Cash-strapped Chinese internet giant LeEco may be a bit calmer today, as the company announced that it has completed the share transfer of its listed arm Leshi Internet to real estate titan Sunac China Holdings Ltd., local media is reporting (in Chinese).
With the completion the share transfer formalities, LeEco has sold 171 million shares, or 8.56% of the arm’s total equity, for 6.04 billion RMB.
This is just one of the three parts in an RMB 15 billion funding program by Sunac. According to the funding deal inked in January, Sunac has agreed to pay 7.95 billion RMB for a 15% stake in the company’s television unit Leshi Zhixin, and 1.05 billion RMB for 33.5% of film production unit Le Vision Pictures, in addition to this one.
At an earnings conference (in Chinese) held on Tuesday, Sunac founder and chairman Sun Hongbin revealed Sunac has poured RMB 12.4 billion into LeEco so far. Sun maintained that LeEco is a great company with good prospects, and he cares more about a longer-term (three to five years) development in LeEco than its recent share price declines.
In addition, Sun was upbeat about LeEco’s television business, saying it is very valuable and better than Apple’s.
The Chinese internet giant, which saw its market value fall to 65.81 billion RMB (in Chinese) this March from a peak of 150 billion RMB, has been struggling with a cash squeeze after years of breakneck expansion.
Apart from smartphone and TV manufacturing, it has expanded into the film and television production, music, gaming, electric vehicle and sports industry. Its operating income doesn’t come close to the cash burn rates, despite numerous funding rounds it secured. It has resorted to every possible means to get financing, which was estimated to top RMB 80 billion (in Chinese), ranging from share pledges, private placements, debt issuance, to venture capital and private equity funding.
While the huge investments would give the beleaguered internet giant a brief respite, concerns grow that such tweaks may not be able to help LeEco turn the whole game around, given the bloated size of the company’s business lines and money-burners such as the purchases of video and film content as well as R&D in self-driving electric vehicles. The revival of its rivals in smartphone and television arena also casts a shadow over the company’s profit prospects in such areas.