China Eastern Airlines, one of the country's leading carriers, has posted a net profit drop of 97.76 percent from the same period last year in the first half of 2014.
With a net profit of 14 million yuan (2.28 million U.S. dollars), the company registered a business revenue of 42.59 billion yuan in the first six months, according to a statement it filed to the Shanghai Stock Exchange on Sunday.
The revenue was a 2.68-percent increase from the same period last year, said China Eastern Airlines.
It attributed the lackluster performance to "geopolitical instability, fewer high-end business travelers, and more convenient high-speed railway services."
The airline foresees both opportunities and challenges in the second half of this year due to a mixed picture consisting of "uncertainties in global economic recovery, continuous growth in China's airline market, and fierce competition."
By June 30, the Shanghai-based carrier had 485 planes, including 459 passenger ones, 12 cargo, and 14 corporate jets under its trusteeship.
Jack Ma Yun, the 49-year-old founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, has become China's richest man with a net worth of $21.8 billion, Bloomberg reported on Thursday citing its Billionaires Index.
Ma's assets include a 7.3 percent equity in China's largest e-commerce business, which is preparing for what could be the largest IPO in US history.
Ma is $5.5 billion wealthier than Ma Huateng, founder of Tencent Holdings Ltd, China's largest Internet company by market value.
Robin Li Yanhong, founder of Internet search engine Baidu Inc, ranks the third on the list of the richest people in the country.
China's housing price is likely to rise for another 3 to 5 years, said a senior executive with Shanghai's leading property developer Greenland.
The ratio between the total price and the annual rent income of a property in the Chinese market is around 50 to 1, while that of the Japanese and Hong Kong markets were as high as 80 to 1 before they collapsed, said Geng Jing, vice-president of Greenland Holding Group.
So the Chinese property market is still hasn't reached its upper limit, Geng said to an audience including a delegation of 30 students from the University of Cambridge at an event held by the Chinese Students & Scholars Association of Cambridge.
The delegation took a tour of Shanghai for the 30 anniversary of the CSSA Cambridge. The tour included visits to the top 25 companies in the city.
Fifty-three foreign enterprises in Shanghai collectively released for the first time their corporate social responsibility reports on Aug 12.
An enterprise's commitment and performance to fulfill its CSR is a new benchmark included in the evaluation system for Shanghai authorities to examine a foreign enterprise's comprehensive performance and contribution to the development of the city, according to Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.
The collective release of the CSR reports shows foreign enterprises have been attaching more importance to the China market, said Liu Jinping, head of Shanghai Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment.
"Releasing a global CSR report has been a conventional measure for an enterprise to show its commitment to market, community and society. However, releasing a CSR report that is devoted to the China market shows an enterprise's increasing awareness of being part of the China market," said Liu.
The CSR reports cover the foreign enterprises' involvement and investment in various aspects of the community, including environmental protection, product quality, charity contributions and social education.
On average, each of the foreign enterprises has already released three CSR reports. Some have released reports consecutively for seven years.
Experts and market insiders said an enterprise's commitment and performance to shoulder its CSR reflects the enterprise's capacity and competence in various ways.
"The fact that an enterprise can contribute a lot to the environment, employees, communities and society means that the enterprise is well-run, profit-making and has good credit to realize all these contributions. A poorly run enterprise may not have enough resources to secure employee safety and product quality, not to mention shouldering other responsibilities," said a social science professor at Fudan University.
Johnny Kwan, senior vice-president of country plat-form and functions, BASF Greater China, said that in China the chemical industry has been making efforts for sustainable development.
One measure is to leverage more resources through building up a supply chain with social responsibility awareness, involving more partners to contribute to environmental protection, charity, employee welfare and other fields.
Some other enterprises have been improving their internal mechanism to improve operational flows to realize better compliance to their CSRs.
Shanghai has been improving conditions for foreign investment, and the city has also been raising the quality of investment, said Liu.
Departments and authorities have been appealing to high-caliber enterprises in terms of social output and financial output with higher administration efficiency and fair, open, transparent conditions, according to Shang Yuying, director of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.
Encouraging enterprises with foreign investment to release their CSR reports is also a step that pushes forward enterprises' disclosure system and builds up Shanghai's credit management, said Liu.
"As an enterprise's commitment to and performance of CRS is included as a benchmark for evaluating the enterprise's performance and contribution to the city, Shanghai may have a better insight into the role of foreign enterprises in the city's economic and social development," said Liu.
More than 2,000 foreign investment projects started in the first half of 2014 in Shanghai, of which 1,016 were focused in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, about 46.7 percent of the total number, according to Shang.
Zhaocai Bao was designed to connect the investment activities of 300 million individual investors in China with the financing needs of 1 million small and medium-sized enterprises. Its annual sales volume is expected to reach 1 trillion yuan in the next two to three years.
China's largest online payment provider Alipay announced the official launch on Monday of Zhaocai Bao, an Internet finance platform that aims to reshape financing for small businesses to the tune of 1 trillion yuan ($162 billion) within three years.
For investors, the Zhaocai Bao (Money-drawing Treasure) platform offers products with average annualized returns of between 5.4 percent and 6.9 percent. In comparison, the annualized return rate for Yu'ebao, China's largest money market fund, has fallen to about 4.1 percent since its launch in June 2013, while China's one-year fixed-term deposit rate is 3 percent.
Zhaocai Bao is different from Yu'ebao as its major product consists of loans to small businesses, while the latter is a money market fund managed by Tianhong Asset Management.
"We aim to connect the investment activities of 300 million individual investors in China with the financing needs of 1 million small and medium-sized enterprises," said Yuan Leiming, CEO of Zhaocai Bao.
In addition to the higher return rate, Zhaocai Bao has set the threshold for investors at a mere 100 yuan. And risk of bad loans is underwritten by insurance companies.
Although products on Zhaocai Bao are bound by a fixed maturity ranging from three months to three years, investors are allowed to "liquidate" the product before its due date by transferring it via the platform to other investors, after paying a 0.2 percent transaction fee, so they can still enjoy the original annualized return rate.
At the borrowers' end, Yuan said the financing cost for SMEs on Zhaocai Bao is about 7 percent, much lower than the average 18 percent financing cost for small and medium-sized companies, and the time it takes to borrow money can be as short as 10 seconds.
"The traditional approach for banks is to collect small pieces of capital, put them into a pool and then go search for borrowers, which pushes up the overall cost," Yuan said.
"Our capability of cloud computing and big data processing enables direct integration of every piece of capital with the borrowers, which significantly reduces the cost," he said, adding that the average Zhaocai Bao deal totals around 200,000 yuan and that Zhaocai Bao takes a 0.1 percent transaction fee on every deal.
Since a test run in April, Zhaocai Bao has already sold 11.4 billion yuan in financial products to a half-million customers, according to its official Web page, which is linked to Taobao.com. Forty financial institutions are currently working with the platform, while another 100 are waiting in the line.
By comparison, Yu'ebao currently has about 100 million users with transactions totaling 600 billion yuan.
"The aim for Zhaocai Bao is to reach 1 trillion yuan annual sales volume over the next two to three years," Yuan said.
According to independent statistics, China is home to 800 online lending websites, with close to 100 billion yuan worth of transactions in 2013.
Chen Jin, CEO of China's first online insurance vendor, Zhong'an Insurance - which is also one of Zhaocai Bao's partners - said the transition from Yu'ebao to Zhaocai Bao reminds him of Taobao.com and Tmall.com, and marks a strategic transformation for China's largest e-commerce conglomerate, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Wu Zhigang, chief information officer for China National Investment and Guaranty Co, said that as most of China's individual investors are vulnerable to risks, a platform like Zhaocao Bao could effectively lower those by offering a high degree of information and comparisons.
"It's a good example of inclusive finance," he said.
Chinese electronics retailer Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Ltd said on Monday that net profit for the first half of the year climbed 115.2 percent as a successful move toward e-commerce helped the firm stretch its net profit margin.
The firm posted a net profit of 693 million yuan ($112.7 million), up from 322 million yuan in the same period a year earlier, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. Its net profit margin doubled to 2.38 percent from 1.19 percent.
Like its main rivals, Gome has been pushing increasingly online to help turn around flagging offline sales that dragged the firm into the red in 2012. Gome ompetes in China with firms like Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd, but online rivals such as JD.com Inc are becoming a challenge.
Gome, backed by private equity firm Bain Capital, saw first-half revenue climb 7.4 percent to 29.1 billion yuan.
The firm's shares were closed at HK$ 1.36 on Monday with 3.03 percent growth, outflanking the benchmark Hang Seng Index, which was up 0.22 percent.
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