Summary of A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Five Biggest Internet Mergers of 2015 and 2016

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Merger announcements dominated the tech news in 2015–2016. Internet top dogs that had been at each other’s necks suddenly became one. Some of these corporate weddings had been predictable, like the merging of ride-sharing companies Didi, Kuaidi and Uber China: The companies had burned through their cash so quickly that a merger seemed to be the only way out. Other deals were shocking even to company employees. Workers at the group-buying companies Meituan and Dianping were surprised when they learned that a former rival would become part of their company. Employees of the online travel agencies Ctrip and Qunar were similarly startled. Caijing Magazine reporter Song Yang and his team reveal the intriguing stories behind these deals and explore their effects on China’s Internet industry as a whole. getAbstract recommends this article to business managers, investment bankers, start-up CEOs and anyone up for a good story of business intrigue.

About the Authors

Song Wei is a leading reporter for Caijing Magazine, an independent publication that covers societal, political and economic issues. This article was a collaborative effort with contributions from Caijing intern Shen Yuzhe and reporters Gao Honghao, Zhang Jun, and Liu Yiming

 

Summary

A wave of mergers and acquisitions (M&As) hit China’s Internet industry in early 2015. The amount and valuations of these M&As were unprecedented. In 2015, 1,509 tech industry M&As totaled $144.9 billion and the first eight months of 2016 saw 788 M&As totaling $81 billion. To put things into perspective: Companies only agreed on 363 such deals in 2010 and merely 11 in 2000. Chinese businesspeople used to consider being acquired an embarrassment. The occurrence of large Internet mergers in 2015–2016 has been educational and transformative for the entire China market.

With investment flooding in from all sides, China’s capital market had been heating up in the years leading up to these mergers. In several areas, Internet companies were buying out smaller competitors until only two large players were left standing. The tough competition prevented either from being profitable, and continued investment from venture capital firms made it impossible for one to eliminate the other. When the capital market rapidly cooled in 2015, merging became the only way out. The result was five huge M&As between companies that were once sworn enemies.