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Once Touted as IPO Hero, China’s 360buy Hits the Doldrums

2012-07-27 16:23 PandoDaily 我有话说 字号:TT

  Once Touted as IPO Hero, China’s 360buy Hits the Doldrums

  京东:昔日“IPO英雄”今日一筹莫展

  Just 10 months ago, Walmart-backed 360buy appeared to be preparing for one of the largest-ever Internet IPOs. Now, as it burns through cash on razor-thin margins and has seen the departure of a key staffer, it seems destined to be one of the biggest disappointments in a string of underwhelming Chinese Internet business showings in the last year. The company’s weak performance is likely to further undermine investor confidence in Chinese companies that are publicly listed or have IPO aspirations. (Mind you, to be fair, even the giants in the US aren’t doing so hot right now. The global markets are firmly in frown mode.)

  10个月之前,沃尔玛投资的京东商城貌似还在积极准备史上最大的互联网IPO。可是,京东的利润率一直非常微薄,再加上关键高管陆续离开,继去年众多中国互联网公司败走资本市场后,京东看来注定要成为另一个最大的失望。公司业绩不佳有可能继续削弱投资者对中国上市公司或是IPO的信心(需要提醒你的是,就算是美国大腕现在也风光不再,全球市场都一蹶不振)

  The ecommerce giant – second only to Alibaba’s Tmall in China’s business-to-consumer online retail sector – has apparently shelved its much-hyped plans for an IPO and instead is seeking a Series D funding round that will likely see its valuation drop compared to its previous round, according to various sources. Some reports pegged 360buy’s previous valuation at $10 billion, although several sources close to the company have suggested that a valuation of $7 billion is closer to the mark.

  在中国的B2C在线零售领域,京东仅次于阿里巴巴集团的天猫。早前被传得沸沸扬扬的IPO大计已被京东搁置。公司正在寻求D轮融资。不同的内幕人士均表示,这次融资的估值将有可能低于上一轮。一些报告将京东之前的估值定为100亿美元,但是一些接近京东的消息人士表示,70亿美元的估值更加靠谱。

  One well-placed source has suggested that the company is now asking for a valuation at a 10 percent discount compared to its previous round, which came in April last year and raised $1.5 billion from Russia’s Digital Sky Technologies and Tiger Fund, among others. That may be optimistic given the current state of the market, internal management issues, multiple self-imposed handicaps, and the struggles in China’s price-war-battered ecommerce sector. But even if the company does meet that goal, it will be a significant backstep from the excitement that had surrounded its IPO potential earlier in the year.

  一位接近此次融资的消息人士称,目前京东此轮融资的估值较上一轮打了一个9折。去年8月,京东进行了C轮融资,从DST,老虎基金及其他投资者处融得资金15亿美元。考虑到目前的市场环境、京东的内部管理问题,诸多“自残行为”,以及目前中国电子商务市场激烈的价格战,这个估值还是比较乐观的。但是就算京东的估值达到了这一目标,相比较去年传出IPO计划的兴奋场面也是一记重大的“当头一棒。”

  As recently as last September, Reuters reported that the company planned to raise $4 billion to $5 billion in an IPO tentatively scheduled for the first half of 2012. In June, 360buy’s founder and CEO Richard Liu told the Financial Times in his first interview with foreign media that the company would do a lot of acquisitions in the second half of 2012, further fuelling IPO speculation. In the same interview, however, he said the company was in no hurry to list. “We have enough cash until 2015,” he told the newspaper, claiming that the company had nearly $1 billion in cash at the end of 2011.

  就在去年9月,路透社报道京东计划在2012年6月进行IPO,并计划融资40到50亿美元。在与外媒的首次访问中,京东的创始人刘强东告诉《金融时报》公司将在2012年的下半年进行大量的收购,从而加大了外界对IPO的猜想。在同一个访问中,刘强东说京东并不着急上市。“我们的现金充足,可以支撑到2015年。”刘强东告诉记者截止2011年年底,京东有将近10亿美元的现金。

  Liu’s comments came just a week after the China Daily reported that the company had hired former Merrill Lynch Asia-Pacific board member Kate Yingchun Kui as its vice-president in order to help prepare for an IPO that would probably be filed in the US.

  就在刘强东说出这一席话的前一个礼拜,《中国日报》报道称京东宣布美林银行前董事蒉莺春加盟担任副总裁,负责准备京东可能赴美进行IPO事宜。

  Just a month later, however, 360buy was denying plans it would go for an IPO before 2013. Even more recently, the company’s chief operating officer, Shen Haoyu, who had joined from Baidu, suddenly left the company. Some reports said he resigned. Baidu’s founder Robin Li is a key investor in 360buy.

  但是仅一个月后,京东否认在2013年进行IPO的计划。甚至到最近,京东COO ,前百度高管沈皓瑜突然宣布离开。部分报道称沈皓瑜从京东辞职。百度的创始人李彦宏是京东的关键投资人。

  According to leading Chinese business magazine Caixin, in May 360buy met with bankers who estimated its value at $5 billion. That represented a steep drop from the reported $7 billion valuation that came from its third round of fundraising, attributable to the company falling well short of its 2011 commitment to investors, a private equity source told Caixin. Despite that, 360buy was less than happy with the valuation, which was significantly lower than it had hoped for.

  中国主流的财经媒体财新网报道,今年5月,京东与投行见面期间,投行对京东的估值为50亿美元,相比传闻第三轮融资获得的70亿美元估值,又是一次较大的减值。一位来自私募的消息人士告诉财新,减值的原因是因为京东在2011年没有兑现对投资者的承诺。尽管如此,京东对于这一比自己预期低了很多的估值表示不悦。

  360buy – also known in China as Jingdong Mall – has a remarkable growth story, having started in 2004, grown to more than 25 million registered users, and recording annual revenue growth rates of more than 200 percent. In 2009, it had net revenue of $421 million, which jumped to $3.3 billion last year. The company expects revenue to more than double this year and rise almost tenfold by 2015, according to the Financial Times.

  京东商城的成长故事引人注目,公司成立于2004年,目前有超过2500万注册用户,年收入的增长率在200%以上。2009年,京东的年交易额为4.21亿美元,而就在去年,公司的交易额一下子蹿到了33亿美元。根据《金融时报》的报道,京东预计公司今年的交易额将会是去年的2倍以上,到了2015年,交易额更会是10倍增长。

  But it is sustaining heavy losses. Its net losses more than doubled last year to $157 million, and the company does not expect to turn a profit until 2015, according to the FT. Last year, it recorded a gross profit margin of 5.5 percent – very low by US ecommerce standards, but not unusual in hyper-competitive China, where online retailers compete mainly on price. Its core electronics business sees about a 5 percent margin, which many analysts believe is too low to sustain a business in the long-term.

  但是京东目前确实损失惨重。《金融时报》的报道称,去年京东的净亏损是上年的2倍多,至1.57亿美元。而且京东并不寄希望于2015年扭亏为盈。去年,京东的毛利率是5.5%,以美国电子商务行业的标准来衡量,这是非常低的,但是对于中国高度竞争的市场来说,这并不是例外现象。中国的在线零售主要还是以价格取胜。京东的核心业务——家电业务的毛利在5%左右,很多分析师认为这样的利润率无法让公司长期发展下去。

  At 5 percent, the company’s operating margin is certain to be negative, says Michael Clendenin, an analyst at Shanghai-based RedTech Advisors. “It’s quite a lousy business to be in in the near term.” In the US, Amazon’s margin hovers at around 25 percent, says Clendenin.

  上海RedTech的顾问Michael Clendenin认为,如果毛利率是5%的话,那公司的营业毛利率必定是负数。“近期来看,这将是一盘很糟糕的生意。”而在美国,亚马逊的营业利润大约在25%左右浮动。

  However, Clendenin doesn’t believe 360buy will go away anytime soon. With backing from Walmart, DST, and Robin Li, among others, as well as its large market share in terms of traffic, “it’s a situation where they’re almost too big to fail.”

  然而,Michael Clendenin认为京东短期内不会淡出。除了沃尔玛、DST、李彦宏等投资者的支持,从流量上来说,京东有较大的市场的份额。“京东现在的情况基本就是盘子太大,所以伤不起。”

  In the context of the intense price wars China has seen over the last 18 months and the country’s grim IPO prospects, it’s not surprising that 360buy would be forced to accept a “down” financing round in terms of valuation. “It would be perhaps more surprising if they didn’t take a down round, because that would show the foolishness among private investors,” says Clendenin.

  面对过去18个月白热化的价格战和中国现时严峻的上市前景,京东不得不在新一轮的融资中接受缩水的估值,这一点不足为奇。“如果京东不接受新的估值才让人大跌眼镜,那样他们会在私人投资者面前尽显他们的愚蠢。” Clendenin说。

  When the company got its early funding, the market was a lot more optimistic for the ecommerce environment, whereas now investors are more realistic about the challenges ahead. Consumers are not loyal to brands in China right now, Clendenin says. They are only loyal to price, which means 360buy will have to continue to burn through cash to remain competitive against the likes of Tmall – which enjoys the benefits of being the No. 1 player, the deep pockets of parent company Alibaba, and being a pure platform play – and traditional electronics retailers such as Suning and Gome, both of which have strong online presences.

  当京东拿到早期融资的时候,当时的市场对经济情况乐观许多,然而现在,投资者对眼前的挑战看得更加现实。Clendenin说,中国的消费者如今对品牌是没有忠诚度的,他们最看重的是价格,也就是说,京东必须得继续烧钱,以此来跟天猫、苏宁和国美抗衡;其中天猫有行业第一的优势和母公司阿里巴巴集团雄厚的身家,再加上纯平台式经营,而苏宁和国美则在电子产品网络零售方面颇具实力。

  360buy faces other challenges, many of which have been self-imposed, perhaps as a result of over-reaching and over-optimism. Not only has it set itself up as a principle retailer – meaning it holds on to inventory that it sells – but it also serves third-parties offline by selling merchandise direct from its warehouses. So, while it has recently been trying to ramp up the platform side of its business – serving as a marketplace for third party brands – it has also been acting as a distributor. Adding a further layer of complication to its business, the company recently announced that it will send a fleet of delivery trucks on the streets as early as August to take care of the “last mile” of distribution.

  京东同样也面临着其他挑战,其中有许多都是因为他们自不量力或过分乐观造成自食其果。公司不仅把自己标榜成一个主要的零售商,即所卖商品都有库存,也为线下的第三方服务,直接从其仓库向外出售第三方的商品。所以说,当京东最近尝试强化其平台式业务(即作为一个平台市场服务第三方品牌)的同时,亦担任了经销商的角色。最近,京东又宣布,最早将在八月推出一批新的快递卡车,扬言要照顾好物流的最后一个环节,这样让京东的业务变得更加复杂。

  Some analysts believe the company has grown too big too quickly. There is a real need for ecommerce in China, which lacks the basic underlying retail infrastructure seen in the US, but the fight for market share in the overcrowded sector has turned into a war of attrition. Despite its size and its deep-pocketed backers, not even 360buy is immune to that.

  有些分析员认为京东在很短的时间内快速发展到巨大的规模。中国的确需要电子商务,因为与美国相比,中国缺少了最基本的零售基础设施;但是,在这个过度拥挤的市场里,各大公司为争夺市场份额而引发的战争已经演变成了一场消耗战。尽管京东有着较大的市场份额和财大气粗的投资者支持,它也无法避免受到影响。

  Until recently, Chinese companies have believed that if they grow fast, they can go public. For a while, that seemed to be true for 360buy as it eyed up a blockbuster IPO. What the company has experienced in just the last few months, however, has changed the landscape. If nothing else, the story of 360buy is a crashing reality check.

  直到最近,中国的公司似乎都认为,谁发展得快,谁就可以上市。曾几何时,这个理论似乎适用于京东,当年的它也期待着一场轰动的上市秀。然而,京东在过去几个月所经历的事情,已经改变了整个情况。看来京东的故事让大家如梦初醒。

责任编辑:陶文冬

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