China’s Regulatory Crackdown Pushes Tencent to Slowest Revenue Growth Since 2004

By Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
November 10, 2021 Updated: November 10, 2021

SHANGHAI—Chinese gaming and social media giant Tencent Holdings posted its slowest revenue growth since it went public in 2004 on Wednesday, hurt by a regulatory crackdown, and said the outlook for the advertising sector would remain weak into next year.

Revenue climbed 13 percent to 142.4 billion yuan, slightly below expectations, and was the slowest quarterly growth since the company went public in 2004, Refinitiv data showed.

Net profit for the three months through September rose 3 percent to 39.5 billion yuan ($6.18 billion), the company said in a statement. This beat analyst expectations who were predicting a decline, according to Refinitiv data. Non-IFRS profit fell 2 percent, the company said.

China’s largest company by market value has been hit on multiple fronts by new regulation, including new limits on the amount of time children can spend playing video games. The regime has not approved any new games since August.

Beijing’s year-long crackdown on its internet industry has punished well-known companies for engaging in what were previously considered regular market practices, wiping billions of dollars off their market values.

“During the third quarter, the internet industry, including the domestic games industry, and certain advertiser categories, adapted to new regulatory and macroeconomic developments,” Tencent’s chairman and CEO, Pony Ma, said in a statement.

“We are proactively embracing the new regulatory environment which we believe should contribute to a more sustainable development path for the industry,” he said.

Sales from mobile games rose 9 percent, the owner of games such as “Honor of Kings” and “PUBG mobile” said in a statement.

Tencent said minors accounted for 0.7 percent of domestic games time in September this year, down from 6.4 percent in September 2020, after the regime’s new limits came into force at the beginning of that month.

The regulatory crackdown has also hit tutoring centres and the medical beauty industry and curbed appetite from such industries for advertising.

Tencent said its advertising revenue growth rate slowed in the period, citing such regulatory factors as well as macro challenges. It expected advertising pricing industry-wide to remain soft for several quarters but said the industry should adjust next year, it said.

China also barred Tencent from signing exclusive music deals and ordered the company as well as other tech firms to end a long-standing practice of blocking each other’s links on their sites.

($1 = 6.3917 Chinese yuan renminbi)

By Brenda Goh

Reuters