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中国科技行业热度减退,美团赴港上市能否成功?

Eamon Barrett 2018年09月18日

在中国互联网市场竞争已近白热化的当下,美团不仅面临着竞争对手的围剿,同时投资者的热情也在下降。

美团点评是中国的一家“线上到线下”(O2O)服务平台,提供从食品外卖到机票预订在内的各种服务。近日美团点评已经确认,该公司将寻求以550亿美元的估值在香港上市,IPO日期预计为9月20日。然而在中国互联网市场竞争已近白热化的当下,美团不仅面临着竞争对手的围剿,同时投资者的热情也在下降。

美团是第二家根据港交所新规采取“同股不同权”结构赴港上市的企业。美团希望通过发行4.8亿股B股,筹集44亿美元的融资,其中每股代表一个投票权。而该公司的A股每股折合10个投票权,将主要由该公司CEO王兴和其他两位高管持有。

今年早些时候赴港上市的小米则是第一家采取了双重股份结构的大陆公司。但小米在港上市以来表现不佳,从而给这套股权体系打了一个负面广告。最近,中国大陆的证券监管机构宣布,在大陆地区暂不能购买同股不同权的股票(也就是小米的股票),因为他们认为这一结构过于复杂,不便于大陆投资者理解。

而最近,京东CEO刘强东在美性侵被捕一事,也凸显了投票权集中在少数企业高管手里,是一件多么危险的事。

此外也有迹象表明,投资者对中国科技股的兴趣正在减弱,这主要是由于这些科技股承诺的丰厚利润始终没有兑现。今年夏天,由于收益疲软,腾讯和阿里巴巴的股价都出现了大幅下跌,而美团则甚至还没有盈利。

今年4月,美团以27亿美元的价格收购了连年亏损的共享单车运营商摩拜,公司的财务状况进一步恶化。今年头四个月,美团的亏损已达33亿美元,几乎达到去年同期亏损额的三倍。

押宝美食大战

为了投资者证明自己可以盈利,美团已经停止了在其他一些领域的扩张,集中精力做好自己的核心业务——食品配送。中国的食品配送市场是一个400亿美元的大蛋糕,而美团占据了其中59%的份额。该公司的首席财务官陈少晖表示,他对“美团的食品配送业务非常有信心,相信它能盈利。”

在美团的发展道路上,阿里巴巴是个绕不开的竞争对手。阿里巴巴曾是美团的早期投资者之一,但在2015年美团与腾讯注资的大众点评合并后,阿里巴巴已出售了其所有的大部分美团股份。阿里抛弃美团之后,投资了中国第二大食品外卖公司“饿了么”,并于今年4月获得了该公司的全部所有权。

就在美团赴港上市的前夕,阿里巴巴将饿了么与它旗下的生活方式服务应用“口碑”进行了合并,形成了一个足以与美团点评分庭抗礼的强大对手。

在与阿里巴巴开展竞争的同时,美团也在从网约车等其他领域退却。去年10月,美团曾尝试推出过一款网约车服务,并希望年内在全国七大城市铺开。但上周这个计划却被搁置了。一方面是由于随着滴滴连续出事被整改,中国对网约车的监管环境日益严苛;另一方面也是由于美团无力在多个领域同时开展竞争。

因此,美团声称,它短期内不会急于向海外扩张。因为小黄车Ofo的失败还殷鉴不远——今年夏天,由于出现资金危机,Ofo不得不仓促全线退却。美团CEO王兴在一次媒体发布会上表示:“海外市场确实有很多机会,但我们在中国有非常好的客户群。我们希望扎根中国,首先集中精力深耕国内市场。”(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎 

Meituan Dianping, China’s multiservice “online-to-offline” (O2O) platform that provides everything from food delivery to flight tickets, has confirmed it is seeking a $55 billion valuation from a Hong Kong IPO, setting the date for Sept. 20. But with China’s already overcrowded tech sector facing a downward turn, Meituan is competing not only against rival companies but also diminished investor enthusiasm.

Meituan will be the second company to take advantage of new regulations that allow companies to offer weighted voting rights in Hong Kong. The so-called superapp hopes to raise $4.4 billion by issuing over 480 million Class B shares, each of which entitles the shareholder to one vote. The company’s Class A shares, which are good for 10 votes, will be held by CEO Wang Xing and two other top executives.

Xiaomi was the first company to list dual class shares in Hong Kong, doing so earlier this year, but the smartphone maker’s weak debut was a poor advertisement for the new system. Mainland regulators excluded Xiaomi from the Hong Kong stock connect, a scheme that allows investors in mainland China to buy up Hong Kong stock, because they thought the weighted voting structure was too complicated for mainland investors to understand.

More recently, the arrest of JD.com CEO Richard Liu has highlighted the dangers of allowing weighted-voting-structure companies to consolidate power in the hands of just a few executives.

There are also signs that investors are losing their appetite for Chinese tech stocks as promises of bountiful profits go unmet. Shares in Tencent and Alibaba have plummeted this summer after both posted weak earnings, while Meituan has yet to even reach profitability.

In April, Meituan bought loss-making bike share operator Mobike for $2.7 billion, pushing company finances further into arrears. Meituan recorded losses of $3.3 billion for the first four months of the year, nearly three times its deficit for the same period in 2017.

Betting on winning a food fight

To assure investors that it can turn a profit, Meituan has pulled back from other expansion efforts to focus on its core sector: food delivery. Meituan commands 59% of China’s $40 billion food delivery market, and CFO Chen Shaohui has said he is “very confident in [Meituan’s] food delivery business turning profitable.”

But here Meituan must compete with the might of Alibaba. Alibaba was an early investor in Meituan but sold most of its stock when the start-up merged with Tencent-backed Dianping in 2015 to form the combined entity it is today. After ditching Meituan, Alibaba invested in Ele.me, China’s second largest food delivery company; it took full ownership of the company in April.

As rumors of Meituan’s imminent IPO intensified, Alibaba merged Ele.me with its own lifestyle services app, Koubei, creating a discernible rival to Meituan Dianping’s multiservice platform.

Already confronting the challenge of going toe-to-toe with Alibaba in a war for food delivery dominance, Meituan has retreated from other areas, such as ride-hailing. The platform began trialling a ride-hailing service last October and hoped to roll out the feature to seven major cities this year. That plan was put on hold last week, partially because of the harsher regulatory environment that has come from the scandal embroiling industry leader Didi, but also because Meituan can’t afford to fight for space in multiple sectors.

To that end, Meituan claims it will not be racing to expand overseas, unlike its bike-sharing rival Ofo, for example, which had to beat a hasty retreat this summer when it faced a cash crunch at home. “There are plenty of opportunities in the overseas markets, but we have a very good customer base in China,” Meituan CEO Wang Xing said during a press conference. “We would like to be rooted in China and focus on the domestic market first.”

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