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News from China
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
China unveils strategy to boost ‘industrial Internet’
28th November 2017

 CHINA’S Cabinet has unveiled a guideline for developing the “industrial Internet” — integration of industry and the Internet.

 
By 2025, industrial Internet infrastructure covering all regions and sectors should be basically complete, according to the State Council guideline.
 
By 2035, China will lead the world in key sectors of the industrial Internet.
 
By the middle of the century, China should be among the top countries for the overall strength of its industrial Internet.
 
The development of industrial Internet is a must for China’s manufacturing sector amid international competition, said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of industry and information technology.
 
The guideline listed major tasks and projects, including increasing the Internet speed and reducing costs, setting industrial Internet standards, establishing innovation centers and improving network security.
 
Equal market access will be expanded, fiscal support will be strengthened and direct financing will be increased, the guideline said.
 
Priority will be given to the development of advanced manufacturing that is smart and green, according to the guideline.
 
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has selected 206 pilot projects for smart manufacturing, of which 28 are related to industrial Internet innovation, said Xie Shaofeng, an official with the ministry.
 
The National Development and Reform Commission said yesterday more energy will be channeled into a range of advanced manufacturing sectors including rail transit, automobiles and agricultural machinery during the next three years.
 
Core competitiveness in chosen sectors will be substantially improved, the NDRC said, stressing combined development of the real economy and the Internet.
 
Other sectors included high-end medical apparatus and medicine, new materials and robotics.
 
As its advantage in cheap labor fades, China has encouraged domestic manufacturers to move up the global value chain. The “Made in China 2025” strategy was unveiled in 2015.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 28, 2017
Eurozone set for strong finish in 2017
27th November 2017

 THE 19-country eurozone is set for its best quarterly performance since early 2011, according to a closely watched survey yesterday, the latest sign that a robust economy has gained further momentum heading into the year’s end.

 
Financial information company IHS Markit said its purchasing managers’ index — a broad gauge of business activity across the manufacturing and services sectors — rose to 57.5 points in November from 56 the previous month. Anything above 50 indicates an expansion and the index now stands at its highest level since April 2011.
 
Chris Williamson, the firm’s chief business economist, said “business is booming,” and jobs are being created at the fastest rate since the dot.com era at the turn of the millennium.
 
The eurozone’s fourth-quarter growth could even come in at 0.8 percent, he said, rounding off “the best year for a decade.”
 
Even before the survey, the eurozone was set to post its highest growth rate in 10 years. Earlier this month, the European Union upgraded its growth forecast for the eurozone this year to 2.2 percent, which would be the highest since 2007.
 
The scale of the eurozone recovery this year, which is broad-based across countries and sectors, has caught many economists by surprise.
 
At the year’s start, many feared that the region, already disturbed by Britain’s vote last year to leave the EU, ongoing concerns over the euro and a slew of key elections, would face a difficult time. Though uncertainty over Brexit remains, the Greek crisis seems contained and populist politicians failed to make the breakthrough many economists feare
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 27, 2017

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