Meituan posts widest loss since 2018 as China headwinds mount

Meituan reported its largest loss in three years, weighed down by a bruising antitrust probe, an funding spurt and mounting competitors.

The Chinese food-delivery behemoth stated on Friday income for the September quarter climbed to 48.8 billion yuan ($7.6 billion), consistent with analysts’ estimates. Net loss widened to virtually 10 billion yuan, versus the 7 billion yuan projected, after the company incurred a 3.44 billion yuan wonderful for violating antitrust guidelines. That’s the steepest loss since the third quarter of 2018.

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Beijing’s wide-ranging tech crackdown — spanning areas from e-commerce to fintech, information safety, after-school training and the gig economic system — has taken a heavy toll on China’s largest web companies. Tencent Holdings Ltd. this month reported its slowest quarterly gross sales progress since changing into a public company in 2004, whereas Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. slashed its outlook for fiscal 2022 income. In response, corporations are stepping up investments in new companies such as neighborhood e-commerce and expertise, fueling competitors for leaders like Meituan.

The antitrust regulator in October slapped a $530 million wonderful on Meituan for violating anti-monopoly legal guidelines, a penalty that was smaller than some buyers had anticipated. The company was additionally instructed to enhance its commissions mechanism, make sure the rights of its restaurant companions and step up protections for supply riders.

What Bloomberg Intelligence Says:

The earnings deficit would have been led by increased expenditure in grocery-related providers beneath Meituan as the company seized alternatives from the Covid-19 outbreak in mainland China to elevate its market share in 3Q.

Profitability at Meituan’s food-delivery unit could have additionally slid to a 12-month low as the company spent extra to offer extra insurance coverage protection, well being care and academic help to all outsourced riders. — Catherine Lim and Tiffany Tam, analysts

But headwinds stay, even with the conclusion of the antitrust probe. Chinese President Xi Jinping has outlined a imaginative and prescient to attain “common prosperity” and redistribute wealth, an effort that would power tech giants like Meituan to supply extra concessions to its huge military of gig staff. Rules introduced in July required meals supply platforms to enhance working circumstances, together with optimising routes, setting cheap supply instances and enabling the drivers to take part in social safety.

The State Administration for Market Regulation this month additionally revealed a stinging rebuke of so-called platform corporations which have muscled into neighborhood group shopping for, fueling concern the trade may turn into the subsequent goal of regulators. These massive companies may harm the conventional growth of provide chain networks, their discounting may disrupt orderly market pricing, they usually may have an effect on social stability by squeezing out small hawkers and stall homeowners, SAMR stated.

Community e-commerce — the place native brokers purchase groceries and small gadgets at a bulk low cost on behalf of individuals in neighbourhoods — was Meituan’s largest space of funding through the second quarter, executives instructed analysts in August.

In the wake of regulatory scrutiny, Meituan is shifting away from its “Food + Platform” technique to concentrate on “Retail + Technology,” in response to media studies. Chief government officer Wang Xing is overhauling the business to concentrate on new drivers such as neighborhood group shopping for, as properly as investing in new expertise like autonomous automobiles and drone supply.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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