China Internet Giant Tencent Nears Facebook Market Value

2:23 AM PST 09/18/2013 by George Szalai
Tencent chairman and CEO Pony Ma

The country's largest online company's valuation crossed the $100 billion mark this week.

China's largest Internet company, Tencent Holdings, has this week seen its stock market value cross the $100 billion mark, approaching the value of social networking powerhouse Facebook.

Tencent’s stock declined slightly in Hong Kong trading on Wednesday after hitting $54.47 (HK$422.40) earlier this week. That brought its market value to $101 billion.

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Led by billionaire chairman and CEO Pony Ma, Tencent has seen its market value rise amid China’s continuing growth in online users -- to 591 million as of June -- and usage despite criticism of government censorship of online and other media. The country's online population has grown almost sevenfold since Tencent’s IPO in 2004, according to Bloomberg News.

Tencent’s market value compares to the $109.8 billion for Facebook as of Tuesday night, according to Bloomberg. It also compares to the $295 billion for Google and $414 billion for Apple.

Tencent acquired a 36.5 percent stake in Sohu.com’s Sogou search engine arm for $448 million a few days ago.

It also recently licensed Walt Disney films for its Netflix-like Hollywood VIP streaming service. The agreement came after similar deals with Time Warner's Warner Bros., NBCUniversal's Universal Pictures, Lionsgate and Miramax.

E-mail: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai

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