Sunday, March 26, 2006

Battlefield India

India has become a clear focus of attention for the world's larger B2B companies. And healthcare/pharma seems to be at the heart of the competition.

Two weeks ago, we had United Business Media announcing a number of initiatives in India including CMP Medica's acquisition of Mediworld Publishing. CMP Asia has launched an Indian edition of the CPhI chemical and pharmaceutical ingredients show it already runs in China in association with CMPi from Europe.

Now, we see Reed launching an Indian edition of its Interphex event. We are interested to note that they are planning to brave the challenges of the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Mumbai. Facilities in that city, pending development of a new centre by Reliance Industries at Bandra Kurla (don't hold your breath), are very far from world class. Better alternatives are available in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai but the business, certainly in this industry, is still in Mumbai and that's where the clients obviously want to be.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Expanding boat shows

Despite my earlier posting about the new luxury tax, the Shanghai Boat Show continues to expand. We see that there will be an expansion of the French presence this year.

I wish them well and am sure there is an interesting market in the future for events like this. However, they seem to be more prone to wishful thinking than others just now: "With its 10% a year economic growth rate, and with an average income coming close to the higher bracket of European incomes, China has a considerable potential for development, which makes it a genuine market for the future".

Market of the future: yes.

Average income coming close the higher bracket of European incomes: come on guys. Nowhere close. It goes on "According to Forbes Magazine, the number of billionaires trebled in 2005". Maybe - although there are still fewer than 10 of them in China itself. And how many billionaires come to boat shows?

There are substantially more boats sold every year in Hong Kong than in the rest of China put together. But, it has to be said, there are several fairs, and this one in particular, that seem to thrive on the market of the future story. Good luck to them.

Friday, March 24, 2006

TechTarget on an international roll

The announcement that my friends at Vogel and TechTarget are to link up for a new venture in Germany contained a nugget on Asia that had passed me by:

The Vogel IT Media partnership is TechTarget’s tenth international partnership within two years. Already this year, TechTarget announced partnerships with Netremedia Pte Ltd, a technology media company headquartered in Singapore, and Saga Technology, an IT publisher in Bulgaria.

This goes back to January which just goes to show that I haven't been paying sufficient attention. The announcement from the time says that "TechTarget Asia will serve English-speaking IT professionals throughout the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ...TechTarget Asia will launch Asian versions of,,, and several Windows-related sites, as well as regional editions of Information Security and Storage magazines. TechTarget also announced a reciprocal sales agreement with Netremedia, enabling each company to sell advertising on the other’s media".

Buried at the end of that release is a nugget which will be interesting to many in the Asian B2B world: Netremedia is a division of Pico subsidiary Meeting Planners. That empire continues to expand in a most intriguing way.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Chop sticks and boat shows

China has announced a new luxury tax aimed both at conserving timber and narrowing the gap between rich and poor. As the People's Daily reports, a 5% tax will be charged on disposable wooden chopsticks. In these bird flu/SARS nervy times, this may be seen as a retrograde step by many although there is clearly something to be said for preserving 1.3 million cubic metres of timber a year.

Of more significance to the business events world is the targeting of yachts, golf balls, golf clubs and 'luxury watches' with a special 10 - 20% luxury tax. That will be a significant blow to those who have been setting up events like the Shanghai Boat Show and trying to introduce international brands into watch and jewellery events. It will also be a filip to Hong Kong which (for the time being at least) still imposes no duties and no sales taxes on these products. Even more than now, savvy mainland buyers will window shop in China and buy in Hong Kong.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How to spend $750 million too fast

Interfax China, via reports that Jack Ma of has spent $750 million of the $1 billion invested last year by Yahoo! on buying out VCs and paying down staff options.

"Softbank has cashed out its stake in Taobao, some VCs, who have been with us for more than five years have cashed out, and some of our staff members have cashed out," Ma is reported as saying.

The article goes on to note "Ma, meanwhile, commented on rumors that Alibaba has not yet received Yahoo's investment in full. 'The truth is that we have received every penny but I have just spent it too fast,' Ma said". Nice mistake to be able to make, Jack. Especially when you have $250mn still in the bank and another $82 mn raised from private equity last year.

Talking of which, the article touches on what Alibaba might spend this on. Guess what? Vertical search: "We found there are many excellent vertical Web sites, we hope to form strategic alliance with them or invest in some vertical Web sites," Ma said.

Beijing news-stands

This may be a bit tounge-in-cheek but is actually an interesting review of a Beijing news-stand:

Danwei TV 2: Extra! Extra! Read all about it!: "Below is the second episode of Danwei TV. It's about news stands, magazines and newspapers in Beijing.

Click on one of the little screens below to play; you can also view it in a larger format on the website, or on the website.

The short program shows a typical news stand where many Beijing residents purchase newspapers and magazines, and includes short interviews with a news stand operator and two customers. It was shot and edited by Luke Mines, with the original music by Fernando Fidanza.

Before you watch, ask yourself this question: What news magazines do you read?

The circulation figures for the Beijing Evening News come from ESWN: The Real Circulation Numbers for Beijing Newspapers

After reviewing the video, I fear there might be small inaccuracies when it comes to the stated prices of the glossy magazines. These errors will be corrected in text in this space as soon as possible.

China Stock Blog on p.e.s

I post here in its entirety an interesting piece from the China stock blog. My only comment: none of them looks like a good buy to me at these prices. But, perhaps, it's 1999 all over again and I "just don't get it"?

P/E (Current Year Estimate) for Chinese Internet Stocks That Trade in the U.S.: "

(Via China Stock Blog.)

In Pakistan

Four weeks of very intensive travelling and, consequently, very limited posting came to an end yesterday. My most recent trip was to Karachi, Pakistan. The economy is growing pretty strongly there (+8.4% last year) and an exhibition and business media industry beginning to grow well on the back of it.

I was visiting the Textile Asia exhibition at the Karachi Expo Centre. The venue owners had finished construction of two new halls only 2 days before the show opened but demand was strong enough that the organisers, eCommerce Gateway, took over the new halls and used them anyway. The fair was consequently 50% larger than it had been in 2005.

It was interesting to see the level of support that the Government is giving this privately-organised event. The country's President, General Pervez Musharraf, was guest of honour at the event's official dinner staged at the magnificent Governor House. The Textile Industry Minister was present at several events as was the #3 in the government pecking order, the Chairman of the Senate. This is not entirely surprising as textiles are Pakistan's number one foreign exchange earner.

This is not what we usually read and hear about Pakistan and it's good to see international commerce leading, as it so often does, to a better and deeper understanding of what is really happening in the world.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sourcing shift to Internet quantified

The result is not exactly earth-shatteringly surprising: international traders are turning to the Internet for sourcing. However, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's recently released survey does put some substance and numbers to the trend which we are all aware is gaining pace.

One of the key findings from among the 7,000 surveyed are that buyers are shifting to the Internet more quickly than suppliers:

Only around 15 % of surveyed buyers said they used Internet for sourcing five years ago. 30%, or double indicated that they would turn to the Internet for sourcing in the coming five years.

14% of surveyed suppliers said they used Internet for marketing and promotion five years ago. 27% indicated that they would shift to the Internet five years later.

The survey was timed to coincide with a major revamping of the HKTDC portal which was launched on March 1.

Friday, March 03, 2006


Through the wonders of the Internet, it is via the Manila Sun Star that I discover Reed is launching MIPIM Asia in Hong Kong. Sounds like a good plan to me.

Gold rush or damp squib?

I return from an interesting trip to Vietnam where things seem to be moving along very quickly.

...and start my first post with a horrible mixed metaphor. Anyway, I was interested in this piece about plans in China for a local domain name system to compete with the US-based ICANN-managed .com, .cn, etc.

Official rationale: you can't type .com in Chinese.

Real reason: you can either think this is something very sinister relating to censorship or, equally possibly, it is one of a series of initiatives we are seeing in China to establish national standards that make the country less reliant on those set elsewhere. China has developed its own 3G standard and may feel it should do something similar for the Internet. The Ministry of Information Industry has been one of the more awkward for foreign companies to deal with for many years.

So, it's either Web 1.0 all over again with a rush to own domain names that you never use or it's all a bit irrelevant. The China-only domain names will probably not work many places outside the Chinese mainland as this would be an Internet within the Internet which would not interact smoothly with the ICANN-managed system. Of course, that may be the real rationale. It may, though, simply consign those domestic domains to permanent Second Division status which would make chasing after them and driving up prices look daft.