FYI 5.27.2009

PetroChina Becomes World's Largest Firm; Turner Creates Online Games; Touchmedia Plans Expansion; Haier Takes 20% Stake in Fisher & Paykel; Publicis Appoints Sosuke Koyama in Shanghai and Keat Soh in Beijing

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PetroChina became the largest company in the world this week after its stock price rose 3%, giving it a market value of $336 billion. PetroChina is the Shanghai-listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), mainland China's biggest producer of oil.

The gain made it the most valuable company in the world, worth about $100 million more than the former No. 1 company, U.S.-based Exxon Mobil. Three other Chinese companies, Industrial Bank of China, China Mobile and China Petroleum, also rank among the largest companies in the world.

China's economy overtook Germany in size in January 2009, becoming the third-largest market in the world. China is expected to surpass the No. 2 economy, in Japan, within three or four years.
Turner Entertainment Networks' Cartoon Network division plans to launch online games featuring properties such as BEN 10 and Tom & Jerry in Asia/Pacific this year. The new games include Fusion Fall, a massive multiplayer online game (MMOG) that is Cartoon Network's most ambitious game to date. It features a battle against an alien invasion and was developed with the South Korean-based game developer Grigon Entertainment.

The Atlanta-based broadcaster's move into MMOG is the result of the "growing importance of online gaming, especially for kids in Asia," said Karen Cho, a spokeswoman for the company in Hong Kong. "Gaming leads chatroom/blogs as the most popular online activity for kids."

Cartoon Network has 10 localized web destinations in the region, offering games, blogs and videos.

"Statistics show that kids spend the longest time on Cartoon Network websites in the region, and we feel that it is our role as the leading kids' entertainment provider to show kids what fun online gaming is really about," said Benjamin Grubbs, Turner's Hong Kong-based regional director, interactive media.

In partnership with TurnOut Ventures, Turner is also developing MMOG platforms for its Ben 10 Omniverse and Tom and Jerry shows launching later this year and in 2010 respectively.

Turner is doing on-line, on-air and event marketing for the games and is talking to marketers about sponsorship and branded content opportunities, Ms. Cho said.
Touchmedia, one of the biggest media companies in China providing interactive in-taxi entertainment, has received more than $14.6 million in funding from private investors, and will use the funds to expand its network into more cities in China.

The company's Shangai-based founder-CEO, Micky Fung, said the in-taxi entertainment system will add other cities in the next 12 months and that international launches are being considered. Touchmedia has more than 100,000 taxis under contract and operates in four cities--Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
The Qingdao-based white goods manufacturer Haier Group will buy a 20% stake in a New Zealand appliance maker, Fisher & Paykel (F&P), in a deal worth roughly $50 million.

F&P has been hurt by the drop in sales caused by the global recession as well as the weakened state of the New Zealand dollar. As part of the deal, Haier will distribute F&P products in China, giving the company greater access to a growing market. Haier, meanwhile, is eager to pursue an ongoing international expansion strategy. Haier already has manufacturing plants and a distribution network in the U.S.
Publicis Worldwide has appointed Sosuke Koyama as planning director in its Shanghai office, which works with brands such as L'Oreal, LancĂ´me, Garnier, Citi and Ballantine's. Mr. Koyama, a Japanese national who was raised in the U.S., was previously a senior account planner at Wieden + Kennedy in Shanghai. He has also worked at DMB&B in Tokyo, Fallon in Minneapolis and Singapore, Bartle Bogle Hegarty in Tokyo and TBWA Worldwide in Shanghai.

The Publicis Groupe agency has also appointed Singaporean Keat Soh as exec creative director of its Beijing office. Previously, he was a creative consultant at McCann Erickson, Hong Kong. He has also worked at Young & Rubicam as regional creative director, Asia/Pacific and creative director of BBDO Worldwide, Shanghai.

"Many local and international challenger brands have become quite sophisticated now, but if you are a number two, three or four brand in China, it is very difficult to overtake the number one brand. One of my challenges is to help these brands create a strong communications strategy to do so," Mr. Soh said.

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