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By Heather Mowbray / Jan 23, 2021 06:06 AM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Two Nigerian students who signed up as volunteers for their local Covid-19 prevention team in the northeastern city of Shenyang were highlighted in a video posted on Weibo by the state-run Xinhua News Agency, and netizens have waded in with a range of views on foreign students, reciprocity and race.

Since Jan. 5, the graduate students have been part of a team helping older people in the community fill in forms as the temperature fell to -10 C.

What’s the story?

The two Chinese-speaking medical students joined a group of 276 students in assisting people getting tested for the coronavirus as the city went into “wartime mode” to battle a spike in cases that has since subsided. The students were unable to return to their home countries in 2020 and wanted to give back to a community that had cared for them over the course of the year, saying on the video that it felt good to contribute.

Recent infections in China have been variously attributed to imported frozen food and new arrivals as China has maintained extremely tight restrictions on the movement of people and goods from abroad. Limits on new arrivals now extend a month after a person’s landing. Shenyang’s latest cluster may be partly traced back to one Shenyang resident who tested positive for the virus in December, three weeks after arriving.

Early in the pandemic, Guangzhou’s foreign community was caught up in a coronavirus sweep that strongly affected the city’s African residents.

What are people saying online?

With renewed focus on the supposed foreign origins of Covid-19 cases, it is unsurprising that Weibo users homed in on the volunteers’ race, with some saying that black students were not welcome in China.

Some netizens came to the foreigners’ defense saying, “These students are not only international, but also medics. Why can’t we just commend them for what they’ve done to help instead of stain them with racist comments?”

Disgruntled netizens were unable to see it that way, however, writing comments such as: “What about China’s own volunteer medics? There are many more of them! Just because they [these two] are foreign, they get the spotlight. And I don’t even think their Chinese is that good.”

The story also generated kinder comments, including, “This is exactly the kind of positive story China needs right now,” and “Regardless of nationality, everyone is equal before the virus.”

Related: China’s Disputed Virus Theory Has Shoppers Shunning Foreign Food

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Yang Ge / Jan 22, 2021 05:28 PM / Business & Tech

It didn’t take China’s three major telcos long to sense a chance to undo their imminent delistings from the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).

Just hours after Joe Biden was sworn in as new president of the United States, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom all filed to appeal their pending delisting from the NYSE, according to simultaneous announcements to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange where their shares are also traded.

The timing was no coincidence. The decision to delist the trio was the direct result of an executive order by previous President Donald Trump, one of many such moves by his administration to stymie China’s tech companies. That particular move saw Trump forbid all U.S. entities from investing in companies determined by Washington to have ties to China’s military.

The NYSE determined the Trump order obliged it to delist the Chinese carriers, only to reverse its decision a few days later, only to reinstate the decision again. Now it seems the telcos hope things might change under a Biden administration that may take a different tack toward Chinese tech firms, which were subject to a wide range of blacklistings under Trump.

Following the three carriers’ separate filings, NYSE rules stipulate it must hold hearings within 25 work days to consider their appeals.

To read the full story, click here

Contact reporter Yang Ge (geyang@caixin.com)


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Cindy Silviana / Jan 22, 2021 04:43 PM / Business & Tech

Indonesia’s homegrown tech giants Gojek and Tokopedia, who are currently engaged in merger discussions, are said to be exploring various options including setting up a holding company structure that will house the unicorns as independent entities, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Such a structure will allow the companies to retain their individual brands, and negotiations are also going on around ways to integrate the disparate decade-old businesses under Gojek and Tokopedia.

Gojek, currently valued at $10.5 billion, offers a broad range of services including ride-hailing, food delivery, financial services (payment and digital banking), and entertainment. Meanwhile, Tokopedia, valued at $7.5 billion, is the largest online marketplace in the archipelago. Their common investors are Softbank, Google, Temasek Holdings, and Sequoia Capital India.

Both Gojek and Tokopedia are also reviewing options for the payments businesses OVO, in which Tokopedia and its affiliates own a 41% stake, and Gojek’s GoPay, in the event of a merger, the people mentioned above said.

According to an executive involved in the merger discussions, if the unicorn marriage between Indonesia’s two most valuable startups is successful, the deal will see Tokopedia and its related entities sell their stakes in Ovo. This executive, who is on the board of one of the companies, declined to be named.

When contacted, Gojek and Tokopedia declined to comment.

“[The] most ideal structure for them [Gojek and Tokopedia], if they merge, will be a share swap into a super holding company that maintains Gojek and Tokopedia as distinct businesses,” Joel Shen, a technology lawyer at global law firm Withers, told DealStreetAsia.

By taking this option, Shen said, the companies will avoid two situations — the optics of inequality that sometimes exists when one company buys out another and the legal complications arising out of a statutory merger.

Furthermore, the structure will enable both players to maintain their market shares in individual businesses and also enlarge their access to each other’s ecosystems as they take on rival Sea Group in the region’s largest market. Sea Group’s e-commerce business Shopee dominated the market in the second quarter of 2020 in terms of monthly average visitors, iPrice stated in its research.

“Tokopedia and Gojek have been losing market shares in Indonesia to Shopee and Grab, respectively. We haven’t seen how their current products will complement each other yet. Still, we expect both companies can maintain and even increase the market share in e-commerce, online food delivery, and ride-hailing in Indonesia,” said an analyst from Singapore-based research and consulting firm M2insights.

Talks between Gojek and Tokopedia for a proposed merger first surfaced early this month. Before that, the ride-hailing giant was said to be in talks with its larger rival Grab to combine their nearly similar businesses encompassing ride-hailing, payments and financial services, and food delivery.

Apart from their home market, Gojek also has business operations in other Southeast Asian nations namely Singapore and Vietnam, while Tokopedia reportedly has more than 100 million monthly active users in Indonesia.

The OVO factor

While Gojek and Tokopedia operate separate lines of businesses, they compete in the payments space with their units OVO and GoPay, respectively.

Based on DealStreetAsia’s last report, Tokopedia holds a 36.1% stake in OVO’s parent, Bumi Cakrawala Perkasa. In addition to that, the e-commerce marketplace co-founders Leontinus Alpha Edison and William Tanuwijaya own another 5% stake in Bumi through PT Wahana Innovasi Lestari that was acquired from Grab in February 2020. Grab Inc controls a 39.2% stake in OVO’s parent entity.

OVO, the leading e-wallet player on Tokopedia’s platform since November 2018, has been actively competing with GoPay, with each player laying claims on the largest number of transactions or users before ShopeePay reported dominant position in October 2020, a survey from the research firm, Ipsos showed.

“Given that Tokopedia holds a 35% stake in OVO, it is possible that it will decide to sell this stake with payments and financial services falling to GoPay. Gojek has already stepped up its move into the digital banking space through the recent increase in its stake in Bank Jago to 22% but also has strong international backers for GoPay in the shape of Facebook Inc and Paypal Holdings,” CrossASEAN Research analyst Angus Mackintosh, who publishes on Smartkarma, wrote in a January 11 note.

Grab has relied on OVO since it first invested in the fintech company in January 2018. At that time, Grab had struggled to obtain a licence from Indonesia’s central bank for its e-payment arm GrabPay. One question is whether Grab will buy out Tokopedia’s stake in OVO, to boost its own operations in the payments space.

After all, Grab Financial has just raised funding, and this certainly poses to be an opportunity for Grab to invest. “You could see that happening. If they do pull OVO as a separate entity or put it under Grab, that would certainly make sense. Indonesia is a competitive market, and Grab is looking for any opportunity to stay relevant in that space.

Certainly, it could be challenging if they (Grab) were to lose OVO,” Zenon Kapron, a founder and director of Asia’s fintech consulting and research, Kapronasia, said.

Dual-listing post-merger?

If the big-ticket merger between Gojek and Tokopedia happens, sources said, the next step for the companies would be a dual-listing process as the proposed deal could transform the country’s burgeoning e-commerce landscape. The sector, of late, has witnessed significant growth with the pandemic fueling demand for food delivery and e-payments.

“Gojek and Tokopedia are two homegrown Indonesian businesses who are expected to list in Indonesia. The IPO plan could be the sweetener to get the merger through if they plan to do. I expect them to list both on IDX and NASDAQ,” Shen said.

According to some sources, Gojek and Tokopedia are likely to make a public market debut in Indonesia first where the duo will leverage on the home territory advantage. Thereafter, Nasdaq becomes a natural option for listing to accommodate both companies’ colossal valuation and liquidity concerns. There are speculations that the Tokopedia-Gojek combine is unlikely to choose the SPAC route to list in the US.

The executive quoted above, who is on the board of one of the companies, said leading investors across both unicorns and ESOP holders – employees in Gojek and Tokopedia who hold shares in the companies- were pushing to list in Indonesia first due to the ‘tax component’.

“If you list in the US first, investors and ESOP holders will lose about a fifth of the value of the investments in capital gains. But if you make your public markets debut in Indonesia, you’ll lose less than 1%. I see an Indonesian listing early next year, followed by plans to go public in the US,” this executive added.

According to experts tracking the sector, an international listing will not only showcase Southeast Asia as a one-hit-wonder but will also pave the way for other startups to adopt a similar route.

It will also offer investors an alternative to SEA Limited, that is listed in the NYSE, and owns e-commerce platform Shopee, gaming arm Garena and digital financial services division SeaMoney (Shopee Pay). SEA Limited has a market cap of over $119 billion, making it the most valuable internet startup in South Asia.

“SPAC will be a faster route but more costly to existing shareholders. I would think for Tokopedia, IPO is a reasonable route. However, now, with Gojek bundled, there is a bit of uncertainty about the time it takes,” tech venture consultancy Momentum Works founder and CEO Jianggan Li said.

This article was originally published by Deal Street Asia

 


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Ding Yi / Jan 21, 2021 07:27 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese automaker BYD, which is investing heavily in electric cars and batteries, has announced a plan to raise HK$29.9 billion ($3.9 billion) through a sale of new shares amid bullish market sentiments over the prospects for new energy vehicles.

The Warren Buffett-backed company agreed to sell 133 million Hong Kong-listed shares at HK$225 each, representing a 7.8% discount to Wednesday’s closing price of HK$244, according to a stock filing on Thursday. The new shares will make up 14.54% of BYD’s enlarged share base.

Proceeds will be used to replenish its working capital, repay interest-bearing debt, and invest in research and development, BYD said.

UBS, Goldman Sachs and China International Capital Corp. are joint global coordinators for the deal. CITIC Securities is lead manager.

Shenzhen-based BYD is among several Chinese electric vehicle makers including Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto, which raised new funds in the past several months either from new share sales or by borrowing from commercial banks.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Tesla Rival Xpeng Motors Into New Year Fueled By New Credit Line

 


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Heather Mowbray / Jan 21, 2021 07:22 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Central Beijing’s Shichahai Ice Rink, one of the city’s most famous natural ice-skating venues, has been closed after just 12 days, following the emergence of a cluster of Covid-19 cases in the capital’s southwestern Daxing district. The rink, which attracts millions of locals and visitors each winter, was already restricted since last weekend to a cap of 7,000 a day. Last year, ice skating in Beijing was banned from Jan. 24 when the novel coronavirus first began peaking in China.

What’s the story?

Since 2010, the city of Beijing has charged people to get on the ice at Shichahai. The cordoning off of parts of the lake has also provided a sense of safety, unlike at some other local lakes and canals where people skate at their own risk.

Due to the sudden closure, according to Beijing Daily, people with credit on their rechargeable skating cards will be able to get refunds, and so will those with tickets bought online through the Meituan app. Local inspectors are urging vigilance to stop unauthorized skating for the rest of the season.

Ice skating is a traditional winter pastime in Beijing and levels of expertise are high, especially among older residents. Meanwhile, the more recent Chinese winter sports of skiing and snowboarding are being cultivated at nearby Chongli, which on Tuesday was visited by President Xi Jinping a year ahead of the scheduled opening of the Winter Olympic Games. Chongli and other ski resorts in North China now offer free Covid-19 tests and have cut prices in response to reduced visitor numbers since flare ups of Covid-19 locked down parts of Jilin, Heilongjiang and Hebei provinces, homes to China’s biggest ski resorts.

What are people saying online?

Many Beijing-based Weibo users recalled skating last year before the lockdown and wondered if history was about to repeat itself. Others wondered how long it would take for cinemas and Nanluoguxiang, a crowded nearby hutong shopping street, to close. Some noted that ice skating is done in the open air and shouldn’t be subject to ticketing or restrictions.

Skiers are also complaining about access restrictions to North China’s resorts due to the pandemic. But as one Weibo user wrote, “If it hadn’t been for Covid, I’d have skied in Korea and Japan twice already this season, and wouldn’t have had to put up with Beijing hotpot as the only after ski option.”

Related: Hebei Sees Cool $23.4 Billion in ‘Ice and Snow’ Industry

 


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Flynn Murphy and Yang Ge / Jan 21, 2021 06:29 PM / Business & Tech

China’s most famous businessman made an uncharacteristically low-key appearance at an online conference Wednesday, in what some believe was a bid to tamp down rumors he was missing.

Jack Ma’s last public appearance was in October, when he gave a passionate speech criticizing Chinese regulators that has been linked to their decision to force his financial services firm, Ant Group, to abandon what was set to be the world’s largest IPO.

Ma’s disappearance from the public eye had fueled speculation that he may have run afoul of the law.

The outspoken founder of Ant Group and Alibaba spoke at an annual online event promoting the achievements of rural teachers, according to a video of the event seen by Caixin. Sources close to the company told Caixin that the video was authentic and that the conversation was originally broadcast live.

It’s not clear where Ma was when he made the 48-second video.

Read the full story here.

Contact reporter Flynn Murphy (flynnmurphy@caixin.com) and editor Heather Mowbray (heathermowbray@caixin.com)


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Ding Yi / Jan 21, 2021 06:16 PM / Business & Tech

The Chinese mainland was the third-largest revenue source for Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML in 2020, even as the U.S. tightened the screws on non-American companies providing China with the hardware, software and other services it needs to build up its chip sector.

Last year, ASML’s sales of lithography machine systems totaled 10.3 billion euros ($12.5 billion), about 18% of which went to customers on the Chinese mainland, representing a year-on-year increase of 6 percentage points, according to the company.

Taiwan, home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), one of the world’s largest chipmakers, was the biggest buyer of ASML’s lithography machine systems last year, accounting for 36% of its sales, followed by South Korea with 31%.

ASML is one of only a few companies capable of making equipment to produce the most advanced microchips. It has increasingly been pulled into the ongoing U.S. campaign to curb China’s ambitions to become a global tech leader.

In the face of Washington’s growing list of tech export restrictions on Chinese companies, ASML CEO Peter Wennink in October expressed optimism about its ability to sell its deep-ultraviolet (DUV) chip-making equipment directly from its Dutch headquarters to customers in China. However, he made no comment on whether the U.S. policy would affect direct sales of ASML’s latest generation of equipment using a more advanced technology called extreme ultraviolet (EUV) technology.

In December, leading Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) was added to the U.S. “entity list”, losing access to American-made EUV-powered equipment needed to produce chips using advanced 7 nanometer technology.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Chip Equipment Giant ASML Says Some Sales to China Don’t Require U.S. License

Chinese report link


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Eudora Wang / Jan 21, 2021 03:38 PM / Business & Tech

Edtech startup Erwan Technology has secured nearly $100 million in a new financing round to tap the burgeoning demand for wealth management and investment education services among China’s wealthier generations.

Erwan raised the new financing across its Series D and Series E rounds. Series D was led by PAC, with participation from the startup’s existing shareholder Qiming Venture Partners.

Meanwhile, the Series E round was led by Xingzhi Capital, an industry investment fund launched by Chinese private educational services provider New Oriental. PAC, Qiming, and Lingfeng Capital, a private equity (PE) firm that focuses on fintech investments in Asia Pacific, also participated.

The new financing will help Erwan expand its business layout in the wealth management field, continue with its market expansion plan, advance the R&D and application of its digital technologies, and finance team building.

Erwan is the latest Chinese edtech firm to showcase its fundraising results. Edtech startups were one of the most sought-after portfolios for China-focused investors in 2020. The past year witnessed the completion of 51 investments worth about $7.8 billion in China’s edtech sector, including some of the year’s biggest funding rounds like the ones in Yuanfudao and Zuoyebang, according to DealStreetAsia Research & Analytics.

Unlike most domestic counterparts that focus on the provision of online K12 education content, Beijing-based Erwan operates a range of online education brands, such as ikuaicai.com, Bancai Xuetang, and iqiuniu.com, to provide users with wealth management and investment education services. It has by far served over 10 million users.

The growth of Erwan is also riding on a trend of growing financial management awareness among China’s rising middle class. The total investible assets held by high-net-worth individual (HNWIs) in China, defined by people with investible assets of over 10 million yuan ($1.5 million), was estimated at about 70 trillion yuan ($10.8 trillion) by the end of 2019, according to Boston-based consultancy Bain & Company.

Total investable assets held by Chinese individuals (2008-2019) Source: Bain & Company

“… There is still a lack of financial management services for China’s 600-million Internet-savvy population,” said Chen Renchuan, vice president of Beijing-based investment bank Taihecap, in a statement. Taihecap served as the exclusive financial adviser of the two rounds.

“Deficiencies in education resources and people’s insufficient financial management knowledge have made it difficult for them to pick out quality wealth products or to meet their fundamental demands for asset maintenance and appreciation,” said Chen. He said that Erwan’s offerings, such as one-on-one wealth management tutorials, AI-based interactive courses, and live streaming education content will help fill market gaps.

Erwan’s early investors include China Renaissance’s K2 Angel Partners, which had backed Erwan’s angel round, and DCM Ventures, a venture capital (VC) firm with operations in the US, China, and Japan.

This story was originally published by Deal Street Asia 


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Mars W. Mosqueda Jr / Jan 21, 2021 03:30 PM / Business & Tech

Tech-focused Chinese venture capital firm Matrix Partners China has raised a total of $1.2 billion for its flagship venture investment vehicle, according to its latest filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

The total amount raised for Matrix Partners China VI includes the capital commitment by the general partner and the 54 other investors backing the firm’s early-stage investments in the Chinese market.

Matrix Partners China V raised $750 million in 2018 while the third and fourth funds raised $350 million and $500 million, respectively.

The firm, founded in 2008, focuses exclusively on early-stage investing in the Chinese market, targeting companies in technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) and healthcare. The VC firm has also been especially active in Internet and mobile-related sectors.

Last year, the firm made about 415 investments so far, 139 of which as a lead investor. Its portfolio includes tech publisher 36Kr, mobile internet firm Cheetah Mobile, parenting platform Babytree, online travel platform Klook, and social search and instant messaging app Momo. It has also made 28 exits.

On its website, the firm said it prefers to be the first institutional investor in a company and the largest non-management shareholder. Its initial investment is generally between $1 million and $10 million in seed and later stages.

Matrix Partners China – co-founded by Bo Shao, David Su, David Zhang, and Ye Lee – is an affiliate of US venture capital firm Matrix Partners, an early-stage investor based in San Francisco and Boston that has been investing for over 40 years.

Matrix Partners China joins a number of Chinese venture capital firms that have raised funds for their vehicles last year. These included Shanghai-based early-stage VC firm Linear Capital, which announced the first close of its fourth venture fund, a USD-denominated vehicle, at $110 million.

Glory Ventures, a Shanghai-based VC that invests in China and Israel, also hit the final close of its third RMB-denominated fund at $96 million and held the first close of its $100 million second US dollar fund.

IDG Capital’s China Venture Capital Fund VI also received a $30-million commitment from US pension fund Delaware Public Employee’s Retirement System in April. The Beijing-headquartered investment firm filed with the US SEC in March to raise $688 million for the latest fund.


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By Ding Yi / Jan 21, 2021 12:49 PM / Business & Tech

U.S. electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. is denying local media’s characterization that it made big price cuts for its Model Y sport utility vehicles (SUVs) that began deliveries from its Shanghai Gigafactory this week.

Instead, Tesla is saying the recently announced prices were specially set for the Chinese market, where the U.S. automaker is localizing its manufacturing in order to reduce costs, a company representative told the Beijing News.

The locally-assembled Model Y is now available in two versions: a long-range version and a performance one, costing 339,900 yuan ($52,600) and 369,900 yuan respectively, according to Tesla’s China website. Those prices are roughly 150,000 yuan lower than estimated prices announced in August last year, when Tesla began accepting pre-orders for Model Y SUVs from China consumers.

The sharply lower final prices sparked talk that the company was cutting its prices for the Model Y SUVs built in China, which domestic media interpreted as a pricing strategy aimed at hitting back against domestic players including Nio, Xpeng and Li Auto.

In an interview with Beijing News, the company representative explained that August’s estimated prices were based on the prices for imported Model Y SUVs. But as is often the case for higher-end luxury cars, domestically made models are often significantly less expensive than imported versions.

On Monday, Tesla started delivering its first Shanghai-assembled Model Y SUVs in China, a year after it began the deliveries of its Model 3 in the country, its first locally-built car model. The company has said that it would use more China-made components for its cars assembled at its Shanghai plant.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: In Depth: Tesla Powers On as Rival Electric-Vehicle Makers Scramble to Compete in China

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Ding Yi / Jan 20, 2021 06:48 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese cold-chain logistics firm Xianshenghuo has raised 600 million yuan ($93 million) in its series A funding round, as a growing number of consumers choose online platforms to buy fresh food.

The round was joined by a group of investors including Longfor Capital, CICC Capital and Far Fast Horizon, Xianshenghuo said in a statement on Tuesday.

Founded in 2016 by Chinese agricultural product manufacturer New Hope Group, Chengdu-based Xianshenghuo’s primary source of revenue is from transporting fresh and frozen food products from producers to retailers and restaurants, with its clients including big names such as Walmart, KFC and Alibaba’s Freshippo, according to the company’s website.

In an effort to digitalize its logistics services, Xianshenghuo has launched an online platform named Yunlizhi providing its clients with services including order placing, automatic dispatching and online payments, according to the company.

The new funding comes at a time when major e-commerce and internet companies such as Alibaba and Tencent are spending more to improve their fresh food supply chains amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has increased demand for online consumption.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Pinduoduo Doubles Down on Group Grocery Buying

 


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Ding Yi / Jan 20, 2021 06:44 PM / Business & Tech

With Apollo Go

With Apollo Go

Chinese new energy car manufacturer WM Motor has rolled out a new mass-produced pure electric sport utility vehicle it has co-developed with Baidu’s Apollo platform that gives third-party partners access to key self-driving technologies.

The new car, named the W6, is fitted with Baidu’s cloud-based automated valet parking system, allowing a driver to simply press a button to let the car automatically drive in and out of parking spots, WM Motor said in a statement on Tuesday.

In the future, the two companies will also team up to develop more self-driving technologies that can be applied to different scenarios, the statement said.

The W6’s rollout comes as Baidu seeks ways to monetize the Apollo platform, which has attracted a host of traditional carmakers, tech firms and higher education institutions to join.

Last week, Baidu announced a deal to set up a new smart electric vehicle company in partnership with domestic car manufacturer Geely, which will see the search engine giant provide intelligent driving technologies as the automaker oversees the manufacture of actual cars.

WM Motor said that it sold a total of 22,495 vehicles in 2020, up 33.3% from a year ago.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Foxconn, Geely Plan Venture to Make Cars for Other Automakers

 


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Heather Mowbray / Jan 20, 2021 06:16 PM / Trending Stories

What’s trending?

Prada brand ambassador and popular actress Zheng Shuang was embroiled in a scandal on Monday, as word reached Weibo that she had two children by surrogates in the U.S., abandoning them before they born when her relationship broke down.

The story attracted billions of views on Weibo as social media users examined pictures that appeared to be of the children’s birth certificates. The trending story also delved into the actress’s relationship with her ex-husband who appeared to take responsibility for the children while the actress sued him over a loan dispute in Shanghai. The breaking scandal was further complicated by the fact that only last week Zheng had signed a new contract with Prada for a Lunar New Year campaign.

What’s the story?

A recording of an audio tape circulated online of Zheng Huang’s former husband discussing with his parents what to do with the soon-to-be-born boy and girl. Revelations from Zheng’s private life saw Prada’s stock price drop 5% before rebounding, as Chinese social media debated the legal and ethical implications of having children by surrogates overseas.

Surrogacy is not permitted in China, despite an injunction having not been written into law. India and Thailand banned the practice in 2015 which effectively left certain states in the U.S. an option for Chinese people willing to pay another individual to carry their child.

Zheng Shuang responded to the revelations with a Weibo post in which she said, “This is a very sad and private matter for me which I did not want revealed in public…I have not violated the rules in China, and have respected the law abroad.”

What are people saying online?

Many people mocked the actress for the tone of her apology, paraphrased as “I have not broken the law in the US, or in China. But these revelations have infringed on my privacy, so I’m the victim.” Considerable support was given to the belief that she should leave entertainment, as her actions were viewed with widespread disapproval. “Such disregard for human life!” was one popular comment. Others addressed her business interests. “I suspect hype. Prada’s share price is already back up again, so influencers are not that influential after all.” Others wondered if anyone outside China was watching, as countless Chinese internet users remained glued to their devices.

Related: Pandemic Brings Chinese Luxury Shoppers Back Home

Global Businesses Start to Shun Japan Over Growing Outbreak

 


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By DealStreetAsia / Jan 20, 2021 03:41 PM / Finance

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WeTrade Group, a membership-based platform for e-commerce services in China, is looking at raising up to $121 million as it moves its listing from the US OTC board to the Nasdaq Stock Market.

The company’s filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is heavily redacted and the $121 million is likely a placeholder amount specified to calculate the registration fee.

WeTrade’s move to Nasdaq came after the company, which has a market cap of $1.7 billion, met the stock exchange’s transfer conditions in November. It plans to list under the symbol WETG.

Based in Beijing and founded in 2019, the company booked $3 million in revenue for the 12 months ended September 30, 2020. It provides technical services and solutions through its membership-based social e-commerce platform and generates revenue from service fees charged for transactions.

“Our goal is to provide technical and auto-billing management services for 100 million micro-business online stores in China through big data analytics, machine learning mechanism, social network recommendations, and multi-channel data analysis,” the company said in its filing.

WeTrade plans to utilise the proceeds from its Nasdaq listing to fund its R&D and technology development, marketing and talent recruitment in China, strategic investment in service providers, among others.

The company’s listing comes as its microbusiness cloud intelligence system YCloud has expanded in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian countries. WeTrade plans to also expand into these markets.

“We expect to utilise the YCloud system to establish a global strategic cooperation with various social media platforms, including Kakao Talk, Line, Whatsapp, Ohho, and Bluechat,” it added.

WeTrade said its products are currently serving the e-commerce industry, tourism industry, hospitality industry, and live-streaming/short video industry.

The listing also comes as Nasdaq has removed shares of four Chinese construction and manufacturing companies for indexes as part of new restrictions on IPOs.

In May last year, Nasdaq unveiled the new restrictions, requiring companies from some countries, including China, to raise $25 million in their IPO or, alternatively, at least a quarter of their post-listing market capitalisation, according to sources.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: PayPal Becomes First Foreign Company to Offer Digital Payments in China


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By Ding Yi / Jan 20, 2021 12:39 PM / Business & Tech

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Chinese internet giant Tencent and domestic carmaker Geely have agreed to co-develop intelligent vehicle technologies, the latest cross-industry partnership between a tech firm and traditional automaker.

The deal will see the two work on smart car cockpits characterized by more mobile and mobility services applications. They will also explore testing of autonomous driving systems, according to a company statement released on Tuesday.

In addition, the pair will team up to promote the auto industry’s low-carbon development, the statement said. Last week, Tencent unveiled a carbon neutral plan and vowed to make use of its advanced technologies to reduce emissions.

Tencent has been investing in the self-driving car sector using its artificial intelligence and cloud computing technologies, which are key for driverless vehicles. Apart from testing its own autonomous vehicles in China, the Shenzhen-based tech titan has also provided financial support to several self-driving vehicle startups like Momenta.

For Geely, the deal is its third car manufacturing partnership with a tech company announced this month. Last week, Geely said it would establish a smart electric vehicle firm with Baidu, which has delved into self-driving technology for years under its Apollo platform. Days later, Geely announced a separate agreement with iPhone assembler Foxconn, which will see the pair set up a joint venture to provide contract manufacturing for global carmakers.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Foxconn, Geely Plan Venture to Make Cars for Other Automakers


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By Timmy Shen / Jan 20, 2021 12:22 PM / Business & Tech

Disgraced coffee chain Luckin Coffee Inc., whose fraud scandal sent shockwaves through markets last year, is back in business resuming the franchise plan that it reportedly halted last year.

The embattled company, which was delisted from the Nasdaq Index in June, said Monday in a social media post (link in Chinese) that it was launching a “new retail partner” recruitment plan, which is essentially a franchise plan.

The company said that entities joining the new program did not have to pay a franchise fee, but needed to set aside about 350,000 yuan to 370,000 yuan ($57,000) for equipment, store renovations and deposits to start up, according to a proposal accompanying the post.

Read the full story here.

Contact reporter Timmy Shen (hongmingshen@caixin.com) and editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

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Ding Yi / Jan 19, 2021 06:27 PM / Business & Tech

Chinese display panel maker BOE Technology has announced plans to raise as much as 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) by selling shares to a group of investors.

About 35% of the capital raised from the planned share sale will be used to build a new production line in Chongqing responsible for making the sixth-generation active matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) panels used in electronic products from smartphones to laptops. In addition, a plant in Yunnan will produce 12-inch organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels, BOE Technology said in a stock filing on Friday.

AMOLED manufacturing has been listed by the Chinese government as one of the country’s strategic emerging industries as an increasing number of makers of smartphones, virtual reality devices and intelligent wearables use AMOLED display panels.

Approximately 33% of the funds will be allocated for the purchase of a 24% stake in Wuhan BOE Optoelectronics Technology, of which BOE Technology now controls 23%. The rest of the funds will be used to repay loans, replenish working capital and build a digital hospital in Chengdu, according to filing.

Friday’s announcement comes more than a month after BOE Technology announced a plan to buy 35% of money-losing Chengdu CEC Panda Display Technology in an acquisition deal marking the latest consolidation in China’s display making industry.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Display-Maker BOE Seals $1.1 Billion Deal to Buy 35% of Smaller Rival

 


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Ding Yi / Jan 19, 2021 04:53 PM / Business & Tech

Apple supplier Foxconn has reportedly obtained a license for one of its units to build a plant to make laptops and tablets in Vietnam, as the Taiwanese company moves some of its production lines to Southeast Asia and other regions to avoid higher U.S. import tariffs imposed on certain Chinese-made products.

The $270 million factory is projected to have an annual production capacity of eight million units, will be developed by Fukang Technology and built in the northern province of Bac Giang, Reuters reported on Monday, citing Vietnamese authorities.

The report did not reveal when the plant will begin production.

Foxconn has so far invested $1.5 billion in Vietnam and plans to recruit 10,000 more local workers this year, according to the Vietnamese government.

In November, Reuters reported that Foxconn was moving some iPad and MacBook assembly to Vietnam from China at the request of Apple, against the backdrop of the Trump administration targeting China-made electronics with higher import tariffs and restricting some Chinese firms’ ability to buy components made using U.S. technology.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Foxconn, Geely Plan Venture to Make Cars for Other Automakers

 


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Anniek Bao / Jan 19, 2021 03:26 PM / Business & Tech

The TikTok-like Kuaishou could be preparing to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as early as Feb 5, people close to the deal told Caixin. The expected IPO could raise as much as $5 billion and make it the first major short-video platform to go public.

The world’s second largest short-video app counted some 262 million daily active users (DAUs) during the three quarters ending September last year, fewer than half the user total for ByteDance’s Douyin – TikTok’s sister app in China – which boasted more than 600 million DAUs last August.

Kuaishou, whose largest shareholder is tech giant Tencent Holdings, plans to raise up to $5 billion from the listing, which would give it a valuation of between $40 billion and $50 billion.

“It will be an important litmus test to see the extent investors appreciate the short video phenomenon,” Michael Norris, a Shanghai-based analyst at consultancy AgencyChina told Caixin.

Read the full story here.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related:

China’s Other TikTok-Like App Sensation Sprints Toward Hong Kong IPO

In Depth: IPO-Bound TikTok Rival Kuaishou Continues to Play Second Fiddle

 


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By DealStreetAsia / Jan 19, 2021 01:51 PM / Finance

Shanghai-headquartered online English learning platform Jiliguala on Monday announced the completion of its nearly $100-million Series C round from investors including Chinese tech giant Tencent.

China-focused PE Trustbridge Partners also re-upped in the round, the investee said in a WeChat post. Lighthouse Capital facilitated the latest transaction.

The returning investor had initially teamed up with Bertelsmann Asia Investments (BAI) to invest nearly $10 million in Jiliguala ’s Series A round in 2017. Subsequently, in 2018, Trustbridge, BAI along with Sequoia Capital China and Holy Capital had together invested in Jiliguala’s Series B round.

With the fresh proceeds, Jiliguala will seek to launch more products.

Jiliguala, set up in 2014, offers English reading courses for children aged 3-12. It claims to have helped over 50,000 users across 500 cities to learn English through songs, animation, picture books, interactive video classes, others.

The brand has foraged partnership with global publishing company Penguin Random House to create AI-driven education products.

Jiliguala closed its pre-A round in 2016 from Yongjin Group’s investment arm and edtech-focused Gene Capital, besides an angel round in 2014 from ZhenFund.

In other recent transactions in China’s online learning space, Palfish raised $120 million in two Series C funding tranches from SIG China, FutureX Capital, others in August last year while VIPKid garnered $80 million in a Series A round led by Sequoia Capital China and Tencent.

Contact editor Marcus Ryder (marcusryder@caixin.com)

Related: More Funding Less Profits - The Chinese Online Education Paradox


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