The following is excerpted from IRG's weekly stock report:
• 99Bill, a Chinese online payment service provider, announced that it has entered into a strategic agreement with China Merchants Bank (OTCPK:CIHHF) to jointly promote the online payment and online banking services in China. The alliance sees 99Bill as able to expand its online payment services to tens of millions of China Merchant Bank’s customers. Industry observers see the alliance as helping China Merchants Bank to secure more high-end customers, and boost the use of its online banking services. According to a survey by Nielsen, only one-fifth of China's Internet users use online banking services at least twice or three times per week, with 5 percent of those asked saying they use online banking each day. These figures contrast with the global rates of 32 percent and 14 percent respectively. According to the China Banking Regulatory Commission, the country’s major commercial banks registered some 75 million online banking customers by the end of 2006, figures that represent an increase of 21 million from a year ago. Studies forecast that for 2007, the number of online banking users is expected to hit 117 million and online banking transaction volume is seen as going beyond 118 trillion yuan (US$1.5 trillion).
• Alibaba announced its opening of a branch in Chongqing, a move that the company said indicates how important Southwest China is to them. Statistics from Alibaba show that for every 100 industrial enterprises engaging Alibaba’s e-commerce platform, about 11 are from Chongqing.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
• CCTV.com announced its selection of Sohu.com (NASDAQ:SOHU) as strategic partner for its engagement in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The general manager of CCTV.com presented the alliance as bringing together the strengths of their brands, operations and resources and producing better results for their clients. The report described CCTV.com as covering the most extensive TV audience in the country and Sohu.com as representing the development path of China’s Internet business. Set up in 1996, CCTV.com is one of the first Chinese language information websites in China. As a sponsor of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Sohu.com holds more than 100 million registered users.
• Global Music International (GMUS.OB), a music aggregator, and Warner Music China (NYSE:WMG) announced their entering a licensing agreement that will enable GMI to provide Warner's music audio content to Chinese mobile service providers. Warner Music China said it looks to the new agreement as complementing the other strategic partnerships it maintains with China Mobile (NYSE:CHL) and China Unicom (NYSE:CHU). In a separate development, Global Music International recently announced an upcoming launch with China Unicom Newspace, the wholly owned subsidiary of China Unicom responsible for the carrier's wireless music services and rich mobile media content. Under this agreement, China Unicom will officially begin broadcasting Global Music International’s music videos and audio content.
• With China Mobile securing a license to create and produce its own mobile advertising and marketing services, it is now expected to become a comprehensive wireless service provider. Earlier in March 2007, China Mobile started looking into the mobile advertising market by way of Fractalist, which served as its agent for its advertisement design. Fractalist also engineered the home page of China Mobile’s Monternet and its other channels. China Mobile said it plans to create a comprehensive mobile advertising and marketing division that will allow advertisers to deal with the company directly instead of going through third-party mobile marketing service providers.
• China TechFaith Wireless Communication Technology Ltd. (NASDAQ:CNTF) and Arasor International Group (ASRFY.PK) announced entering into a joint venture to expand the wireless handset opportunities in the world's emerging markets. Under the agreement, Arasor will provide the joint venture with funding for operations in exchange for a majority ownership interest in the joint venture. China TechFaith, which will own a minority interest in the joint venture, will provide product development engineers, working facilities, testing equipment, and intellectual property. The two companies said they will work jointly on handsets with specific functions and features to meet both cost and performance requirements for the world's emerging wireless handset markets, such as those found in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Arasor International Ltd. develops and markets telecommunications and consumer optoelectronic solutions. Under the leadership of one of the strongest management and engineering teams in the optoelectronics industry today, Arasor aims to establish itself as a leading solutions company serving global systems vendors in the network transport, wireless communications and the emerging laser-based display industries. With headquarters in the U.S., Arasor maintains operations in Guangzhou, China; Shanghai, China and Yokohama, Japan. China TechFaith is one of the largest handset application software and handset solution providers based in China.
• CDC Corporation (NASDAQ:CHINA) announced the filing of its plans with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S. for an IPO of its online games subsidiary targeted to start during the fourth quarter of 2007. The company said the plans involve US$200 million aggregate principal amount of Class A Common Shares of CDC Games Corporation. CDC said the IPO is aimed at allowing CDC Games to clearly differentiate its line of business from CDC Corporation. The company said it aims to come up with an investment vehicle for investors seeking to invest only in the online games portion of CDC Corporation.
• UTStarcom, Inc. (NASDAQ:UTSI), a global leader in IP-based, end-to-end networking solutions and services, announced that it has won a bid to deploy its RollingStream end-to-end IPTV solution with China Telecom [CTC] (NYSE:CHA) for a new commercial IPTV network in China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. With a total population of more than 5 million people, the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region is geographically located near the central northern edge of China and bordered by the Shaanxi (Shanxi) and Gansu provinces as well as the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The initial deployment, which has the capacity to support 10,000 subscribers, will offer 52 live broadcast television channels, 48-hour time-shifting capabilities, 3,000 hours of video-on-demand [VOD] content and valued-added services including karaoke, online gaming, TV-based SMS and other interactive applications. UTStarcom is providing the complete RollingStream solution, an end-to-end solution designed for telecommunications operators and broadband service providers to deliver broadcast quality TV and on-demand entertainment programming over IP networks. UTStarcom is a global leader in IP-based, end-to-end networking solutions and international service and support. The company sells its broadband, wireless, and handset solutions to operators in both emerging and established telecommunications markets around the world.
• Transit Telecom of Brazil announced that it has signed a cooperation agreement with China Telecom, enabling the latter to import the Personal Handyphone System [PHS] to the Latin American state. The alliance is expected to be good until the end of 2007. According to China Telecom’s director of international marketing, the operations of China Telecom’s PHS have brought great advantages to clients and the Chinese business community. Transit Telecom’s move to acquirePHS started in 2006 when it entered a deal with ZTA, a Chinese telecoms equipment supplier based in Shenzhen, to launch the first network of the new technology in Brazil, expected to be operational in August. PHS was developed in Japan around 1990, with China introducing the system in 1999. The PHS system has registered more than 80 million subscribers in the world, about 60 million of them found in China.
• Media sources said Datang Telecom has secured a credit line worth 20 billion yuan (US$2.6 billion) from China Construction Bank. The line of credit is expected to enable Datang to receive as much as 50 billion yuan (US$6.6 billion) in bank loans in the coming years. From 1998 to 2005, Datang received support from many different government departments including the Ministry of Information Industry, Ministry of Science and Technology, State Development and Reform Commission, Shanghai Municipal Government as well financial institutions like the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and China Development Bank. In June this year, Datang Telecom signed a cooperation agreement with China Development Bank to receive a 30 billion (US$4 billion) loan for Datang to develop its TD-SCDMA service.
Disclaimer: IRG is not responsible for the accuracy of the news compiled within this article, which is based on publicly available information.