China’s economic surge is one of the biggest stories of the 21st century.
Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, and China’s swelling middle class has attracted the interest of Western companies.
As many American companies have discovered, doing business in China is far from straightforward. Recent history is littered with examples of companies that entered the Chinese market to great fanfare, only to retreat a few years later.
Calling Off The Offensive
Today’s infographic highlights 11 companies that ended up tapping the brakes on their ambitious forays on the other side of the Pacific.
Then, we take a look at the factors that influenced these strategic withdrawals.
Here are some high profile examples of corporate u-turns by American companies operating in the Chinese market:
When Google China’s search engine was launched in 2006, the company had made the controversial decision to censor search results within the country. Google publicly displayed a disclaimer indicating that some results were removed, which created tensions with the Chinese government.
For a while, things seemed to be going well. Even though a domestic company, Baidu, had captured the majority of the Chinese search market, Google did have a respectable market share of about 30%.
Google China’s fortune took a turn for the worse in 2010 after a major hack – Operation Aurora – exposed user data as well as intellectual property. The hack, which originated from within China, was the last straw for Google’s executive team. After one last ditch effort to provide unfiltered search results within China, the company retreated beyond the firewall.
Amazon was an early entrant into the Chinese market. In 2004, the company acquired Joyo – an online shopping site – which was eventually rebranded to Amazon China in 2011.
Amazon China achieved some early success hitting a market share of around 15%, but today, that market share has eroded to less than 1%. Facing nearly insurmountable competition from domestic e-commerce platforms like JD and Taobao, the company recently announced it would be exiting the Chinese market.
After arriving fashionably late for the ride-hailing party in 2014, it quickly became clear that Uber was facing an uphill battle against well-funded domestic rivals. After only two years, Uber elected to u-turn out of the Chinese market.
Though Uber’s tactical exit from China is often viewed as a failure, the company has earned upwards of $8B through its sale to competitor Didi Chuxing.
A Two-Way Street
Now that red-hot growth at home is beginning to taper off, a number of Chinese companies have begun their push into other markets around the world. Much like their American counterparts, brands pushing beyond China’s borders are seeing varied success in their expansion efforts.
One high-profile example is Huawei. The telecommunications giant has been making inroads in countries around the world – particularly in emerging markets – but has seen pushback and scrutiny in a number of developed economies. Huawei has become a lightning rod for growing concerns over government surveillance and China’s growing influence over the global communications network.
Already, Australia has blocked the company from participating in its 5G network, and in the United States, government agencies are banned from buying Huawei gear.
If negative sentiment continues to build, it remains to be seen whether Huawei and other Chinese companies will follow the playbook of American brands in China, and turn the car around.
Ranked: The Best and Worst Pension Plans, by Country
As the global population ages, pension reform is more important than ever. Here’s a breakdown of how key countries rank in terms of pension plans.
Ranked: Countries with the Best and Worst Pension Plans
The global population is aging—by 2050, one in six people will be over the age of 65.
As our aging population nears retirement and gets closer to cashing in their pensions, countries need to ensure their pension systems can withstand the extra strain.
This graphic uses data from the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI) to showcase which countries are best equipped to support their older citizens, and which ones aren’t.
Each country’s pension system has been shaped by its own economic and historical context. This makes it difficult to draw precise comparisons between countries—yet there are certain universal elements that typically lead to adequate and stable support for older citizens.
MMGPI organized these universal elements into three sub-indexes:
- Adequacy: The base-level of income, as well as the design of a region’s private pension system.
- Sustainability: The state pension age, the level of advanced funding from government, and the level of government debt.
- Integrity: Regulations and governance put in place to protect plan members.
These three measures were used to rank the pension system of 37 different countries, representing over 63% of the world’s population.
Here’s how each country ranked:
The Importance of Sustainability
While all three sub-indexes are important to consider when ranking a country’s pension system, sustainability is particularly significant in the modern context. This is because our global population is increasingly skewing older, meaning an influx of people will soon be cashing in their retirement funds. As a consequence, countries need to ensure their pension systems are sustainable over the long-term.
There are several factors that affect a pension system’s sustainability, including a region’s private pension system, the state pension age, and the balance between workers and retirees.
The country with the most sustainable pension system is Denmark. Not only does the country have a strong basic pension plan—it also has a mandatory occupational scheme, which means employers are obligated by law to provide pension plans for their employees.
Adequacy versus Sustainability
Several countries scored high on adequacy but ranked low when it came to sustainability. Here’s a comparison of both measures, and how each country scored:
Ireland took first place for adequacy, but scored relatively low on the sustainability front at 27th place. This can be partly explained by Ireland’s low level of occupational coverage. The country also has a rapidly aging population, which skews the ratio of workers to retirees. By 2050, Ireland’s worker to retiree ratio is estimated to go from 5:1 to 2:1.
Similar to Ireland, Spain ranks high in adequacy but places extremely low in sustainability.
There are several possible explanations for this—while occupational pension schemes exist, they are optional and participation is low. Spain also has a low fertility rate, which means their worker-to-retiree ratio is expected to decrease.
Steps Towards a Better System
All countries have room for improvement—even the highest-ranking ones. Some general recommendations from MMGPI on how to build a better pension system include:
- Increasing the age of retirement: Helps maintain a more balanced worker-to-retiree ratio.
- Enforcing mandatory occupational schemes: Makes employers obligated to provide pension plans for their employees.
- Limiting access to benefits: Prevents people from dipping into their savings preemptively, thus preserving funds until retirement.
- Establishing strong pension assets to fund future liabilities: Ideally, these assets are more than 100% of a country’s GDP.
Pension systems across the globe are under an increasing amount of pressure. It’s time for countries to take a hard look at their pension systems to make sure they’re ready to support their aging population.
Football Fever: Investing in the Beautiful Game
Football’s global appeal has boosted the game into a billion-dollar industry. How can fans and investors cash in on their favorite clubs?
Football Fever: Investing in the Beautiful Game
The very mention of football conjures up images of cheering fans from all corners of the world.
The global appeal of the game is undeniable, and it’s the strong support of fans that has propelled its growth into a multi-billion dollar industry.
Today’s infographic from Swissquote tracks how the sport has reached far and wide—even onto the stock exchange.
The Timeline of the Manchester United IPO
Manchester United is the largest publicly-traded football club in the world. The journey of its initial public offering (IPO) can be traced back almost 30 years.
- 1991: Man United floats on the London Stock Exchange (LSE)
It aims to raise £10 million, but falls short and finally raises £6.7 million.
- 2003-2005: Malcolm Glazer acquires ownership of Man United
This raises the club’s market capitalization to £790 million, and it delists from the LSE.
- 2012: Man United lists on the New York Stock Exchange
It aims to raise £62.8 million in this IPO, but surpasses this with a final raised value of £146.3 million. Interestingly, George Soros was the biggest investor in this deal, buying a nearly 2% stake in the club.
What makes a football team like Manchester United so attractive in the eyes of investors?
Over decades, a flourishing fan base from viewers to consumers has been the force behind the football industry’s success as a whole.
The Big Business of Football
FIFA, the international governing body of football, organizes and promotes all major tournaments. Its total revenue between 2015-2018 can be broken down into a few main components:
|Revenue Source||Amount||% of total|
|Broadcasting rights||€2,800 million||48%|
|Marketing rights||€1,500 million||27%|
|Accommodation and ticket sales||€600 million||11%|
|Licensing rights||€500 million||9%|
|Other revenue||€300 million||5%|
|Total: €5,800 million|
In fact, 83% of this total revenue came from the 2018 Russia World Cup alone. This was viewed by approximately 3.6 billion people—nearly half the world’s population.
The World Cup’s revenue even rivals the combined strength of the top five European clubs. How do the five major clubs make their money?
|Club||Matchday||Broadcast||Commercial/ Sponsorships||2019 Revenue|
As viewership climbs, broadcasting rights furiously grow too—presenting numerous investment opportunities in sponsorship on the pitch and on the screen.
Cashing in on Clubs
Manchester United (NYSE:MANU) set a new precedent for publicly-traded football clubs—with a market cap worth near €1.8 billion today.
Following Man United’s example, other major clubs have since gone public across Europe. As well, Asia presents an emerging opportunity as the sport’s regional popularity expands.
|Club||Stock Ticker||Mkt Cap (Jul 31, 2020)|
|🇮🇹 Juventus FC S.p.A||JUVE:IM||€1.19B|
|🇩🇪 Borussia Dortmund||BVB:GR||€511M|
|🇮🇹 AS Roma||ASR:IM||€320M|
|🇬🇧 Celtic F.C.||CCP:LN||€108M (£97M)|
|🇨🇳 Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao||NEEQ:834338||N/A|
|🇮🇩 Bali United||IDX:BOLA||€57M (Rp894B)|
China’s most valuable football club—backed in part by e-commerce giant Alibaba—closely matches the valuation of Manchester United.
In Southeast Asia, Bali United was the first team to go public in June 2019. Shares jumped 69% higher than the initial listing price upon its IPO. This move is already propelling more planned IPOs for more football teams in the region, such as Persija Jakarta—the 2018 Liga 1 champion—and Thailand’s Buriram United.
The Future of Football
Football has the power to stir passions and unite people—and it’s reinventing itself constantly.
The 2019 Women’s World Cup was the most watched in tournament history, with over 1.12 billion tuning in. FIFA plans to invest almost €454 million more into the women’s game between 2019-2022, and grow the number of female players to 600 million by 2026.
Additionally, the annual esports tournament eWorld Cup is taking place in Thailand in 2020—tapping into the esports boom in Asia, which hosts 57% of esports enthusiasts.
Any football fan will tell you that the beautiful game is more than just a sport. And for investors, there are a variety of ways to gain exposure to this market—meaning fans can be both personally and financially invested as it continues to grow.
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