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Tencent's external investments have dropped 87% in two years

From healthcare to AI start-ups, the number of Tencent investments in external companies decreased from 299 in 2021 to just 39 in 2023
Tencent's external investments have dropped 87% in two years
  • Tencent's investments in external companies fell from 299 to 95 to 39 in two years
  • Investment deals declined from many Chinese tech giants in 2023
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Even before billions were wiped off Tencent’s market value last month, the Chinese conglomerate was already pulling in the reins on its ambitious growth strategy by making fewer investments year-on-year. In fact, Tencent’s funding into other companies slumped so far in 2023 that it ended up being one of the giant’s lowest investment years of the past decade.

Deal or no deal

South China Morning Post reported that Tencent made 39 investment deals with 37 companies last year, just over a third of the 95 deals struck in 2022. And compared to 2021’s 299 deals that marks a huge 87% fall in only two years.

But among the deals that still took place, Tencent focused predominantly on investing in healthcare, corporate services, and video games, naturally. Seven investments were made into AI startups too.

Between the reduction in investments and its app store sale, Tencent’s refocus clearly began well before China’s proposed gaming regulations overhaul. Even so, Tencent and NetEase combined lost almost $80 billion in value when China announced its latest plan; and, sowing the seeds of doubt for many, talks of banning gacha mechanics, daily login bonuses and more even has TikTok owner ByteDance considering bowing out of games altogether.

Clearly China has trailed game makers through an uncertain marsh in recent years, often freezing them in the mire and at other times lifting them out into new potential, only to drop them back in later. The reining in on investments hasn’t been exclusive to Tencent either, as fellow Chinese tech giants Alibaba Group and Baidu have tumbled in investments too.

The three combined only made 102 such deals in 2023 - a fall of 40% compared to 2022.

Quite how the new regulatory proposals will go over, and what reach beyond rumour they may have, remains to be seen, with the removal of a top Chinese official only further muddying the waters. Whatever happens, Tencent is using this time of uncertainty to buy back its own shares - at an all-new bargain price thanks to the falling stock market.