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  1. #1
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    [EN] Alibaba unseated Amazon as the world’s most valuable online retailer in US


    Alibaba is now the world’s sixth biggest company by market cap, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The Hangzhou-headquartered company is also Asia’s largest, followed by Tencent with a market cap of US$425 billion.


    Oct 12, 2017

    ...

    Alibaba briefly unseated Amazon as the world's most valuable online retailer in US trading on Tuesday, after shares of the Chinese e-commerce company rose as much as 1.3 percent to an intraday high of US$184.46 in the New York morning session, giving it a market value of US$472.4 billion and surpassing Amazon's US$470 billion.

    The stock trimmed the gain to end the day up 0.6 percent at US$183.12, valuing Alibaba at US$469 billion, while Amazon's shares fell 0.4 percent on Tuesday to US$987.20, capitalizing it at US$474.2 billion.

    Alibaba shares have surged 109 percent this year as rising spending on online shopping in China drives up profits, while Amazon's stock has climbed 32 percent in the period. On a valuation basis, Alibaba is valued at 37 times estimated earnings, with the multiple for Amazon at 233 times, Bloomberg data showed.

    Faster earnings growth has enabled Alibaba to close in on Amazon in terms of market capitalisation. Second-quarter earnings for the Chinese online retailer surged 94 percent from a year earlier, while Amazon's quarterly earnings dropped 77 percent. Alibaba will probably post a 44 per cent increase in full-year profit in 2017, while the projected growth for Amazon is 21 per cent, according to Bloomberg.

    Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post, aims to develop its annual conference into a major event in the cloud computing industry. The four-day conference, which started on Wednesday, has attracted over 60,000 visitors.

    https://www.thestreet.com/story/1433...-business.html
    Última edição por 5ms; 12-10-2017 às 20:08.

  2. #2
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    The explosive growth of Alibaba's digital shopping app should worry Amazon

    Tanya Dua
    Oct. 12, 2017

    Amazon may be the undisputed king of digital retail, but a challenger is quickly rising up the ranks.

    Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is fast gaining a foothold, with its western-facing shopping app AliExpress witnessing explosive growth over the past one year.

    The app has grown 80% year-over-year between 2016 and 2017, according to app market data research company AppAnnie, from 28 million to 50 million iOS and Google Play downloads worldwide.

    AliExpress also appears in the top five apps based on monthly active users in the UK, Australia, France and Germany, and is also expanding in emerging markets like India, Russia, Brazil and Turkey, said the company.

    The app has grown significantly in 2017 in the US as well, with its smartphone monthly active users increasing nearly 25% year-over-year. AliExpress saw over 2.7 million downloads in the U.S on iOS and Google Play in 2017, and is in fourth place among top digital-first shopping apps, ahead of Amazon Prime Now and behind Amazon, Wish and Etsy, respectively.

    While AliExpress could provide stiff competition to Amazon moving forward, Amazon is still number one by quite a margin. Amazon's monthly active users in the U.S. are nine times the size of the number two app, Wish, according to the company. It continues to attract monthly active users at a healthy rate, with users growing by 35% year-over-year.

    Marketers too are closely watching Alibaba's prominent rise and looking to partner with it.

    WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell has frequently called out Alibaba's growing importance. “Google, Facebook and Amazon, along with two Chinese companies — Tencent and Alibaba — are the ones we need to watch out for,” he said in an Advertising Week discussion with New Yorker writer Ken Auletta on Sept. 25, reported Digiday. And in September, WPP’s media-buying arm GroupM announced that it was partnering with Alibaba to identify potential customers at an early stage of an ad campaign.

    AliExpress is also likely to make a bigger name for itself this Black Friday, said AppAnnie.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/the-e...amazon-2017-10

  3. #3
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    Alibaba heading into emerging markets in duel with Amazon

    Southeast Asia, India among flash points for e-commerce giants.

    WATARU KODAKA
    October 12, 2017

    Alibaba's American depositary receipts are surging, closing Tuesday at a record-high $183 after starting the year at just $88. The company's market cap at the end of that day was more than double that of Japanese automaker Toyota Motor, for instance.

    The e-tailer listed on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2014 to great fanfare with a record-breaking $25 billion IPO. But a year later, it was trading at just half its all-time high. At that point, Ma lamented in an interview with The Nikkei that it was difficult for U.S. investors, who had never used Alibaba's services, to understand the company's true potential.

    But two years on, Alibaba's ADRs have roughly tripled from those lows, largely thanks to its realization of two strategies: market dominance in China and growth in emerging economies.

    Control at home, growth abroad

    At home, Alibaba wields its deep pockets freely on startups in an effort to build an oligopoly. In July, it joined with other investors to pour $700 million into the bicycle-sharing service Ofo, for instance. It has brought a range of other services into its fold, including video and crowdsourced information sites and ride-hailing apps.

    When a steep drop rocked the Shanghai stock market in summer 2015, Alibaba shares were sold heavily amid a wave of pessimism over the health of China's economy. But as those fears retreated, investors warmed to Alibaba, which dominates a Chinese market with a burgeoning middle class bigger than the entire U.S. population. That in turn ushered in a rise in the company's ADRs.

    China has contributed more than 90% of the e-tailer's sales, underpinning investor unease that it depends too heavily on the country. But last year, Alibaba took control of Southeast Asian competitor Lazada Group. It is also working to advance its Alipay mobile payment system in countries such as India and Russia, part of a string of efforts to bolster operations abroad.

    Amazon made $136 billion in sales in 2016, while Alibaba's revenue was about $23 billion for the year through March 31. But Alibaba's figure comes from fees such as those levied on sellers using its digital marketplace, so the numbers are not directly comparable. Alibaba raked in $7 billion in operating profit over the year through March, beating Amazon's 2016 figure of $4.2 billion.

    Serving different markets, for now

    Emerging economies like India and the countries of Southeast Asia are set to play a decisive role. While Alibaba and Amazon butt heads over market value, their actual markets are compartmentalized: Amazon largely focuses on developed regions like the U.S., Europe and Japan, while Alibaba is centered on China. But it is a matter of time before they collide head-on in other as-yet untouched emerging markets.

    Their first outright fight for customers is emerging in Singapore. This summer, Amazon opened its first Southeast Asian distribution center there, while Alibaba has been advancing in the city-state through Lazada, which is based there.

    In India, Alibaba offers sellers online wholesale services and has invested in local e-commerce enterprises. Amazon broke into the Indian market in 2013 and has been developing consumer-oriented online shopping there, claiming the No. 2 spot. It has also invested in local retail players with brick-and-mortar stores.

    Amazon, on top of its strengths in product quality and brand power, continues to generate added value in areas such as cloud services. Alibaba, for its part, faces hurdles to improving quality, such as an abundance of counterfeits cropping up on its online marketplace, while its strength lies in easy-to-use systems like Alipay. This Sino-American showdown holds great implications for consumers the world over.

    https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/AC/...el-with-Amazon

  4. #4
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    Amazon Expansion in Singapore Challenged by Physical Stores and Alibaba

    As the online retailer tries to crack the Southeast Asian e-commerce market — projected to reach $88 billion by 2025 — it still faces tough competition from popular air-conditioned malls and established e-commerce rivals


    Sterling Wong, Livia Yap, Melissa Cheok, Yoolim Lee
    October 8, 2017

    As Amazon.com Inc. pushes into Southeast Asia with a new venture in Singapore, the online retailer is facing some tough hurdles. Shopping in air-conditioned malls is practically a national sport, and e-commerce rivals moved in long ago.

    Delivery delays also marred Amazon’s debut in July, when on-the-ground operations began with Prime Now two-hour deliveries. Even when including orders placed on its main US website, Amazon lags behind local web store Lazada and its parent, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

    For the island country’s consumers, a store or a shopping centre is usually just minutes away. In fact there are too many stores, with mall operators scaling back operations after years of over-expansion. While retailers blame a weaker economy and increased web shopping, the country of 5.6 million trails most of the developed world when it comes to e-commerce. Just 4.6 percent of Singapore’s retail sales took place online last year, compared with 15 percent in the UK and 10 percent in the US, according to Euromonitor International.

    “Singapore is a very small city-state, so shopping is one of the favourite pastimes for all Singaporeans,” said Chan Hock Fai, a fund manager at Amundi Asset Management. Because retailing is a more mature market in the country, compared with emerging retail and e-commerce markets, “growth rates are harder to come by,” he said.

    At stake is a Southeast Asian e-commerce market that’s projected to reach $88 billion by 2025, according to a report by Google and Temasek Holdings Pte. While Amazon is firmly established in Japan, the web retailer has mostly ceded China to Alibaba and JD.com Inc. India remains a top priority, with chief executive Jeff Bezos committing $5 billion to expand and vanquish local rival Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Australia could soon be another new market for Amazon.

    “We’ve launched Prime Now in 50 cities across nine countries and Singapore is our biggest launch ever,” said Amanda Ip, a spokeswoman at Amazon Prime Now. “We are grateful for the exciting response from customers.”

    Jin-Yan Ang, 29, is an Amazon Prime shopper who decided to use the service when he wanted to buy a Go-Pro action camera two days before going on vacation. After that, he also ordered chilled wine for a party and other daily necessities. “On the down side, Amazon Prime Now needs to improve the variety of offerings,” said Ang, a procurement manager.

    In terms of scale, Lazada dwarfs Amazon locally, offering more than 30 million products compared with tens of thousands via Prime Now. The Asian online retailer, originally founded by Rocket Internet SE in 2011, has more than 6.6 million unique visitors a month and has seen orders triple from 2016.

    “There is huge potential for the e-commerce industry in Singapore,” said Alexis Lanternier, Lazada Singapore’s chief executive. “Online shopping in this market is certainly gaining traction here with three out of five people shopping online, and we believe this is the direction forward for the retail industry in Singapore.”

    Although Singapore-base online retailers are relatively new, consumers there have been shopping online for years, getting their merchandise shipped directly from the US, China and other places. That’s why Lazada-Alibaba’s web stores had 988,000 unique visitors in August, followed by 698,000 for Amazon and 432,000 for Giosis Pte’s Qoo10, according to ComScore. Because the numbers don’t account for mobile orders, Amazon’s Prime Now sales aren’t included and weren’t disclosed by the company.

    “While online shopping is really convenient, I prefer to buy things in-store.” said Lisa Tan, 32, a small business owner. “I like the experience — sights and even sounds — of shopping in stores. It’s definitely more convenient in Singapore; everything is pretty much within reach. I only shop online for things I can’t easily buy in Singapore and on sites like Taobao and Amazon.”

    Amazon’s decision to introduce Prime Now first in Singapore underscores the need to get merchandise into the hands of shoppers as soon as possible. Usually, the web retailer introduces the rapid-delivery service after a market matures, when it’s able to build up a fast logistics network. In its limited free trial, consumers in Singapore can get tens of thousands of items delivered to their door with free delivery on orders of more than S$40 ($29). Previously, Singaporeans were only able to order select items on Amazon’s website, with some products subject to costly international shipping fees.

    Offline Push

    For web retailers, the lure of opening a physical store to cater to Singaporean shoppers is proving hard to ignore. Vivre Activewear, an exercise clothing brand that was first launched online in April 2014, decided to open a store two years ago because customers prefer to see “the real things,” according to Kevin Chia, the apparel maker’s co-founder. Now, 80 percent of the brand’s total revenue is derived from store sales, he said.

    “You just need to be present for your shopper whenever she feels like she’s ready to buy,” said Ali Potia, who runs McKinsey & Co.’s Asia Consumer Insights Center.

    Lazada has already teamed up with Singapore real-estate operator CapitaLand Ltd., letting people shop online and pick up merchandise at a nearby mall. “This closes the online-to-offline loop and gives customers the full shopping experience,” Lanternier said.

    Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods shows that it’s increasingly open to having a physical presence. In India, Amazon recently took at 5 percent stake in Shoppers Stop Ltd. with plans to open experience centres at the retailer’s stores for customers to try out products that are sold online.

    “The main reason that shoppers continue to shop in a physical store is due to the in-store experience – something irreplaceable by e-commerce,” said Tan Yong Kee, managing director at AsiaMalls Sdn, which operates six shopping centres in Singapore.

    https://www.businessoffashion.com/ar...es-and-alibaba

  5. #5
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    Alibaba vs Amazon: The race to $500 billion


    Alibaba is the most-shorted stock on the market, as some investors bet against China

    Investors see Alibaba as a proxy for China's fast middle-class growth

    Deirdre Bosa
    1 Sept 2017

    Amazon has had a good year, but Alibaba has had an even better one — and it's now within striking distance of surpassing Amazon as the world's biggest e-commerce company by market cap.

    Bulls have reason to love both. They dominate e-commerce in their respective markets (Amazon in the U.S. and Alibaba in China) and both are expanding into new businesses such as groceries, original content and cloud.

    The difference is that the Chinese market — and middle class — is growing much faster and some investors see Alibaba as a proxy for that growth. That's part of the reason the Chinese giant is catching up.

    It's also attracted some big names in the hedge-fund space such as David Tepper and Dan Loeb, who have picked up shares this year.

    Amazon and Alibaba are getting a lot of love from analysts too — though Alibaba has the edge. Of the 47 brokers that cover the Chinese tech giant, not a single one has a sell rating. Its mean target price is $197.51, about 15 percent higher than where shares stand today, according to FactSet.

    Amazon, on the other hand, has one sell rating out of the 44 analysts covering it, and it's about 17 percent from its mean target price of $1,150.46.

    Despite stellar runs for both, though, these are some of the most controversial stocks on the market. Especially Alibaba, which is the most shorted company in the world by a mile.

    Financial analytics firm S3 Partners crunched the numbers for us.

    Short positions in Alibaba total nearly $23 billion. The next most shorted firm, Tesla, draws less than half that in short interest, $10.4 billion. Then it's Apple with $7.1 billion and AT&T with $6.6 billion.

    Netflix and Amazon are tied at almost $5 billion.

    One of the reasons investors love Alibaba as a proxy for China is the very same reason others hate it. Shorting Alibaba is seen as a way to bet against China's economic growth and broader stock markets.

    But this year, those Alibaba bears are in a world of pain thanks to its incredible run. They're down more than $10 billion for the year, and $2.2 billion in August alone as shares have surged 10 percent.

    Another good month like that, and it'll be worth more than Amazon.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/01/alib...0-billion.html

  6. #6
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    Where Amazon is failing to dominate: Hollywood

    The online retailer’s foray into video is beset by lackluster releases and strained relationships with high-profile producers; ‘a bit of a gong show’

    Ben Fritz and Joe Flint
    Oct. 6, 2017

    On the Monday morning after Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +0.18% failed to win a single prize at the Primetime Emmy Awards, one of its senior television executives gathered his dejected staff at their Los Angeles-area office for a pep talk.

    While Amazon Studios went home empty-handed, its streaming rivals Hulu and Netflix Inc. won multiple awards. Additionally, Amazon had earlier passed on opportunities to bid on “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Big Little Lies,” which won top awards that night, said people with knowledge of the sales process.

    “Things are going to get better,” said Joe Lewis, Amazon’s head of comedy and drama, according to a person who was present at the meeting. He pledged he and other senior executives would “try and turn this ship around.”

    It was an acknowledgment that Amazon Studios has been stumbling when it comes to producing content that attracts audiences and buzz. The Hollywood arm of the online giant is pivoting away from dramas for adults but is struggling to define a new strategy, say people close to the company. It has alienated high-profile content creators, who say executives have proven incapable—or unwilling—to smooth out conflicts that inevitably crop up during the shooting of a television show. And questions about potential conflicts of interest on the part of Mr. Lewis and studio chief Roy Price have contributed to low employee morale, people at the company say.

    Amazon Studios is taking steps to get back on track, such as developing shows intended to be more globally popular, cutting back children’s programming and considering new leadership in its film unit, say people with knowledge of the matter.

    Mr. Lewis and a lawyer for Mr. Price, Lisa Bloom, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    When it started producing original video in a bid to attract and retain subscribers for its Prime service four years ago, Amazon boasted it wouldn’t follow typical Hollywood practices such as relying on executives’ creative instincts and would base programming decisions on data. But staffers say it has largely abandoned that approach.

    We were supposed to bring the best practices of one of the most successful companies in America to Hollywood,” said an Amazon Studios executive. “Instead, we’re getting chewed up.”

    Despite annual spending of about $4.5 billion to produce or acquire programming, Amazon Studios has had no hits on the scale of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” or Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” said people at the company.

    Even its most acclaimed shows draw relatively small audiences. Fewer than one million people have watched recent seasons of “Transparent,” which won Emmys in 2015 and 2016, said an Amazon Studios employee.

    Mr. Price recently admitted at a meeting with agents he had done too much “programming to Silver Lake,” a hipster neighborhood in Los Angeles, said a person present.

    Producers who have made shows for Amazon describe a chaotic environment.

    “I’m a huge fan of the company overall, but their entertainment division is a bit of a gong show,” said David E. Kelley, creator of “Goliath” and hit shows including “Big Little Lies,” “The Practice” and “Ally McBeal.” “They are in way over their heads.”

    Mr. Kelley left “Goliath,” a drama about a hard-living lawyer, after the first season due to conflicts with Amazon and star Billy Bob Thornton over creative direction, according to people familiar with the matter. These people said Amazon wasn’t supportive of the multi-Emmy winning Mr. Kelley, who would say only that he wouldn’t work with Amazon again “until their entertainment house is put in order.” Clyde Phillips, who succeeded Mr. Kelley as the show’s top writer-producer, left for similar reasons, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

    Shawn Ryan, who earlier created the award-winning police drama “The Shield,” described his time at Amazon producing the canceled drama “Mad Dogs” as frustrating and confusing. Mr. Ryan said it was standard practice at other networks to receive one set of notes from executives a day after a cut of an episode was submitted. At Amazon, that process would often take more than a week and was followed by multiple requests for changes, he said, resulting in higher costs and delays.

    Amazon’s approach put “everything in chaos” and wasn’t “artist friendly,” Mr. Ryan said.

    Others have had more positive experiences. Kate Robin, the top writer-producer on the quirky comedy “One Mississippi,” said that while there was more creative input from Amazon than she had expected, “ultimately we got to make the show we wanted to make.” Ben Edlund, creator of superhero comedy “The Tick,” called Amazon’s support “liberating.”

    Messrs. Price and Lewis have played outsize roles in creative decisions, staffers say. On “The Tick,” Mr. Lewis pressured people working on the show to cast his girlfriend, actress Yara Martinez, in the pilot and then to expand her role, said people close to the program.

    Mr. Edlund said he didn’t feel any pressure when casting Ms. Martinez or making her a series regular and didn’t recall who brought the actress to his attention. A spokesman for Ms. Martinez, who previously appeared in Amazon’s “Alphas” and “I Love Dick” as well as the CW Network’s “Jane the Virgin,” didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    Mr. Price last year encouraged subordinates to buy an idea for a series called “12 Parties” from his fiancée, Lila Feinberg, said Amazon Studios employees. Some at the company said they were uncomfortable because of the apparent conflict of interest and because they believed a character in the series resembled Mr. Price.

    Like Mr. Price, the character Richard Forman is a middle-aged Harvard graduate who wears leather jackets and has a Black Flag tattoo, according to a series proposal viewed by The Wall Street Journal. His younger girlfriend, who like Ms. Feinberg is a writer from New York, is named “Lita.”

    Ms. Feinberg didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    After a conflict-of-interest review by Amazon’s legal department, the studio declined to buy the script, people at the company said.

    Amazon’s motion-picture unit released the two biggest indie hits of the past year, Oscar winner “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Big Sick.” However, it also released several movies that grossed less than $1 million before moving to Amazon’s streaming service, including “Landline” and “The Only Living Boy in New York.”

    Mr. Price has interviewed at least two Hollywood veterans to potentially take over Amazon’s motion-picture unit and broaden the types of films it makes beyond dramas, said people with knowledge of the discussions.

    Amazon is looking to broaden its TV programming as well. It has a series based on the Jack Ryan spy novels and is developing shows based on books by science-fiction writers Neal Stephenson and Larry Niven. To help free up money for such programs, Amazon recently decided to stop producing new live-action shows for children, said people informed of the decision.

    Finding massive global hits like “Game of Thrones” is a priority, Mr. Price’s boss, Amazon Senior Vice President Jeffrey Blackburn, said at a conference on Monday. “We’re increasing our investment in that type of original content,” Mr. Blackburn said.

    Write to Ben Fritz at ben.fritz@wsj.com and Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com

    Appeared in the October 7, 2017, print edition as 'Hollywood Glory Eludes Amazon'

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/where-a...ood-1507282205

  7. #7
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    BTW Hollywood Is Scrambling to Replace Chinese Funding

    In the past six months, Hollywood has seen film financing deals worth more than $1 billion unravel as Chinese investors and some hedge funds move away from funding movies.

    Anousha Sakoui
    September 26, 2017

    It was supposed to be one of the biggest deals yet in the budding relationship between Hollywood and China. In January, Shanghai Film Group and Beijing’s Huahua Media agreed to pay a combined $1 billion to help finance Paramount Pictures Corp.’s full slate of movies for the next three years. The agreement would ensure that potential blockbusters such as XXX: The Return of Xander Cage and Transformers: The Last Knight would have the funds to reach thousands of screens around the world—while giving the studio an edge in distributing and marketing movies in China.

    Less than six months later the new partners missed making a scheduled payment to the studio. In late 2016 the Chinese government started to crack down on overseas investments in entertainment by mainland companies, a boom that began in 2012 when Dalian Wanda Group Co. took over U.S. theater chain AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. “Everything’s on track,” Robert Bakish, chief executive officer of Viacom Inc., told analysts in August about the delayed payments. But now the studio is looking for other investors to replace the Chinese partners, according to a person familiar with the matter who declined to be named because the discussions are private. Huahua declined to comment; Shanghai Film didn’t respond to a request for comment.

    Paramount isn’t the only entertainment company scrambling to make up for lost financing from the mainland. Chinese businessman Tony Xia’s deal to pay as much as $100 million for a 51 percent stake in Millennium Films, the studio behind The Expendables action movie series, was put on ice, thanks to the Chinese regulatory crackdown. And in March, Eldridge Industries LLC, which owns TV production company Dick Clark Productions, the company behind the Golden Globes, Billboard Music Awards, and American Music Awards, ended a $1 billion acquisition agreement with Wanda. Eldridge said the Chinese company wasn’t meeting its contractual obligations. Wanda declined to comment.

    “Chinese investors exiting the market is a big deal,” says John Burke, head of entertainment at law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which has represented several Chinese investors seeking to co-finance films with U.S. producers. “They had become the latest wave of attractive funding for Hollywood.”

    Any reduction in the number of deep pockets is bad news for Hollywood. With the exception of Walt Disney Co., the major movie studios (all units of bigger media companies) bring in financing partners to share the increasingly expensive costs of films. Production budgets of $150 million or more are common today, and that doesn’t include the tens of millions spent on marketing to drive consumers into theaters once the films are released. Universal Pictures’ The Fate of the Furious, released in April, cost $250 million, according to Box Office Mojo, while Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc.’s Spider-Man: Homecoming in July cost $175 million. Rather than being able to cherry-pick only the most promising releases, many transactions have investors commit funds to a large number of films—meaning they’re likely to back a lot of flops. Investors then share in the profits from the slate of movies.

    “Film finance is kind of like whack-a-mole: Someone goes away, and someone else pops up”

    Jim Gianopulos, Paramount’s new chief, acknowledged at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference in September that the studio’s deal with Shanghai Film and Huahua had been caught up in Chinese regulatory hurdles. He told attendees that Paramount has been approached by other potential partners to replace the Chinese. Deadline reported on Sept. 19 that Paramount is looking to Dallas investor Tom Dundon, who once owned a stake in subprime lender Santander Consumer USA, to help make up the shortfall. Calls and emails for comment to Dundon’s company, Dundon Capital Partners LLC, weren’t returned. The studio also renewed a deal in August with Skydance Media, a production company run by David Ellison, son of Oracle Corp. co-founder Larry Ellison, to co-finance a slate of films over four years, including new installments of its Mission: Impossible and The Terminator franchises.

    “Film finance is kind of like whack-a-mole: Someone goes away, and someone else pops up,” says Barton Crockett, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets & Co. One new backer is Len Blavatnik, the Ukrainian-born U.S. billionaire who owns the Warner Music recording label. In April his Access Entertainment secured a stake in RatPac-Dune Entertainment LLC, a film production and financing company operated by film director Brett Ratner, financier Steven Mnuchin, and Australian investor James Packer. Packer recently pulled out of financing movies, as did Mnuchin after he became U.S. Treasury Secretary. RatPac-Dune has a $450 million financing deal with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. for as many as 75 films. The terms of Blavatnik’s deal aren’t public.

    “I do feel that we are at a point where it may be harder to do those deals, but I don’t think they go away long term,” says David Shaheen, head of entertainment industries at JPMorgan Chase & Co. “There are investors who want to do more in this sector. Content assets are highly regarded.”

    That won’t stop some investors from bolting. LStar Capital, a unit of Dallas-based Lone Star Funds, pulled out of a $200 million financing deal with Sony Corp. in July, 10 days before the release of The Emoji Movie, its lackluster animated film featuring Patrick Stewart as the voice of a pile of poop.

    Still, the long-term value of intellectual property and the potential for new revenue streams as Hollywood’s business model evolves will attract investors, says Erik Hodge, managing director at the Raine Group LLC, an entertainment, media, and technology advisory firm. One such enticement: new internet distribution opportunities, says FBR Capital’s Crockett. The recent rise of digital distributors of content, including Amazon.com, Netflix, and Hulu, has created more revenue opportunities beyond theatrical release for financiers to get a return on their investments.

    Even Chinese financiers may come back to the table eventually, Hodge says, because Asia’s film market is growing and needs alliances with content-savvy Hollywood. About 60 percent of the $900 million box office of Sony Pictures’ latest Spider-Man film came from outside North America—and two-thirds of overseas box office came from China.

    But studios may have to give financing partners a larger share of the profits they’ve enjoyed on their biggest hits, taking a smaller share of revenue upfront and reducing the fees they pay themselves for distributing the movie. Says Hodge: “Terms will likely have to be adjusted to favor investors.” —With Jing Yang de Morel

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...hinese-funding

  8. #8
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    Amazon suspends studio chief amid Weinstein scandal

    Matthew Weaver
    13 October 2017

    Amazon has put the head of its video content service on leave after he became embroiled in the widening scandal surrounding the disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein.

    Roy Price, who is in charge of Amazon Studios, is accused of sexually harassing Isa Hackett, the producer of one its best known shows, The Man in the High Castle. The actor Rose McGowan also claimed Price ignored her claim that Weinstein had raped her.

    Amazon announced that Price had been placed on an immediate leave of absence, while it investigated the allegations. Price has yet to comment.

    Amazon also said it was considering scrapping two projects it was working on with the Weinstein Company, which sacked Harvey Weinstein, one of its founders, earlier this week after he was accused of sexual harassment and assault by several actors.

    The projects are the The Romanoffs, with the Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, and an untitled drama starring Robert De Niro and Julianne Moore.

    Hackett, daughter of the late science fiction writer Philip K Dick, alleged that Price repeatedly propositioned her on the way to, and during, an Amazon party in 2015.

    ...

    Hackett added that when she told Amazon about the incident it hired external investigators, but she was never told about the results.

    Christopher Tricarico, a laywer for Hackett, said the magazine’s account of her allegations was accurate.

    Price is also accused of ignoring McGowan’s allegation against Weinstein and dropping her show after she spoke up.

    “I told the head of your studio that HW raped me,” she wrote in a tweet to Amazon’s CEO, using Weinstein’s initials. “Over & over I said it. He said it hadn’t been proven. I said I was the proof.” She further claimed Amazon had “won a dirty Oscar” while “funding rapists”.

    The studio picked up three Oscars this year under Price’s helm (*).

    ...

    Around 30 women, including Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow, have gone public with accusations against Weinstein after an initial report by the New York Times last week. Many are calling for sweeping changes in the industry, and urging more women to speak out about harassment and abuse.

    The eastern branch of the Writers Guild of America noted the scope of the problem in a statement on Thursday, writing: “Sexual harassment and assault have long been hallmarks of the entertainment industry.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/technolo...nstein-scandal

    (*) Amazon’s best picture nomination marked the first time a streaming service had received such a nod. With “Manchester by the Sea,” Amazon took a different approach from other services by releasing the film in traditional theaters before its streaming debut.
    Última edição por 5ms; 13-10-2017 às 11:32.

  9. #9
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    Dec 2010
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    18,573

    How passive investors morphed into the bad guys

    John Authers
    2017-10-13

    Markets are suffering from a serious case of passive aggression. Or at least that is what many now believe.

    Passive investing — in which funds merely match an index and make no active attempt to choose stocks or other securities — has transformed markets over the past 25 years. In the US more than a third of stock funds assets are passive, while index funds dominate flows of new money into the market.

    Passive investing can be done more cheaply than active investing, which requires spending on research and salaries. This gives it an advantage. And as institutions have come to dominate trading in markets, so the markets’ judgments grow more efficient. That makes traditional “active” management ever harder — few stocks are so obviously mispriced that investors can confidently expect them to beat the index. As more and more investors work this out, so passive investing has boomed.

    Now that passive investors have become the giants they have morphed from the good guys to the bad guys. (rather like the giant companies of the internet). They now face questions over whether their scale is such that they are distorting the market.

    The issue sharply divides opinion. The case against passive investing breaks down into two arguments. First, because passive owners will hold a given stock as long as it stays in an index, they have no incentive to take an active voice in the company, and no means to threaten the management. Thus passive management means weak stewardship and weaker corporate governance.

    Three groups, BlackRock, Vanguard and State Street, dominate passive investing, and all of them insist that passive investing makes them even more assertive stewards. The argument is that as they cannot sell, the only way they can improve their returns, is by taking an active role when voting their shares.

    Managements are dubious. One chief executive told me: “We’d love to talk to the passive guys, they control 20 per cent of our shares, but they don’t want to see us.”

    Beyond stewardship, another argument concerns price discovery. As index buyers are price-insensitive (they will buy stock according to its weight in their index no matter how expensive it seems to them), the argument is that they thwart the market process of setting an accurate price for a stock taking into account all known information.

    In particular, as money flows into indexed mutual funds or exchange traded funds whose growth is the financial phenomenon of the age, so an increasing share of those flows will go to those stocks that have risen in value. By trusting the price that the market has put on stocks, this argument claims, index funds automatically overweight the stocks that are overvalued and underweight those that are undervalued. Active managers try to do the opposite.

    Stocks have a long documented tendency towards “momentum” — winners keep winning and losers keep losing. This year, momentum strategies in the US are having a banner year, with MSCI’s momentum index beating the market as a whole by almost 12 per cent. Meanwhile, the equivalent value index, containing stocks that look cheap compared to their fundamentals, is lagging the market by more than 5 per cent.

    This is serious. Misallocated capital has negative results for everyone in the economy. But is it true?

    Victor Haghani, founder of Elm Capital in London, believes strongly that it is not. “Flows into a broad index fund create purchases proportional to the size of each company,” he said. “The market impact of buying $100m in one company, and $25m in a company a quarter the size, should be identical.”

    It is hard, therefore, to see how it can boost momentum towards the bigger stocks. Meanwhile, he says, the argument that indexing makes the market less efficient “implies that you are taking it away from the good managers”. Poor performance by active managers has been key to passive funds’ appeal, so this is hard to believe.

    Against this, many in the market say that belief in a “Passive Put” is indeed affecting behaviour. The presence of the indexers, and the use of benchmarks to judge active managers’ performance, changes everyone’s behaviour.

    Mark Lapolla points out that ETFs make it easier to manage risk. If investors fear a downturn, they can sell or short an ETF. As Wall Street’s risk management systems tend to work from the same assumptions, this leads to the risk of syncopated co-ordinated selling — which would, in turn, drive prices down.

    Paul Woolley, who heads the London School of Economics’ centre for the study of market dysfunction, argues that moving to passive involves selling stocks which tend to have been losing. and buying winners. It aids momentum. Meanwhile, almost all active managers now compare themselves to index funds, which clients regard as the prime competition.

    If the weight of a stock in the index goes up, it grows riskier for an active manager’s career to stay out of it. So they buy, pushing up the price, so its index weight rises. Rinse and repeat.

    https://www.ft.com/content/8c44c31a-...9-abaa44b1e130
    Última edição por 5ms; 13-10-2017 às 20:34.

  10. #10
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    Data de Ingresso
    Dec 2010
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    18,573

    Barron's: JD.com Shares a Better Deal Than Alibaba’s

    Jack Hough
    Oct. 14, 2017

    The biggest shopping day of the year is less than a month away. On Nov. 11, China celebrates Single’s Day, a sort of anti–Valentine’s Day, when last year the country’s leading online retailer, Alibaba, rang up nearly $18 billion in sales. That compares with $1 billion for Amazon.com on Prime Day in July, and about $7 billion for all U.S. retailers last year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

    The American depositary receipts of Alibaba Group Holding (ticker: BABA) have more than doubled so far this year, and by some measures, they still look reasonably priced. At 29 times projected free cash flow for the next four quarters, for example, they are cheaper than shares of Starbucks (SBUX). But investors shopping for growth stocks in China might look instead to the country’s No. 2 online retailer, JD.com (JD). Its ADRs, while also up mightily this year, have underperformed Alibaba’s by more than 30 percentage points since the start of August on a pair of misplaced concerns. One relates to a recent earnings report and the other to Alibaba’s growth ambitions. Look for JD.com stock to gain 30% or more in the next year.

    Beijing-based JD.com controls 18% of the online retail market in China, and 30% of the market for companies selling wares directly to consumers. There, it competes with Alibaba’s Tmall unit. (Another Alibaba business, Taobao, is a selling platform for entrepreneurs.) A key distinction for JD.com is that, under founder and CEO Richard Qiangdong Liu, it has built logistics operations that can manage the sales process from start to finish, including warehousing, shipping to delivery stations, and even the “last mile” delivery to customers’ doors. In this respect, it’s ahead of even Amazon.com (AMZN), which is only now reportedly testing a delivery service to rival some last-mile functions of FedEx (FDX) and United Parcel Service (UPS).

    Building that infrastructure has been expensive for JD.com, which is why the company is—like Amazon until recently—only thinly profitable. But JD’s greater control over its sales process gives it some advantages. It beats Alibaba in certain “high trust” categories, like goods for babies, according to Wells Fargo Securities analyst Ken Sena. It also scores higher in customer satisfaction for logistics. Some 91% of JD.com’s first-party orders, where it acts as the merchant, are delivered within two days, including 58% within one day. Like Amazon, it also has a third-party business, where merchants can sign on for JD.com to handle the sales and some or all of the logistics. This year, Wall Street expects JD.com’s first-party gross merchandise volume (the total volume of what is sold) to rise 47%, to $79.3 billion, and third-party GMV to rise 49%, to $61.6 billion. That’s faster than either Alibaba or Amazon, which are both seen growing GMV by 30%, to $708 billion and $346 billion, respectively.



    “We do a lot of survey work in China,” says Rob Sanderson, an analyst at MKM Partners. “There’s a strong cohort, about 20% of consumers, that prefers a direct seller, as opposed to a reseller marketplace, which can be kind of a free-for-all.”

    Eventually, JD.com hopes to persuade its third-party partners to sign up for a longer menu of logistics services, in exchange for larger fees. It is also dabbling in businesses where Alibaba has led. For example, last month, JD.com poached a top cloud-computing executive from Microsoft (MSFT) in China, the latest evidence of a push to build a cloud business to rival Alibaba’s. JD.com is well positioned to continue going after market share. It is 18%-owned by Tencent Holdings (700.Hong Kong), China’s largest social platform and a key traffic source. Wal-Mart Stores (WMT), which hasn’t distinguished itself in China but has 400 outlets there, owns 10%. Baidu (BIDU), China’s search leader, is a partner; under a recently announced venture, shoppers will be able to purchase JD.com goods within Baidu mobile apps.

    Just as important as JD.com’s ability to grow within its market, however, is the explosive rate at which the market itself is expanding. During 2017’s first half, Chinese e-commerce grew by 29% from a year earlier, versus U.S. growth of 16%. It isn’t that China is catching up in e-commerce; it has already passed the U.S. in the percentage of shopping done online. But consumption in China is growing much faster than in the U.S., and high-speed internet connections are not as ubiquitous. It bodes well for e-commerce growth that China’s vast population is concentrated in cities, making shipping efficient. On average, it costs JD.com about half as much to ship a package as it does for Amazon. Also, small players dominate bricks-and-mortar retail in China, meaning less potential e-commerce competition than in the U.S., where big chains rule.

    Shares of JD.com and Alibaba traded mostly in tandem from the latter’s September 2014 initial public offering until August, when JD.com issued quarterly results that sent shares 4% lower. Investors didn’t like that adjusted gross profit margin shrank by more than two percentage points, to 13.4%. The decline is less worrisome than it seemed. JD.com ran aggressive promotions for a June 18 sales event celebrating its launch anniversary. It also changed how it accounts for some third-party logistics costs, which affected gross margin, but not broader operating margin.

    Investors were also concerned by Alibaba’s announcement last month that it will pay more than $800 million to take control of Cainiao, a logistics outfit. This will allow it to sell more services to merchants, but it doesn’t come close to JD.com’s capabilities in middle- and last-mile delivery, says MKM’s Sanderson. He sees JD.com shares hitting $51 in a year, up 30% from a recent $39. The target works out to 22.5 times his 2020 earnings prediction—a distant projection made necessary by JD.com’s limited profits today. If Amazon’s experience is any guide, investors who are patient for those future profits could make out handsomely.

    http://www.barrons.com/articles/jd-c...bas-1507955331

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