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Bottom line: US companies such as Meta, PayPal, and Amazon have seen their market caps crash this year as the world economy tumbles, but their losses pale in comparison to China's biggest tech giants, Tencent and Alibaba, which top the global charts when it comes to market value losses.
Bloomberg reports that Tencent, a company that almost became China's second trillion-dollar firm 18 months ago, is set to record its first quarterly revenue decline since the 2008 financial crisis. Much of its woes are down to slowing gaming sales and the country's crackdown on the industry.
After experiencing a boom time during the lockdowns when those stuck indoors embraced home entertainment like never before, video game sales have nosedived this year. Research firm Ampere Analysis predicts sales will drop by 1.2% in 2022 to $188 billion, and Sony lowered its profit forecast as fewer people buy PlayStation titles. Tencent is also dealing with player spending on its incredibly popular Honor of Kings mobile title declining for three consecutive months since May.
China's strict regulation of the video games industry is exacerbating the sales problem. April saw the first ISBN license—required by China for developers to publish games on the mainland—granted since July last year, and Tencent still hasn't received approval for some of its new titles. That's especially bad news in a country with the largest gaming market by revenue ($41 billion in 2020) and the most mobile gamers (655 million in 2021).
Tencent has stakes in a slew of big gaming companies, including 100% ownership of Riot Games, Sumo Group, and more. It also has part stakes in Epic Games, Supercell, Ubisoft, and several others.
Tencent's stock is down 60% since February 2022. According to Bloomberg, that's caused its value to crash by $564.1 billion, more than any other non-Chinese company in the world—Meta is the biggest loser outside of the country with a $302 billion loss.
Sitting behind Tencent on the list of biggest value drops is Alibaba. Its shares are down 65%, resulting in a $494 billion loss in market cap since February. The firm co-founded by Jack Ma recently reported the first flat revenue growth in its history.
Adding to the companies' problems is China's Covid Zero policy; the strict lockdowns are taking their toll on the country's and the world's economies. Reports of layoffs, something US firms have become accustomed to in these times, and fears of a recession are also having an impact. The rising tensions between China and the US aren't helping things, either—five of China's largest state-owned are delisting from US stock exchanges.
Center photo by Robert Bye