Huazhu Ends 2021 with Omicron Hit, Seen Lingering Into 2022

The hotel operator is facing headwinds from the latest Covid-19 flare-up, whose impact is likely to affect its first quarter results Key takeaways: Huazhu Group is predicting greater uncertainties for its hotels in the first quarter as a result of the recent Covid resurgence and resulting travel restrictions The company has pivoted to focus on quality over quantity growth, in an unexpected shift for some analysts By Lau Ming With recent Covid-19 fare-ups sweeping China and the new omicron variant spreading fast, local governments throughout the country have been tightening…

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Full Truck Alliance Travels Bumpy Road Through Pandemic, Regulatory Wave

Trucking app operator’s fourth-quarter update showed strong but slowing growth, as it remains barred from signing up new customers pending outcome of a cybersecurity review Key takeaways: Full Truck Alliance said its fourth quarter fulfilled orders rose 41.6%, slowing from 78.4% growth in the previous quarter Growth comes as other major companies report business contractions in China due to Covid-control disruptions By Doug Young There are quite a few ways to look at the latest fourth-quarter update from Full Truck Alliance Co. Ltd. (YMM.US), reflecting just how complex China’s corporate…

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After Major Rebrew, Is Luckin Seeking to Re-list in New York?

Scandal-tainted Starbucks Chinese challenger dismisses media report about a re-listing plan, despite recent actions that suggest such a potential move Key takeaways: Scandal-tainted Luckin Coffee is discussing capital raising options, including a potential re-listing on the Nasdaq later this year, according a Financial Times report The company still faces hurdles in the form of competition from established giant Starbucks and newer up-and-comers like Manner Coffee By Jony Ho After getting burned once, will investors be willing to take another sip of a scandal-tainted Luckin Coffee Inc. that says it’s now…

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ZhongAn’s Big-Tech Ties in Focus as Alibaba-linked Ant Trims Stake

Online insurer’s shares tumbled after Ant Group disclosed plan to trim its longtime stake, but later rebounded after Ant affirmed its commitment to their strategic ties Key takeaways: •      Ant Group, one of the three founders of ZhongAn, disclosed last week it trimmed its stake in the digital insurer •      ZhongAn has close business ties to the three parents, especially Ant and its Alibaba affiliate under a platform cooperation agreement By Warren Yang ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co. Ltd.’s (6060.HK) ties to Alibaba (BABA.US; 9988.HK), one of its three big-name…

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Pop Mart Takes Its Trendy Toy Story on Global Roadshow

The maker of popular collectible toys sold from ‘blind boxes’ has moved into Europe with the opening of a store in London Key takeaways: Pop Mart has moved into Europe with a London store, expanding its global footprint to 23 countries since opening its first international store a year ago Company is hoping to copy its successful domestic model of selling trendy toys over low-cost channels such as online and vending machines, helped by social media promotion By Doug Young Watch out, world. First China’s ByteDance gave us TikTok, the…

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Animoca Mines NFTs, Metaverse to Boost Valuation to $5.4 Billion. Next Stop, New York?

Digital property manager raises $360 million in its latest funding round, more than doubling its value from previous round in October Key Takeaways: Animoca Brands has raised $360 million in a new funding round that values the company at $5.4 billion Company was booted from Australia’s main stock exchange in 2020 for noncompliance, but could seek a new listing as soon as this year, most likely in New York By Doug Young Move over, bitcoin miners. A Hong Kong company called Animoca Brands Corp. Ltd. has become the latest hot…

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Virscend Education Eyes Management Services in Its Search for New Roadmap

Company is looking to an ‘asset-light’ model for its future survival, following China’s ban of for-profit K-12 education services   Key takeaways: Virscend Education plans to adopt an “asset-light” model by providing services for schools developed by governments and real-estate companies The company lost 1.8 billion yuan in the first eight months of last year after suspending most of its K-12 education operation By Molly Wen China’s new education law adopted last September has provided a difficult lesson for the nation’s K-12 private educators, putting many out of business and…

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Everest Boosts Covid Bet With New Licensing Deal Despite Crowded Field

Global agreement for oral anti-viral comes just months after company signed separate similar tie-up for a Covid mRNA vaccine also in development Key Takeaways Everest has signed a global licensing deal for an anti-viral Covid treatment being developed by Singapore’s Experimental Drug Development Centre Similar oral anti-viral treatments have been developed by Pfizer and Merck, and are growing in popularity due to their ease of use By Richard Barbarossa Why settle for a single drug to treat Covid-19 when you can hedge your bets with two? That appears to be…

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Entrepreneurial State Bank Makes Hong Kong’s First SPAC Application

The listing plan by Aqulia Acquisition, sponsored by China Merchants Bank, comes half a month after Hong Kong launched its SPAC mechanism Key takeaways: Aquila Acquisition has applied to become Hong Kong’s first SPAC listing, formed by a group connected to China Merchants Bank Investors must put up at least $128,000 to buy the SPAC’s shares, which may be too high to create a vibrant market By Jony Ho Just a month after unveiling plans to allow listings using Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) that are all the rage now…

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