Saturday, July 29, 2006

Off line - heading to New Mexico

I am taking three weeks in the US with my family. The first two weeks of that will be in Santa Fe, New Mexico which is (a) a wonderful city and (b) a more striking contrast to Hong Kong being hard to imagine.

I will, sadly, be having to check e-mail as I travel, but I shall not be blogging.

So, back later in August.

Friday, July 28, 2006

ACP unloads ETF to AAV

A prize for anybody who knows what that alphabet soup means without reading the rest of this. If you live in Sydney you may have a better shot at it.

ETF is Exhibitions & Trade Fairs, one of the longer-established exhibition businesses in Australia. It was acquired by the Packer organisation's ACP magazine publishing business four years ago and has now been sold on to the AAV Group's Staging Connections subsidiary for a reported A$13 million (US$9.93 million).

AAV CEO Michael Gardner is saying this is likely to be the first such acquisition in Australia and in other international locations.

Thanks to friend and former colleague, Daryl Herbert, CEO of one of Australia's most interesting exhibition and events companies, Definitive Events, for pointing me in the direction of this one.

More news from India

We noticed two interesting pieces on India day browsing The first was a piece headlined "A Third Of eBay India Sellers Use Auction Portal As Their Main Source Of Income". This apparently relates to 12,800 individuals and small companies. Commenter Shirin notes that "other sites have entered the auction/classifieds arena as well. is the newcomer. Others include,". He estimates, however, that eBay accounts for over 95% of the market.

In the more structured sector, Cybermedia has reported net profits up 23% in its first quarter. Revenues were up 25% at Rs15.45 crores (US$3.3 million). Highlight was a 47% increase in online revenues which, although still small at Rs1.48 crores (US$317,000) are clearly growing very quickly.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Director from India for UBM

We spoke yesterday of United Business Media's strong 1H results. We note with interest today on that the company has just appointed Pradeep Kar to its board. The report notes that Kar was founder of and and is now chairman of IT infrastructure outsourcing firm Microland.

UBM, under relatively new CEO David Levin is focusing serious attention on India with both CMP Asia and CMP Medica pushing hard to establish a viable presence there. We noted in September last year as well, CMP Media (from the US) tying up with Cybermedia on outsourcing media projects.

Kathmandu trade fair

I have come across trade fairs in some challenging places but today's People's Daily points me to the first I have come across in Nepal. The China Trade Fair will be staged in September at the Birendra International Convention Center by CCPIT's Machinery Sub-Council and the Nepal-China Executives Council (NCEC).

After show tour to Everest anybody?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

CMP reports solid 1H growth in Asia

United Business Media has just reported its first 6 months with revenues - driven by acquisition boosts - up over 25%. Good for them.

CMP Asia reported underlying revenues and profits both up by around 8 - 9%, a pretty solid performance. At current exchange rates, its GBP26.5 in first revenues translate to a hair under $50 million. With several big trade fairs scheduled for September and October, we may see it push full year revenues past the $100 million level.

The company says that growth in Asia was "driven principally by the growth of the exhibitions in Hong Kong, China and Japan". It goes on to note "We are investing in China, India and in new online media products to increase our presence in higher growth markets. We have opened an office in Mumbai, India and are launching new events. We continue to seek expansion opportunities and in the first half announced our intention
to acquire a majority share in the Guangzhou Beauty Fair (China)".

Full disclosure: as a former employee of what was then Miller Freeman Asia, I maintain a small block of UBM share so watch them with more than the usual care and attention.

CNET in $10mn auto site acquisition in China

I'm not sure how solid the details of these reports are but it appears that CNET has acquired XCAR in China for a rumoured $10 million. CNET's Q2 announcement released two days ago confirms the acquisition but not the price.

As a tech media player, CNET is one of those companies which hovers in the neverland between B2B and B2C. A quick glance would suggest that XCar falls for now mainly into the latter category. It will be interesting to see which way CNET takes it. It will also be interesting to see how the deal is structured as there are restrictions on foreign ownership of Internet Content Providers in China which roughly mirror those affecting print publishers.

Update: there's a bit more about this now on China Stock Blog which quotes CNET Chairman and CEO Shelby Bonnie saying "Xcar, which is based in Beijing, is one of the top-three properties related to the auto industry in China. Xcar is dedicated to news, reviews and information regarding the auto market in China. The site is a mix of both original and user-generated content, as well as a rich database of car and related product information."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Declining traditional media revenues in China

Fons Tuinstra points in his China Herald blog to a China Daily piece which highlights falling traditional media revenues in the mainland. Fons quotes the piece saying "Newspaper ads sales fell by 5.1 per cent in 2004, and by 16.5 per cent in magazines compared with an average growth of 20 per cent in the previous 20 years" and adds his comment that this is "partly due to the emergence of the internet, but also because Chinese have better things to do than read, watch those boring media".

I think it is now crystal clear that those publishers looking at China as the last chance to launch traditional print media are at great risk of missing the digital boat which is now seriously setting sail.

Baidu hype Round 2

Seconds away... The Wall Street analysts are obviously getting bored as the summer months creep by. Perhaps they live in Queens and are stuck in the dark.

China Stock Blog reports that some people now think that Baidu is reasonably priced and is looking like a good buy. Ho Ho.

I realise that Google isn't popular right now, but wouldn't count it out in China just yet.

Datamonitor in Japan acquisition

We have been talking about the steadily-increasing number of transactions in Japan across the business media and information industry. So, we note with interest the latest, Datamonitor's aquisition of Japanscan announced in late June. The company announcement is as follows:

Datamonitor acquires Japanscan business and assets

Posted on 6/27/2006

We are very pleased to announce that on Friday 16th June, Datamonitor acquired the business and assets of Japanscan Ltd.

Datamonitor has enjoyed a fruitful working relationship with Japanscan for several years, with Japanscan supplying new product details to Datamonitor’s Productscan Online database.

Japanscan is a highly respected brand and a leading authority on new product data for the food and drink processing market in Japan. The combination of Japanscan’s expertise with Datamonitor’s reach and content in other consumer market areas, provides a great opportunity for us to expand coverage of the Japanese market.

The owner of Japanscan will continue to work with Datamonitor under the management of the consumer team.

...talking of auctions

And talking of auctions and B2B, as we were, we were interested to see a little more news of the Global Sources Direct service. We commented on this last June when the tie-up with eBay to service small B2B buyers and sellers was first announced. At the time, we suggested it represented an outflanking of which doesn't appear yet to have made any serious effort to link its auction site with either the English or Chinese

The announcement that made me think of this is pretty small stuff and talks of Global Sources adding new product categories in response to buyer feedback at the recent eBay Live! event in Las Vegas. Readers may recall that Alibaba staged an opportunistic reception in Vegas during that event which garnered not a little attention.

The Yahoolibaba! deal and Global Sources investment in HC International may be the big deals that grab the headlines and have the investment bankers salivating (there's a nasty thought before breakfast). The daily battles in the trenches, though, are where the China B2B media war is being fought - grinding out small gains and taking opportunistic shots whenever possible.

Monday, July 24, 2006

eBay behind "a tad" in the "land of opportunity"

Two interesting posts on Seeking Alpha's China section. Last Thursday, the site published a piece on eBay in which Meg Whitman, although overall bullish on China, admits that they are "behind a tad". In this case, we assume the Alibaba/Taobao gang might unkindly suggest that, in eBay speak, 1 tad = 2 country miles.

Today, the site quotes Wayne Mulligan of the Tycoon Report saying "Up until a few years ago, eBay/EachNet was the dominant auction player in China – but as of this year, Alibaba’s TaoBao soared past them taking 57.74% of the market and leaving EachNet with roughly 35%. This town isn’t big enough …". He starts his piece describing China, along with the US, as "the land of opportunity" and provides some interesting data on the growth in online auctions.

What is this all doing on a B2B site you may ask? I am personally convinced that the auction model will be a very powerful one for small business in China and that the B2C/B2B barriers there may blur even more at the bottom of the pyramid than they have in other places.

Why blog?

David Shaw's B or not 2B blog is consistently interesting. I was taken by the Powerpoint presentation he includes in a recent posting on the need for publishers to invest in their editors. The slides present 15 minute argument on why those engaged in their industries as B2B editors should be blogging. Nothing specific to Asia here but I just liked the thread of his argument.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

India restricting web access

As we catch up with the news this week, we have been reading with interest the debate in India regarding the Government's efforts to restrict the way in which terrorist organisations can make use of the Internet. In the wake of the dreadful Mumbai train bombings 10 days ago, they do, of course, have our sympathy.

There is significant nervousness in the Indian Internet community, however, when China-style site blocking kicks in. The Great Indian Mutiny blog has some interesting commentary. "There is a crack down in place" the site confirms.

Meanwhile, WebProNews carries a detailed story here. Writer Jason Lee Miller confirms the "...Department of Telecommunications was found to have given directives to regional Internet service providers to block access to, and geocities.

Over the weekend, the blogosphere lit up with reports that access to these sites had been blocked. As bloggers busied themselves trying to find the reason, update upon update revealed that ISP call center representatives were instructed by the DOT to block access to the sites, but did not offer a reason why

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Google Adwords In Hindi

(Via ContentSutra.)

Google Adwords In Hindi: "It looks like Google has launched Adwords in Hindi.  I don’t think they have gone official on this yet. I am sure it would be in beta, as most of the Google products are
Here is one report, which shows that the Hindi Adwords was launched as early as last month, and another report spots [...]"

China has 123 million internet users

(Re-posted directly from China Herald.)

internet - China has 123 million internet...: "

internet - China has 123 million internet users: CNICC

Bean counters can start adjusting their data base again. According to the CNICC, the official statistics provider of the internet, China has now 123 million internet users, reports AFP, up 19.4 percent compared with June 2005. A majority of 77 million has broadband connections.

The 6-monthly report always brings more interesting tidbits, although also others do some analysis of the figures. The people's Daily reports that two third of those making online purchases are male. Listen to me: that is not going to stay like that. One thing is for sure: e-commerce is still in a very early phase:

About 80 percent of sellers use and 34.5 percent use eBay. Nearly half of the on-line stores have daily transactions of below 10 yuan.

'It means most of the C2C (customer to customer) sellers do not regard on-line selling as their full-time business,' said [analyst] Chi.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Back to Taipei

Back to Taipei again this afternoon so light posting likely for the rest of this week. Received wisdom has it that all Taiwanese business has moved to the mainland. Not so. Although there is some nervousness in Taipei about what the future holds for them, we sense a resilient and innovative business culture that has become very adept at playing the angles.

The food's great, it's much less overrun with tiresome investment bankers than Shanghai and, although Taipei may not yet be Asia's prettiest city, the air has been dramatically cleaned up from the foul smog of 15 years ago. That and the world's tallest building (for now at least), the 101 Tower - which is really worth seeing - makes it worth a stop.

Your customer target list is published

China's Ministry of Commerce has very generously published a customer target list for all B2B media and events companies interested in targeting the country's top 500 importers and exporters. Not surprisingly China Petrochemical International Co (Sinpoec) tops the list. It is China's top oil importer and brought in US$34.33 billion worth in 2005. Less familiar to some will be the top exporter, Hongfujin Precision Industry (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd, with US$14.47 billion worth of exports.

Why is this list important? Read this sentence, write down the numbers and add in the zeroes yourself: Total imports & exports from the Top 500 Importers & Exporters is up 0.4 percent last year to reach US$604.75 billion, accounting for 42.6 percent of the total export volume nationwide. These are arguably amongst the most important international traders anywhere in the world. If you run international B2B businesses, these are your customers.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Sincere flattery

We were already aware of multiple magazines in China which have hijacked the Fortune name. Now, we see from Xinhua that The Economist is receiving similar treatment. No less august a body than the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) has launched China Economist, an English language magazine to be published every two months "to introduce China's economic development to overseas readers".

I assume they won't be pompous enough to insist on calling themselves as newspaper as their London-based model does. Perhaps this is the Economist Group's punishment for being so slow to do anything in China...or maybe they are the wise ones.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Don't count on the Americans

The evidence of my visits this week to Taipei and Beijing suggests that there are still plenty of Americans travelling despite the deteriorating world security situation. Clearly, however, can expect to see reduced numbers getting on planes to international meetings if we take heed of the Meeting Industry Soapbox blog's posting Does Int'l Conflict Spell End of Overseas Meetings?

The piece starts:

With the conflicts between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon--and Hamas in Gaza--now at the point of war, and India limping yet again from terrorist attacks, it's time for companies to reassess just how many meetings they plan to take overseas in 2007.

It concludes:

Will businesses have to meet in India anyway?

It's a lousy topic to have to address, but here we are, with no choice.

So far, American Business Media, seems to be pressing ahead with plans for CEO missions to China and India according to Folio's story. The piece quotes ABM's Gordon Hughes saying ""The most critical people we meet with will be government officials. You can't do business in China without permission from the government. There's no private industry." Not sure that last point is quite right, but I appreciate what he's getting at.

Reed in bed with government again - this time in India

Once again, the Asian operations of Reed Exhibitions appear to have decided that the best way to bulk up in the region is to work with government. Following it's ground-breaking Sinopharm deal in August last year, we see from OilOnline that its Spearhead division (RSx) has done a deal with India’s stateowned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to organise jointly the biggest oil and gas show in the country, Petrotech from its next, 2007 edition.

The article quotes Nik Rudge, Group Exhibitions Director for RSx, saying: “Petrotech is arguably the most important and influential meeting on the Indian sub continent and so we fully recognise the honor of the award and are determined to justify the faith shown in RSx". I wonder who's arguing with them about the show's status. Or perhaps, this is just false modesty along the lines of the Carlsberg campaign, "Probably the best beer in the world".

Just after the Sinopharm deal, we quoted Reed Exhibitions CEO Mike Rushbridge saying "I hope that other state-owned enterprises see what we're achieving with Sinopharm and we hope to develop other such partnerships". So, there you have it.

Airshow Update: Elsewhere and, in relation to Reed Exhibitions, we noticed a little piece in the Singapore "Electric New Paper" about the battle of the airshows (see here and here for some of the history of this). It's mostly old news but, at the end, they make two interesting claims:

1. For the new Singapore Airshow in 2008, "the exhibition space has already been sold out".
2. " are 10 to 15 per cent lower than those at Asian Aerospace".

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Light blogging alert...

I have four business trips coming up before the end of July (Beijing, Taipei, Taipei, Jakarta) so I fear that posting will inevitably be light in the coming weeks. This is always frustrating as traffic has been building well in recent weeks.

Heck, at this rate, our lifetime total of Google Adsense revenues from the blog might soon clear the $10 level. Those boys in Mountain View certainly know how to take in more than they give out!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Global plastics shows

There's an interesting editorial from Bob Grace at Plastics News on the internationalisation of plastics industry shows. Highlights include his view that:

  • The Society of Plastics' recent NPE 2006 show in Chicago was the first to really earn its globe logo following an aggressive international promotion campaign. Indian exhibitors, for example, were up to 43 from virtually zero at the last event. Greater China contributed 188 exhibitors.
  • Adsale's Chinaplas show is on the cusp of joining "the world's elite plastics shows" Grace thinks. The show, he says, "is growing at a torrid pace, in step with China's plastics industry".
Like the piece we ran last month from Circuits Assembly, Bob has a few suggestions to Adsale on cleaning out the fake Rolex brigade as this show joins the international elite.

We have reported a couple of times on Plastics News' electronic-only publishing venture in China. See here and here for previous posts.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

More shipping

Funny thing news. No sooner do you mention one piece of news from the world of shipping media than another pops up. There is a small Asian component in United Business Media's acquisition of the old Journal of Commerce group for $152 million.

The company, now known as Commonwealth Business Media, will apparently form a new division of UBM and not - for now anyway - be integrated into CMP. In Hong Kong, the company operates an outpost of its PIERS "Global Intelligence Solution". Some 88% of the group's revenues are, however, currently generated in the US. That looks like an opportunity waiting to be tapped.

Seatrade Asia Online

I was very pleased to see my old friends at Seatrade - the UK-based independent maritime industries media group - launching a new, online initiative, Seatrade Asia Online. The sponsored site includes a free daily update on shipping stories from across the Asia region, including the Middle East Gulf, Indian subcontinent, SE Asia and East Asia.

They're going for a free access and archive model and I wish them well with it. This follows the success they've had over 5 years or so with the cruise shipping site Seatrade Cruise Community.

I should confess that I have a special connection with this group: they saw fit to offer me my first media job back in 1982 and brought me to Asia in 1985. It's a great company that, unlike many of the large media conglomerates which try to cover every base, covers one industry very well.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Protecting the infringers

Is this exactly what China needs now? The People's Daily reports that "China's first regulation on on-line copyright...will protect search engine operators from copyright infringement accusations". The article goes on to quote Wang Bin, secretary general of on-line copyright alliance of Internet Society of China saying, "Search engines providing links can be exempted from copyright infringement of the content under the regulation".

Now perhaps I'm missing an important twist here, but I was under the impression that copyright infringers didn't need any encouragement in China. They seem to manage pretty well all by themselves. The legitimate owners of copyright, however, need all the help they can get. I recommend to my publishing clients that they have to organise themselves on the assumption that their IP will be stolen.

The new law "...means search engines would not be directly responsible for pirated products they provide links to," according to Wang Bin. I think I'll set up a new trucking company - Golden Triangle Shippers. Nothing to do with me what those nice boys from the poppy fields are putting on my trucks.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Chinese search world, in a move which we would stress is nothing to do with copyright abuse, Google has announced the launch of book search in China in association with four of the the country's leading publishers including Tsinghua University Press. Arch rival Baidu has focused on university libraries including that at and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, according to the People's Daily article.

Update: As I browse further today, I was amused to see John Battelle point to a piece titled "Record industry to sue Yahoo China over pirated tunes". Ah, bad news guys. Somebody had better the International Federation of the Phonographic Industries a subscription to the People's Daily!

Why Chinese portals withdrew from B2B...

As you can imagine, a news item with this heading caught my eye. There seems to be some confusion between e-commerce in general and B2B activity in the article but the general thesis appears to be that B2C online marketplaces are the current flavour of the month among the Chinese portals:

B2C business has also become a "new continent" for traditional B2B (Business To Business) and C2C (Customer to Customer) websites. has cooperated with famous brands like Haier, Adidas, Lenovo, Motorola and Nokia to open "stores-in-store". Having signed a strategic cooperation agreement with China Paradise Electronics Retail Limited, the biggest chain retailer in China, eBay EachNet also declared to run the B2C business in the same form of shops for brand goods. Digital products and fashion clothes have become the pilot fields for several C2C websites entering the B2C field.

The article also talks quite a lot about and, the grand-daddies of Chinese portals.

Some of the phrasing perhaps works better in Chinese than it does in English: "B2C is taken by portal websites as chicken ribs without much meat but a dainty to professional e-commerce websites"!

We suspect that the real B2B specialists will not be unhappy to see flavour of the month dragging the big names in another direction. The number of new business models that some of them have pursued increasingly resembles dress changes in a fashion show. Where next boys?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Seoul seminar news

See the BSG corporate blog for news on UFI's 2007 Open Seminar in Asia.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Your attention

I have picked up a few references over the past couple of days as I catch up on various blogs about the issue of "attention data". This isn't really anything specific to Asia but caught my attention as it is an issue which has the potential to knock holes in many online business models including those such as's which rely on them gathering data on where I have been focusing my attention. is a not-for-profit dedicated itself to promoting this concept based on the following principles:

When you pay attention to something (and when you ignore something), data is created. This "attention data" is a valuable resource that reflects your interests, your activities and your values, and it serves as a proxy for your attention.

AttentionTrust and our members believe that you have the following rights:

1. Property

You own your attention and can store it wherever you wish. You have CONTROL.

2. Mobility

You can securely move your attention wherever you want whenever you want to. You have the ability to TRANSFER your attention.

3. Economy

You can pay attention to whomever you wish and receive value in return. Your attention has WORTH.

4. Transparency

You can see exactly how your attention is being used. You can DECIDE who you trust.

Several 'big names' of the Internet are involved with this including Steve Gillmor.

Something amiss at Kenfair

Last year Hong Kong's listed trade fair organiser reported profit attributable to shareholders of HK$36.9 million. On Thursday, it issued a profit warning.

By way of explanation, the company says:

As part of its expansion plans, the Group organized four new exhibitions in different parts of the world during the past three years. In the latest profit forecast of these exhibitions, it is expected that the revenue to be generated from them cannot sustain the development costs of these new exhibitions capitalized in prior years. As a result, the directors are of the view that the development costs capitalized previously for these exhibitions will likely be expensed and will be charged to the consolidated income statement for this financial year. Moreover, the Group also invested in the development of certain new exhibitions which will be launched in the coming years and the related costs were charged to the consolidated income statement during the year.

We commented a couple of weeks ago on the 'postponed' Bahrain fair. It seems that some of those other development projects are proving troublesome as well.

The market seems to have been aware that not all was well. As the Yahoo Finance chart shows, having traded for some time in a HK$1 - 1.20 range, the shares have been slipping in recent weeks and tumbled to 74 cents yesterday.