Tech investments in China are focused on 3 trends, says Antler


(L-R) Hongye Wang, partner of Antler; Eric Lin, head of research at UBS Securities in China; and Evelyn Cheng of CNBC on the first day of CNBC’s East Tech West conference in Nansha, Guangzhou on Nov. 17, 2020.

Dave Zhong | Getty Images for CNBC

China, already home to technology giants such as Alibaba and Tencent, has more to offer to investors as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated tech adoption globally, a partner at an early-stage venture capital firm said on Tuesday.  

Tech investments in the Asian economic giant are headed into three broad areas, Hongye Wang, a partner at Antler, said at CNBC’s annual East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.

First, he said that while e-commerce has a large presence in China, the pandemic has moved more activities online, such as education and medical services. That can grow even more in the future, he said during a panel discussion moderated by CNBC’s Evelyn Cheng.

The next trend Wang shared is greater use of smart devices, which account for only 5% of household appliances in China, compared with around 20% to 30% in the U.S.

“In the future, I believe, we will have this (percentage) go up to at least 30% to 40%, even to 50%” in China, he said.

Wang added that more of those devices — such as televisions and fridges — are likely to be wireless, which is the third and final trend that he sees. Going wireless means devices would need better batteries and power-control systems, he noted.

Such wireless ecosystems would contribute to the overall effort to combat climate change, which is an area that investors are increasingly paying attention to, he said.

Eric Lin, head of research at UBS Securities in China, said Chinese investors are looking more at ESG research. ESG stands for environmental, social and governance factors that investors consider when deciding which assets to put their money in.

For example, investors may consider whether their investments are generating returns from driving positive changes in the world, or simply supporting something that’s not doing harm.

Typically, such investments “tend to generate higher risk-adjusted returns,” which is good news for investors, said Lim, who spoke on the same panel. He added that “hot sectors” that attract investors in China include renewable energy and electric vehicles.



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