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China Briefings: AI chipmaker Horizon Robotics raises USD 150 million

Last updated on February 5th, 2021 at 02:40 am

23 Dec 2020

Chinese AI chipmaker Horizon Robotics which is aiming to be China’s answer to NVDIA, has raised USD 150 million in a funding round co-led by 5Y Capital, Hillhouse Capital, and Capital Today.   

Tencent buys 10% stake in Universal Music Group, taking total stake to 20%

21 Dec 2020

A consortium led by tech giant Tencent will exercise its option to acquire a further 10% stake in Universal Music Group (UMG), based on an enterprise value of EUR 30 billion. The transaction raises the consortium’s holding to 20%.

“The consortium comprises the same members as that for the initial 10% investment in UMG, Tencent Music Entertainment Group and other financial co-investors,” Tencent said.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2021.

Data centre startup AirTrunk opens first data centre in Hong Kong

10 Dec 2020

Australian data centre startup AirTrunk opened its first data centre in Hong Kong yesterday, along with its first data centre in Singapore as well.  AirTrunk’s 20+ MW HKG1 data centre is strategically located in a key hub for international connectivity. AirTrunk converted an eight-storey industrial building into a world-class hyperscale data centre in record time to support cloud customers ramping up in the region.

Xiaomi to double engineer headcount in Japanese R&D center

10 Dec 2020

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is reportedly doubling its engineer workforce at its Japanese research and development center next year, in an effort to expand its market share in consumer electronics.

Baidu gets approval for fully driverless road tests in Beijing

07 Dec 2020

Chinese search giant Baidu said that it had obtained China’s first permit for fully driverless road tests in Beijing. The approval, granted on Dec 04, makes Baidu the first and only company to have been given the green light to conduct driverless tests on public roads in China’s capital city of Beijing.

China manufacturing activity expands at fastest pace since September 2017

01 Dec 2020

China’s official manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) rose to 52.1 in November from 51.4 in October according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. This is the highest PMI reading since September 2017.

Xiaomi posts record high quarterly revenue of CNY 72.2 billion in Q3 2020

26 Nov 2020

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has posted a record high quarterly revenue of CNY 72.2 billion in Q3 2020, according to unaudited financial results.  Xiaomi’s smartphone business posted strong growth during the quarter with revenue jumping 47.5% year-on-year (YoY) to CNY 47.6 billion, driven by smartphone shipments which grew 45.3% to 46.6 million units.

Strong smartphone shipments helped Xiaomi emerge as the third biggest smartphone company in Q3 2020 according research firm Canalys.

Huawei sells budget phone brand Honor amid US sanctions

17 Nov 2020

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd announced that it is selling its budget smartphone brand – Honor – to a consortium of over 30 agents and dealers, in a move aimed at ensuring its survival, as well the survival of its supply chain. Huawei will not hold any shares in the new Honor company – Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co., Ltd, or be involved in any decision-making after the sale. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Founded in 2013, the Honor brand focused on the youth market with phones targeted at the low to mid-end price range. The budget phone brand ships over 70 million units annually according to Huawei.

Tencent Q3 2020 net profit jumps 89% YoY

13 Nov 2020

Chinese tech giant Tencent reported an 89% year-on-year (YoY) jump in Q3 2020 net profit to CNY 38.54 billion, while revenues rose 29% YoY CNY 125.5 billion.  Tencent’s biggest segment by revenue – Value Added Services (VAS) (which includes its highly successful gaming unit) reported a 37.8% YoY growth in revenue to CNY 69.8 billion. Fintech and Business Services which includes revenues from its mobile wallet WeChat Pay – Tencent’s second biggest segment by  revenue – reported a 24% YoY increase in revenue which reached USD 21.35 billion during the quarter. The company’s Online Advertising segment which includes revenues from online advertisements and Mini Program advertisements rose 16% YoY to CNY 21.35 billion.

Alibaba and Richemont invest a combined USD 1.1 billion into Farfetch

06 Nov 2020

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba along with luxury goods holding company Richemont are investing a combined USD 1.1 billion into UK-based online luxury and fashion retailer Farfetch. Alibaba and Richemont will each invest USD 300 million into private convertible notes issued by Farfetch. They will also invest an additional USD 250 million each into Farfetch China – a new joint venture – in return for a 25% stake.

As part of the deal, Farfetch will launch luxury shopping channels on Alibaba’s e-commerce including Tmall Luxury Pavilion, Luxury Soho, and Tmall Global.

Pinduoduo signs MOU with Denmark to promote Danish products to Chinese shoppers

06 Nov 2020

Pinduoduo has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Royal Danish  Consulate General in Shanghai to introduce high-quality Danish products to Chinese shoppers, and at the same time introduce Pinduoduo’s merchant platform to  Danish businesses.

Tencent Games partners with British fashion house Burberry

05 Nov 2020

Tencent Games, the gaming business of Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings, has partnered with British luxury fashion house Burberry to integrate and promote Burberry products in Tencent Games’ popular mobile game Honor of Kings. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Tencent and Burberry said that they were targeting China’s “fashion-forward, digital-first customers” with this new effort.

VC firm Bits x Bites raises USD 30 million for foodtech fund

05 Nov 2020

Chinese venture capital firm Bits x Bites has raised USD 30 million in the first close of its USD 70 million foodtech fund. Investors who participated in the round include Singapore investment firm Temasek,  Nissin CEO Henry Soesanto, and other unnamed conglomerates and family offices.

Bits x Bites  is targeting early stage Chinese and international business in the agrifood technology space. Areas of focus include precision agriculture, crop and animal health, alternative proteins, and nutrition.

Alibaba-owned food delivery startup teams up with Beijing Daxing International Airport

05 Nov 2020

Alibaba-owned food delivery startup has forged a partnership with one-year old airport, Beijing Daxing International Airport, to offer passengers the ability to have their food delivered to the departure gate.

Hong Kong PE firm Alta Capital seeking to raise USD 50 million for hospitality fund

04 Nov 2020

Hong Kong private equity firm Alta Capital is looking to raise USD 50 million from global investors for its first hospitality fund – the Alta Hospitality Fund Asia – which promises to deliver a return of between 15% and 25% over six years. The opportunistic fund aims to raise all the capital by October next year, with the first round closing by the end of January 2021. The funds will be used to acquire hotel assets in Asia Pacific which are showing signs of distress as a result of the Covid pandemic which has devastated the travel and tourism sectors worldwide. Countries of interest include Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan.

Alta Capital has already identified a couple of assets namely a prime hilltop greenfield development in Galle, Sri Lanka, and a 2.5-star, 90-room boutique hotel in Bali.

Tencent’s Honor of Kings crosses 100 million daily users

02 Nov 2020

Chinese tech giant Tencent’s mobile game Honor of Kings has crossed 100 million daily active users, a new world record according to the company.

Xiaomi overtakes Apple as world’s No.3 smartphone maker

30 Oct 2020

Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi has overtaken Apple as the world’s third biggest smartphone maker by shipments in the quarter ended 30 September 2020.  This is Xiaomi’s first time in the top three ranking and is the first time in 10 years for Apple out of the global top three ranking according to data from three data providers Canalys, IDC, and Counterpoint Research. South Korean smartphone giant Samsung reclaimed its number one position during the quarter.

Counterpoint research said Xiaomi saw a 46% YoY increase in smartphone shipments amounting to 46.2 million units in the July-September quarter. Apple in contrast saw a 7% YoY drop in shipments to 41.7 million units during the same period.

Canalys figures revealed that Xiaomi shipments jumped 45% YoY while Apple’s declined 1% YoY during the same period.

IDC said that Xiaomi shipments rose 42% YoY while Apple shipments dropped more than 10% during the same period.

China Q3 smartphone shipments down 8% QoQ

30 Oct 2020

Smartphone shipments in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market fell 8% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ), and 15% year-on-year (YoY) according to data from Canalys. The decline was led by homegrown smartphone giant Huawei which was forced to curtail smartphone shipments following US sanctions imposed on August 17. Huawei fell 18% YoY in Mainland China, while Vivo and Oppo fell 13% and 18% respectively. Xiaomi rose 19% YoY.

Chinese biotech startup Genecast raises USD 149 million Series E funding

27 Oct 2020

Chinese biotech startup Genecast Biotechnology has raised USD 149 million in its Series E funding round led by China Structural Reform Fund. Taikang Asset Management, CCB Private Equity Investment Management, Hillhouse Capital’s venture capital unit GL Ventures and China Renaissance, participated. The fresh capital will be used to develop new diagnostics products for tumors, accelerate development of in vitro diagnostic devices as well as for market expansion.

Chinese robotic startup Fourier Intelligence raises CNY 100 million Series C

26 Oct 2020

Chinese robotic startup Fourier Intelligence has raised CNY 100 million in its Series C funding round from Vision Plus Capital, and existing investor Qianhai Fund of Funds.

Chinese electronics startup VanTop raises CNY 300 million Series A from Sequoia China

26 Oct 2020

Chinese consumer electronics startup VanTop has raised CNY 300 million from Sequoia China in Series A funding. Founded in 2017, VanTop designs, and develops consumer electronics such as dash cameras, action cameras and smart home devices.

E-sports startup VSPN raises USD 100 million Series B led by Tencent Holdings

26 Oct 2020

Chinese e-sports solutions provider Versus Programming Network (VSPN) has raised USD 100 million in its Series B funding round led by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings. Video-sharing startup Kuaishou, Shenzhen-headquartered venture capital firm Tiantu Capital, and Susquehanna International Group (SIG) participated in the round. The new funds will be used to further develop its e-sports products and for market expansion. 

“We look forward to building an esports research institute, an esports culture park, and further expanding globally

VSPN CEO Dino Ying

There has been growing Investor interest in e-sports amid the pandemic with expectations the sector will continue growing in the foreseeable future. Canadian e-sports startup GoodGamer raised USD 2.5 million in seed funding last week. About a fortnight ago (mid October), Singaporean e-sports startup EVOS raised USD 12 million in Series B funding, led by Korea Investment Partners. Just last month German e-sports data provider Bayes Holding raised USD 6 million and Indian e-sports platform Mobile Premier League raised USD 90 million in Series C funding.

Wealth management startup Magnum Research closes USD 30 million financing round

23 Oct 2020

Wealth management startup Magnum Research, the owner and operator of digital wealth management app Aqumon, has raised USD 30 million in a follow-on of its pre-Series B round. The round was lead by Zheng He Capital Management while Lenovo Capital, Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, Wing Lung Family Office, and government-backed Cyberport participated. 

The fresh capital will be used for market expansion, and for R&D into areas such as software engineering and AI. Magnum Research is licensed by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong.

Aqumon has grown 300% YoY in 2020 amid the pandemic, thanks o a spike in demand for is digital wealth management solutions as the pandemic inflicted demand drops in the offline businesses of insurance companies, banks, and security houses. In addition, financial institutions are increasingly warming up to cloud-based solutions to an effort to reduce costs. Aqumon has partnered with more than 70 financial institutions across the region, covering more than 10 million end users. Major institutional clients include CMB Wing Lung Bank, AIA Hong Kong, Bank of China International, Gaungzhou Rural Commercial Bank, China Resources Bank, and ChinaAMC.

Ayumon offers access to low cost exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

Chinese on-demand drug-delivery startup Dingdang Kuaiyao raises CNY 1 billion Series B+ funding

21 Oct 2020

Chinese on-demand drug-delivery startup Dingdang Kuaiyao has raised CNY 1 billion Series B+ funding from a clutch of investors including Taikang Asset, Haier Biomedical, and Beijing Zhongguancun Longmen Investment Company Limited, SB China Capital (SoftBank’s VC unit in China), and CMB International (China Merchants Bank’s investment vehicle).
The startup operates its own chain of pharmacies, was one of the earliest players to offer drug delivery within 28 minutes, helping it gain popularity among users who often needed urgent drugs at night when traditional pharmacies were closed. Currently serving millions of users in around 10 big cities, the company intends to use the fresh funds to expand to another 10 cities in China by the end of the year, as part of a bigger plan to open 10,000 new pharmacies in 1,000 cities including smaller cities.

Chinese search engine giant Baidu launches in-app shopping channel

20 Oct 2020

Chinese search engine giant Baidu has launched an in-app shopping channel, a strategic move to carve its own share of China’s blossoming e-commerce market. The shopping channel enables its 204 million daily active users to search for products and make purchases directly in its Baidu app. Baidu’s move is somewhat akin to Google’s Google Shopping channel in that a search term for a certain product will reveal product search results from shopping platforms and websites such as Alibaba,, or other independent brand websites.

Indonesian government launches national online store on e-commerce platform Pinduoduo

19 Oct 2020

The Indonesian government has launched a national online store on rising e-commerce platform Pinduoduo in a move aimed at boosting trade with China.

The Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia in Shanghai, Deny W. Kurnia, livestreamed on Pinduoduo on Saturday, promoting various products including packaged food, bird’s nest supplements, and cotton and silk garments known as Indonesian batik, according to Chinese media outlet The livestreaming session lasted from 5:00 p.m. Beijing time to 10:00 p.m. and attracted 450,000 viewers in total, and saw more than 10,000 Indomie Mi goreng instant noodles sold. The store stocks 500 products made by different companies, with over 100,000 items sold since the launch two days ago, data from the Pinduoduo app shows.

BBC Studios signs strategic agreement with Chinese video platform Bilibili

19 Oct 2020

BBC Studios and Chinese online video platform Bilibili have signed a strategic cooperation agreement to generate more China-inspired content and bring more BBC premium shows to China. The BBC-Bilibili partnership will also give Bilibili greater access to BBC Studios’ premium content.

Nasdaq-listed Bilibili, which competes against  online video behemoths Tencent Video and iQiyi has been on a tear, recording a 70% YoY growth in monthly active users (MAUs) which reached 172 million in the first quarter of 2020.  By comparison Tencent Video had a MAU of 112 million while iQiyi had nearly 119 million. Unlike its two rivals however, Bilibi is largely reliant on user generated content similar to that of Youtube, whereas Tencent Video and iQiyi offer video collections of professionally-produced content, similar to that of Netflix. Bilibili however does appear to be making moves towards building its library of professionally-produced content and the partnership looks to be a step in that direction. Bilibili’s content library currently contains more than 3,000 documentaries, including titles it produced and others it co-produced.

Bilibili, which is backed by Chinese tech giants Alibaba, and Tencent, is hugely popular among “Generation Z” which reportedly accounts for 80% of its users according to QuestMobile.

Alibaba to increase Sun Art Retail stake to 72%

19 Oct 2020

CHinese tech giant Alibaba Holdings said it will invest USD 3.6 billion to increase its stake in Sun Art Retail Group Ltd., one of China’s largest supermarket operators. Following the transaction, Alibaba’s stake in Sun Art will increase to approximately 72%. This new investment in Sun Art will be made by acquiring 70.94% of equity interest in A-RT Retail Holdings Ltd., which holds approximately 51% of the equity interest in Sun Art.

Alibaba first invested in Sun Art back in 2017, when it splashed out about USD 2.88 billion to acquire a 36.16% share in the supermarket chain, as part of Alibaba’s New Retail strategy.

Tencent and Burberry team up to launch interactive WeChat store

26 Aug 2020

Chinese tech giant Tencent has partnered with British luxury fashion house Burberry to launch Burberry’s first social retail store in Shenzhen. The interactive, social retail store uses Tencent’s WeChat app (China’s most popular social media app) to enable shoppers to interact and engage with the Burberry store, for instance by interacting with the window display, book fitting rooms, pre-select the clothes to try on, and play their own music in the fitting rooms while trying on those clothes.

TikTok parent ByteDance sets up new e-commerce division

18 Jun 2020

Video sharing platform TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has set up a new e-commerce division signaling intent to develop its own e-commerce business. ByteDance’s revenues currently are mainly from advertising. ByteDance is unlikely to challenge domestic e-commerce leader Alibaba who is one of key advertisers among e-commerce platforms that make up a key portion of TikTok’s core ad revenue. However, there is potential to tap into e-commerce markets overseas, which leverages on TikTok’s strength as a highly popular video sharing platform worldwide. The number of international TikTok users have surged in recent years. TikTok was downloaded 104 million times from the global App Store and Google Play store in January 2020, making it the world’s most downloaded mobile app according to Sensor Tower.