains from extraordinary items such as investment products, Farasis posted a net loss of 21.8 million yuan ($3.1 million) in the first half of this year, according to the prospectus. The company made a loss of 198.8 million yuan in 2018, compared with a profit of 9.3 million yuan the year prior.

China’s EV market has slowed this year after the central government announced a plan to phase out subsidies in a bid to consolidate the industry. But that has also hurt the earnings of the battery-makers that power such vehicles.

In July and August, China’s overall sales of new energy vehicles — a category that includes battery-powered pure-electric and hybrid-electric cars — contracted for the first time since January 2017.

Read the full story on Caixin Global later today.

This article has been corrected to say that Farasis has been accepted for a listing.

Contact reporter Tang Ziyi (ziyitang@caixin.com)

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By Zhao Runhua and Shen Xinyue / Sep 17, 2019 05:58 AM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

Suning.com, the buyer of French retailer giant Carrefour’s Chinese business, is making a major business push three months after announcement of the acquisition.

On Sept. 28, the company plans to open more than 200 in-Carrefour Suning stores across China to sell home appliances and electronic products, Caixin has learned. Suning tailored each store’s sales plan based on store locations and consumer profiles, the company said. Products sold in the in-Carrefour stores will also be qualified for Suning’s own customer services, the company said.

In June, Carrefour announced that Suning would buy an 80% stake in its China business for about $700 million. In August, Suning said the deal received a green light from agencies in charge of anti-monopoly review and would then proceed to completion.

Nevertheless, the in-Carrefour business model is not Suning’s innovation. As e-commerce platforms become popular and online channels continue to squeeze physical appliance and electronic product stores’ profit margins, stores are turning to supermarket chains to open in-supermarket shops, which are often smaller than their general venues but are more flexible on product options and business strategies.

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By Zhang Erchi and Denise Jia / Sep 17, 2019 05:52 AM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

Experts called Chinese tech giant Huawei’s offer to license 5G technologies to the U.S. a “smart public relation move.”

In an interview with the Economist posted Monday on the internal online community of Huawei Technologies Co., Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei extended an olive branch to the U.S. government by offering its 5G technology for licensing.

Ren said Huawei is open to sharing its 5G technologies with U.S. companies so that they can build up their own 5G industry. “That would create a balanced situation between China, the U.S. and Europe,” Ren said in the interview.

Through licensing its 5G technologies, Huawei can not only enter the U.S. and Australian markets that have barred the company but also display to the world Huawei’s willingness to cooperate, contrary to the U.S. government’s attitude, said Douglas Fuller, associate professor in the department of Asian and international studies of the City University of Hong Kong and an expert on China’s tech industry.

No single company including Huawei holds all the patents needed to build 5G devices, and all companies need cross-licensing, Fuller said. Therefore, he said he doesn’t think Huawei’s proposal is a game-changer.

Even if one company wants to buy 5G technologies from Huawei, it still needs to obtain licenses from other players, which is costly, Fuller said.

“Unless Huawei prices its license fee very low, very few companies would actually buy them,” Fuller said.

Contact reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com)

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By Liu Yukun and Zhao Runhua / Sep 16, 2019 06:33 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: IC Photo

Photo: IC Photo

It may be known for its financial prowess, but now Shanghai is trying its hand in the high-tech realm with plans to take the lead in autonomous driving.

The city has become China’s first to issue licenses to intelligent connected vehicle (ICV) companies, allowing them to pilot autonomous driving projects in real urban scenarios, local government officials announced on Monday during the World Intelligent Connected Vehicles Conference. Such tests are a crucial step before things like commercial robotaxis can go into service.

Car makers SAIC Motor and BMW, as well as the Uber-esque Didi Chuxing, are becoming the first companies to receive such licenses, and will roll out related projects in the city’s Jiading district, the government said.

Licensees can run pilot programs including robotaxis, unmanned delivery or other autonomous driving tasks with special purposes, in designated locations, according to an earlier interim document, which is also the guidance document of the pilot projects. The robotaxis, mostly relying on automation, require a driver present as a precaution and also require that passengers sit in the back seats with seat belts fastened, said the government.

The pilot projects should charge no fees to passengers, and are prohibited from operating commercial businesses, the document said. It added that the licenses will be suspended or cancelled if any test vehicles, during rides with real passengers, violate major traffic regulations or get in severe accidents that cause casualties.

Chinese transport-tech companies are busy preparing to roll out robotaxi projects in a year or two. Supporting polices can accelerate the process by helping vehicles adapt to real road situations, though many netizens doubt whether the projects are practical.

Related: Next Year Will Be Key for Robotaxi Industry, Startup Says

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By Matthew Walsh / Sep 16, 2019 02:41 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Reports that Apple’s latest iPhones are meeting with lukewarm response in Asia may be premature, at least if activity on China’s No. 2 e-commerce platform JD.com is any indicator.

More than 1 million iPhone 11 handsets have been reserved on JD.com since preorders began on Friday, according to a Saturday post on the Chinese online retailer’s official Weibo social media account. It said such preorders at that time represented a 480% surge from iPhone presales as of this point last year.

The most popular models include the iPhone 11 Pro in “midnight green,” as well as the black and purple editions of the standard iPhone 11, the company said. The first order was placed within one second of the acceptance of orders, and stocks of the Pro were completely snapped up within five minutes.

According to JD.com, younger people placed the vast majority of orders for the phones, which will officially become available on Friday. Around 59% of preorder customers were between 16 and 29 years old, while people in their thirties accounted for nearly a third of the total.

The much-anticipated smartphone, which features design tweaks, a brand-new camera array, and a faster processor, retails on Apple’s authorized JD.com page from 5,499 yuan ($778) for a standard iPhone 11, up to a wallet-busting 12,699 yuan for a top-of-the-line iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Although that’s cheaper than last year’s iPhone XR, Chinese consumers must still shell out a premium of between 10.5% and 12.5% for the iPhone 11 compared with U.S. prices, and between 18.6% and 23% for the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max, according to an analysis by CNBC.

Unlike new smartphone models from domestic competitors Huawei and Xiaomi, the new iPhone also lacks 5G capabilities at a time when China is accelerating the rollout of the potentially revolutionary technology.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Chinese Netizens Cheer as Apple Compares Itself With Huawei for the First Time

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By Bloomberg / Sep 16, 2019 09:24 AM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

(Bloomberg) — China’s Uber-for-trucks startup Full Truck Alliance said it’s weighing an initial public offering after breaking even from May, defying a sector-wide downturn.

The company, which is backed by SoftBank Group Corp. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., said its improved financial performance dovetailed with its decision not to follow through on a plan to raise as much as $1 billion in a private round, chief financial officer Richard Zhang said during an interview with Bloomberg TV.

“We broke even both in the accounting and cash flow sense,” said Zhang. “I don’t want to commit to a timetable here, but eventually we probably want to go for an IPO.” The company also hasn’t decided whether it will need to do a pre-IPO round, Zhang added.

Despite dominating the truck-sharing sector in China, Full Truck Alliance is now confronted with the same challenges that on-demand businesses worldwide face — proving its business model can lead to sustainable revenue and profit growth.

Much also depends on conditions in the market. Bets on a once red-hot Chinese technology sector are cooling alongside waning economic growth. In July, investments made by venture capital and private equity firms dropped 60% to 407 cases, while the amount plummeted around 78% to 32.8 billion yuan ($4.6 billion), according to research consultant Zero2IPO. Investors in the sector have also been spooked by WeWork’s IPO setback.

Formed by a merger between China’s two largest truck-sharing platforms — Huochebang and Yunmanman— the company has attracted backers including Sequoia and Alphabet Inc.’s CapitalG. It was said to be planning to raise as much as $1 billion at a valuation of about $9 billion, Bloomberg reported late last year. Zhang confirmed the company didn’t complete that round, adding that Full Truck Alliance’s valuation stood at $6.4 billion post-money after it raised funds in April 2018.

By creating a marketplace that connects millions of mostly independent truckers, the company makes money by charging a fee when brokering transactions, and from servicing drivers by selling top-up toll cards and directing them to service stations.

The company is also expanding into automotive technology and is now the largest external investor in autonomous trucking startup Plus.AI. The Cupertino-based company co-founded by David Liu formed a joint-venture with China’s state-backed heavy truck manufacturer FAW Jiefang, introducing their first commercial product (a Level-2 semi-autonomous truck) earlier this month.

Plus.AI is currently in talks with new investors for funding, Liu said during the interview.

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By An Limin, Liu Yukun and Denise Jia / Sep 13, 2019 05:53 AM / Business & Tech

Photo: IC Photo

Photo: IC Photo

Real estate giant China Evergrande Group plans to build a car plant and a battery factory in Qingdao, a port city in eastern China, according to sources at the city’s government.

Local media reported earlier that city government officials have been in contact with Evergrande since March. Qingdao municipal Party Secretary Wang Qingxian met with Evergrande Chairman Xu Jiayin during this year’s “two sessions,” the annual meeting of legislative delegates and political advisers held in March, and the two sides expressed interest in cooperating, local newspaper Qingdao Daily reported March 9.

The government website of Pingdu, a county-level city under Qingdao, shows that local government officials visited Evergrande’s new-energy vehicles unit in Shenzhen in March and reached an initial agreement on a new-energy vehicle cooperation project.

The Pingdu government disclosed at a meeting in July that it reserved a 400-acre parcel of land for the Evergrande project.

A local newspaper reported last month that Laixi, another county-level city under Qingdao, will host Evergrande’s electric car battery factory. The initial investment in the plant will be 10 billion yuan ($1.41 billion), the paper reported.

There has been no official announcement of agreement on either project. A person close to the Qingdao government told Caixin that Evergrande postponed the construction time. A person close to Evergrande said the projects haven’t been finalized.

Contact Reporter Denise Jia (huijuanjia@caixin.com)


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By Matthew Walsh / Sep 12, 2019 06:02 PM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

An advanced display-panel factory backed by politically-minded electronics mogul Terry Gou is seeking new investors as the market struggles with global oversupply and falling prices, the Nikkei Asian Review reported Wednesday, citing multiple unnamed sources.

The massive 61 billion yuan ($8.5 billion) plant, in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, is principally operated by the Japanese firm Sakai Display Products, of which Gou is the largest shareholder. It was originally slated to produce large, advanced liquid crystal displays (LCDs) at full capacity by the end of this year. But those plans have been delayed, leading to backlogs at several of the company’s Japanese suppliers, Nikkei said. One told the publication that it was considering its legal options.

The development comes at a tumultuous time for Gou, the man behind Taiwan-based electronics-giant Foxconn and the island’s richest man. In June, he left his position as Foxconn’s chairman to pursue a career in politics, having announced his bid to become Taiwan’s leader the month before as a candidate for the Kuomintang (KMT), the current opposition party.

That run ended after an embittered Gou came second in the KMT primary, as he claimed the selection was conducted in a way that favored the eventual winner, Han Kuo-yu. But that might not be the end of his leadership bid: On Thursday, he formally withdrew from the Kuomintang, fueling renewed speculation that he might run as an independent.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com)

Related: Army of Women Earning $4 a Day Could Be Behind Your Next iPhone

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By Zheng Lichun and Tang Ziyi / Sep 12, 2019 05:14 PM / Business & Tech

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Photo: VCG

China’s automated taxi industry will reach a key inflection point for commercialization next year as a number of ride-hailing companies make the pivot toward self-driving cars, said Zhong Hua, vice president of smart-mobility startup WeRide, in a Tuesday interview with Caixin.

He made his remark came after WeRide said it planned to roll out hundreds of self-driving vehicles as part of a trial service in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou by 2020, Zhang Li, WeRide’s chief operating officer, told Caixin.

Such vehicles rely mostly on automation, but still have a driver present as a precaution.

The Guangzhou-based company first unveiled its ambition to launch such vehicles in August when it formed a joint venture with the local municipal government and Guangzhou Baiyun Taxi Group, the largest cab company in southern China.

Several other Chinese ride-hailing companies — including industry giant Didi Chuxing and internet behemoth Baidu — also plan to roll out trial services of automated taxis by the end of next year.

Read the full story on Caixin Global.

Contact reporter Tang Ziyi (ziyitang@caixin.com)

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By Bloomberg / Sep 12, 2019 03:31 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese startup Kuaishou is considering to go public in the U.S. to bankroll its expansion in short videos and fend off competition from TikTok owner ByteDance Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

The company, backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd., plans to list next year, the people said, requesting not to be named because the matter is private. One person said Kuaishou also weighed the option of going public this year. The video startup is raising more than $1 billion at a $25 billion valuation in a pre-IPO round mostly from Tencent, one of the people said.

Kuaishou is an important part of Chinese social media giant Tencent’s strategy to compete against ByteDance, which is now the world’s most valuable startup. Tencent has devoted a lot of resources toward building a library of short and mini video offerings — key to retaining user attention and boosting advertising revenue — but has yet to catch ByteDance.

“Tencent’s biggest enemy is ByteDance right now,” said David Dai, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Bernstein. “Tencent hasn’t been very successful in short videos in the past, so resorting to investing in other companies instead is its best option.”

Tencent President Martin Lau said during an August earnings call that short and mini videos would be a key vertical for expansion.

Kuaishou or “fast hand” first established its popularity among users in China’s smaller cities and rural areas, with people streaming slices of everyday life from harvesting corn to slurping noodles. It’s also been luring users in bigger cities and expanding its content to include everything from people playing video games to teenagers lip-syncing songs.

Kuaishou was seeking funds in January last year at a valuation of $17 billion. The company was valued at $3 billion in January 2015 by CB Insights.

The eight-year-old company also counts Sequoia and Morningside Group Holdings as backers. It had 110 million daily active users as of December 2017, according to its website. Annie He, a spokeswoman for Kuaishou didn’t respond to requests for comment. Tencent declined to comment in an emailed statement.

“Kuaishou is the only one that can still counter ByteDance now,” said Dai.

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By Wang Duan, Wei Yiyang, and Liu Jiefei / Sep 12, 2019 01:50 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

It caught markets by surprise, but the Hong Kong stock exchange’s unsolicited 29.6 billion pound ($36.5 billion) bid for the London Stock Exchange Group (LSE) has actually been in the works for quite some time, HKEx’s chairwoman is telling Caixin.

The move is in line with a strategic plan that Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (HKEx) published in February, which included an aim of expanding its global connections, HKEx Chairwoman Laura Cha Shih May-lung told Caixin.

The proposition was first floated by the board of directors, and an initial framework for the offer was hammered out last September, she said.

A successful purchase would strengthen and expand the Chinese mainland’s stock markets, which are linked to Hong Kong’s via two connect programs, said Cha, who was also a previous vice chairman of China’s securities regulator from 2001 to 2004. It would also have a positive influence on China’s market opening, she added.

Investors in the LSE operator were jazzed about the deal, bidding up the company’s London-listed shares nearly 6% after on Wednesday after the initial announcement. HKEx investors were less impressed, with the company’s share price down 3.58% in Thursday morning trade.

The proposed deal would mark the HKEx’s second major overseas expansion. It previously acquired the London Metal Exchange, the world’s largest market in options and futures contracts on base and other metals, in 2012 for 1.4 billion pounds.

Additional reporting by Han Wei.

Contact reporter Liu Jiefei (jiefeiliu@caixin.com)

Related: HKEx Offers $36.5 Billion to Buy London Stock Exchange

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