Tencent Holdings, famous for snapping up smaller companies and startups, appears to have called a halt to its spending spree.
Pony Ma’s powerhouse has seen a significant slowdown in the absorption of other companies over the second half of the year, according to mainland technology news website 36kr.com.
The mainland internet giant has stopped nearly all discussions with companies whose businesses have little overlap with Tencent’s existing business, and has stopped providing funding to existing ventures in the last three months.
Reports say Tencent is now steering clear of new business areas and instead will focus on the needs of companies it has already taken a stake in.
A financial adviser told the website that “The acquisition and investment department of Tencent is clearly deeply worried. It wants to prove its value, especially (regarding) how it impacts the business side.”
Since the company set up an industry fund in 2011, Tencent has invested 100 billion yuan (US$144 billion) in 600 companies. Last year alone, Tencent bought into more than 120 companies, spending more than the total new investment made by rival groups Alibaba and Baidu combined.
Analysts say Tencent has taken a new investment strategy since 2015, one that broadens its investment horizon to include companies with few ties to Tencent’s core business, aiming for better returns similar to financial investments.
One example was its US$1.78 billion investment in electric car maker Tesla in March, 2017.
But a change in investment appetite for high valuation internet stocks has recently hammered Tencent, the biggest listed stock in Hong Kong by market capitalization. Shares have fallen close to 40% year-to-date because of worries over the growth of its core game business.