Tencent said it will declare a one-time dividend in which it will distribute more than 457 million Class A ordinary shares of JD.com to shareholders, with a total value of approximately 127.7 billion Hong Kong dollars (about $16.37 billion).
Tencent has investments in several companies, including other large Chinese internet companies like Meituan and Pinduoduo. While those investments have helped fuel growth, Blue Lotus Capital Advisors’ Shawn Yang said they could also raise concerns about Tencent’s size and influence.
“I think that basically it’s Tencent’s choice, right, to gradually reduce those shares and try to show to the public that you know … ‘we’re not that big as you think,'” Yang said. “That probably can reduce some of the concerns of its size and influence.”
Beijing has been cracking down on China’s domestic tech sector for months, citing concerns over potential monopolies and data security, slapping massive fines on companies like Alibaba and Meituan.
Yang said Tencent’s move may have stemmed from a desire to deflect attention away from itself rather than JD’s fundamentals. He explained JD’s e-commerce business has been “very resilient” this year compared with competitors Pinduoduo and Alibaba.
In its Thursday filing, Tencent said part of its strategy includes investing in companies early to support development and to exit when they become “consistently capable of self-financing their future initiatives.” Tencent said JD.com has reached that stage and that now is an “appropriate time” to distribute its stake among its shareholders.
JD.com said in a separate release that Tencent’s stake would fall from about 17% currently to around 2.3% after the move. It also said the two companies will continue to maintain their strategic partnership agreement.
Shares of JD.com in Hong Kong closed 7.02% lower. Tencent shares, on the other hand, surged 4.24%, bucking the overall trend among Chinese tech stocks listed in the city. The Hang Seng Tech index slipped 0.83% to 5,638.31.