Jun. 11, 2014, 2:39 PM
- Acquisition-hungry Alibaba (ABABA) is buying the 1/3 of top Chinese mobile browser vendor UCWeb it doesn't yet own for a mixture of cash and stock. The price hasn't been disclosed, but Alibaba claims the deal is the biggest Chinese Web merger in history, exceeding Baidu's (BIDU +0.4%) $1.9B purchase of app store provider 91 Wireless.
- UCWeb has a 50%+ share of the Chinese mobile browser market, and also has 35% of the Indian market. The company claims 500M total browser users, as well as 50M users for its Android app store, which competes against Baidu and Qihoo's (QIHU +3.8%) popular stores.
- More importantly for Baidu (and also relevant for Qihoo), UCWeb claims a 20%+ share of the Chinese mobile search market on the back of 100M active users. A mobile search JV was launched with Alibaba in April.
- Meanwhile, CNBC reports Alibaba will likely file a new F-1 early next week that includes its Q1 results. Odds are Yahoo (YHOO +0.6%), which has been reporting Alibaba's results a quarter in arrears, will move on the numbers.
- CNBC adds Alibaba is still expected to go public in the first week of August. Bloomberg previously reported Alibaba is eying an Aug. 8 IPO.
Apr. 28, 2014, 10:17 AM
- Sohu (SOHU -4.8%) missed Q1 estimates and provided light Q2 guidance. Meanwhile, as part of a recent crackdown, the Chinese government has pulled The Big Bang Theory and other popular U.S. shows from sites such as Sohu.com, Youku.com (YOKU -4.4%), Baidu's (BIDU -5%) iQiyi, and Tencent Video (TCEHY -2.8%). Time observes The Big Bang Theory has produced 1.3B video views since launching on Sohu TV in '09.
- The news is overshadowing a $1.22B investment in Youku by Alibaba (ABABA) and an affiliated P-E firm, and a WSJ report stating Alibaba is forming a mobile search JV with leading mobile browser firm UCWeb (once targeted by Baidu).
- The deals are the latest in a long line of investments and partnerships struck by Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, as each firm tries to build a Web/mobile empire covering over a dozen valuable markets.
- Is Qihoo (QIHU -0.8%) next in line to make a deal? With a $21.6B market cap, the security app/browser/search provider and Baidu rival is the biggest Chinese Internet company to remain independent of the big-3. Qihoo was reported in January to be talking with Alibaba.
- Other decliners: NQ -6.5%. VIPS -5.2%. WB -4.2%. WBAI -3%. LONG -4.5%. QUNR -2.4%.
Jul. 29, 2013, 12:35 PM
- Shanda (GAME) is nosediving as investors balk at the price it's paying to acquire affiliates responsible for handling its online game billing and customer service work, among other activities.
- One of the affiliates (Shengzhan) owns valuable data about user activity. The other (Shengjiang) runs a network that sells 2M+ real/virtual prepaid gaming cards via 180K distribution channels.
- Shanda claims service fees paid to the affiliates made up 21.3% of its Q1 revenue, and that buying the companies will help it deliver the kind of integrated platform it considers crucial for mobile success.
- Shanda is paying for the deals with cash, deferred payments, and the settlement of an outstanding loan receivable.
- Shares had more than doubled since early May before today's plunge.
- Fellow online game providers NetEase (NTES -2.6%), Qihoo (QIHU -4.1%), Perfect World (PWRD -5.3%), and Giant Interactive (GA -5%) are selling off. Sohu and subsidiary Changyou's disappointing Q2 results and Q3 guidance are the main trigger, though a moderate selloff in Shanghai isn't helping either.
Jul. 19, 2013, 2:25 PMSohu (SOHU +0.9%) responds to comments from a Qihoo (QIHU +1.6%) exec about M&A talks regarding Sohu's Sogou search unit by stating it "has been, and continues to be, in preliminary discussions with several potential strategic investors and partners." Sohu adds its Sogou options include both the sale of a minority stake, and "a more comprehensive strategic combination." Qihoo has issued a PR in which it says "no agreement has been reached with respect to a significant transaction," but provides little color beyond that. | Comment!
Jul. 19, 2013, 9:38 AMQihu (QIHU -1.1%) says it's in talks to buy Sohu's (SOHU +0.4%) Sogou search unit, but cautions it's "not in the pricing stage yet" and is still weighing integration issues. Analysts estimate the business is worth $1.2B-$1.4B. Sogou, rumored to be drawing interest from a few different companies, was recently estimated to have an 8.8% share of the Chinese search market in June; Qihoo was given a 15.3% share. If integration challenges can be handled well, a Qihoo/Sogou merger would yield a company with more resources, user data, and advertising scale to take on Baidu (BIDU -0.3%, 69.4% share). Sohu has forecast Sogou revenue of $48M-$50M for Q2, +41%-44% Y/Y. | 1 Comment
Jul. 15, 2013, 10:30 PMBaidu (BIDU) is acquiring top Chinese mobile app distributor 91 Wireless from Hong Kong-listed NetDragon and minority shareholders for $1.9B. 91 was estimated to host ~900K Android apps from ~93K developers (#1 in China) at the end of 2012; the company has also developed several popular apps. Baidu is paying steep multiples for rapid growth: NetDragon's mobile ops posted 2012 revenue of $46M, and Q1 revenue of $23.6M (+42% Q/Q and +219% Y/Y). The deal follows Baidu's purchases of video sites PPS and iQiyi, and is another step towards building a Google-like mobile ecosystem ... and perhaps also lowering its search dependence in the face of growing competition and mobile monetization issues. 91 competes with Qihoo's (QIHU) Mobile Assistant app store. | 11 Comments
May 13, 2013, 10:13 AMSohu (SOHU +2.5%) pops on Chinese media reports it's set to sell its Sogou search engine to Qihoo (QIHU -2.5%) for $1.4B. However, Sohu CEO Wang Xiaochuan has denied deal rumors; past reports have claimed Baidu and Tencent are also in the running. With Sohu still only having a market cap of $2.4B, it looks like many investors are skeptical (Sogou makes up less than 12% of Sohu's revenue). Qihoo (and for that matter, Baidu) would have to do a lot of heavy lifting to integrate Sogou with its own search engine. | Comment!
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