Tencent smashes US$500b barrier

Tencent's WeChat messaging service has close to one billion users, and the firm's online and mobile games brought in over US$4 billion in sales last quarter.
Tencent's WeChat messaging service has close to one billion users, and the firm's online and mobile games brought in over US$4 billion in sales last quarter.PHOTO: REUTERS

Its market cap now exceeds Alibaba's, as firm closes in on Facebook, Amazon

China's Tencent just became the first Asian company to crack the illustrious US$500 billion (S$678 billion) club. The shares of the Hong Kong-listed Internet giant, known for its WeChat message app and online games, closed at HK$420 on Monday, bringing its market value to HK$3.99 trillion (S$692 billion).

Tencent is now closing in on the likes of Facebook and Amazon. Top of the pole is Apple, with pundits predicting the iPhone maker could be the first to break the US$1 trillion mark in the months ahead.

Tencent's market cap now exceeds e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding's US$474.15 billion, with Baidu behind at US$82.97 billion. It brings the personal wealth of Tencent founder and chief executive Ma Huateng close to US$47 billion.

Tencent's stock has shot up 121.4 per cent this year, and is up 11,251 per cent since the company went public in 2004 at HK$3.70 a share.

Analysts say it can go further. "Some of this year's best performers are worth holding as long-term bulls," Mr Wang Menghai, a Shanghai-based money manager at Fullgoal Fund Management, told Bloomberg.

"It would be a wrong decision to sell it just for some short-term gain," he said.

CNBC credits Tencent's rise to its continued revenue growth, massive user base and investments in new areas. Last week, it reported a 69 per cent year-on-year rise in net profit for the third quarter to 18 billion yuan (S$3.7 billion), beating market forecasts.

Its WeChat, China's most popular messaging service, has close to one billion users. Online and mobile games brought in over US$4 billion in sales last quarter. Its fantasy role-playing game Honour Of Kings will debut in the United States next year.

Tencent also acquired a majority stake in Finnish smartphone maker Supercell, the firm behind the popular Clash Of Clans mobile game.

Other fast-growing parts of the business include digital content such as video, as well as online advertising, said CNBC.

Tencent president Martin Lau said last week that its YouTube equivalent, Tencent Video, has become the video streaming service with the largest paying subscriber base in China, at 43 million users.

Over the past year, several Tencent subsidiaries have also made stellar market debuts in Hong Kong and the US, most recently its online publishing platform China Literature, which nearly doubled in price on its first trading day this month.

Their genuine prowess aside, the Financial Times points out that the rise of China's tech giants has been greatly aided by Beijing's ban on the US titans - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google. And while Amazon was let in, it was quickly quashed by Alibaba's Tmall and Taobao e-commerce sites.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2017, with the headline 'Tencent smashes US$500b barrier'. Print Edition | Subscribe