Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ali-IPO a step closer

I wasn't going to blog on this as it didn't seem too new, but the papers have all got themselves in a lather about the next baby step in Alibaba's stately progress towards its IPO (it's almost August after all. They need something to write about). Following some statements by Jack Ma in Hangzhou (reported yesterday on Zhejiang.com), the company has confirmed that it has filed its papers with the Hong Kong stock exchange. One report suggested a Q3 listing while others agree that it is certainly likely before the end of the year.

The boys in Hangzhou appear to have taken a leaf out of Steve Jobs' book and are squeezing up the hype on this as though it were an Ali-iPhone and not just another China IPO. OK, fair dos, it's probably not just another China IPO. It'll be a big one.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ninetowns Reports First Quarter 2007 Results

Ninetowns Reports First Quarter 2007 Results

It's always a good sign that the financial results are a bit duff when the Q1 results press release waits until paragraph five to mention money. Otherwise, it's "continue to execute its strategy", etc. etc., hoping that readers will be too bored to get down to the bit which tells them that Q1 revenues were just $2.8 million, down 55.3%.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Six tips for your Chinese web site

I was directed to the China SEO Blog for the first time. Search engine optimisation is an important topic when you have 160 million+ users to target.

Today's post is worth a read: Establishing a web presence in China: 6 pitfalls to avoid.

I was taken by points 4. & 5. which go somewhat against the advice on this subject I have been giving:

4. Hosting Overseas
While it is true that most sites hosted elsewhere are accessible in China, it makes sense to have your Chinese portion of your website hosted in China. Not only will you have the benefit of faster connection speed, but you will be more protected against potential IP blocking (if it happens that your host has been serving subversive sites and becomes blocked in China) or even natural disasters (remember the Taiwan earthquake that essentially cut access to overseas sites from China for days or even weeks in some cases).

5. Not registering with the ICP
Yes I know China is one of the rare countries that requires you to register your site with the authorities. But it is the way it is here and if you are in business here you need to comply with the regulations. You don’t want to “forget” to register your site and have its access suddently blocked for a month or two while you are in the middle of a heavy advertising campaign. Usually your local hosting will take care of that but you would want to double check. On major corporations sites you will find that ICP certificate number in the bottom of their main pages so just do like them.

That's all very well in theory. In practise, for media businesses at least, obtaining the proper internet content provider (ICP) license is nigh on impossible and that makes local hosting very hard too. In an ideal world, this is good advice, but China is not an ideal world for media companies.

Not much of EMAP in Asia

I see from the FT (and heard David Levin refer to it in United Business Media's analyst briefing) that EMAP has put itself in play. The B2B division is primarily a UK business with a healthy exhibitions division.

You have to look fairly hard to come across any Asian activity at all. There is a license in Singapore for Asian Plastics News, formerly an EMAP title. Nothing too exciting there for EMAP buyers. In fact, Crain just acquired the European end of this including the PRW.com news site. So, I suppose it's not even a vague EMAP connection any more.

More intriguing is the Worth Global Style Network (WGSN). This is actually a London-based business and describes itself as "the leading international online source of fashion and apparel intelligence in the retail sector, delivering high value information on trends from the latest catwalks, major trade shows, street fashion and retail storefronts". There are obviously strong Asian elements to this business and WGSN has offices in offices in Hong Kong, Seoul, Melbourne and Tokyo. It will be interesting to watch who gets their hands on this.

Update: My good friend Bob Grace over at Crain's Plastics News tells me that the PRW.com link I included above is a dud. Try this one for the news on their acquisition of the EMAP plastics products. Thanks Bob. It's good to know that somebody's clicking through the links we post here!

Friday, July 27, 2007

What effect export crack-down in China?

Today's newspapers are full of stories about China's crack down on exports. This is, reportedly designed to move manufacturers of low-cost tat up the value chain, help ease pollution and the trade surplus. Take your pick of which of these is the most significant. Reports are here from Bloomberg, the South China Morning Post (boo, hiss, behind the wall), and the China Daily.

I wonder what impact this will have on the likes of Alibaba.com, Global Sources and the HK Trade Development Council, all of whom rely on these small manufacturers, most of them in China. The upside of their business is certainly heavily dependent on their capacity to export more, not less.

As the new regulations require significant deposits (not sure if I understand this), they will be very cash-strapped in the coming months. If they survive, they're not going to have much to spend for new marketing activities.

Mind you, China typically seems to over-step the mark when imposing new regulations like this, using blunderbuss measures where more targeted steps might be more effective. Once the damage they are causing becomes clear, the officials will probably pull back in a couple of months. We'll have to watch this very closely though.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The myth of luggage-free sourcing

An excellent post over at the Product Global blog which focuses on the mechanics of sourcing. Blogger Ashton Udall is, unlike many writing on this topic, actually involved in the processes supported by the likes of Alibaba.com and Global Sources.

In this post, he talks about the naivety of many of those attending Alibaba.com's first Open Sesame (ho, ho, that's a rib-tickler lads) Event in Oakland, California. He writes:

My hunches on the lack of education in the Alibaba community were confirmed when I attended the Open Sesame event. I was surprised to find that the preponderance of the audience did not consist of CEOs and purchasing managers of mid to small-size companies, and service providers like myself, doing business overseas. Instead, I would guess that 95% of the audience were complete newcomers to sourcing, offshore manufacturing, and the import-export industry. I met many who were considering a new career as a "trader" or "sourcing agent" in addition to their daytime jobs.
He also talks about those who have placed too much faith in those they've met online through Alibaba. I had not previously been aware of the Alibaba Scam Daily Report, a web site which bills itself as "saving your money from alibaba thieves". Frankly, anybody who sends money to a company they find on Alibaba without doing a lot of serious due diligence has it coming to them....would you like to buy a bridge?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Facebook and B2B in Asia

When I wrote a week ago about the Facebook tipping point, I commented that I was sure it would be important to our business but wasn't sure how. That's still basically true, but some hints are beginning to emerge from the haze. The 'Groups' are potentially important and two have caught my eye so far as they are directly linked to other business media activities:

  1. The magazine China Economic Review has set up a group. So far it has 24 members (including me) and very little activity. They'll have to do something with it, but it's a good opportunity.
  2. Then, perhaps more obviously, the China Web 2.0 Review blog (which I have referred to quite often here) has also set up a group. They have 55 members and the discussion boards are beginning to move along.

Dow Jones/Hexun deal rumoured

Oooh, I think Rupert and Wendy will like this. Much better than MySpace in China.

China Digital Times reports that the rumour mill in Beijing is working overtime regarding a possible Dow Jones investment in SEEC Media's Hexun portal. An injection of the credibility associated with SEEC's Caijing magazine would do Dow Jones no end of good in China and, as the article's author suggests "would help DJ better vie with the likes of Reuters, the FT, Bloomberg and Xinhua Finance for the attention of brokers and investors in China at a time when they have loads of cash to unload but little in the way of good options or advice on where to put it".

Paying for leads in India

The Venturewoods blog is based in India and covers VC issues there. Today's post talks of an investment they've made in a business called Techtribe. The post describes the site thus:

...a professional community website, [which] aims to monetize the same through a referral based recruiting model. Whats more, it has an incentive model, where referrers can make Rs 10,000 for each successful referral they make
Rs10,000 is about $250 in what Americans used to call "real money" and what it now seems we should now refer to as the ever-diminishing-dollar. The blogger and several commenters on the post (no mention of sharks fins, I note) feel this is one of the few real innovations seen in Indian e-recruiting for some while.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Alibaba and the sharks

Those of you who follow the comments on these pages will have seen a sharp exchange a week or so back with a man from Florida. He picked up on a piece I'd written about the Ali-IPO and railed against their active involvement and promotion of the slaughtering of sharks for their fins. As a man devoted to spending time on the sea (see my other, rather occasional blog here if you're interested), I have more than a little sympathy to their cause. I did, however, take the commenter to task for over-stating his case.

It seems that this is not an isolated incident and that the ZD-Net piece on the campaign linking Alibaba with shark slaughter is the 2nd I've seen this week. It goes something like this:

That has turned [Patric] Douglas and other divers into activists. Since starting last year, they have sent petitions with thousands of signatures to Alibaba demanding that Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer Jack Ma crack down on the shark fin merchants using its site.

Alibaba, which has more than 180 companies engaged in buying or selling shark fins, is "the New York Stock Exchange of shark fins," says Douglas. Adds Wolfgang Leander, a 66-year-old diver and director of shark preservation at the Ocean Realm Society, a lobbying group based in Florida's New Smyrna Beach, "They are offering the shark fin traders a very convenient platform to do business."

Leander was the commenter in question on this blog. I have no issue with his statement here which is perfectly reasonable.

It will be interesting to see what Alibaba does in reaction to this campaign. When Disneyland was being developed in Hong Kong, the entertainment giant came under attack for its plans to serve sharks fin soup and traditional wedding banquets in its hotels. Following a high profile campaign led by, amongst others, some kids from my boys' school, Disney relented and Jaws came off the menu.

I can't think to many ways in which Jack Ma resembles then Disney CEO Michael Eisner, but he may be fighting the same fight here. Don't bank on the activists to back down as the IPO nears.

Monday, July 23, 2007

...and the winner is

In this week's entirely unscientific BSG Poll, the winner is.....drum roll....India. We asked in which Asian market readers were most likely to invest or develop new business (see, we have a high opinion of your position and powers).

With 23% of the vote, India comes out on top. Of course, you take the view that Hong Kong and Macau are all part of China, then it's a Chinese clean sweep with a combined score of 41% of the vote.

As ever, please vote early, vote often and tell your friends about this week's poll. Heck, if you're really young at heart, you may tell your friends on Facebook about it....

China's web on the map

This might have been a good post for a Sunday when you have more time to browse this fascinating visualisation of the interconnections in the online media world. What caught my eye (as it had the MobiMode bloggers who pointed me in this direction) was that this "London underground map of the Internet" has a whole separate line for China.

We mentioned the new user statistics just last week. So, this is maybe not surprising. If you're winning 100 new passengers every day, then you probably do need your own separate train and line.

I'm not sure I understand all the interconnections. Is the fact that there are very few on the Chinese line due to language issues or unfamiliarity?

Update: according to Chang over on the Web 2.0 Asia blog, I have missed the point (he didn't direct his comment at me. This is simply self-flagellation). The map is, apparently of the Tokyo subway and the Japanese firm Information Architects who put this together were having some fun by changing the real stations for Internet companies. Still interesting to see who they think goes where.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Ninetowns responds

Following the news pieces on which we reported yesterday, tootoo.com parent Ninetowns has issued a statement clarifying its intentions. This confirms the number of 140 staff to be laid off or 'redeployed'. The company says it wants to reduce overall headcount from 900 to around 750.

The company also notes that "the major technical development of the B2B platform is close to completion" and that it will now focus more on sales and marketing initiatives. "Ninetowns expects to continue to expand the B2B sales and marketing team to focus on building traffic and a solid customer base", the company said.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Trouble at Ninetowns?

James MacGregor's Pacific Epoch is reporting that there's trouble down on the Ninetowns farm. After all the 'glory' of their $27 million acquisition of Baichuan's Yaphon business earlier this year, it now appears they're laying of 140 or so in their B2B search unit.

The report, via 163.com, says "Ninetowns confirmed that it has made lay-offs in the B2B department but that some employees will be transferred to other departments and that Ninetowns will continue to develop its B2B business".

Thursday, July 19, 2007

B2B e-trading in China tops Rmb1 trillion

CCID is an interesting company. Sitting away in another wing of the Ministry of Information Industry, it competes with IDG quite directly (and well) and, in some ways, mirrors its activities. It's the second largest IT publisher in China.

I often forget about CCID Consulting, its listed subsidiary in Hong Kong. However, it came to my attention today with a very interesting press release about a report it's produced on China's B2B e-markets. More pre-AliIPO activity I guess.

Highlights include the suggestion that "As the mainstream...of China's e-business market, B2B trading value amounted to 1.0044 trillion Yuan [US$129 billion in 2006], up by 47.5% over 2005, accounting for 91.3% of the overall e-business trading value".

It also suggests that "Alibaba has taken up a market share of over 50%. In 2006, Global Sources started to join hands with hc360 to develop China's SMB market. Combined, they have a total market share of some 30%".

100 new ones very minute...

Chinese Internet users that is. By the time you've finished reading this, there will be another 40 - 50 Internet users in China!

There are a lot of posts on the last pronouncements from the CNNIC on how many people are using the Internet in China. I enjoyed the factlets that had been pulled together in the China Tech Stories piece on it.

The basic highlights are that there are now 162 million users in China, 122 million of whom have access to broadband. However, it does appear that it is 3 to a chair as the article also notes "there are 67.1 million PCs connected with internet, an increase of 7.7 million in the last six months".

While only 15% are reportedly searching for jobs online, 20% are trading stocks. Which tells you something about the madness of the markets there if nothing else does.

Focusing on the regions

A number of clients and others in the industry have been complaining more and more vehemently to me that there are no good opportunities left in the 3 key centres of B2B media and events in China; Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. This may or may not be true (probably not).

However, there is a solution. It is hard to convince far-away bosses, particularly in the small countries of Europe, that there are good opportunities in China's regions. But there obviously are. A city of 2 million people is considered "small" in China and there are absolutely tons of them.

I was interested then to receive a press release from my friend Sam Chambers about a new initiative he has set up with several others with a background in the shipping and freight media. It tells us that "City Connect is a unique platform connecting [China's] inland city governments, multinationals, and freight transport providers under one roof for two-day events, focusing on improving supply chains out of individual strategic transport hubs". They're planning conferences in Chongqing, Wuhan and Chengdu this year. If all goes to plan, additional cities will be added in 2008 including Kunming, Nanjing, and Harbin, as well as a launch in Vietnam.

Good luck guys. There will, for sure, be more ventures of this type. And why not start in the city of Chongqing (other than the fact that it is currently under water)? It's population of 30 million makes it bigger than all but a handful of countries in Europe.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Facebook tipping point?

This may be old hat to some of our cutting edge readers, but I am coming to the conclusion that Facebook is about to tip over into the adult mainstream.

It's been the communications medium of choice of my teenage sons for a year or so now (ironically, they switched from My Space at almost exactly the moment that Murdoch bought it). I have been aware of it but not a user and didn't have business contacts or colleagues who were using it. That is changing unbelievably quickly and I'm finding all sorts of people using it (many of whom I wouldn't have expected to).

Just the other day, I read one of the major IT bloggers in the US (sorry, can't remember which) saying that their Facebook connections were about to overtake the LinkedIn ones. This wasn't a recent college grade either. I think he's older than me.

Talking to a client/contact earlier this evening, he also said that he was convinced this was about to take off into the B2B media and information world. I'm not quite sure how and neither was he. So far, it's a medium more suited to family and friends. But, I think he's right. There is something very powerful and addictive about the interface...

Baidu & Netsun in B2B tie-up

Some people ask why I keep covering Baidu and Google on this site. They get lots of coverage elsewhere, the argument goes, and what's it got to do with B2B media? Well, today's news on China Tech Stories that Shenzhen-listed Netsun is linking up with Baidu to form the "Business Advertisements Union" should be answer enough.

As Mao Xian Jia says "The combination between one of the largest e-commerce networks in China and the largest Chinese search engine is well received by industrial analysts in China". I'll bet it is. Mind you it won't be so well received by more traditional B2B publishers who may find this a very powerful competitor.

In praise of Taobao

Xinhua has put out a piece today which originates in the Shanghai Daily (although I suppose the two things amount to pretty much the same thing). It reports that Alibaba Group's taobao.com auction site "has nearly tripled transaction volume in the first half to 15.7 billion yuan (US$2 billion)". It says this is because people are getting more used to shopping online.

iResearch data is quoted putting Taobao's market share 72.2%. The report goes on to say that "
Average daily trading volume on the site in May and June exceeded 100 million yuan - equal to peak times in 2006 when such big transactions spiked only during festivals such as Christmas, the weeklong May Day holiday and National Day holiday".

Once the Alibaba.com IPO is behind them, perhaps the gurus in Hangzhou can start to figure out how to make some money out of all this market dominance.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"It is weird to see the company losing money"

Too right Castor.

The Standard newspaper in Hong Kong carries an interesting piece today on the profit warning issued by Kenfair last week. The piece quotes Sun Hung Kai Financial strategist Castor Pang Wai-sun saying: "It is weird to see the company losing money. Trade fairs continue to be a money-making business. Europe and the United States are constantly being overbooked, even in Hong Kong and the mainland."

"It is about catching on to the trend and perhaps the company has missed out. Overall, business opportunities for trade fairs should be good," another analyst is reported as saying.

We agree that it's weird. Kenfair has a couple of really strong fairs. They seem to have dropped the ball when it comes to over-seas expansion. As a listed company, it is looking increasingly like a target. Likely buyer? How about Alibaba as it looks to find ways to use the proceeds of its IPO? They say no. We say, never say never.

Monday, July 16, 2007

FT upsets the censors

I like the 'Pink 'un'. Heck, it's the only newspaper I actually pay for at the office. So, I was intrigued to see the piece Friday from their Tech Blog about how they now appear to be banned in China, a victim of the GFW.

They direct readers to a site I haven't looked at before which lets you see whether you're blocked: GreatFireWallofChina.org.

I certainly have some sympathy with the following comment:

The action against a single corner of the FT's site is also a reminder of the growing technical sophistication of the commissars. They are already targeting particular entries in Wikipedia. How long before the news sections of international papers start getting cut up by the censors' digital scissors?

Rothschild takes on the Ali-IPO

According to the Telegraph in London, Alibaba Group has appointed Rothschild to act as advisor on the IPO of its Alibaba.com B2B unit. The report confirms that "Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have been enlisted to underwrite the Alibaba share sale".

It goes on to suggest that "The flotation is likely to be the biggest-ever IPO by a Chinese internet company, and could value Alibaba's business arm at as much as $4bn."

The report was unconfirmed by either Rothschild or Alibaba.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Results time

The results of our first poll on this blog have been tallied. Based on a small sample, the most strongest held view was the Macau would generate new types of business. More of you thought it would take 3 - 5 years to take off than felt it would be an immediate success.

We're taking this poll down now. The PollDaddy site seems to have a fault and I couldn't generate a new one today. I'll try again tomorrow.

Update: No sooner said than fixed. Not sure what was wrong there but, as you can see, I have been able to add a new poll. I also see that the good people at Blogger have added a built-in poll feature. I'll try that for next week's BSG Poll.

Some Asians are more sociable than others...

I was going to continue in the Google frame and write about their run in with the authorities in Australia. They're being treated more and like the next evil empire with every passing day. But, I thought you'd have all read about that elsewhere.

So, instead, I'll point you over to Chang on the Web 2.0 Asia blog who has picked up on an interesting piece of Ipsos research about usage of social networking sites. There are huge variations between the four major countries with, it seems, Korea and China embracing SNS enthusiastically, India somewhat less so and the Japanese very reticent.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Google and wax tadpoles

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water....Google is already in the middle of some pretty ugly hand-to-hand combat with Baidu in China. Now they are being sued for using somebody else's name. The BBC reports:

Beijing Guge Science and Technology Ltd told Reuters news agency that people were constantly phoning its office trying to contact search engine Google. "We just want Google to change their commercial name," said Tian Yunshan of Beijing Guge.
Product naming in China is fraught with difficulty, as Coca-Cola discovered to its cost back in the 1980s. The first effort to transliterate the sound of the fizzy black gunk into Chinese reportedly translated as "bite the wax tadpole".

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Waves of cash lap at India's shores

Ah, waxing poetical this morning in the headlines at least...

I've talked a bit before about how much more VC and related money is targeting the media, information and tech sectors in India than in China. The Business Standard has a story today about another new fund. Nexus India Capital has just closed a US$100 million fund to invest in technology and other businesses including media.

$100 mn may be petty cash in the US these days but it can stillgo quite a long way in India. In fact, these sorts of funds are fuelling what can only be described as very ambitious thinking among India's media entrepreneurs when it comes to valuations. I would surprised to see many 'trade sales' close in the next six months. They're going to be too expensive for most people.

Still in India, two other stories caught my eye and they seem a bit contradictory: firstly, over at contentsutra.com, there's a piece about how "India has the lowest Internet penetration rate at 3 percent in the Asia-Pacific region". Meanwhile, Agency faqs reports that "The advertising expenditure forecast by the media agency ZenithOptimedia predicts that by the end of this calendar year (2007), the ad spend on the Internet will be more than double what it was in the previous year (2006)....However, the growth of ad spend on the Internet is expected to take a quantum leap in the next two years – the figure may reach the Rs 2,250 crore mark by 2009, which will be almost 10 times the size it is now".

Plenty of places for that money to go it seems and get a good upside.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vote early and often

As has so often been the case, B2B media blogging guru Hugo E. Martin has pointed me towards a new feature. As you can see, I've added the BSG Poll to our side bar. I had gone across to his blog to see the post about my friend and colleague Santosh Goenka's new venture with DVV of Germany. I noticed the Polldaddy.com vote that Hugo had added and thought this seems like a great idea.

So, make it work. Vote early, vote often. Let's see what you think.

Fredy resolves to "turn adversity into personal strength"

The attacks on Xinhua Finance and its CEO Fredy Bush continue unabated. I thought that "tall poppy syndrome" was an Australian problem but perhaps the staff at the Wall Street Journal are just preparing themselves for Murdoch ownership. Thanks to colleague Mark Cochrane for pointing me to a fairly mean-spirited Journal piece (probably subscribers only - sorry) which rakes over more about Bush's teen pregnancy and tax problems than it throws any real new light on the issues at Xinhua Finance. Again, they seem to preparing themselves for the Murdoch years which now seem sure to come.

The Journal, in a rather feeble effort at even-handedness, has posted on its website a letter from Bush to her staff in which she says "I can assure you that with these latest personal attacks, my resolve to turn adversity into personal strength has only increased".

A briefer version of the staff letter has been posted to shareholders where Bush adds the information that "you should know that the business remains strong as is evidenced by XFMedia’s announcement this morning revising upwards its revenue guidance for second quarter 2007 from $23 million to an anticipated range of $27-29 million".

Macau bogeyman used to scare Hong Kong

I was in Macau again yesterday. Things continue to move ahead at great pace there. The boxes are in at the offices of the Venetian team who will be moving into their new building soon. The opening is looming.

And the scare stories are running in Hong Kong again, this time being enthusiastically promoted by those who want to demolish the Wanchai sports centre and/or lose the nearby bus station and build a Phase 3 of the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.

"Hong Kong is in urgent need of new exhibition and convention facilities to fend off growing competition from Macau and nearby cities", screams the property section of the South China Morning Post (sorry, behind the subscriber door...and more on the sins of the SCMP in a minute).

Michael Li, the executive director of the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners, is quoted as saying that "his group planned to form a strategic alliance with other concerned parties to call for the development of phase three of Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre". Doyen of the Hong Kong exhibition industry Stanley Chu is a bit more sanguine (and right in my opinion) when he says "the threat from Macau is not imminent".

I would have thought Michael Li would be better off focusing his attention his attention on his members' penchant for knocking down hotels and turning them into more profitable office blocks. Hong Kong has lost the Hilton, the Furama, and the Hyatt Regency in recent years and the Ritz Carlton, a 15 year old building, is due to close for demolition at the end of this year.

Now to the SCMP's sins...not only do they enclose most of their material behind a subscriber's only firewall, but now they impose on their paying subscribers pop-up advertising links within the editorial. Paul Conley has been campaigning vigourously against this is the US. I fear there's no hope in Asia where editorial and ethical standards cruise along at rock bottom to start with.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A slightly better-kept secret

This one wasn't as widely rumoured as the Reed/Shenzhen SinoExpo deal, but word of IIR Exhibitions' acquisition of HQ Link's business in Singapore has been rumbling around the market for a few weeks. Lot's of people have looked at Dilys Yong's business; it's an obvious target with strong, specialised trade events in Singapore, China, Vietnam and India. A classic acquisition. The only question you might ask is what took so long for a deal to be done.

This brings together two of the strong ladies of the industry in SE Asia; HQ Link boss and former SACEOS President Dilys with IIR Exhibitions' Rosalind Ng. It will make an interesting combination. It also takes Informa's Asian business of in another direction. Watch this space.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Benefitting from China's broadband boom

Honourable mention for Global Sources we notice in an interesting Investors Business Daily piece on broadband in China. The article's basic point:

China is on pace to pass the U.S. to become the largest broadband market later this year as video, e-commerce and online gaming fuel demand. And the country has just scratched the surface.
It goes on to note:

Shares of Sina, Sohu and Baidu have all done well this year. So have Chinese firms focusing on e-commerce, new media and online gaming. They include Global Sources, (GSOL) Ctrip.com, (CTRP) Shanda Interactive (SNDA) and The9 Ltd. (NCTY)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Kenfair popping along

Hong Kong exhibition organiser Kenfair listed in April 2002 at HK$1. For a while, it traded comfortably, although not dramatically above that. Over the past couple of years, though, it has fallen out of favour and has hovered around the HK$0.70 mark.

As this Yahoo! chart shows, though, things started to move quite dramatically on 11th June. It really popped on 14th and closed yesterday at HK$1.38. That's an 89% pop in three weeks.

What's going on here? Is somebody building a strategic stake or does this just signify new interest in China-related B2B media stocks in advance of Alibaba Group's expected IPO? Global Sources has also seen a healthy run-up in the past couple of months, from a May 1st opening of US$17.34 to a close yesterday of $23.47. It's now trading just shy of its original $24 listing price.

Keep an eye on these. Somebody's making some money somewhere.

Acquisition cost not material

Thank goodness we have the Daily Torygraph on which to rely when it comes to understanding our industry. It's interesting that the newspaper chooses to report on Reed Exhibition's buy-in to the Shenzhen SinoExpo gift fair business.

Given the tortuous negotiations which I feel sure will have accompanied the closing of such a deal, I'm sure both sides will be intrigued to hear that "the cost is understood not to be material". I'll bet it was to them although, to be fair to the Torygraph's Mark Kleinman, probably not in the greater scheme of things for the Reed Elsevier mother ship.

This deal seems to have been quite the worst-kept secret in the Asian exhibitions industry. I've lost count of the number of people who have mentioned it in the past few months. Commercial confidentiality remains a foreign concept across much of China (so, buyers beware!).

The Reed Exhibitions management team must be relieved to generate a UK newspaper story which did not mention defence shows!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Talk nice

Sam Chambers is the Asia/Pacific editor of Seatrade, an independent, UK-based business media company focusing on the shipping and cruise shipping industries. In an e-mail he just described this blog as "excellent".

What alternative do I have then but direct you to the news that his 'baby', Seatrade Asia Online is one year old and thriving. Good stuff.

In the interests of full disclosure (and as I mentioned when I wrote about this a year ago), I should let you know that I first came to Hong Kong 22 years ago to do at least part of the job that Sam is doing now. In those days, I was called Far East Editor. That was supposed to be for 2 years. How time flies!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


The Labels feature in Blogger is handy way with one click of seeing all posts related to a single issue. As you can see further down on the LH side of the page, the system also keeps track of how many times the tag has been used.

I have taken a look as the frequency of tags and find the rankings an interesting indicator of where our attention has wandered over the past year or so:

Label Frequency
1 China 115
2 Internet 52
3 India 40
4 exhibitions 31
5 Alibaba.com 23
6 mobile 21
7 blogging 19
8 Japan 18
9 e-commerce 16
10 advertising 14
11 Baidu 13
12 blogs 13
13 Global Sources 13
14 Hong Kong 11
15 magazines 11
16 Google 10
17 UFI 10
18 censorship 9
19 Web 2.0 9
20 CMP 8
21 IPR 8
22 Korea 8
23 Sun Business Nework 8
24 Xinhua Finance 8
25 conferences 7

So, by country it goes:

  1. China
  2. India
  3. Japan
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Korea
By company, it goes:

  1. Alibaba.com
  2. Baidu
  3. Global Sources
  4. Google
  5. CMP
By medium, it goes:

  1. Internet
  2. exhibitions
  3. mobile
  4. blogging
  5. magazines
Make of all that what you will!

Good news!

I am just delighted that I will be able to change the layout of the LH column on this blog today and remove the link to the Alan Johnson petition page. He is, I see, finally free.

As a former journalist I, along with so many others in the world, have been watching with great concern over the weeks of captivity for this. What a relief that there appears to have been a 'happy' ending.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Thoughts from Bangkok

Today finds me back in Bangkok which is never a hardship.

I've been keeping an eye on various things over the long weekend including an interesting piece at Seeking Alpha which argues that Xinhua Finance Media is now "grossly undervalued". For those who have been following our coverage of this, you'll know that they've had a real roller-coaster ride since listing. Now, as the piece by Deepak Singh points out, they've "committed US$50 million towards a share buy-back program" because, they say:

We believe that XFMedia’s stock has been unduly punished in recent days and that buying back shares represents an excellent investment at prevailing price levels – especially in light of our strong first quarter results and positive outlook.

Also, in another long-running saga we've been following, the company formerly known as Panpac Media has really severed its links with Bruno Wu's Sun Media group by renaming itself The Lexicon Group. Today, we note, it has announced a Board reshuffle. The Singaporeans are firmly back in charge.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Leadership change in Hong Kong

No, there was no surprise change of plan from Beijing to reappoint Donald Tsang as Chief Executive today, the 10th anniversary of China's resumption of sovereignty over Hong Kong. The news relates to a changing of the guard at AsiaWorld-Expo, the 18 month old exhibition centre at the airport.

Nicolas Borit, the current CEO, will be stepping up to become Managing Director at one the venue's main private sector shareholders, Dragages Hong Kong Limited. His place will be taken by Allen Ha, a [youthful] veteran of the Hong Kong exhibitions indutry. Allen is one of the few people in Hong Kong tall enough to look his former boss and now competitor Cliff Wallace at the HKCEC in the eye. I'm sure the AW-E Board had other considerations in mind as they appointed him!

Thanks to Kenneth Chan over at AW-E for his sterling efforts to get this release to me despite my e-mail systems unexplained desire to eat and destroy several copies of it.

Neither far nor east of where I sit

Thanks to Liam Fitzpatrick over at Time's China Blog for raising one of my pet peeves - the continued practice of many Europeans, particularly my own countrymen in the UK, to refer to Asia as the Far East. From where two-fifths of the world's population sits, it is neither east nor far from anywhere.

This bad, Eurocentric habit derives from a century ago when the colonialists sat in London and Paris trying to divide the world up between them. It's time they gave it up as they had to their colonies.