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商业 - 科技

阿里赴美上市成日本软银扩张铺路工?

Erik Heinrich 2014年05月20日

阿里巴巴最早可能下个月就会在美国上市,甚至有望成为美国历史上最大的科技IPO。日本软银持有阿里巴巴34%的股份。软银CEO孙正义计划利用电信运营商的基础设施,提供远超语音和数据的各类服务。

    日本软银集团(SoftBank)与中国阿里巴巴集团(Alibaba)的强强联合能否打垮美国领先的移动与电子商务公司?

    在线零售巨头阿里巴巴最早将于下个月赴纽约上市(注:最新消息称,阿里上市时间拟定为8月),有望超过Facebook 160亿美元的IPO,成为史上规模最大的科技公司上市——届时,软银将持有阿里巴巴34%的股份。

    有关阿里巴巴上市时雅虎(Yahoo)必须出售40%所有权股份的传言,一直颇受关注,而且这种关注也有充分的理由:位于加州森尼维尔的雅虎公司财务绩效一直以来都享受着中国公司阿里巴巴带来的好处,因为它持有的阿里巴巴股份增长快速,而这部分股份的市值预计将达到100亿美元。如果没有这些股份,雅虎必须寻找自己的增长点。

    但软银似乎并不打算将股份变现。这一点或许令人有些意外,因为经过一系列大胆的收购,软银CEO、亿万富翁孙正义欠下的债务累计已达到900亿美元。身材矮小、乐观豁达的孙正义被誉为亚洲的沃伦•巴菲特,外界一直认为他是一位精明的商人。对于全球互联网的未来和软银在其中的地位,孙正义的愿景可谓雄心勃勃。

    孙正义在软银的年报中写道:“软银区别于其他公司的根本在于我们的互联网背景,而不仅仅是电信业务背景。软银集团的目标是成为移动互联网领域的世界第一。我们对于集团的愿景是,通过提供多样化的服务和内容,如音乐、视频、电子商务和财务结算等,让全世界的人们拥有丰富多彩的生活方式。”

    过去12个月,软银的股票价值翻了一番,公司市值达到了980亿美元。2013年,他以216亿美元收购了美国第三大无线运营商Sprint。受此鼓舞,他对收购美国第四大无线运营商T-Mobile也表现出浓厚的兴趣,预计将在今年夏天正式出价收购。

    美国监管机构对于美国第三和第四大运营商的合并一直都非常谨慎,但孙正义承诺,如果他的收购计划得以实现,他将掀起与威瑞森(Verizon)和美国电话电报公司(AT&T)的大规模价格战。

    去年,阿里巴巴出售的商品价值超过2,480亿美元,超过了亚马逊(Amazon)与eBay两家公司的总和。阿里巴巴表示,之所以决定前往纽约、而不是在香港或上海上市,是为了抢占美国领先电子商务公司的市场份额。

    市场研究公司IDC分析师卡斯滕•韦德称:“软银在收购Sprint之后将给当地运营商带来严重威胁,因为它有一家成熟的本土公司作为基础。但阿里巴巴要挑战亚马逊和eBay的难度更大,因为阿里巴巴在美国尚未形成气候。而且,正如美国公司进入中国市场的遭遇一样,阿里巴巴进入美国市场将面临类似的文化障碍。”

    阿里巴巴与eBay一样,严重依赖第三方零售商来推动平台业务,结果是它对于平台上买卖的商品的控制力较弱。(亚马逊直接销售大量的产品。)

    而软银的孙正义并没有把这个问题看成一个障碍。他相信,随着两家公司在美国的活动增加,他可以利用在阿里巴巴持有的股份,在两家公司之间形成协同效应。他将阿里巴巴形容为“不可或缺的战略合作伙伴”。孙正义全球扩张计划的核心是,创造一个互联网与移动生态系统,将电信基础设施作为平台,提供远远超出语音与数据的一系列服务。孙正义在年报中写道:“控制了基础设施意味着控制了互联网世界。这正是我们参与电信业务的理由。”

    但并不是所有的人都看好孙正义的宏伟计划。市场研究公司高德纳(Gartner)的分析师比尔•梅内塞斯认为:“Sprint要想赢回客户,必须推出比AT&T、威瑞森和T-Mobile更有吸引力的移动产品。美国消费者如今已经有亚马逊、e-Bay、谷歌(Google)和其他根基深厚的选择。在这种情况下,为他们提供另外一条购物途径并不会改变现状。”

    IDC的韦德同意这种观点。“就算阿里巴巴今天马上在美国上市,它要想对美国公司形成真正的挑战,至少也需要三至四年时间。”

    时间会证明一切。但在1,300多家公司持有股份的孙正义,似乎做好了等待的准备。(财富中文网)

    译者:刘进龙/汪皓

    Could Japan's SoftBank and China's Alibaba be the one-two punch that knocks leading U.S. mobile and e-commerce companies off their game?

    When the online retail juggernaut Alibaba lists in New York -- perhaps as early as next month in what is expected to be the largest market debut ever by a technology company, surpassing Facebook's $16-billion I.P.O. -- SoftBank will have 34 percent stake.

    Much has been made about the 40 percent ownership stake that Yahoo (YHOO) must sell when Alibaba goes public, and for good reason: The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company's financial performance has long been pinned to its piece of the fast-growing Chinese company, which could be worth an estimated $10 billion. Without it, the company must find its own growth.

    But SoftBank has no plans to cash in its stake. That is perhaps a little surprising, given that the company's billionaire chief executive, Masayoshi Son, has piled on about $90 billion in debt resulting from a very aggressive acquisition spree. The cheerful and diminutive Son, described by some as Asia's Warren Buffet, is considered to be a crafty businessman with a very ambitious vision for the future of the global Internet and his company's place in it.

    "What makes us fundamentally different from other companies is that our background is in the Internet, not simply telecom operations," Son wrote in SoftBank's annual report. "The SoftBank Group's goal is to become the global No. 1 in mobile Internet. Our vision for the Group is to enable people around the world to lead enriched lifestyles by enjoying a diverse spectrum of services and content, such as music, video, e-commerce, and financial settlements."

    Son has watched the value of his company's shares double in the past 12 months, resulting in market capitalization of $98 billion. In 2013, he made a $21.6 billion acquisition of Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier. Emboldened, he has now expressed interest in acquiring T-Mobile, the fourth-largest U.S. carrier, and is expected to make a formal bid this summer.

    U.S. regulators have been wary of combining the No. 3 and No. 4 U.S. carriers, but Son has promised the mother of all price wars with Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) if they allow him to move forward with his plan.

    Alibaba -- which sold merchandise valued at more than $248 billion last year, more than Amazon (AMZN) and eBay (EBAY) combined -- has suggested that its decision to list in New York rather than Hong Kong or Shanghai was informed by its plan to grab market share from America's e-commerce leaders.

    "SoftBank, with its acquisition of Sprint, is a serious threat to local operators because it can build on a local, established company," says Karsten Weide, an analyst at the market research firm IDC. "For Alibaba, it will be much harder to pose a challenge to Amazon and eBay, because they have no local presence to speak of yet. Also, they will face similar cultural hurdles entering the U.S. market as American companies have encountered launching in the Chinese market."

    Like eBay, Alibaba relies heavily on third-party retailers to drive business over its platform, giving it less control over what is bought and sold. (Amazon sells many of its good directly.)

    SoftBank's Son doesn't see any of this as a hurdle. He believes he can leverage his stake in Alibaba, a company he describes as an "indispensable strategic partner," to create synergies between the two companies as they increase activity in the U.S. At the heart of Son's global expansion plan is the creation of an Internet and mobile ecosystem that uses telecom infrastructure as a platform for delivering an array of services beyond voice and data. "Controlling the infrastructure means controlling the world of the Internet," Son wrote in the annual report. "This is the rationale for our involvement in the telecommunications businesses."

    Not everyone is bullish on Son's grand plan. "Sprint needs to give U.S. customers a mobile product that's far more compelling than what AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile offer in order to win customers back," says Bill Menezes, an analyst at the market research firm Gartner. "Giving them another way to buy things when they already have Amazon, e-Bay, Google and other entrenched options is not going to change that."

    IDC's Weide agrees. "Even if Alibaba launched in the U.S. today, it would be at least three or four years before it would present a serious challenge."

    Time will tell. But as a man who holds a stake in more than 1,300 companies, Son seems prepared to wait.

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