Tag Archives: Talks
HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – The SoftBank-led Vision Fund is in talks to invest up to $ 1.5 billion in Chinese used car trading platform Guazi.com, two people with knowledge of the matter said.
That would mark the latest Chinese deal by the mammoth $ 100 billion investment fund as it looks to expand in the world’s No.2 economy, and would come after it invested 460 million euros in German used car dealing platform Auto1.
The fund is likely to invest up to $ 1.5 billion in Guazi in a deal that would value the firm at $ 8.5 billion before the investment, according to one of the sources, who had direct knowledge of the situation.
The two sources, who were not authorized to speak to media, also said the Vision Fund had in the past few months held talks with Guazi’s direct rival, Renrenche, which is backed by Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing.
Guazi, a consumer-to-consumer used car trading platform founded in 2014, is backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent and Sequoia Capital China. Its talks with Softbank were first reported by the Financial Times late on Friday.
The Vision Fund and Renrenche declined to comment. Guazi did not respond to a request for comment. Japan’s Softbank was not immediately available for comment.
The Vision Fund, the world’s largest private equity fund after raising more than $ 93 billion in 2017, has previously made investments in firms such as ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc and shared-office space firm WeWork.
China’s used car market has continued to grow even as overall auto sales declined last year for the first time since the 1990s.
Used sales rose 11.5 percent in 2018 from the year before to 13.82 million vehicles. The total value of these transactions was 860.4 billion yuan ($ 127.61 billion), according to the China Automobile Dealers Association.
China’s state planner has said the country would aim to loosen restrictions on the second-hand auto market, with “appropriate” subsidies provided to boost rural sales of some vehicles.
Reporting by Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Yilei Sun in Beijing, additional reporting by Junko Fujita in Tokyo; Editing by Joseph Radford
HONG KONG (Reuters) – China’s HNA Technology Co Ltd is in preliminary talks to sell U.S. electronics distributor Ingram Micro Inc, as part of its parent group’s efforts to trim operations.
Discussions were at an early stage, HNA Technology, a listed arm of Chinese conglomerate HNA Group Co [HNAIRC.UL], said in a filing to the Shanghai stock exchange.
No agreement has been signed yet, HNA Technology said.
“Due to changes in market conditions and the company’s strategy, the company is in talks with a concerned party on selling Ingram Micro,” it said in the exchange filing.
Reuters reported on Friday that HNA Group was in talks to sell Ingram Micro to private equity firm Apollo Global management LLC, citing a source familiar with the matter.
HNA Technology said in September it had $ 3.55 billion of outstanding debt from the purchase of Ingram Micro, of which $ 350 million was due for payment this year.
Reporting by Meg Shen; Editing by Kirsten Donovan
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli cabinet minister called on Wednesday for a boycott of Airbnb and promoted one of its rivals, escalating the government’s response to the home-rental company’s decision to delist Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank.
A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California, U.S., August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gabrielle Lurie
“I call today on all those who support Israel and oppose discriminatory boycotts: they should cease using Airbnb and turn to other services,” Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan told a diplomatic conference hosted by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
“By the way, Booking.com is a great service,” added Erdan, the point-man in Israeli government efforts to combat pro-Palestinian boycotts.
Airbnb said on Monday it would remove some 200 settlement listings after hearing criticism from people who “believe companies should not profit on lands where people have been displaced”.
Palestinians who want to establish an independent state taking in the West Bank have welcomed the San Francisco-based firm’s move. It does not apply to East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights, other territories Israel captured in a 1967 war but which Israel has annexed, unlike the West Bank.
“Airbnb took a decision in the right direction to stop dealings with Israeli settlements, consistent with international legitimacy,” Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior official with the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation, told Reuters.
“Erdan’s incitement comes in the course of continued attempts by the Israeli extremist government to intimidate companies, parties and individuals who try to try to take good decisions that agree with international resolutions.”
Human Rights Watch hailed Airbnb’s decision and, in a report on Tuesday, called on Booking.com to follow suit.
Booking.com and Airbnb did not immediately respond to Reuters emails seeking fresh comment.
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, addressing Wednesday’s conference separately, backed Erdan’s call to boycott Airbnb and suggested Israel also deploy its own anti-discrimination laws.
Israel has said it would turn to the Trump administration and could back lawsuits against Airbnb within U.S. states that have legislated against anti-Israel boycotts.
In Israel, one 2017 law empowers courts to award cash compensation to claimants who prove they have been denied goods or services because of where they live.
“I checked yesterday with my office, with the attorney-general, whether we can operate this law, and the answer is positive,” Shaked said. “We need to do anything we can in order to fight them back in order that they will change their decision.”
Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Peter Graff
BEIJING (Reuters) – Toyota Motor Corp said on Thursday it is in talks with Chinese automaker Geely about cooperation in gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle technology, but nothing has been decided on the matter.
The Toyota logo is shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
The move comes as Japan’s biggest automaker has been increasingly embracing new automotive technologies for future growth, and has also embarked on a strategy to ramp up sales in China, the world’s biggest auto market.
Toyota said in a statement to Reuters that it and Geely are currently “communicating with each other” about gasoline-electric hybrid technology.
It was not immediately clear in what aspects of the hybrid technology Geely and Toyota are discussing cooperating.
A person familiar with the matter, however, said that the talks apparently involve a Chinese supplier of electric battery technology both companies have already been associated with but separately. Toyota declined to comment on the specifics of the cooperation.
“Toyota has been conducting the business with the open policy which also applies to the area of electrification technologies. The relationship with Geely (Toyota is exploring) is also based on this open policy,” the statement said.
Toyota’s response comes after a Chinese media report said Geely was working with Toyota on the conventional hybrid technology. The report said details on the joint effort would be announced soon.
A Geely spokesman declined to comment.
Toyota, which bet big on gasoline-electric hybrid technology in the late 1990s when it began selling the Prius hybrid, has since localized production of conventional hybrid cars in China and has been selling them here since 2015 under the Corolla and Levin names.
The company has said it plans to sell plug-in hybrid versions of the Corolla and the Levin next year.
Reporting By Norihiko Shirouzu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman
(Reuters) – Japan’s Fujitsu Ltd said on Friday it was in talks about selling its mobile phone business to investment fund Polaris Capital Group, becoming the latest Japanese electronics maker to withdraw from the sector.
The sale, if realized, would leave just three Japanese electronics makers – Sony Corp, Sharp Corp and Kyocera Corp – in a global market dominated by Apple Inc, Samsung Electronic Co Ltd and cheaper Chinese rivals.
The potential deal calls for Tokyo-based Polaris Capital to take a majority stake in Fujitsu’s mobile phone unit, which is valued at around 40 billion yen to 50 billion yen ($ 365 million to $ 456 million), a source familiar with the situation said.
The size of the stake is still under negotiation, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the discussions were confidential.
An official agreement is expected by the end of the month, the Nikkei newspaper said.
Polaris will aim to list the business in several years, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.
Fujitsu said in a statement that no decision has been made and a representative declined to comment on how large a stake is being negotiated.
Around the year 2000, there were more than 10 major Japanese handset firms producing traditional flip phones, including NEC Corp and Toshiba Corp.
But most have since withdrawn from the business, caught out by the meteoric rise of Apple and Samsung.
Domestic makers failed to gain a global presence by being overly reliant on the lucrative domestic market, which gave them little incentive to change their Japan-specific mobile phone formats and expand overseas.
The rise of low-cost component producers such as Taiwan’s MediaTek Inc also have made it easier for price-competitive Chinese rivals to enter the market.
Fujitsu, whose shares were up 1.0 percent in a flat broader market, has been unloading other non-core businesses as well.
Last year, Lenovo Group agreed to buy a majority stake in Fujitsu’s personal computer unit for up to $ 269 million in a bid to capture a larger share of a market that is battling weak sales as more people switch to mobile devices.
The Nikkei added that retaining the mobile division’s staff and factories will likely be a condition of the deal. Fujitsu, which wants to focus on its core information technology services business, is also expected to continue operating its Arrows brand under Polaris, the source said.
Fujitsu, which spun off its mobile phone operations into a separate company in 2016, had drawn interest from other investment funds such as Britain’s CVC Capital Partners Ltd and Chinese personal computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd, the Nikkei reported last year.
Reporting by Minami Funakoshi and Junko Fujita in Tokyo, writing by Makiko Yamazaki in Tokyo, with additional reporting by Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Malcolm Foster
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) is in talks to acquire Shazam Entertainment Ltd, whose software helps users identify songs by pointing their phone at an audio source, according to a person familiar with the situation.
Shazam’s smartphone app is already tightly integrated with Apple’s Siri digital assistant. Users of Apple’s iPhone with the Shazam app installed can say: “Hey Siri, what’s that song?” and the app will identify it. But Shazam has other features, such as the ability to identify television shows, that do not yet work with Siri.
Tech news website TechCrunch reported the talks earlier, writing that Apple could pay about $ 400 million for Shazam and that a deal could be signed as early as next week.
Shazam did not respond to a request for comment.
Privately-held, UK-based Shazam has raised $ 143 million from DN Capital Limited, Institutional Venture Partners, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, among others, over its 18-year history, according to PitchBook, a firm that tracks private venture investments.
The price TechCrunch reported would fall far below Shazam’s most recent $ 1 billion valuation reported by PitchBook.
An acquisition of Shazam could help bolster Apple’s music efforts by making it easier for users to find songs and add them to playlists in its Apple Music service. As of mid-2017, Apple Music had 27 million subscribers, behind rival music streaming service Spotify’s 60 million users.
Reporting by Stephen Nellis, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien
The world’s top competitive video gamers are facing off in China over the next few weeks for the League of Legends 2017 World Championship, one of the premier tournaments in the fast-growing world of esports.
Hosted by Riot Games, the company that makes the popular League of Legends (LoL) online game, the tournament’s early rounds turned in a fair amount of excitement and upsets, though last year’s champion is still standing. The Korean professional esports team SK Telecom T1 remains a favorite in a field that also features teams like Samsung Galaxy (sponsored by the South Korean electronics giant) and the North American team Cloud 9.
If none of those names ring a bell, then the rapid ascension of esports has likely passed you by. Competitive gaming’s popularity around the world has exploded in recent years, and the esports industry is now expected to generate more than $ 1.5 billion in annual revenue by 2020, according to one estimate.
Meanwhile, major professional sports teams like the New York Yankees and Cleveland Cavaliers are throwing money at esports, while tech giants like Amazon and Google compete to lure gaming fans to stream live gameplay and competitions on their digital video platforms, Twitch and YouTube, respectively. Last year, Riot Games (which is owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent) signed a reported $ 300 million streaming rights deal with Walt Disney’s BAMTech, and this year’s LoL world championship tournament is available for streaming around the world on Twitch and YouTube.
The influx of media rights deals has also opened the door for a range of high-profile corporate sponsors, with Riot Games landing sponsorships in recent years from the likes of Acer Gaming, Coca-Cola, T-Mobile, and Mercedes-Benz.
This week Fortune caught up with Jarred Kennedy, the co-head of esports at Riot Games, to discuss the world championship (the finals will take place Nov. 4 at the Bird’s Nest National Stadium in Beijing) as well as the overall growth of the esports industry and Riot’s plans, much like rival Activision Blizzard, to remodel its own esports league after major professional sports leagues like the NFL and NBA.
The following conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Fortune: What are some of the big storylines fans will be following heading into the quarterfinals of the LoL World Championships this weekend?
Kennedy: Where to begin? We’ve got some great teams that have made it through. Lots of regions are still alive. You’ve got your defending champions, SK Telecom T1, where they always are, which is contending. But, you’ve got teams that are potentially going to give them a run for their money. I think if [Chinese team] Royal Never Give Up and SK Telecom T1 wind up meeting in the semifinals in Shanghai that could be incredible. Honestly, any of the match-ups with the teams we have right now are going to be really fun to watch, because they’ve all proven themselves to get to this stage. And, the competition just keeps getting better and better the deeper we get into the tournament. That’s one of the reasons that worlds is so compelling.
How has the media rights aspect of the esports business expanded in recent years for Riot?
I think what you’re seeing is the maturation of our sport. With esports, I wouldn’t say it’s entered the mainstream, but it is increasingly an option that marketers look to. And, that’s great for us, because what we’re trying to do is build up the overall ecosystem, and having those increases in revenue coming in on that side allows us to invest in the professional players, the teams, and it allows these players to make a career out of this in a really meaningful way.
That leads into the bigger question of the esports industry’s overall growth trajectory. What are the areas of business that you think are most ripe for increasing revenue in the industry?
There are lots of different pools of revenue. Big ones would include media rights, which not unlike the NFL, NBA, or the Premier League, media rights are a large driver. For some games, including ours, there’s in-game content, and that’s something that’s unique to esports, as opposed to stick-and-ball or traditional sports, where there’s an opportunity for teams to participate in some of the in-game revenue streams. I think those are probably the biggest ones, but we’re always on the lookout for new ways to engage with fans of our sport.
You used to work at Sony Pictures Television. Would it benefit esports to make that leap to being more of a presence on traditional TV networks?
We don’t feel the need to go to TV as a point of validation. We’ve found that a lot of our fans of this sport are online, they tend to consume digitally, and thus the BAMTech deal and some other things we’ve done—negotiations with Twitch, YouTube, etc.—is just to serve them where they are. But, we’re not looking to be on NBC at 8 p.m. on a Saturday broadcasting to all of America, because we don’t think that’s where our fans want to watch, and we think it would probably be casting too wide of a net.
Why model Riot Games’ North American League of Legends Championship Series league after major professional sports leagues with revenue-sharing and a players association?
We’ve always looked at professional sports, not because we want to model exactly what other sports do, but even when you’re attempting to innovate, sometimes there are things that already exist in the world that work really well and work for a reason, and we shouldn’t be afraid to use some of that. Our goal is to have sophisticated owners of teams that can operate at a high level, know how to build businesses, know how to build sports, and who aren’t going to be working against each other, but are going to be collaborating in the best interests of fans around the world.
Going back to your point about esports not yet being in the mainstream, what needs to happen to put esports on the same level as one of the major professional sports leagues?
It takes time to get to the scale of where major sports are today, and I don’t think we have any illusions that we’re going to be able to do that overnight. We do have the advantage of being a digital property that tends to grow faster and can grow more virally. Friends tend to bring their friends into the sport, we found. We’re looking to build the best ecosystem for our fans that we can and we hope that by doing that it will thrive and grow, and over time we’ll have a chance to be as big as some of the major sports that exist today. But our primary goal is delivering value to fans day in and day out. And, if we can do that, then the rest will take care of itself.