Premium liquor Kweichou Maotai now 2nd largest shareholder of China’s iCloud operator

A bottle of 50-year-old Kweichou Maotai priced at RMB 18,999 on Alibaba’s Tmall (Image Credit: Kweichou Maotai )

Kweichou Maotai Co., Ltd, a Shanghai-listed top luxury liquor producer, will invest RMB 450 million ($64.9 million) into a newly established group company of Guizhou-Cloud Big Data (GCBD), the data management firm which is handling iCloud data for mainland Chinese Apple accounts.

According to industrial due diligence information (in Chinese), the group company was established on October 19, around 8 months after GCBD took over iCloud operations on February 28. The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of Guizhou Province is the biggest stakeholder with 38.24% total shares worth RMB 600 million. Kweichou Maotai, with 26.47% total shares, ranks second among the total 5 stakeholders.

The shareholders’ promised investment, according to the group company’s registration record, needs to be in place by May 30, 2019.

Kweichou Maotai’s new equity in the data firm is widely seen as an extension of the company’s ties with the government, and a strong alternative to diversify portfolios. On November 1, a rumor (in Chinese) spread that a former officer from the Party’s Standing Committee in Anshun, Guizhou, would be appointed as a new general manager at Kweichou Maotai. The company has not replied to media inquiries by the publication of the article.

Guizhou is quickly becoming a tech hub. The province hosted China’s 2018 International Data Industry Expo directly backed by top national governing bodies including the National Development and Reform Commission, the top power deciding China’s development and investments in strategic sectors.

In 2017, Kweichou Maotai paid a total tax of over RMB 23 billion, the most among all liquor and spirit companies in China for the year, more than 200% of the second place Sichuan-based Wuliangye.

However, as Beijing continues to crack down on corruption and the Chinese economy slows, higher-end alcohol companies have seen significant stagnation.

According to the third quarter fiscal report ended September 30, Kweichou Maotai reported a 2.71% growth of net earnings paid to shareholders of the parent company Kweichou Maotai Spirit Factory Co., Ltd, less than one-third of the figure for the years before 2017. The company’s revenues for the third quarter were RMB 19.7 billion, up 3.8% compared to the same period last year, below market expectations.