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News from China
Bitcoin surges past US$18,000 on trading debut in Chicago
12th December 2017

 BITCOIN surged past US$18,000 after making its debut on a major global exchange but was trading lower yesterday, highlighting the volatility of the controversial digital currency that has some investors excited but others nervous.

 
Trading on a futures contract began at 6:00pm on the Chicago board options exchange at US$15,000.
 
Heavy traffic made the Cboe website inaccessible in the first 20 minutes, but it said that “trading runs on very separate systems and was totally unaffected by the website issues.”
 
Around 1000 GMT yesterday, Bitcoin was trading at US$17,600 per unit for the futures contract expiring on January 17 after reaching a high of US$18,850, according to Cboe’s website, meaning it exceeded the highest value reached on alternative non-regulated Internet platforms.
 
Futures expiring on February 14 and March 14 were higher, trading at US$19,140 and US$19,100 respectively at the same time yesterday.
 
A futures contract is a financial product that allows investors to bet on whether the currency’s price will rise or fall.
 
Bob Fitzsimmons, a futures manager at Wedbush Securities, described the opening as “quiet and steady,” as Cboe data showed around a thousand trades were made in the first two hours.
 
The Cboe debut is expected to be followed a week later by a rival listing on Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
 
It marks the first opportunity for professional traders to invest in Bitcoin on a traditional platform, even as some steer away because of a lack of regulations surrounding the currency.
 
“It gives it legitimacy. It recognizes that it’s an asset you can trade,” said Nick Colas, of Data Trek research.
 
Among those cheering the launch are the Winklevoss twins, who have been called the first Bitcoin billionaires. Critics include financial commentator Jim Cramer, who warns that prices could tumble once the new trading venues open the door to “short sellers,” who bet on downward moves in assets.
 
The two launches were made possible after a key US regulator, the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission, gave the green light to the exchanges on December 1, while warning “of the potentially high level of volatility and risk in trading these contracts.”
 
Anticipation of the first mainstream listings for the digital currency has been a catalyst for a sharp price increase in recent weeks. Bitcoin opened 2017 at around US$1,000, surged past US$10,000 for the first time last month and soared as high as US$16,777 on Thursday before retreating somewhat.
 
The actual opening of the Cboe market, an electronic trading venue, was a low-key affair, lacking the pomp of an initial public offering, which is often marked by the new entrant ringing the bell of the New York Stock Exchange.
 
The embrace by mainstream exchanges of Bitcoin futures marks a sea change from the days when the digital currency was associated with drug dealing and other illicit activities.
 
Cboe said it has taken precautions to address wild fluctuations: trading will be suspended for two minutes if Bitcoin prices go up or down 10 percent, for instance.
 
“We are committed to continue to work closely with the CFTC to monitor trading and foster the growth of a transparent, liquid and fair Bitcoin futures market,” Cboe said.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, December 12, 2017
Xiaomi plans to double revenue in 2018
7th December 2017

 XIAOMI aims to double overseas revenue in 2018 by expanding in areas such as India and Europe, as well as possible new business in the United States.

 
The company is “seriously preparing” to enter the lucrative US market, Xiaomi chairman Lei Jun told a Qualcomm tech conference in the US yesterday.
 
He said a further announcement would be made about the US plans.
 
He said Xiaomi plans to invest heavily on research, its eco-system and new advanced manufacturing. The company has established a 12 billion yuan (US$1.8 billion) 
fund for the Internet of Things and new materials.
 
Xiaomi’s global revenue is expected to jump 300 percent year on year in 2017 and about another 100 percent next year, Lei said on the sidelines of Qualcomm’s 
Snapdragon Tech Summit.
 
Xiaomi has taken the No. 1 position in India, the world’s second largest market only after China and is one of the top five players in 12 overseas smartphone markets, 
including Russia, Greece and Singapore.
Source: Shanghai Daily, December 7, 2017
Digital use to transform China economy
5th December 2017

 THE increasing adoption of digitalization in China could lead to a dramatic transformation of the Chinese economy, according to a latest report by McKinsey Global Institute.

 
Creative destruction would sweep across almost all economic sectors and enhance efficiency as well as boosting productivity, which would eventually boost the global 
competitiveness of Chinese companies, it said in the “Digital China” report released yesterday.
 
“The creative destruction brought by digital technologies is likely to be more rapid and on a relatively larger scale in China because of inefficiencies in traditional 
sectors and massive potential for commercialization. Digitization can make China’s economy more dynamic, and enable more Chinese businesses to compete globally and even 
export “Made In China” digital business models,” said McKinsey Global Institute senior fellow Jeongmin Seong.
 
The report identifies three factors that are ripe for China’s digitalization process: a large and young Chinese market suitable for rapid commercialization of digital 
business models; a rich digital ecosystem; and the government allowing space for digital companies to experiment.
 
China’s digitalization pattern follows that in other countries. In China, the United States, and the European Union, the information and communications technology, media, and 
finance sectors are the most digitized. Agriculture, local services, and construction tend to be the least digitized in all three regions.
 
But China’s digital journey also differentiates the country from its western counterparts, the report said. In China the digitalization process of consumer-focused industries 
such as retail and entertainment is ahead of other sectors than they are in either the EU or the US.
Source: Shanghai Daily, December 5, 2017
SoftBank seeks Uber shares at 30% discount
29th November 2017

 JAPAN’S SoftBank Group Corp is offering to purchase shares of Uber Technologies Inc at a valuation of US$48 billion, a 30 percent discount to its most recent valuation of US$68.5 billion, a person familiar with the matter said on Monday.

 
The investment, which was approved by the Uber board in October, would also trigger a string of governance changes at Uber that would limit some early shareholders’ voting power, expand the board from 11 to 17 directors and cut the influence of former Chief Executive Travis Kalanick.
 
The investment and board moves are supported by new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi and come at the end of a year of scandals and change for Uber, including the announcement last week that executives covered up a major hack in 2016.
 
The consortium of investors led by SoftBank and Dragoneer Investment Group plan to take a stake of at least 14 percent in the ride-services company. The tender offer was set to launch yesterday, sources told Reuters, and investors have nearly a month to respond.
 
The SoftBank-led investor group will acquire two of the new board seats, with the remaining four going to independent directors.
 
If there are not enough interested sellers, SoftBank can still walk away from the deal. SoftBank is also expected to make a separate US$1 billion investment in the company at the US$68.5 billion valuation.
 
Another person familiar with the deal said the offer price was in line with what investors had been expecting. SoftBank’s offer is close to what Uber was worth in 2015, when shares were priced a little under US$40 apiece for a US$51 billion valuation, according to data from PitchBook Inc.
 
Even at the discounted price, Uber is the world’s second-highest valued private venture-backed company, after China’s ride-service company Didi Chuxing, and the offer is a chance for early investors to lock in substantial profits and for employees to cash in shares that have to date only had value on paper. Shareholders, including employees, with at least 10,000 shares are eligible to sell.
 
Nearly all secondary transactions, when a new investor purchases from existing shareholders, come at a discount to the company’s valuation.
 
However, the 30 percent discount is steep given Uber’s plan to launch an initial public offering in 2019, said Phil Haslett, co-founder and head of investments at secondary marketplace EquityZen. Usually valuation cuts of this size happen when a company is at risk of being sold at a heavy discount, which Uber is not.
 
“It really comes down to a re-pricing of Uber’s value,” Haslett said.
 
Since it was valued at US$68.5 billion more than a year ago, the company has been hit by scandals, including accusations of sexual harassment. It has also weathered federal criminal probes into software Uber used to deceive regulators and allegations of paying bribes to authorities in Asia, and a lawsuit by Alphabet Inc’s self-driving unit Waymo, accusing Uber of stealing trade secrets.
 
Most recently, Uber revealed that the data of 57 million Uber customers and 600,000 drivers had been stolen in a breach more than a year ago, and that the company had paid two hackers US$100,000 to cover it up. Since then, governments across the globe have launched investigations into the incident.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 29, 2017

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