Daily BriefsMost Read

Most Read: TAL Education, Chinasoft International, Kuaishou Technology, SK Telecom, Zomato and more

In today’s briefing:

  • China After School Tutoring Online Education Stocks Crushed – Investors Schooled
  • MSCI Aug 2021 Index Rebalance Preview: Potential Changes After Week 1; Positioning at Work
  • Kuaishou Lock-Up Expiry – Getting Close to IPO Price, with US$18bn+ Lock-Up. CCASS Movement as Well.
  • Index Rebalance & ETF Flow Recap: Capitaland, Boral, Xpeng, SK Tel, MSCI, KRX BBIG
  • ECM Weekly (25th July 2021) – China Tourism, APM Monaco, Paytm, CTOS, Zomato, Kuaishou Lock-Up

China After School Tutoring Online Education Stocks Crushed – Investors Schooled

By Travis Lundy

Earlier today, it was reported by the 21st Century Business Herald that China was going to ban IPOs by educational companies and platforms which tutor on subjects in the public school curriculum and ban investments in such companies by those which are already listed. 

Bloomberg reported that China was considering asking companies that offer such tutoring – to help students pass the gaokao – the legendarily difficult college entrance exams – to turn into non-profit businesses. 

The initial story is that online education platforms would not be allowed to raise money in capital markets, sell securities, go public. The bigger picture is that they are effectively being pushed out of business. This particular news has sent education (especially school curriculum tutoring platforms) stocks dramatically lower in Hong Kong trading, and in the US pre-open market.

Drops of 30-50% are par for the course so far.

There is a possibility this kills the entire business for some platforms. 

This comes on the back of a crackdown starting earlier this spring on after-school tutoring platforms after Xi Jinping said in March at the Two Sessions that the practice was a “social problem” affecting kids social and mental health and he urged “resolute rectification.”

Right there, that should have warned everyone this story was not going to have a happy ending. 

This followed a scandal in January where four schools, including Yuanfudao, Zuoyebang, and the education unit all hired the same actress to pose as a teacher in ads for their platform, in at least one video laying the guilt on parents saying if parents didn’t sign up for the streaming courses, it could have consequences, “90% of mothers make mistakes” and “it could be parents themselves who ruin their kids [chances].” In one she was an English teacher with 35 years experience. In another she had been a math teacher all her career. It was not a good look.

The media followed Hi Jinping’s comments with polemics on predatory practices and fear-based advertising, which had gone rampant as the VC investees aimed at growth above all. This put an immediate halt to the preparations many of the mega-tech conglomerates invested in China – Alibaba Group (BABA US), Tencent (700 HK), Softbank Group (9984 JP), and others – had made to list their education-related projects such as Zuoyebang (Alibaba) which raised US$2.35bn in two rounds last year, Yuanfudao (Tencent) which raised US$3.5bn in three rounds, VIPKid (Tencent) which does English teaching, Huohua Siwei (Tencent) which specialises in STEM, and others which were either launching (like ByteDance’s newest effort Dali Education after buying Hua Luogeng math school and renaming it Qingbei Online School, and one-on-one tutoring platform GoGoKid), or preparing themselves to start on the road to IPO or at least looking at a 2022 listing. Zhangmen Education (ZME US) actually IPOed in late May at US$11.51/ADR, rising 50% on Day 1, falling back to US$9.54 yesterday and now down 26% in pre-market. 

Such companies had grown dramatically in 2020 as covid restrictions, or precautions, increased the desire for parents to keep their kids at home. Preqin says VC funding in the sector hit a record $10.5bn in 2020. The market is huge, and growing fast. Online tutoring grew 35-40% last year as covid struck according to iResearch in Shanghai, reaching RMB 257bn. Others have higher numbers. And according to Oliver Wyman and the National Institute of Educational Sciences, the overall market for after-school education was RMB 800bn in 2019, expected to rise to RMB 1.4trln in 2025.

The four major problems that regulators appear to have focussed on this spring after Xi Jinping’s comments were:

  • fast-increasing expense on families, which would restrict the incentive to have more kids and also create a significant separation between the chances for kids with well-to-do parents and kids without. The criticism in the 21 May 19th Meeting of Central Comprehensive Deepening Reform Commission, which released a flurry of Opinions* was that children faced a lower burden in school and a greater burden out of school.

*”Guiding Opinions on Improving the Evaluation Mechanism of Scientific and Technological Achievements”, “Opinions on Further Reducing the Burden of Students’ Homework and Off-campus Training in Compulsory Education”, and several others.

  • marketing free-for-all with false or damaging advertising and predatory plan pricing and structuring, including pre-charging for classes which would not be used. 
  • A lack of regulation/strict oversight of teacher/tutor licensing, ensuring proper resource allocation to teachers themselves, 
  • and a get-rich-quick mindset from what Xi Jinping thinks should be a solemn duty to educate the youth of the country. 

As Xinhua put it in reporting about that May 21 meeting…

会议强调,要全面规范管理校外培训机构,坚持从严治理,对存在不符合资质、管理混乱、借机敛财、虚假宣传、与学校勾连牟利等问题的机构,要严肃查处。要明确培训机构收费标准,加强预收费监管,严禁随意资本化运作,不能让良心的行业变成逐利的产业。要完善相关法律,依法管理校外培训机构。各级党委和政府要强化主体责任,做实做细落实方案,科学组织、务求实效,依法规范教学培训秩序,加强权益保护,确保改革稳妥实施。

The meeting emphasized that it is necessary to fully regulate the management of off-campus training institutions, adhere to strict governance, and severely investigate and deal with institutions that have problems such as non-qualification, chaotic management, taking advantage of money, false propaganda, and collusion with schools for profit. It is necessary to clarify the charging standards of training institutions, strengthen the supervision of pre-charging, and strictly prohibit arbitrary capitalization operations, and do not allow conscientious industries to become profit-seeking industries. It is necessary to improve relevant laws and manage off-campus training institutions in accordance with the law. Party committees and governments at all levels must strengthen their main responsibilities, implement the plan in detail, organize scientifically, seek practical results, standardize the order of teaching and training in accordance with the law, strengthen the protection of rights and interests, and ensure the steady implementation of reforms.

In April, the Beijing Administration for Market Regulation fined New Oriental Online RMB 500,000 for pricing violations, and false advertising. Koolearn (1797 HK), TAL Education (TAL US), were also hit.  Shifara Samsudeen, ACMA, CGMA wrote about this in GSX TechEdu: China Fines Online Tutoring Apps for Making Misleading Claims; Is GSX Next? in early May.

In late May, China decided kindergartens and private tutoring schools could no longer teach the elementary school curriculum, starting June 1, as part of a revision of the Minority Protection Law. Gaotu Techedu (GOTU US) immediately announced it was shutting down its Xiao Zao Qi Meng pre-school education business (3-8yrs). On June 1, the government fined another 15 operators a total of RMB 36.5mm for similar violations to New Oriental Online, including pre-IPO unicorns Zuoyebang and Yuanfudao, with both getting hit for RMB 2.5mm which is the maximum legal amount. New Oriental got hit again. TAL, Onesmart Education (ONE US), China BestStudy (3978 HK) and Bright Scholar Education (BEDU US) were also hit for the same reasons by SAMR. And then another 10 were hit by local regulators in Guangdong and Shanghai. It was a coordinated attack on Children’s Day.

In the first week of June, Xi Jinping made a much-touted visit to Qinghai in the southwest and it appears both he and the media talked quite a bit about lifting up the lower income areas and people, as per the 14th Five Year Plan, and also noted the problem of after school tutoring burdening students more and school burdening students less, calling it “putting the cart before the horse.”

The Ministry of Education set up a new department (the Off-Campus Education and Training Department) on 15 June to regulate the off-campus tutoring schools to “reduce students’ academic burden”, etc. It will oversee teachers and curricula. Smartkarma provider Zhen Zhou, Toh wrote about the prospects for companies going forward in late June in China Online Education – Diversified Revenue Stream Wins Here – Balance in All Things

Three weeks ago, the Beijing Municipal Education Commission and at least a half dozen other major cities across the country set up summer after-school programs for elementary school students, effectively taking the business which would normally be taken by private sector schools.

The writing has been on the wall since March. And the authorities have been writing over it in heavier and heavier marker for weeks and months.

The largest businesses out there have been under the cosh, racing against time and competitors with somewhat dodgy numbers and promises. They lose money, and now it looks like they won’t be able to raise more. 

A number of Smartkarma insight providers have published insights which have discussed the opportunities and the red flags in the sector. This includes short reports, pre-IPO reports, updates on legal and regulatory changes, and a huge report on the private education sector by Osbert Tang, CFA a few months ago, called China Private Education: This Is Where the Future Lies which has an enormous amount of detail about the sector.

Issues With the Business

The major issues for regulators appear to be…

  • criticisms of false advertising, where the benefits to such education are promised but not proven, where there are spurious claims using fake claims. 
  • criticisms of the structure of the offerings. A number of courses are offered at RMB 1 for the whole course, but then they come back to charge you for extras later. 
  • the “burden” placed on children
  • an air of get rich quick to the entire industry which is seen to be against the national interest.

For investors, many of the major issues have to do with how companies which promise growth are actually “growing.”

Gaotu, formerly called GSX Techedu, had claimed to be the leading provider of online classes from K-12, was IPOed in 2019 at a $3bn valuation, rose to 10x that, then fell. GSX had been the subject of short seller reports in the first half of 2020 accusing the company of inflating student enrolment numbers using bots, fabricating teachers, falsifying reviews, and falsifying revenues. Multiple reports (as per GMT Research’s Hall of Shame on GSX, Grizzly Research, Muddy Waters, JLWarren who wrote 30 May on Smartkarma in GSX: Minimal Market Share; ~80% Fake Enrollment and Operational Irregularities, GMT itself, and others (links at the bottom of that link) found different former teachers or others who talked about faked reviews, faked parents, faked students, bots/brushing, related party transactions to create expenses, or remove them (depending on the short seller report), boosted to remove the cash that should have been there from the fake revenue, possible fake capital raise, etc. The laundry list of accusations is long, sordid, and painfully similar to situations which have later been determined to be fraud. 

Against the pattern of companies calling out short seller research firms’ reports, GSX was often curiously quiet, and the stock rose anyway, tripling after Muddy Waters released their report from $40/share to $120/share before falling back.

The shares then rallied very sharply in January as part of a short squeeze on “meme stonks” and heavily-shorted names. Archegos apparently owned more than 10% through a variety of PB accounts. Archegos fell. GSX fell with it. And since then it has lost another two thirds of its value to get back to under US$10/share. 

Pre-market, it is apparently indicated at US$3.65/share. Down 62%. 

A Side Problem

Evelyn Zhang recently wrote about the change in attitude towards “white collar education” in A Twist of Fate – China’s Suppression of Secondary Education in Favor of Vocational Education. It is a good read. 

Her advice on 3 July was to short all Chinese online education stocks which had a K-12 offering, and go long all companies which provided vocational training.

After today, that will have been a beauty of a trade. 

Medium-term, the problem authorities will find is that parents don’t necessarily want their kids to not have access to the after-school cram services. They don’t have time to teach them themselves, and because the cutoff to continue later education is harsh and many parents don’t want their kids to go to vocational school to enter the blue collar workforce, lots of parents are actually objecting to the crackdown. They are happy to pay if it gives their kids a better chance. 

The high cost of education is one reason to not have a second (or third) child. The high cost of real estate is another. But education is status and a chance at wealth and intellectual happiness. It has been the case for hundreds of years in China. It is not clear that if the public sector takes on the education and after-school education “burden” from the private sector that it will please the wider public. It is not clear an increased number of qualified teachers will want to get paid public education system wages either. 

The Problem For Investors

Now the chickens are coming home to roost. 

Xi Jinping declared after-school education to be a “social problem” in front of the Two Sessions. Some people did not take him seriously at the time, but regulators have been taking his words seriously and have started cracking down. Legislators have made new legislation. And the Ministry of Education has a new department. 

Now it appears China wants foreign capital out of the business, and it wants those operators (already listed, or unicorns sponsored by China megatech) which have raised capital to not use it grow market share. 

It wants the entire business to support the national interest. Without profit. 

Larry Chen (founder and chairman of Gaotu), once a teacher in an impoverished little village, later become multi-billionaire, may not be able to keep his billions. And I expect this does not bother Xi Jinping.

A basket of names in HK, mainland China, and NYSE (using pre-market prices as of one minute before the open for today’s price) is shown below. It is a heavy hit.

By my count using pre-open prices and the ugly HK closes, that is $18bn in one shot on those 16 names.

More below the fold.


MSCI Aug 2021 Index Rebalance Preview: Potential Changes After Week 1; Positioning at Work

By Brian Freitas

MSCI is scheduled to announce the results of the August 2021 Quarterly Index Review (QIR) on 11 August (early morning of 12 August Asia time) with the changes implemented after the close of trading on 31 August.

The review period for price cut-off began on 19 July and will run through to 30 July. After the end of week 1 of the review period, most of the changes are expected in China with a few changes for Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea and Thailand.

Most of the names appear on the add/delete list every day during the review period, while a few names appear/drop out of the list of potential changes. The final list will depend on the day that MSCI chooses. Based on historical data, there is over a 90% probability that MSCI chooses a day from week 1 to compute the market cap for the stocks that will determine the list of inclusions and exclusions.

Post week1 of the review period, potential inclusions to the MSCI Standard Index are SITC International (1308 HK)Huabao International Holdings (336 HK)Momo.Com Inc (8454 TT)Chinasoft International (354 HK)China United Network A (600050 CH)Ecopro BM Co Ltd (247540 KS), SK IE Technology (361610 KS), CRRC Corp Ltd A (601766 CH)Beijing Wantai Biological-A (603392 CH)Beijing Kingsoft Office Software-A (688111 CH)Beijing Roborock Technology-A (688169 CH)Imeik Technology Development (300896 CH)StarPower Semiconductor Ltd (603290 CH)Advanced Micro-Fabrication Equipment-A (688012 CH), Ginlong Technologies Co Ltd (300763 CH) and China Baoan (000009 CH).

Potential exclusions are Bangkok Bank PCL (BBL/F TB), Bank of East Asia (23 HK), Taiwan Business Bank (2834 TT), KMW Co Ltd (032500 KS), Perennial Energy Holdings Ltd (2798 HK), Douyu International Holdings (DOYU US) and Gaotu Techedu (GOTU US).

The August QIR will also implement tranche 2 of Sea Ltd (SE US)‘s inclusion in the MSCI indices and will result in the index inclusion factor increasing from 0.05 to 0.25.

There is also a very high probability of a 75% reduction in the  SK Telecom (017670 KS)‘s Foreign Inclusion Factor (FIF) due to a drop in the availability of foreign room on the stock.


Kuaishou Lock-Up Expiry – Getting Close to IPO Price, with US$18bn+ Lock-Up. CCASS Movement as Well.

By Sumeet Singh


Index Rebalance & ETF Flow Recap: Capitaland, Boral, Xpeng, SK Tel, MSCI, KRX BBIG

By Brian Freitas

In this weeks recap, we look at:

Redemptions continue from the ChinaAMC Semiconductor Chips Index ETF (159995 CH) and there have also been large redemptions from the Samsung Kodex Secondary Battery ETF (305720 KS).

Events This Week

Click on the link under Detail to go to the Insight


ECM Weekly (25th July 2021) – China Tourism, APM Monaco, Paytm, CTOS, Zomato, Kuaishou Lock-Up

By Zhen Zhou, Toh

Aequitas Research puts out a weekly update on the deals that have been covered by the team recently along with updates for upcoming IPOs.

Tencent Music was the latest victim of China’s regulatory crackdown. The company was fined and had to relinquish its exclusive music licensing rights with global record labels in the next 30 days. Daojia also announced that it would halt its US$300m US IPO following similar announcements by Lalamove, Xiaohongshu, and others. 

China ADRs took another leg down on Friday led by education companies falling by more than 50%. This was due to policies that will seek to ban companies that teach the school curriculum from raising capital, going public, and converting them into non-profit entities. Needless to say, China ADR market will take a back seat for a while.

Hong Kong IPO activity remains subdued and we are taking this time to cover upcoming IPOs. This week, we initiated on China Tourism Group Duty Free Corp Ltd. and its secondary listing of up to US$10bn. The firm is the largest travel retail operator in the world and is currently listed in Shanghai. 

We also covered APM Monaco’s US$300m IPO. The company is a contemporary fashion jewelry brand that is popular in China. It designs, manufactures and sells fashion jewelry products such as earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets.

We continued our coverage on Transcenta and Shanghai HeartCare which are looking to raise US$200m and US$100m, respectively.

In India, Zomato’s strong debut on Friday should help pave the way for other upcoming large IPOs like PayTM’s which we covered this week. The company boasts an impressive list of pre-IPO investors such as Ant Financial, Softbank and Berkshire Hathaway. The deal will be a combination of both primary and secondary shares. 

We continued our coverage on Yum Brand’s largest franchisor in India, Devyani International, comparing it to other listed competitors. The IPO was approved by SEBI last week.

In Korea, we initiated on Lotte Rental’s US$740m IPO. The company was the largest car rental provider in South Korea. Bookbuild will run between 3-4 August, and shares are expected to list on 19 August. 

Kakao Bank, South Korea’s largest digital bank, priced its books at the top end of the IPO price range. It was reported that its institutional tranche was about 1,700x covered. Shares will debut on 6 August and we have covered the deal earlier.

In Malaysia, Creador-backed CTOS Digital debuted on Monday and closed 47.2% above deal price. Share price has been tapered off from its first day high but still held up well, closing 39% above IPO price on Friday. 

For lock-up expiry, we circled back to Kuaishou which was listed on 5th Feb 2021. Lock-up will expire on 5th August and there had been large CCASS movement that saw JPM holding 638m shares, worth about US$10bn.

On placements this week, Wuxi Biologics Holdings raised US$1.3bn from selling 1.8% of its stake in Wuxi Biologics. The deal had been widely anticipated since this was not its first selldown. Shares were priced at a 6.5% discount but share price struggled to stay above deal price, closing just 0.5% above deal price. 

In Australia, Evolution Mining raised US$294m to acquire assets from its rival, Northern Star Resources. Strong interests came from existing shareholders and new investors. Shares closed 10.4% above deal price on Friday.

In Korea, TongYang Life Insurance raised around US$261m from selling its 3.7% stake in Woori Financial Group. This was a clean-up trade but we think that KDIC could come to market to sell as well. The deal was priced at a 4.29% discount and has traded flat, closing just 0.4% above deal price on Friday. 

Accuracy Rate:

Our overall accuracy rate is 73.8% for IPOs and 67.4% for Placements 

(Performance measurement criteria is explained at the end of the note)

New IPO filings this week

  • Adlai Nortye Ltd. (Hong Kong, >US$100m)
  • Huayuan Medical Group Holding (Hong Kong, >US$100m)
  • Star Health and Allied Insurance Company (India, US$1bn)
  • Anand Rathi Wealth Limited (India, US$135m)

News on Upcoming IPOs

Hong Kong/China

US/China ADRs

India

Others

Analysis on Upcoming IPOs

NameInsight
Hong Kong
Anjuke

Anjuke Pre-IPO – Mixed (Positive and Negative) Developments 

Betta Pharma

Betta Pharma (贝达医药) A+H: Tier 2 Player Struggled to Break Out 

Broncus

Broncus (堃博医疗) Pre-IPO: Big Potential to Be Tested 

ByteDance

ByteDance (字节跳动) IPO: How Jinri Toutiao Paves The Way for a Bigger Empire (Part 1)

ByteDance

ByteDance (字节跳动) Pre-IPO: Why Facebook Should Worry About TikTok 

ByteDance

ByteDance (字节跳动) IPO: Tiktok the No.1 Short Video App for a Good Reason (Part 2)

ByteDance

ByteDance (字节跳动) Pre-IPO: How Has It Done in 1H? 

ByteDance

ByteDance: The Unlisted Company’s Video Apps Leading the Market and Threatening Internet Giants 

ByteDance

ByteDance (字节跳动) Pre-IPO: Why Facebook Should Worry About TikTok 

ByteDance

ByteDance (字节跳动) Pre-IPO – Globally the Most Downloaded App for Jan 2020 Driven by India 

ByteDance

ByteDance (字节跳动) Pre-IPO: Global Ambition Meets Regulatory Challenges 

Dida

Dida Pre-IPO – Making Hay While Big Brother Retreats 

Dida

Dida Pre-IPO – Earnings Forecast and First Stab at Valuation 

Dida

Dida Pre-IPO – Peer Comparison – Lagging in Scale, Leading in Profitability 

Edding Grp

Edding Group (亿腾医药) Pre-IPO: Notes from Latest Financials and Its Related Party 

Edding Grp

Edding Group (亿腾医药) Pre-IPO: Notes from Latest Financials and Its Related Party 

Hanyu

Shanghai Hanyu (捍宇医疗) Pre-IPO: Not a Straight-A but Listing at Right Time 

Intco Med

Intco Medical (英科医疗) A+H: From China No.1 to Global No. 1 

Kilcoy

Kilcoy Global Foods Pre-IPO – Rapid Earnings Growth on the Back of Margin Improvement 

Kilcoy

Kilcoy Global Foods Pre-IPO – A Lot of Things Still Remain Unexplained 

Novotech

Novotech Pre-IPO: Biotech Focused CRO at Hefty Pre-IPO Valuation 

RemeGen RemeGen (荣昌生物) Pre-IPO: Thoughts on Valuation of RC18 and RC48 
SH Bio-heart Shanghai Bio-Heart (上海百心安) Pre-IPO: Needs a Long Runway 
Toplist Toplist China Pre-IPO – Overwhelmingly More Negatives than Positives 
Tasly Tasly Biopharm (天士力生物) IPO: Visible Growth from Approved Drug but Lacks Blockbusters 
WeDoctor WeDoctor (微医) Pre-IPO -App Walk Through – The Online Medical Directory and More 
WeDoctor WeDoctor (微医) Pre-IPO – A More Focused Online Medical Svc Provider than Ping An Good Doctor 
WeDoctor We Doctor (微医) Pre-IPO – Peer Comparison – Picking Its Battles Wisely 
WeDoctor We Doctor (微医) Pre-IPO – Forecasts, Early Thoughts on Valuation, and Acquisition Gripes 
Weilong Weilong Delicious Global Pre-IPO – The Positives – Fast Growth, Strong Backers 
Weilong Weilong Delicious Global Pre-IPO – The Negatives – Spicy Valuation 
WM Tech WM Tech Pre-IPO – Digitalization Efforts Coming Through but Not Well Substantiated 
WM Tech WM Tech Pre-IPO – Peer Comparison and Pre-IPO Valuation – Some Signs of Advantage 
India
Aadhar Housing Aadhar Housing Finance Pre-IPO – Decent past Growth but Comes with Weird Disclosures 
ASK ASK Investment Managers Pre-IPO – Riding on a Wave of Wealth 
Anmol IndAnmol Industries Pre-IPO Quick Take – No Growth, Generous Payments to Founders
Bharat Hotel

Bharat Hotels Pre-IPO – Catching up with Peers 

Bajaj En

Bajaj Energy Pre-IPO – Supposed to Deliver Steady Performance if Only Its Sole Client Would Let It 

CMS InfoCMS Info Systems Pre-IPO – When a PE Sells to Another PE… Only One Gets the Timing Right
Crystal CropCrystal Crop Protection Pre-IPO – DRHP Raises More Questions than in Answers
ESAF SFB ESAF Small Finance Bank Pre-IPO – Growing Fast but Remains Highly Dependant on a Related Party 
Flemingo Flemingo Travel Retail Pre-IPO – Its a Different Business in Every Country
Emami Cem Emami Cement Pre-IPO – Still in Ramp Up Phase but Shares Pledge Might Lead to an Early IPO 
NSENSE IPO Preview- Not Only Fast..its Risky and Expensive
NSENational Stock Exchange Pre-IPO Review – Bigger, Better, Stronger but a Little Too Fast for Some

LIC

Life Insurance Corporation of India Pre-IPO – Early Take on India’s Largest IPO 
Penna Cem Penna Cement – Aggressive Expansion Plans Even Though Past Performance Has Been Tepid 
PNB MetPNB Metlife Pre-IPO Quick Take – Doesn’t Stack up Well Versus Its Larger Peers
Samhi Hotels Samhi Hotels Pre-IPO – Assets and Borrowings Are Growing, but Earnings Haven’t Kept Pace 
Malaysia
QSRQSR Brands Pre-IPO – As Healthy as Fast Food
The U.S.
ForU ForU Worldwide Pre-IPO – Mostly Negatives 
Qiniu Qiniu Cloud (七牛云) Pre-IPO: PaaS Doesn’t Warrant a Premium 

Before it’s here, it’s on Smartkarma