HNA to invest in ecommerce? – China’s latest top news


HNA to invest in ecommerce?

HNA, the Chinese conglomerate that began as an airline based in the island province of Hainan, is considered a gray rhino — one of several Chinese companies that the government may have warned about excessive debt and irrational overseas acquisitions. HNA has also been the target of allegations of malfeasance by tweeting exiled tycoon Guo Wengui 郭文贵 for which the company has sued him for defamation, seeking $300 million in damages.

Now the sun seems to be shining on HNA once again:

  • The Financial Times reports (paywall) that shares in HNA Group and fellow gray rhino Fosun International “soared on Wednesday as investors speculated that changes to China’s top political leadership would benefit the companies.”
  • Reuters says that HNA “is in talks to buy a controlling stake” in Dangdang.com, China’s first ecommerce company, which in 1999 started, like Amazon, to sell books.
  • If the HNA deal goes through, Dangdang is likely to be valued at “8 billion to 10 billion yuan ($1.2 billion to $1.5 billion),” but “financial terms are not yet finalized and the talks could still collapse.”
  • Last week, Caixin reported that HNA “plans to invest up to 50 billion yuan ($7.5 billion) to launch a digital tourism platform” called HiApp, which will be launched this year and is intended to “bring together HNA’s offerings in the hospitality, aviation and financial sectors.”

China and the final frontier

News from China’s space program:

  • On the sidelines of the 19th Party Congress, delegate and chairman of China Aerospace and Technology Corporation Lei Fanpei 雷凡培 told the People’s Daily that by the end of 2020, “China will put more than 200 spacecraft into orbit with an average of 30 launches a year,” and that China “will catch up with the U.S. in some key aerospace projects and become a world space power” by 2045.
  • CPI Analysis notes that China’s new leadership lineup includes a large number of aerospace experts.

Weekend reading

  • ESPN reports that “Joseph Tsai, the executive vice chairman and co-founder of Chinese e-commerce goliath Alibaba, has reached an agreement in principle to purchase a 49 percent minority stake in the Brooklyn Nets” basketball team, with the price “based on a $2.3 billion valuation of the team.”
  • Tomorrow is the Double Ninth Festival, the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. Customary ways to celebrate are climbing mountains and drinking chrysanthemum tea or liquor. Read more about Double Ninth on Wikipedia, or for a more literary exploration of the date, see China Heritage.
  • If you’re interested in China’s social credit system, China Law Translate has compiled a list of relevant official documents together with an introduction to the concept.
  • A Beijing government WeChat account has published a list (in Chinese) of 59 phrases that “we should all know to welcome the 19th Party Congress.” Many of them are also in the “25 key phrases of Xi Jinping,” which we translated last year.
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Jeremy Goldkorn

Jeremy Goldkorn is co-founder of the Sinica Podcast and currently edits SupChina and its daily newsletter.