China’s hottest investment: Overpriced sneakers

The Shanghai branch of the central People’s Bank of China issued a warning last month about the financial risks of excessive sneaker speculation. (AFP)
Updated 11 November 2019

China’s hottest investment: Overpriced sneakers

  • Enthusiasts worldwide have fueled an expanding bubble in high-priced sneakers, often limited-edition collaborations between big names in sportswear and fashion, rappers or athletes

SHANGHAI: Forget stocks, real estate, even cryptocurrencies — China’s hottest investment nowadays may be the Nike, Adidas, and Puma basketball shoes that “sneakerheads” like Hu Huaiyuan fight to get their hands on.

Enthusiasts worldwide have fueled an expanding bubble in high-priced sneakers, often limited-edition collaborations between big names in sportswear and fashion, rappers or athletes.

But in China the craze is at fever pitch, with devotees driving soaring trading volumes on online “sneaker exchange” platforms, prompting warnings from authorities about dangerous speculation as resale profits approach 5,000 percent.

“The sneaker market is no longer just a game for enthusiasts. Speculators are flocking into the business now,” said Hu, who traveled 300km to Shanghai for the chance to buy the latest Nike Air Jordans.

It is the 23-year-old’s lucky day.

After winning an online lottery for the right to even show up at a Nike store along with around 400 others vying for limited supplies, Hu secured the right to plonk down 1,299 yuan ($186) for a pair.

He plans to quickly “flip” them for double that on a bustling resale market. “If I was not so lucky today, it is possible I would not be able to afford the shoes on the secondary market,” Hu said.

The craze’s appeal owes to two main factors. NBA stars like Michael Jordan have been idolized for years in China, where basketball is arguably the most followed sport, and the associated streetwear culture finds a huge and growing market.

And with Chinese authorities limiting individual stock market price movements to contain volatility, sneakers are embraced by younger investors seeking quick profits in a commodity they can relate to.

“If selling overpriced sneakers proves so worthwhile, why not take it as a good source of income?” said Hu.

The phenomenon is spurring quick growth in Chinese sneaker-trading platforms like Poizon, whose annual volume is around 15 billion yuan, according to Chinese tech consultancy iiMedia Research.

That is more than triple the volume of StockX, a leading US platform.

Platforms like Poizon and Nice also have attracted hundreds of millions of dollars in investment from foreign and domestic venture capital, according to Chinese media reports.

The global market is taking notice. StockX rival GOAT launched an app-like mini-program on leading Chinese messaging platform WeChat in July. StockX executives say they also are crafting China plans.

The Shanghai branch of the central People’s Bank of China issued a warning last month about the financial risks of excessive sneaker speculation, and government-controlled media portray the phenomenon negatively.

According to data-mining company iiMedia research, China’s secondary market for sneakers has passed $1 billion this year and is one of the fastest-growing components of a $6 billion global market led by the US.

However, fear of government intervention has forced app-based platforms like Poizon and Nice to take various steps to cool excess speculation.


SoftBank to invest $40bn for new Indonesia capital

The new capital is to be built on the island of Borneo, where the Kutai National Park is known for its rainforests and its population of orangutans and other primates. (Shutterstock)
Updated 18 January 2020

SoftBank to invest $40bn for new Indonesia capital

  • Son joins Abu Dhabi crown prince and former British PM in steering committee for city

JAKARTA: Japan’s SoftBank is offering to invest $30 billion to $40 billion in the development of a new Indonesian capital, an official said Friday.

The billionaire founder and chief executive of SoftBank, Masayoshi Son, hinted at partnering with the Indonesian government to fund the project when he met President Joko Widodo last week in the capital, Jakarta.
Son and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been included in the steering committee to be led by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to oversee the construction of the new capital city on the island of Borneo.
Indonesian Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan told a news briefing that SoftBank was offering $30 billion to $40 billion, though it was not immediately clear what project the Japanese conglomerate would invest in specifically.
“We have not yet decided how they would invest, it could be for education, a research center or hospital development,” Pandjaitan said. He said he will meet Son in Davos and Tokyo later this month to finalize the plan.
After meeting Widodo last week, Son told reporters that he was interested in supporting “a new smart city, the newest technology, a clean city and a lot of artificial intelligence.”
Widodo announced last August that Indonesia’s capital will move from overcrowded, sinking and polluted Jakarta to a site in the sparsely populated East Kalimantan province on Borneo, known for rainforests and orangutans.

BACKGROUND

The capital’s relocation to a 256,000-hectare (632,580-acre) site almost four times the size of Jakarta will cost an estimated 466 trillion rupiah ($34 billion). The government is set to begin the construction later this year.

The capital’s relocation to a 256,000-hectare (632,580-acre) site almost four times the size of Jakarta will cost an estimated 466 trillion rupiah ($34 billion). The government is set to begin the construction later this year.
Investors from Asia, the Middle East, the US and China have shown interest in developing the city, Pandjaitan said.
Jakarta, with 30 million people including those in the greater metropolitan area, is prone to earthquakes and flooding, and is rapidly sinking due to the uncontrolled extraction of ground water.
Monsoon rains and rising rivers early this month left more than 60 people dead and 500,000 displaced.
Mineral-rich East Kalimantan was once almost completely covered by rainforests before illegal logging removed much of its original growth. It is home to only 3.5 million people and is surrounded by Kutai National Park, known for orangutans and other primates and mammals.
Indonesia is an archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands, but currently 54 percent of the country’s nearly 270 million people live on Java, the country’s most densely populated island where Jakarta is located.