Internet services company Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) has grown so rapidly it is now China’s most valuable listed technology brand, with a value even closing in on that of Wal-Mart Stores Inc, a report published yesterday shows.
The Tencent brand is worth about US$33.9 billion, even though it is almost unknown outside its home turf, according to an annual ranking of China’s listed companies compiled by advertising company WPP PLC and its research affiliate, Millward Brown.
Global retailer Wal-Mart was valued at US$36 billion in this year’s WPP-Millward Brown global ranking, published in May.
The annual rankings, based on analysis of a brand’s revenue and consumer responses to it, make Tencent the first technology company to break into the top three of China’s most valuable brands.
The Chinese ranking only covers the country’s publicly traded companies, which means high-profile technology brands, like mobile phone maker Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴), were not counted. Alibaba is widely expect to go public as early as next year.
Tencent, whose two-year-old voice and text messaging service WeChat now boasts almost 275 million active monthly users, is popular with Chinese consumers for its online games and social media applications, Millward Brown China head of branding Doreen Wang (王幸) said.
Tencent ranked third overall in the China list, trailing mobile telecommunications provider China Mobile Ltd (中國移動) with a brand value of US$61.4 billion, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (中國工商銀行), worth US$39.6 billion.
Last year, Tencent ranked fifth, but leapfrogged China Construction Bank Corp (中國建設銀行) and Internet search engine Baidu Inc (百度) as its brand value rose 68 percent.
“It’s not an international brand yet,” Wang said. “Tencent is still getting most of its brand equity from its home market in China.”
“Alibaba is the e-commerce [brand] we really want to evaluate,” said Wang, adding that Huawei would “probably already rank the No. 1 in the brand list” if it were included.
China’s technology brands are increasingly competing on the world stage. Tencent was ranked No. 21 on the WPP-Millward Brown global list in May, with Baidu at 25. China Mobile dropped to 10th place worldwide this year, down from fourth in 2006, when it was ranked just under Coca-Cola Co.
Though growing, China’s brands frequently remain obscure outside their home territory. Consultancy firm Interbrand, which also ranks the value of global brands, has no Chinese companies on its top 100 list, in part because the ranking requires brands to get at least 30 percent of their revenue from outside their home region.
Computer maker Lenovo Group Ltd (聯想), which ranked 24th on the China list, is the only Chinese brand with more than half of its revenue coming from overseas, the WPP report said.