Breakingviews

Capital Calls: Tencent's loud ESG pitch may fall on deaf ears

2 minute read

Tencent Chairman and CEO Pony Ma poses at the company's headquarters in Nanshan Hi-Tech Industrial Park in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen during an interview with Reuters June 9, 2011. Picture taken June 9, 2011. REUTERS/Bobby Yip (CHINA - Tags: BUSINESS SCI TECH)

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Hong KONG, April 20 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Concise insights on global finance in the Covid-19 era.

------------------------------------------------

LOYALTY FEES. Tencent’s (0700.HK) low-profile boss Pony Ma is having to spend more time in the spotlight. On Monday he pledged an initial 50 billion yuan ($7.7 billion) read more of the social-media giant’s money, roughly 40% of its 2020 adjusted earnings, for “socially valuable” projects ranging from scientific projects to rural development to carbon neutrality.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The sudden largesse – 19 times Tencent’s donations last year – includes investments in startups, which could keep investors happy. It also happens to align with President Xi Jinping’s blueprint for national development. And it comes a week after the country sought to rein in read more the sweeping dominance of Alibaba (9988.HK) and 33 other so-called platform companies, including $775 billion Tencent.

Xi may just dismiss Pony Ma’s new generosity as window-dressing. Philanthropy has not been an effective shield in the past: Alibaba’s gift of medical equipment last year didn’t prevent founder Jack Ma read more from becoming a political target after he publicly criticized regulators. At least Pony Ma cannot be accused of not trying. [By Yawen Chen]

On Twitter http://twitter.com/breakingviews

Earlier in Capital Calls:

SXSW’s partial savior read more

Big Chair emerges from pandemic office shutdowns read more

UK’s late-mover “Britcoin” advantage read more

Tribune trophy hunter setback read more

Nvidia-Arm deal read more

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
SIGN UP FOR BREAKINGVIEWS EMAIL ALERTS: <a href="http://bit.ly/BVsubscribe" target="_blank">http://bit.ly/BVsubscribe</a> | Editing by Antony Currie and Sharon Lam

Breakingviews
Reuters Breakingviews is the world's leading source of agenda-setting financial insight. As the Reuters brand for financial commentary, we dissect the big business and economic stories as they break around the world every day. A global team of about 30 correspondents in New York, London, Hong Kong and other major cities provides expert analysis in real time.

Sign up for a free trial of our full service at https://www.breakingviews.com/trial and follow us on Twitter @Breakingviews and at www.breakingviews.com. All opinions expressed are those of the authors.

More from Reuters