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2014年中国IT服务业:回顾与展望

随着西方新年的过去,中国农历新年也落下了帷幕。在这春江水暖之际,也是我们回首2013和展望2014中国IT服务行业的时候了。2013年,许多指数相对持平甚至走低,整体经济形势并不像预期中高涨。去年第二季度GDP增长7.5%,相对较缓;第四季度GDP增长7.7%,较2012年同期略为下降;全年GDP增速7.7%,与2012年持平。2013年上证指数表现惨淡。在暂停IPO长达一年的影响下,上证指数在流动性压力以及对股票过度供给的恐慌中夹缝求生,全年下降达7.0%,在全球股市表现中垫底。

房地产依然一枝独秀,依然成为国内消费市场最有力的刺激因素。2013年,房地产全年投资达14亿美元,比去年增长19.8%IT行业投资增速为9.5%,略高于GDP,但由于受到表现欠佳的经济形势影响,并未达到此前预期的13%。去年经济形势低于预期,相比前四年的GDP平均增速8.8%2014GDP增长大幅下降。此外,一些政治因素也不容忽视,比如乌克兰危机,以及中国目前与拥有亚洲最大IT消费群体的日本政治关系颇为紧张等,这些都会对未来IT行业投资形成不利影响。

回顾完这些综合指标,值得高兴的是,2013年还有许多令人激动的发展与里程碑式的交易。我们看到,2013年,文思海辉,亚信联创和软通动力等许多中国大型IT服务公司完成了私有化。在这背后有各种各样的原因,但这些公司选择私有化也存在着共同原因:首先,中国IT外包公司始终无法摆脱东南融通丑闻的影响,股票被美国市场长期低估。因此,许多中国公司开始选择私有化,希望利用这个机会加入更多美国和欧洲的企业顾客,并针对薪资压力较大的较为低端的外包业务建立相对高端的咨询业务,实现商业模式转型与收入多样化。与此同时,这些公司也积极与大型私募机构合作,比如黑石集团与文思海辉的配对,中信资本与亚信联创的联姻,这些公司希望能够避开公众视野顺利完成私有化。

美国证券市场和中国证券市场一直是中国企业选择上市的主选,现在一边对中国公司压低估值,一边对IPO采取严格限制,于是许多中国公司开始转向香港市场,新加坡市场和台湾市场寻求出路。去年,香港上市的104家企业中有65家是中国大陆企业,许多公司融资超过10亿美元(比如中石化炼化工程(2386. HK)和中国光大银行)。2014年初,中国市场IPO重启,陕西煤业在上交所融资约1.3亿美元,成为中国IPO重启后首例破发新股。不过最令人关注的还属中国电子商务巨头阿里巴巴的动向,据报道,2014年阿里巴巴将在纽约证交所或香港证交所上市。

在过去的十二个月里,有两单交易可以称为中国IT并购史的里程碑。其中一个交易便是中软国际收购Catapult Systems。这起交易有许多令人瞩目之处,但最耀眼的是它标志着中国IT企业终于做好了进军全球市场的准备。大部分之前完成的交易的总金额低于二千万美元,并多在八百万美元到一千万美元之间。然而,一个真正具有战略意义的并购的交易总金额应该在五千万美元到一亿美元之间——中软国际收购Catapult Systems的交易总金额就相当接近这个范围,为四千二百万美元。合并后,中软国际将一举成为微软在世界范围内的顶尖认证合作伙伴之一。这单并购为众多中国IT企业展示了一条通过加强咨询业务成功脱颖而出的道路。就在最近,联想收购了IBM  x86服务器并从谷歌手里收购了摩托罗拉移动业务——成为中国科技领域有史以来最大的两单并购交易——表明了制造商仍是中国IT领域的核心。

现在我们来看看2014年的整体经济形势。宏观上2014年与2013年大致相同。通货膨胀率保持在3.5%。预期GDP季度增长率相对稳定,全年增速预计7.5%,略低于2013年。房地产市场预计发展平稳,小型城市有房价下跌的风险。国内市场发展缓慢,应收账款依然存在回收风险,这些更加促使中国IT企业到海外寻求收入来源。

不过,今年的一些热点趋势让2014年的中国IT市场独放异彩充满期待。2014年,中国公共部门和私营部门预计共支出一千二百四十五亿美元,比去年增长10.5%。中国IT支出额将依然稳坐世界科技市场第三把交椅,占整个亚太地区IT产品与服务支出总额的1/4

在我看来,2014年中国IT市场有以下四大热点:

首先,中国企业对云计算和SaaS的需求不断上升。规模较小的企业在充满挑战的市场环境中亟需减小运营成本,因此,基于云的或托管的人力资源管理和企业资源规划解决方案尤其获得中小型民营企业的青睐。这些中小型民营企业主要来自成本压力巨大的东部沿海城市的制造业,巨大的成本压力让他们积极寻求利用云降低成本,增加现金流,提高整体运营效率。另外,中软国际于310日宣布投资了美国领先的SaaS服务提供商Deem,这一事件更加证明了云计算和SaaS将成为2014年中国IT市场毋庸置疑的大热门。

第二,大数据将继续增长。IT行业的大咖们将继续向大数据方向进军。阿里巴巴,百度,腾讯都表示将于今年斥巨资建造新的数据中心。全球领先的通信设备制造商华为将在2014年继续发力,基于正在广东和新疆建造的云服务数据中心,华为将成为中国极具影响力的云端服务提供商。

第三,咨询业务势头强劲。我们期待看到在咨询业务和基于解决方案领域的更大的IT并购交易。从前几年开始,企业就开始面临从传统的低利润供应业务转向咨询业务,中软收购Catapult就是很好的例子,而之后这种压力将会继续增长,甚至影响到像孟加拉国这样一些新兴市场,继续削弱传统中国外包产品供应和廉价的替代品的影响力。

最后,手机市场潜力巨大。中国智能手机制造商和运营商依然面临着巨大的潜在增长机会。他们的运营商希望能从像苹果这样的知名智能手机品牌处夺回一些市场份额,甚至不惜寻求海外扩张。另一方面,手机领域将成为IT行业未来发展的重要平台。支付宝和微信理财通正在重建消费者的理财习惯。淘宝和京东商城这样传统的互联网企业对企业的商务模式(B2B)和企业对消费者的电子商务模式(B2C)正面临着新的手机离线商务模式(O2O)的挑战。

中国IT公司面临着许多的机会与挑战,如果利用好新兴的趋势,不断增加市场影响力,2014年将会成为国内IT服务行业极为关键的一年。我们希望中国企业能够在这些高端的技术领域——大数据,云服务,咨询业务和快速增长的手机领域——写下他们辉煌的篇章。与此同时, 中国IT 企业将会赢得更高的全球地位,与更多中小型美国IT 领域供应商合作,进行更多更大的跨国并购——尤其在云服务方面。其实我们现在已经看到一些具有划时代意义的并购交易——联想收购摩托罗拉移动业务和IBM x86服务器,以及中软收购Deem——接下来的九个月里中国IT行业在全球地位也许会有更戏剧性的提升。让我们拭目以待。

下页为英文版本

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With the Western New Year and the Lunar New Year behind us, now is a good time to both look back at 2013 and look forward to what we can expect in 2014 for the Chinese IT Services Industry. The past year was not the strong resurgence that many were hoping for, with many of the major indicators either down or flat. GDP growth slowed to 7.5% in the second quarter and ended 2013 flat with 2012 at 7.7% overall, with the October-to-December period down slightly from the same period in 2012. The Shanghai stock index was one of the world’s worst performing, reporting a 7.0% drop in 2013 amid liquidity squeezes and fear of an oversupply of shares following a yearlong suspension of new IPOs.

 

Real estate continued to be the single biggest force stimulating domestic consumption, with a total investment of $1.4 billion in development up 19.8% over last year on a nominal basis. The weaker-than-expected economic performance dragged with it that of the IT industry, which while forecast to slightly outpace GDP at 9.5%, is down from previous forecasts of 13%. Meanwhile we see sharp deceleration of 2014 GDP from the pace of the past four years, which have averaged 8.8%. In addition to the slowing economy, political factors including a cooling political relationship between China and Japan (the largest IT clients in Asia) and the crisis in Ukraine are further depressing IT spending

 

But the significance of the year is perhaps best measured instead by some of the major developments and deals that took place. 2013 saw several large Chinese IT Services companies going private, specifically Pactera, Asiainfo-Linkage and iSoftstone. While each company had unique factors behind their transaction, there were several commonalities. First, Chinese IT outsourcing companies are significantly undervalued in U.S. markets due to lingering concerns regarding the Longtop scandal. Because of this, many Chinese firms see now as a good time to go private and transform their business models to diversify their revenue by accessing more US and European enterprise customers and offering higher-end consulting services as lower-end outsourcing work comes under growing wage pressure. By pairing with large private equity firms like Blackstone Consortium in the case of Pactera and CITC Capital in the case of AsiaInfo-Linkage, the firms have positioned themselves to complete their transactions out of the scrutiny of the public eye.

 

With the depressed valuations in the United States and IPO restrictions on the Chinese market, we are also seeing Chinese firms turn to alternative outlets such as the Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwanese stock markets. In 2013, 65 out of the 104 deals in the Hong Kong IPO market were from the Chinese mainland, with multiple firms raising more than $1 billion USD (such as Sinopec Engineering Group Co. (2386.HK) and China Everbright Bank Co.). Shaanxi Coal Industry  is the first IPO in China in 2014 - generated $130 million. But all eyes are on Chinese e-Commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which is reportedly choosing between New York or Hong Kong for its expected 2014 IPO.

 

 

Two other deals in the past twelve months set a precedent for an increased Chinese presence in the IT M&A space. One of the most disruptive deals was Chinasoft’s acquisition of Catapult Systems. The deal was notable for several reasons, but primarily for indicating that Chinese IT companies are finally ready to take their place on a global stage. Most successful deals have had valuations of less than $20 million, and truthfully more in the USD 8-10 million range. Instead, they need to be in the range of USD 50-100 million— and the Catapult acquisition was much closer to that range at nearly $42 million. The combined company will be one of the most accredited and certified Microsoft partners in the world—and can serve as a model for other Chinese IT companies looking to successfully follow in their footsteps and truly distinguish themselves by strengthening their true consulting capability. More recently, Lenovo’s back to back acquisitions of IBM’s x86 server unit and Motorola Mobility from Google—China’s biggest technology deal— show that manufacturing continues to be a dominant sphere for China.

 

As we look forward to the rest of 2014, the macro forecast really is “more of the same.” Inflation will likely stay at 3.5%, and expect an annual GDP growth rate of 7.5%, slightly down from 2013 but more stable on a quarterly basis. The housing market also appears to have stabilized with risk of price declines in smaller cities. Slower domestic market plus the challenge of AR collection will prompt Chinese IT companies further look out to international revenue sources.

 

But this year will be distinguished by a number of hot trends that will shape the IT market. China’s public and private sectors are forecast to spend $124.5 billion in 2014, an increase of 10.5% over last year. China is expected to retain its position as the world’s third-largest tech market and ¼ of all APAC IT spending. These trends are:

 

First is the rise in demand for cloud computing and Software as a Service products as small and medium sized private enterprises look to reduce costs, suggest deletion: (especially in the human resource management and enterprise resource management space.) Cloud based HRM and cloud based ERP services are especially popular in the mid-sized manufacturing enterprises in the eastern coastal cities, which face huge cost pressures and continually look for cost reductions to boost their cash flows and improve operation efficiency through cloud capabilities. The March 10 investment by Chinasoft in commerce-oriented SaaS provider Deem Inc. is only the latest in what we expect to be a major trend going forward.

 

Second, “big technology” will continue to grow. Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent are expected to make significant investments in the new data center construction. Additionally, by building data centers in Guangdong and Xinjiang, Huawei is positioning itself to take advantage of this trend and become a dominant force in Chinese cloud providers.



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