Table of Contents

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

 


 

FORM 20-F

 


 

(Mark One)

 

o    REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

OR

 

x   ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2018.

 

OR

 

o    TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from                      to

 

OR

 

o    SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

 

Date of event requiring this shell company report  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Commission file number: 001-36450

 


 

JD.com, Inc.

(Exact Name of Registrant as Specified in its Charter)

 


 

N/A

(Translation of Registrant’s Name Into English)

 


 

Cayman Islands

(Jurisdiction of Incorporation or Organization)

 


 

20th Floor, Building A, No. 18 Kechuang 11 Street

Yizhuang Economic and Technological Development Zone

Daxing District, Beijing 101111

People’s Republic of China

(Address of Principal Executive Offices)

 

Sidney Xuande Huang, Chief Financial Officer

Telephone: +86 10 8911-8888

Email: ir@jd.com

20th Floor, Building A, No. 18 Kechuang 11 Street

Yizhuang Economic and Technological Development Zone

Daxing District, Beijing 101111

People’s Republic of China

(Name, Telephone, Email and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

Title of Each Class

 

Name of Each Exchange On Which Registered

American depositary shares (one American depositary share representing two Class A ordinary shares, par value US$0.00002 per share)

Class A ordinary shares, par value

US$0.00002 per share*

 

The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC

(The NASDAQ Global Select Market)

The NASDAQ Stock Market LLC (The NASDAQ

Global Select Market)

 


*   Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing on The NASDAQ Global Select Market of American depositary shares.

 

Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:

 

None

(Title of Class)

 

Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:

 

None

(Title of Class)

 

Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report:

 

 

2,449,222,672 Class A ordinary shares (excluding the 58,250,658 Class A ordinary shares issued to the depositary bank for bulk issuance of ADSs reserved for future issuances upon the exercise or vesting of awards granted under the Share Incentive Plan) and 458,342,517 Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.00002 per share, as of December 31, 2018.

 

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.  x Yes   o No

 

If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. o Yes x No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.  x Yes   o No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).  x Yes   o No

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

 

Large accelerated filer x

 

Accelerated filer o

 

Non-accelerated filer o

 

Emerging growth company o

 

If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. o

 

The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.

 

Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:

 

U.S. GAAP x

 

International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
by the International Accounting Standards Board
o

 

Other o

 

If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.  o Item 17   o Item 18

 

If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).  o Yes   x No

 

(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)

 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court. o Yes   o No

 


 

Table of Contents

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

 

1

PART I

 

2

Item 1.

Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

 

2

Item 2.

Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

 

2

Item 3.

Key Information

 

2

Item 4.

Information on the Company

 

53

Item 4A.

Unresolved Staff Comments

 

93

Item 5.

Operating and Financial Review and Prospects

 

93

Item 6.

Directors, Senior Management and Employees

 

116

Item 7.

Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions

 

126

Item 8.

Financial Information

 

131

Item 9.

The Offer and Listing

 

132

Item 10.

Additional Information

 

133

Item 11.

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk

 

145

Item 12.

Description of Securities Other than Equity Securities

 

146

PART II

 

148

Item 13.

Defaults, Dividend Arrearages and Delinquencies

 

148

Item 14.

Modifications to the Rights of Security Holders and Use of Proceeds

 

148

Item 15.

Controls and Procedures

 

148

Item 16A.

Audit Committee Financial Expert

 

149

Item 16B.

Code of Ethics

 

149

Item 16C.

Principal Accountant Fees and Services

 

149

Item 16D.

Exemptions from the Listing Standards for Audit Committees

 

149

Item 16E.

Purchases of Equity Securities by the Issuer and Affiliated Purchasers

 

149

Item 16F.

Change in Registrant’s Certifying Accountant

 

150

Item 16G.

Corporate Governance

 

150

Item 16H.

Mine Safety Disclosure

 

150

PART III

 

151

Item 17.

Financial Statements

 

151

Item 18.

Financial Statements

 

151

Item 19.

Exhibits

 

151

SIGNATURES

 

156

 

i


Table of Contents

 

INTRODUCTION

 

Unless otherwise indicated or the context otherwise requires, references in this annual report to:

 

·                  “ADSs” are to our American depositary shares, each of which represents two Class A ordinary shares;

 

·                  “annual active customer accounts” are to customer accounts that made at least one purchase during the twelve months ended on the respective dates, including both online direct sales and online marketplace;

 

·                  “China” or the “PRC” are to the People’s Republic of China, excluding, for the purposes of this annual report only, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan;

 

·                  “GMV” are to the total value of all orders for products and services placed in our online direct sales business and on our online marketplaces, regardless of whether the goods are sold or delivered or whether the goods are returned. GMV includes the value from orders placed on our websites and mobile apps as well as orders placed on third-party websites and mobile apps that are fulfilled by us or by our third-party merchants. Our calculation of GMV includes shipping charges paid by buyers to sellers and for prudent consideration excludes certain transactions over certain amounts that are comparable to the disclosed parameters in GMV definition by our major industry peer. We believe that GMV provides a measure of the overall volume of transactions that flow through our platform in a given period and is only useful for the purposes of industry and peer comparisons. Therefore, it should not be used as a financial metric. GMV of all periods presented in this annual report is calculated based on this definition;

 

·                  “ordinary shares” are to our Class A and Class B ordinary shares, par value US$0.00002 per share; and

 

·                  “we,” “us,” “our company” and “our” are to JD.com, Inc., its subsidiaries and its consolidated variable interest entities and their subsidiaries.

 

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION

 

This annual report on Form 20-F contains forward-looking statements that reflect our current expectations and views of future events. These statements are made under the “safe harbor” provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. You can identify these forward-looking statements by terminology such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “is/are likely to,” “potential,” “continue” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include statements relating to, among other things:

 

·                  our goals and strategies;

 

·                  our future business development, financial conditions and results of operations;

 

·                  the expected growth of the retail and online retail markets in China;

 

·                  our expectations regarding demand for and market acceptance of our products and services;

 

·                  our expectations regarding our relationships with customers, suppliers and third-party sellers;

 

·                  our plans to invest in our fulfillment infrastructure and technology platform as well as new business initiatives;

 

·                  competition in our industry; and

 

·                  relevant government policies and regulations relating to our industry.

 

1


Table of Contents

 

We would like to caution you not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements and you should read these statements in conjunction with the risk factors disclosed in “Item 3.D. Key Information—Risk Factors.” Those risks are not exhaustive. We operate in an evolving environment. New risks emerge from time to time and it is impossible for our management to predict all risk factors, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ from those contained in any forward-looking statement. We do not undertake any obligation to update or revise the forward-looking statements except as required under applicable law. You should read this annual report and the documents that we reference in this annual report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.

 

Our reporting currency is Renminbi, or RMB. Unless otherwise noted, all translations from RMB to U.S. dollars and from U.S. dollars to RMB in this annual report are made at a rate of RMB6.8755 to US$1.00, the exchange rate in effect as of December 31, 2018 as set forth in the H.10 statistical release of The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. We make no representation that any RMB or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars or RMB, as the case may be, at any particular rate, or at all.

 

PART I

 

Item 1.           Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 2.           Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable

 

Not applicable.

 

Item 3.           Key Information

 

A.            Selected Financial Data

 

The following table presents the selected consolidated financial information for our company. As of June 30, 2017, we deconsolidated our finance business operated by Beijing Jingdong Financial Technology Holding Co., Ltd. (now known as Beijing Jingdong Digital Technology Co., Ltd., or JD Digits), as a result of the reorganization of JD Digits. Accordingly, the historical financial results of JD Digits for periods from January 1, 2015 to June 30, 2017 are reflected in our consolidated financial statements as discontinued operations. Please see “Item 4. Information on the Company—A. History and Development of the Company” for further information. The selected consolidated statements of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2017 and 2018 and selected consolidated cash flow data for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, which are included in this annual report beginning on page F-1. JD Digits is reflected as discontinued operations in these selected consolidated financial statements, as applicable. The selected consolidated statements of operations data for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2015, selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2014, 2015 and 2016 and selected consolidated cash flow data for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2015 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements not included in this annual report, and the cash flow data for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2015 has been retrospectively adjusted as a result of the new accounting guidance adopted on January 1, 2018 (see note (6) below for more details). JD Digits is not reflected as discontinued operations in the selected consolidated statements of operations data for the year ended December 31, 2014, selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2014 and 2015 and selected consolidated cash flow data for the years ended December 31, 2014 as the impact of JD Digits was not material during these periods. Our historical results do not necessarily indicate results expected for any future periods. The selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with, and are qualified in their entirety by reference to, our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” below. Our consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with U.S. GAAP.

 

2


Table of Contents

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2014

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

US$

 

 

 

(in millions, except for share, per share and per ADS data)

 

Selected Consolidated Statements of Operations Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net revenues:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net product revenues (formerly known as online direct sales)

 

108,549

 

167,936

 

237,944

 

331,824

 

416,109

 

60,521

 

Net service revenues (formerly known as services and others)

 

6,453

 

13,106

 

20,346

 

30,508

 

45,911

 

6,677

 

Total net revenues

 

115,002

 

181,042

 

258,290

 

362,332

 

462,020

 

67,198

 

Operating expenses(1)(2)(3):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cost of revenues

 

(101,631

)

(158,960

)

(222,935

)

(311,517

)

(396,066

)

(57,606

)

Fulfillment

 

(8,067

)

(12,367

)

(18,560

)

(25,865

)

(32,010

)

(4,656

)

Marketing

 

(4,010

)

(7,233

)

(10,159

)

(14,918

)

(19,237

)

(2,798

)

Technology and content

 

(1,836

)

(2,902

)

(4,453

)

(6,652

)

(12,144

)

(1,766

)

General and administrative

 

(5,260

)

(2,188

)

(3,436

)

(4,215

)

(5,160

)

(750

)

Impairment of goodwill and intangible assets

 

 

(2,750

)

 

 

(22

)

(3

)

Total operating expenses

 

(120,804

)

(186,400

)

(259,543

)

(363,167

)

(464,639

)

(67,579

)

Loss from operations

 

(5,802

)

(5,358

)

(1,253

)

(835

)

(2,619

)

(381

)

Other income/(expense):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share of results of equity investees

 

 

(2,852

)

(2,782

)

(1,927

)

(1,113

)

(162

)

Interest income

 

638

 

673

 

1,227

 

2,530

 

2,118

 

308

 

Interest expense

 

(29

)

(73

)

(619

)

(964

)

(855

)

(124

)

Others, net

 

216

 

(147

)

1,544

 

1,317

 

95

 

14

 

Income/(loss) before tax

 

(4,977

)

(7,757

)

(1,883

)

121

 

(2,374

)

(345

)

Income tax benefits/(expenses)

 

(19

)

15

 

(166

)

(140

)

(427

)

(62

)

Net loss from continuing operations

 

 

 

(7,742

)

(2,049

)

(19

)

(2,801

)

(407

)

Net income/(loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax

 

 

 

(1,376

)

(1,365

)

7

 

 

 

Net loss

 

(4,996

)

(9,118

)

(3,414

)

(12

)

(2,801

)

(407

)

Net loss from continuing operations attributable to non-controlling interests shareholders

 

 

 

(10

)

(48

)

(135

)

(311

)

(45

)

Net loss from discontinued operations attributable to non-controlling interests shareholders

 

 

 

 

(4

)

(5

)

 

 

Net income from continuing operations attributable to mezzanine classified non-controlling interests shareholders

 

 

 

 

 

 

2

 

0

 

Net income from discontinued operations attributable to mezzanine classified non-controlling interests shareholders

 

 

 

 

445

 

281

 

 

 

Preferred shares redemption value accretion

 

(7,958

)

 

 

 

 

 

Net income/(loss) from continuing operations attributable to ordinary shareholders

 

 

 

(7,732

)

(2,001

)

116

 

(2,492

)

(362

)

Net loss from discontinued operations attributable to ordinary shareholders

 

 

 

(1,376

)

(1,806

)

(269

)

 

 

Net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders

 

(12,954

)

(9,108

)

(3,807

)

(153

)

(2,492

)

(362

)

 

3


Table of Contents

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2014

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

US$

 

 

 

(in millions, except for share, per share and per ADS data)

 

Net income/(loss) per share

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing operations

 

 

 

(2.83

)

(0.71

)

0.04

 

(0.87

)

(0.13

)

Discontinued operations

 

 

 

(0.50

)

(0.64

)

(0.09

)

 

 

Net loss per share

 

(5.35

)

(3.33

)

(1.36

)

(0.05

)

(0.87

)

(0.13

)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diluted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing operations

 

 

 

(2.83

)

(0.71

)

0.04

 

(0.87

)

(0.13

)

Discontinued operations

 

 

 

(0.50

)

(0.64

)

(0.09

)

 

 

Net loss per share

 

(5.35

)

(3.33

)

(1.36

)

(0.05

)

(0.87

)

(0.13

)

Net income/(loss) per ADS(4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing operations

 

 

 

(5.65

)

(1.43

)

0.08

 

(1.73

)

(0.25

)

Discontinued operations

 

 

 

(1.01

)

(1.29

)

(0.19

)

 

 

Net loss per ADS

 

(10.71

)

(6.66

)

(2.71

)

(0.11

)

(1.73

)

(0.25

)

Diluted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing operations

 

 

 

(5.65

)

(1.43

)

0.08

 

(1.73

)

(0.25

)

Discontinued operations

 

 

 

(1.01

)

(1.29

)

(0.18

)

 

 

Net loss per ADS

 

(10.71

)

(6.66

)

(2.71

)

(0.11

)

(1.73

)

(0.25

)

Weighted average number of shares:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basic

 

2,419,668,247

 

2,735,034,034

 

2,804,767,889

 

2,844,826,014

 

2,877,902,678

 

2,877,902,678

 

Diluted

 

2,419,668,247

 

2,735,034,034

 

2,804,767,889

 

2,911,461,817

 

2,877,902,678

 

2,877,902,678

 

 


(1)         Share-based compensation expenses are allocated in operating expense items as follows:

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2014

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

US$

 

 

 

(in millions)

 

Cost of revenues

 

 

(8

)

(17

)

(28

)

(72

)

(10

)

Fulfillment

 

(129

)

(164

)

(332

)

(426

)

(419

)

(61

)

Marketing

 

(24

)

(48

)

(87

)

(136

)

(190

)

(28

)

Technology and content

 

(79

)

(209

)

(470

)

(671

)

(1,163

)

(169

)

General and administrative

 

(4,018

)

(648

)

(1,154

)

(1,520

)

(1,816

)

(264

)

 

(2)         Amortization of intangible assets resulting from assets and business acquisitions are allocated in operating expense items as follows. See Item 17 of Part III, “Financial Statements—Note 8—Business Combination” for details of significant business combination transactions.

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2014

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

US$

 

 

 

(in millions)

 

Fulfillment

 

(21

)

(10

)

(93

)

(164

)

(168

)

(24

)

Marketing

 

(925

)

(1,225

)

(1,222

)

(1,222

)

(1,232

)

(179

)

Technology and content

 

(19

)

(24

)

(46

)

(84

)

(98

)

(14

)

General and administrative

 

(146

)

(180

)

(248

)

(308

)

(308

)

(45

)

 

(3)         In April 2017, leveraging our advanced technology and logistics expertise, we established JD Logistics, a new business group under JD.com, to provide logistics services to businesses across a wide range of industries. As JD Logistics has changed from supporting the overall JD platform to an independently operated business unit, cost related to the logistics services provided to merchants and other third parties are reclassified from fulfillment expenses to cost of revenues. The amount of fulfillment expenses that has been reclassified to conform to the current period financial statement presentation were RMB1,664 million and RMB2,561 million for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2016, respectively. The fulfillment expenses related to logistics services provided to merchants and other third parties for the year ended December 31, 2014 were not reclassified to cost of revenues as the impact was not material.

 

(4)         Each ADS represents two Class A ordinary shares.

 

4


Table of Contents

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

2014

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

US$

 

 

 

(in millions, except for share data)

 

Selected Consolidated Balance Sheets Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cash and cash equivalents

 

16,915

 

17,864

 

15,567

 

25,688

 

34,262

 

4,983

 

Restricted cash

 

3,038

 

2,115

 

2,294

 

4,110

 

3,240

 

471

 

Short-term investments

 

12,162

 

2,780

 

6,548

 

8,588

 

2,036

 

296

 

Inventories, net

 

12,191

 

20,540

 

28,909

 

41,700

 

44,030

 

6,404

 

Accounts receivable, net

 

2,301

 

8,194

 

16,141

 

16,359

 

11,110

 

1,616

 

Investment in equity investees

 

587

 

8,713

 

14,629

 

18,551

 

31,357

 

4,561

 

Total assets

 

66,493

 

85,015

 

160,374

 

184,055

 

209,165

 

30,422

 

Accounts payable

 

16,364

 

29,819

 

46,036

 

74,338

 

79,985

 

11,633

 

Nonrecourse securitization debt

 

 

3,334

 

11,549

 

17,160

 

4,398

 

640

 

Unsecured senior notes

 

 

 

6,831

 

6,447

 

6,786

 

987

 

Total liabilities

 

28,995

 

54,294

 

119,154

 

131,666

 

132,337

 

19,248

 

Total mezzanine equity(5)

 

 

 

7,057

 

 

15,961

 

2,321

 

Total JD.com, Inc. shareholders’ equity

 

37,498

 

30,583

 

33,893

 

52,041

 

59,771

 

8,693

 

Number of outstanding ordinary shares

 

2,731,718,357

 

2,741,990,486

 

2,836,444,397

 

2,852,663,429

 

2,894,296,355

 

2,894,296,355

 

 

(5)         In February 2018, we raised financing for JD Logistics from third-party investors in the total amount of US$2.5 billion by issuing series A preferred shares of JD Logistics. Upon the completion of the financing, the third-party investors own approximately 19% of the equity interests of JD Logistics on a fully diluted basis. We determined that the series A preferred shares should be classified as mezzanine equity upon their issuance since they were contingently redeemable.

 

 

 

For the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2014

 

2015

 

2016

 

2017

 

2018

 

 

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

RMB

 

US$

 

 

 

(in millions)

 

Selected Consolidated Cash Flows Data:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Net cash provided by continuing operating activities

 

 

 

4,122

 

9,467

 

29,342

 

20,881

 

3,037

 

Net cash used in discontinued operating activities

 

 

 

(1,349

)

(1,227

)

(2,486

)

 

 

Net cash provided by operating activities(6)

 

1,980

 

2,773

 

8,240

 

26,856

 

20,881

 

3,037

 

Net cash used in continuing investing activities

 

 

 

(9,809

)

(17,069

)

(21,944

)

(26,079

)

(3,793

)

Net cash provided by/(used in) discontinued investing activities

 

 

 

2,018

 

(28,412

)

(17,871

)

 

 

Net cash used in investing activities(6)

 

(13,017

)

(7,791

)

(45,481

)

(39,815

)

(26,079

)

(3,793

)

Net cash provided by continuing financing activities

 

 

 

3,835

 

8,649

 

5,180

 

11,220

 

1,632

 

Net cash provided by discontinued financing activities

 

 

 

865

 

32,050

 

14,055

 

 

 

Net cash provided by financing activities

 

18,392

 

4,700

 

40,699

 

19,235

 

11,220

 

1,632

 

Effect of exchange rate changes on cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

 

(101

)

344

 

727

 

(642

)

1,682

 

244

 

Net increase in cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash

 

7,254

 

26

 

4,185

 

5,634

 

7,704

 

1,120

 

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at beginning of year

 

12,699

 

19,953

 

19,979

 

24,164

 

29,798

 

4,334

 

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash at end of year

 

19,953

 

19,979

 

24,164

 

29,798

 

37,502

 

5,454

 

Less: Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash of discontinued operations at end of year

 

 

 

3,882

 

6,303

 

 

 

 

Cash, cash equivalents and restricted cash of continuing operations at end of year

 

 

 

16,097

 

17,861

 

29,798

 

37,502

 

5,454

 

 

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(6)         As a result of new accounting guidance adopted on January 1, 2018, the consolidated statements of cash flows were retrospectively adjusted to include restricted cash in cash and cash equivalents when reconciling the beginning-of-period and end-of-period total amounts shown on the statement of cash flows. The impact of the retrospective reclassification on cash flows of operating activities for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 was an increase of RMB690 million, an increase of RMB1,077 million, a decrease of RMB527 million, and an increase of RMB2,035 million, respectively. The impact on cash flows of investing activities for the years ended December 31, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 was an increase of RMB461 million, a decrease of RMB2,000 million, an increase of RMB2,787 million, and a decrease of RMB2,317 million, respectively.

 

B.            Capitalization and Indebtedness

 

Not applicable.

 

C.            Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds

 

Not applicable.

 

D.            Risk Factors

 

Risks Related to Our Business

 

If we are unable to manage our growth or execute our strategies effectively, our business and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our business has continued to grow in recent years, and we expect continued growth in our business and revenues. We plan to further expand our fulfillment infrastructure and technology platform and increase our product offerings. For example, we plan to continue to build our warehouses. We have already launched our warehousing facilities in 11 cities. In addition, we are in the process of constructing warehousing facilities in 16 other cities. We also plan to continue to establish new fulfillment facilities in additional locations across China, including smaller, less developed areas. In 2018, we recruited new employees in connection with the expansion of our fulfillment infrastructure and additional research and development personnel in connection with the expansion of our technology platform, and we will continue to invest resources in training, managing and motivating our workforce. In addition, as we continued to increase our product offerings, we will need to work with a large number of new suppliers and third-party sellers efficiently and establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with our existing and new suppliers and third-party sellers. To support our growth, we also plan to implement a variety of new and upgraded managerial, operating, financial and human resource systems, procedures and controls. All these efforts will require significant managerial, financial and human resources. We cannot assure you that we will be able to effectively manage our growth or to implement all these systems, procedures and control measures successfully or that our new business initiatives will be successful. If we are not able to manage our growth or execute our strategies effectively, our expansion may not be successful and our business and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.

 

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We have incurred significant net losses and we may continue to experience significant losses in the future.

 

We have incurred significant net losses since our inception. We had net losses from continuing operations of RMB2,049 million, RMB19 million and RMB2,801 million (US$407 million) in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. We had accumulated deficits of RMB21,860 million, RMB22,235 million and RMB24,038 million (US$3,496 million) as of December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

 

We cannot assure you that we will be able to generate net profits or positive cash flow from operating activities in the future. Our ability to achieve profitability depends in large part on our ability to increase our gross margin by obtaining more favorable terms from our suppliers as our business further grows in scale, managing our product mix, expanding our online marketplace and offering value-added services with higher margins. Accordingly, we intend to continue to invest for the foreseeable future in our fulfillment infrastructure and technology platform to support an even larger selection of products and to offer additional value-added services. As a result of the foregoing, we believe that we may incur net losses for some time in the future.

 

If we are unable to provide superior customer experience, our business and reputation may be materially and adversely affected.

 

The success of our business hinges on our ability to provide superior customer experience, which in turn depends on a variety of factors. These factors include our ability to continue to offer authentic products at competitive prices, source products to respond to customer demands, maintain the quality of our products and services, and provide timely and reliable delivery, flexible payment options and superior after-sales service.

 

We rely primarily on our own fulfillment infrastructure, and to a lesser extent on contracted third-party couriers, to deliver our products. Interruptions or failures in our delivery services could prevent the timely or successful delivery of our products. These interruptions may be due to unforeseen events that are beyond our control or the control of our third-party couriers, such as inclement weather, natural disasters, transportation disruptions or labor unrest. If our products are not delivered on time or are delivered in a damaged state, customers may refuse to accept our products and have less confidence in our services. Furthermore, our own delivery personnel and those of contracted third-party couriers act on our behalf and interact with our customers personally. We maintain cooperation arrangements with a number of third-party couriers to deliver our products to our customers in those areas not covered by our own fulfillment infrastructure and for a portion of our bulky item deliveries, and we need to effectively manage these third-party service providers to ensure the quality of customer services. We have in the past received customer complaints from time to time regarding our delivery and return and exchange services. In addition, we have opened our fulfillment infrastructure by offering logistics services to third parties, including third-party sellers on our marketplace and merchants that do not sell products on our online marketplace. If we are not able to manage our logistics services successfully, opening these services to third parties could divert the resources available to our direct sales business and affect customer experience from direct sales. Any failure to provide high-quality delivery services to our customers may negatively impact the shopping experience of our customers, damage our reputation and cause us to lose customers.

 

We operate three 24-7 customer service centers in Suqian and Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, and Chengdu, Sichuan Province, handling all kinds of customer queries and complaints regarding our products and services. As of December 31, 2018, we had a total of 12,482 full-time customer service representatives at these three centers. There is no assurance that we will be able to provide sufficient training to new employees to meet our standards of customer service or that an influx of less experienced personnel will not dilute the quality of our customer service. If our customer service representatives fail to provide satisfactory service, or if waiting times are too long due to the high volume of calls from customers at peak times, our brand and customer loyalty may be adversely affected. In addition, any negative publicity or poor feedback regarding our customer service may harm our brand and reputation and in turn cause us to lose customers and market share.

 

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Any harm to our JD brand or reputation may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.

 

We believe that the recognition and reputation of our JD () brand among our customers, suppliers and third-party sellers have contributed significantly to the growth and success of our business. Maintaining and enhancing the recognition and reputation of our brand are critical to our business and competitiveness. Many factors, some of which are beyond our control, are important to maintaining and enhancing our brand. These factors include our ability to:

 

·                  provide a compelling online shopping experience to customers;

 

·                  maintain the popularity, attractiveness, diversity, quality and authenticity of the products we offer;

 

·                  maintain the efficiency, reliability and quality of our fulfillment services;

 

·                  maintain or improve customers’ satisfaction with our after-sale services;

 

·                  increase brand awareness through marketing and brand promotion activities; and

 

·                  preserve our reputation and goodwill in the event of any negative publicity on customer service, internet security, product quality, price or authenticity, or other issues affecting us or other online retail businesses in China.

 

A public perception that non-authentic, counterfeit or defective goods are sold on our websites and mobile apps or that we or third-party service providers do not provide satisfactory customer service, even if factually incorrect or based on isolated incidents, could damage our reputation, diminish the value of our brand, undermine the trust and credibility we have established and have a negative impact on our ability to attract new customers or retain our current customers. If we are unable to maintain our reputation, enhance our brand recognition or increase positive awareness of our websites, products and services, it may be difficult to maintain and grow our customer base, and our business and growth prospects may be materially and adversely affected.

 

If we are unable to offer products that attract new customers and new purchases from existing customers, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our future growth depends on our ability to continue to attract new customers as well as new purchases from existing customers. Constantly changing consumer preferences have affected and will continue to affect the online retail industry. We must stay abreast of emerging consumer preferences and anticipate product trends that will appeal to existing and potential customers. We have been making progress in leveraging artificial intelligence, or AI, technologies to generate personalized recommendations to customers for products in which they may be potentially interested. Each product page typically has recommendations of other products that are often purchased together with that product. In addition, our websites and mobile apps make recommendations to customers according to a comprehensive dataset compiled based on customer’s behavior. Our ability to make individually tailored recommendations is dependent on our business intelligence system, which tracks, collects and analyzes our users’ browsing and purchasing behavior, to provide accurate and reliable information. Our customers choose to purchase authentic and quality products on our websites and mobile apps due in part to the attractive prices that we offer, and they may choose to shop elsewhere if we cannot match the prices offered by other websites or by physical stores. If our customers cannot find their desired products on our websites and mobile apps at attractive prices, they may lose interest in us and visit our websites and mobile apps less frequently or even stop visiting our websites and mobile apps altogether, which in turn may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We plan to further expand our fulfillment infrastructure. If we are not able to manage such expansion successfully, our business prospects and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We believe that our own nationwide fulfillment infrastructure, consisting of strategically located warehouses and delivery and pickup stations, is essential to our success. As of December 31, 2018, we operated regional fulfillment centers in seven major cities, front distribution centers in 28 cities and other additional warehouses in 46 cities in China. Our comprehensive fulfillment facilities covered almost all the counties and districts across China, and we had 124,277 warehouse and delivery personnel as of December 31, 2018. We are constructing our warehouses to increase our storage capacity and to restructure and reorganize our fulfillment workflow and processes.

 

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In April 2017, we opened up our fulfillment infrastructure and established a new business group, JD Logistics, to provide integrated supply chain and logistics services to third-party businesses across a wide range of industries. JD Logistics provides these businesses with comprehensive supply chain solutions, including warehousing, transportation, delivery and after-sales service. In October 2018, JD Logistics opened up its leading logistics network to consumers, offering parcel delivery service to users in certain regions. Leveraging our extensive delivery network, users in these areas can conveniently send items intra-city and throughout most of mainland China with our same fast and reliable delivery service. JD Logistics has experienced rapid growth since its inception. However, the increase in demand for our logistics services may result in additional challenges in operating our fulfillment infrastructure. For example, increasing volume of parcels may cause delay for our delivery services, or we may be required to make significant capital expenditure to further expand our existing fulfillment facilities to handle the increasing orders both from our online marketplace and from third-party businesses. In addition, the development of logistics business is capital intensive. To address such capital requirement, in February 2018, we entered into definitive agreements with third-party investors for the financing for JD Logistics. We raised a total amount of US$2.5 billion from third-party investors, who owned an aggregate of approximately 19% stake in JD Logistics on a fully diluted basis upon the completion of the transaction and we have remained as the controlling shareholder of JD Logistics. Despite such arrangement and capital injection, JD Logistics may require additional capital resources due to further developments or changed business conditions. JD Logistics may seek to obtain a credit facility or sell additional equity or debt securities. The sale of additional equity securities could result in dilution of our equity stake in JD Logistics, and the investors may have a strategy or objective different from ours with respect to JD Logistics or impose conditions that could restrict the operations of JD Logistics. The incurrence of indebtedness would result in increased debt service obligations and could result in operating and financial covenants that would restrict its operations. It is uncertain whether financing will be available in amounts or on terms acceptable, if at all. In addition, JD Logistics may from time to time need to adjust certain elements of its operations in response to evolving economic conditions and business needs. For example, JD Logistics recently announced that it will make certain adjustments to the compensation structure of its warehouse and delivery personnel. These adjustments, however, may not be sufficient to allow JD Logistics to address the various challenges it faces or improve its results of operations and financial performance as expected. Furthermore, if the compensation package offered is not competitive in the market, JD Logistics may not be able to provide sufficient incentives to or maintain stable and dedicated warehousing, delivery and other labor support, which may result in disruption to or delay in its delivery services. Any failure to address these risks and uncertainties could materially and adversely affect JD Logistics’ results of operations and financial performance and its prospects of achieving profitability, which could have a material adverse impact on our business development, financial conditions and results of operations.

 

We also plan to continue to establish more fulfillment facilities in additional locations, including those smaller and less developed areas, to further enhance our ability to deliver products to customers directly ourselves. As we continue to add fulfillment and warehouse capability and expand our reach to those smaller, less-developed areas, our fulfillment network becomes increasingly complex and challenging to operate. We cannot assure you that we will be able to acquire land use rights and set up warehouses, or lease suitable facilities for the delivery stations, on commercially acceptable terms or at all. Moreover, the order density in those smaller, less developed areas may not be sufficient to allow us to operate our own delivery network in a cost-efficient manner. We may not be able to recruit a sufficient number of qualified employees in connection with the expansion of our fulfillment infrastructure. In addition, the expansion of our fulfillment infrastructure may strain our managerial, financial, operational and other resources. If we fail to manage such expansion successfully, our growth potential, business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. Even if we manage the expansion of our fulfillment infrastructure successfully, it may not give us the competitive advantage that we expect if improved third-party fulfillment services become widely available at reasonable prices to retailers in China.

 

We face intense competition. We may lose market share and customers if we fail to compete effectively.

 

The online retail industry in China is intensely competitive. We compete for customers, orders, and third-party sellers. Our current or potential competitors include major e-commerce companies in China that offer a wide range of general merchandise product categories, major traditional retailers in China that are moving into online retailing, major internet companies that have commenced online retail businesses, online retail companies in China focused on specific product categories, and physical retail stores including big-box stores that also aim to offer a one-stop shopping experience. See “Item 4.B. Information on the Company—Business Overview—Competition.” In addition, new and enhanced technologies may increase the competition in the online retail industry. New competitive business models may appear, for example based on new forms of social media or social commerce.

 

Increased competition may reduce our margins, market share and brand recognition, or result in significant losses. When we set prices, we have to consider how competitors have set prices for the same or similar products. When they cut prices or offer additional benefits to compete with us, we may have to lower our own prices or offer additional benefits or risk losing market share, either of which could harm our financial condition and results of operations.

 

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Some of our current or future competitors may have longer operating histories, greater brand recognition, better supplier relationships, larger customer bases or greater financial, technical or marketing resources than we do. Those smaller companies or new entrants may be acquired by, receive investment from or enter into strategic relationships with well-established and well-financed companies or investors which would help enhance their competitive positions. Some of our competitors may be able to secure more favorable terms from suppliers, devote greater resources to marketing and promotional campaigns, adopt more aggressive pricing or inventory policies and devote substantially more resources to their websites, mobile apps and systems development than us. We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete successfully against current or future competitors, and competitive pressures may have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our expansion into new product categories and substantial increase in the number of products may expose us to new challenges and more risks.

 

In recent years, we have expanded our product offerings to include a wide range of products including apparel and footwear, bags, jewelry, household goods, cosmetics, personal care products, baby and maternity products, food and beverages, fresh produce, fitness equipment, autoparts, nutritional supplements, and books and virtual goods. Expansion into diverse new product categories and substantially increased number of products involves new risks and challenges. Our lack of familiarity with these products and lack of relevant customer data relating to these products may make it more difficult for us to anticipate customer demand and preferences. We may misjudge customer demand, resulting in inventory buildup and possible inventory write-down. It may also make it more difficult for us to inspect and control quality and ensure proper handling, storage and delivery. We may experience higher return rates on new products, receive more customer complaints about them and face costly product liability claims as a result of selling them, which would harm our brand and reputation as well as our financial performance. Furthermore, we may not have much purchasing power in new categories of products and we may not be able to negotiate favorable terms with suppliers. We may need to price aggressively to gain market share or remain competitive in new categories. It may be difficult for us to achieve profitability in the new product categories and our profit margin, if any, may be lower than we anticipate, which would adversely affect our overall profitability and results of operations. We cannot assure you that we will be able to recoup our investments in introducing these new product categories.

 

If we fail to manage our inventory effectively, our results of operations, financial condition and liquidity may be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our scale and business model require us to manage a large volume of inventory effectively. We depend on our demand forecasts for various kinds of products to make purchase decisions and to manage our inventory. Demand for products, however, can change significantly between the time inventory is ordered and the date by which we hope to sell it. Demand may be affected by seasonality, new product launches, changes in product cycles and pricing, product defects, changes in consumer spending patterns, changes in consumer tastes with respect to our products and other factors, and our customers may not order products in the quantities that we expect. In addition, when we begin selling a new product, it may be difficult to establish supplier relationships, determine appropriate product selection, and accurately forecast demand. The acquisition of certain types of inventory may require significant lead time and prepayment, and they may not be returnable.

 

Our net inventories have increased significantly in recent periods, from RMB28,909 million as of December 31, 2016 to RMB41,700 million as of December 31, 2017 and further to RMB44,030 million (US$6,404 million) as of December 31, 2018. Our annual inventory turnover days were 37.6 days in 2016, 38.1 days in 2017 and 37.3 days in 2018. Annual inventory turnover days are the quotient of average inventory over five quarter ends to total cost of revenues and then multiplied by 360 days. As we plan to continue expanding our product offerings, we expect to include more products in our inventory, which will make it more challenging for us to manage our inventory effectively and will put more pressure on our warehousing system.

 

If we fail to manage our inventory effectively, we may be subject to a heightened risk of inventory obsolescence, a decline in inventory values, and significant inventory write-downs or write-offs. In addition, we may be required to lower sale prices in order to reduce inventory level, which may lead to lower gross margins. High inventory levels may also require us to commit substantial capital resources, preventing us from using that capital for other important purposes. Any of the above may materially and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.

 

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On the other hand, if we underestimate demand for our products, or if our suppliers fail to supply quality products in a timely manner, we may experience inventory shortages, which might result in missed sales, diminished brand loyalty and lost revenues, any of which could harm our business and reputation.

 

We may not be able to sustain our historical growth rates.

 

We have experienced rapid growth since we commenced our online retail business in 2004. However, there is no assurance that we will be able to maintain our historical growth rates in future periods. Our revenue growth may slow or our revenues may decline for any number of possible reasons, including decreasing consumer spending, increasing competition, slowing growth of the China retail or China online retail industry, fulfillment bottlenecks, emergence of alternative business models, changes in government policies or general economic conditions. If our growth rate declines, investors’ perceptions of our business and business prospects may be adversely affected and the market price of our ADSs could decline.

 

If we are unable to conduct our marketing activities cost-effectively, our results of operations and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We have incurred significant expenses on a variety of different marketing and brand promotion efforts designed to enhance our brand recognition and increase sales of our products. Our brand promotion and marketing activities may not be well received by customers and may not result in the levels of product sales that we anticipate. We incurred RMB10,159 million, RMB14,918 million and RMB19,237 million (US$2,798 million) of marketing expenses in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. Marketing approaches and tools in the consumer products market in China are evolving. This further requires us to enhance our marketing approaches and experiment with new marketing methods to keep pace with industry developments and customer preferences. Failure to refine our existing marketing approaches or to introduce new marketing approaches in a cost-effective manner could reduce our market share, cause our net revenues to decline and negatively impact our profitability.

 

If we fail to manage and expand our relationships with suppliers, or otherwise fail to procure products at favorable terms, our business and growth prospects may suffer.

 

We source products from third-party suppliers for our direct sales business. We had over 19,000 suppliers as of December 31, 2018. Our suppliers include manufacturers, distributors and resellers. Maintaining strong relationships with these suppliers is important to the growth of our business. In particular, we depend significantly on our ability to procure products from suppliers on favorable pricing terms. We typically enter into one-year framework agreements with suppliers on an annual basis, and these framework agreements do not ensure the availability of products or the continuation of particular pricing practices or payment terms beyond the end of the contractual term. In addition, our agreements with suppliers typically do not restrict the suppliers from selling products to other buyers. We cannot assure you that our current suppliers will continue to sell products to us on commercially acceptable terms, or at all, after the term of the current agreement expires. Even if we maintain good relationships with our suppliers, their ability to supply products to us in sufficient quantity and at competitive prices may be adversely affected by economic conditions, labor actions, regulatory or legal decisions, natural disasters or other causes. In the event that we are not able to purchase merchandise at favorable prices, our revenues and cost of revenues may be materially and adversely affected. In the event any distributor or reseller does not have authority from the relevant manufacturer to sell certain products to us, such distributor or reseller may cease selling such products to us at any time. In addition, our annual accounts payable turnover days for direct sales business were 52.0 days in 2016, 59.1 days in 2017 and 58.1 days in 2018. Annual accounts payable turnover days are the quotient of average accounts payable for direct sales business over five quarter ends to total cost of revenues and then multiplied by 360 days. If our suppliers cease to provide us with favorable payment terms, our requirements for working capital may increase and our operations may be materially and adversely affected. We will also need to establish new supplier relationships to ensure that we have access to a steady supply of products on favorable commercial terms. If we are unable to develop and maintain good relationships with suppliers that would allow us to obtain a sufficient amount and variety of authentic and quality merchandise on acceptable commercial terms, it may inhibit our ability to offer sufficient products sought by our customers, or to offer these products at competitive prices. Any adverse developments in our relationships with suppliers could materially and adversely affect our business and growth prospects. In addition, as part of our growth strategy, we plan to further expand our product offerings. If we fail to attract new suppliers to sell their products to us due to any reason, our business and growth prospects may be materially and adversely affected.

 

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Any interruption in the operation of our regional fulfillment centers, front distribution centers, other additional warehouses, delivery stations or pickup stations for an extended period may have an adverse impact on our business.

 

Our ability to process and fulfill orders accurately and provide high-quality customer service depends on the smooth operation of our regional fulfillment centers, front distribution centers, other additional warehouses, and our delivery and pickup stations. Our fulfillment infrastructure may be vulnerable to damage caused by fire, flood, power outage, telecommunications failure, break-ins, earthquake, human error and other events. If any of our regional fulfillment centers were rendered incapable of operations, then we may be unable to fulfill any orders in any of the provinces that rely on that center. In addition, those events that could damage our fulfillment infrastructure, such as fire and flood, may also result in damages to our inventory stored in or delivered through our fulfillment infrastructure, and in such event, we would incur losses as a result. We do not carry business interruption insurance other than in connection with the fixed business premises of our 7FRESH business, and the occurrence of any of the foregoing risks could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may not be able to recoup the investments we make to expand and upgrade our fulfillment and technology capabilities.

 

We have invested significant resources in expanding and will continue to expand our fulfillment infrastructure and upgrade our technology platform. In connection with our expansion of our fulfillment infrastructure, we had paid an aggregate of approximately RMB14.2 billion (US$2.1 billion) for the acquisition of land use rights, building of warehouses and purchase of warehousing equipment as of December 31, 2018. We also paid significant amounts for upgrading our technology platform during the same periods. We expect to continue to invest in our fulfillment and technology capabilities for a number of years. We also intend to continue to add resources to our fulfillment infrastructure and upgrade our technology platform as we focus on expanding our product selection and offering new services. We are likely to recognize the costs associated with these investments earlier than some of the anticipated benefits, and the return on these investments may be lower, or may develop more slowly, than we expect. We may not be able to recover our capital expenditures or investments, in part or in full, or the recovery of these capital expenditures or investments may take longer than expected. As a result, the carrying value of the related assets may be subject to an impairment charge, which could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operation.

 

Moreover, our heavy investment in building our own fulfillment infrastructure may put us at a competitive disadvantage against those competitors who primarily rely on third-party fulfillment services and focus their investment on improving other aspects of their businesses. We have designed our own fulfillment infrastructure to satisfy our business and operation requirements and to accommodate our fast growth, but there is no guarantee that we will be successful in meeting our objectives or that our own fulfillment structure will function more effectively and efficiently than third-party solutions.

 

We use third-party couriers to deliver some orders, and our third-party sellers use couriers to deliver a significant number of orders. If these couriers fail to provide reliable delivery services, our business and reputation may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We maintain cooperation arrangements with a number of third-party couriers to deliver our products to our customers in those areas not covered by our own fulfillment infrastructure, particularly in smaller and less developed areas. We may also use third-party service providers to ship products from our regional fulfillment centers or front distribution centers to delivery stations or to deliver bulky item products. Third-party sellers also use third-party couriers if they do not make use of our delivery services. Interruptions to or failures in these third parties’ delivery services could prevent the timely or proper delivery of our products to customers. These interruptions may be due to events that are beyond our control or the control of these delivery companies, such as inclement weather, natural disasters, transportation disruptions or labor unrest. In addition, if our third-party couriers fail to comply with applicable rules and regulations in China, our delivery services may be materially and adversely affected. We may not be able to find alternative delivery companies to provide delivery services in a timely and reliable manner, or at all. Delivery of our products could also be affected or interrupted by the merger, acquisition, insolvency or government shut-down of the delivery companies we engage to make deliveries, especially those local companies with relatively small business scales. If our products are not delivered in proper condition or on a timely basis, our business and reputation could suffer.

 

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Our online marketplace is subject to risks associated with third-party sellers.

 

As of December 31, 2018, there were over 210,000 third-party sellers on our online marketplace. We do not have as much control over the storage and delivery of products sold on our online marketplace as we do over the products that we sell directly ourselves. Many of our third-party sellers use their own facilities to store their products, and many of them use their own or third-party delivery systems to deliver their products to our customers, which makes it more difficult for us to ensure that our customers get the same high quality service for all products sold on our websites and mobile apps. If any third-party seller does not control the quality of the products that it sells on our websites and mobile apps, or if it does not deliver the products or delivers them late or delivers products that are materially different from its description of them, or if it sells counterfeit or unlicensed products on our websites and mobile apps, or if it sells certain products without licenses or permits as required by the relevant laws and regulations even though we have requested such licenses or permits in our standard form contract with the third-party seller, the reputation of our online marketplace and our JD brand may be materially and adversely affected and we could face claims that we should be held liable for any losses. In 2016, we completely closed down the website of Paipai.com. The shut-down of the Paipai C2C platform is in line with our policy to combat the marketing and sale of counterfeit products. Moreover, despite our efforts to prevent it, some products sold on our online marketplace may compete with the products we sell directly, which may cannibalize our online direct sales. In addition, the supplier relationships, customer acquisition dynamics and other requirements for our online marketplace may not be the same as those for our online direct sales operations, which may complicate the management of our business. In order for our online marketplace to be successful, we must continue to identify and attract third-party sellers, and we may not be successful in this regard.

 

Failure to deal effectively with any fictitious transactions or other fraudulent conduct that take place on our online marketplace would materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may face risks with respect to fraudulent activities on our online marketplace. Although we have implemented various measures to detect and reduce the occurrence of fraudulent activities on our marketplace, there can be no assurance that such measures will be effective in combating fraudulent transactions or improving overall satisfaction among third-party sellers and customers. In addition to fraudulent transactions with legitimate customers, sellers may also engage in fictitious or “phantom” transactions with themselves or collaborators in order to artificially inflate their own ratings on our online marketplace, reputation and search results rankings. This activity may harm other sellers by enabling the perpetrating seller to be favored over legitimate sellers, and may harm our customers by deceiving them into believing that a seller is more reliable or trusted than the seller actually is. This activity may also result in inflated GMV from our online marketplace. Moreover, illegal, fraudulent or collusive activities by our employees could also subject us to liability or negative publicity. Although we have internal controls and policies with regard to the review and approval of sales activities and other relevant matters, we cannot assure you that such controls and policies will prevent fraud or illegal activity by our employees. Negative publicity and user sentiment generated as a result of actual or alleged fraudulent or deceptive conduct on our platform or by our employees would severely diminish consumer confidence in us, reduce our ability to attract new or retain current third-party sellers and customers, damage our reputation and diminish the value of our brand names, and materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Strategic alliances, investments or acquisitions may have a material and adverse effect on our business, reputation, results of operations and financial condition.

 

We may enter into strategic alliances with various third parties to further our business purposes from time to time. Strategic alliances with third parties could subject us to a number of risks, including risks associated with sharing proprietary information, non-performance by the counterparty, and an increase in expenses incurred in establishing new strategic alliances, any of which may materially and adversely affect our business. We may have little ability to control or monitor their actions. To the extent the third parties suffer negative publicity or harm to their reputations from events relating to their business, we may also suffer negative publicity or harm to our reputation by virtue of our association with such third parties.

 

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In addition, we have in the past invested in or acquired additional assets, technologies or businesses that are complementary to our existing business, such as our investments in Bitauto Holdings Limited, or Bitauto, an NYSE-listed provider of internet content and marketing services for China’s fast-growing automotive industry, Yixin Group Limited, or Yixin, a HKEx-listed company that operates a leading online automobile retail transaction platform and subsidiary of Bitauto, and Dada Nexus Limited, or Dada, China’s largest crowdsourcing delivery company, our acquisition of Yihaodian marketplace platform assets from Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., or Walmart, an NYSE-listed company, including the Yihaodian brand, websites and mobile apps, and our investments in Yonghui Superstores Co., Ltd, or Yonghui, a company listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and a leading hypermarket and supermarket operator in China, Farfetch.com Limited, or Farfetch, an NYSE-listed leading global e-commerce platform for the fashion industry, China United Network Communications Limited, or China Unicom, a company listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and a Chinese telecommunications operator, Vipshop Holdings Limited, or Vipshop, an NYSE-listed online discount retailer for brands in China, and Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties Co., Ltd., or Wanda Commercial Properties, a leading developer, owner and operator of commercial properties in China. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—A. History and Development of the Company—Our Major Investments.”

 

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If we are presented with appropriate opportunities, we may continue to do so in the future. Investments or acquisitions and the subsequent integration of new assets and businesses into our own would require significant attention from our management and could result in a diversion of resources from our existing business, which in turn could have an adverse effect on our business operations. The costs of identifying and consummating investments and acquisitions may be significant. We may also incur significant expenses in obtaining necessary approvals from relevant government authorities in China and elsewhere in the world. In addition, investments and acquisitions could result in the use of substantial amounts of cash, potentially dilutive issuances of equity securities and exposure to potential unknown liabilities of the acquired business. The cost and duration of integrating newly acquired businesses could also materially exceed our expectations. Any such negative developments could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our financial results could be adversely affected by our investments or acquisitions. The investments and acquired assets or businesses may not generate the financial results we expect. They could result in occurrence of significant investments and goodwill impairment charges, and amortization expenses for other intangible assets. Moreover, we share the results of the investments which we account for as equity method investments, although we have no control on the factors and risks that affect their business, results of operations and financial condition. In 2018, our share of results of equity investees was a loss of RMB1.1 billion (US$0.2 billion), primarily attributable to losses picked up from our equity method investments. If the investments that we account for using the equity method were in a loss position, we would pick up their loss in our consolidated statement of operations. When our share of losses in the equity investees equals or exceeds our interest in the equity investees, we do not recognize further losses, unless we have incurred obligations or made payments or guarantees on behalf of the equity investees. We may continue to incur impairment charges in connection with our investments or acquisitions and pick up the losses by our equity investments, which could depress our profitability and have a material adverse impact on our financial results. In addition, changes in accounting principles relating to recognition and measurement of our investments may have a significant impact on our financial results. For instance, in January 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, or the FASB, issued ASU 2016-01, “Financial Instruments — Overall (Subtopic 825-10) — Recognition and Measurement of Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities.” ASU 2016-01 amends various aspects of the recognition, measurement, presentation, and disclosure for financial instruments. With the adoption of ASU 2016-01 beginning January 1, 2018, we measure long-term investments other than equity method investments at fair value through earnings, which could vary significantly quarter to quarter. For investments without readily determinable fair values, we elect to record these investments at cost, less impairment, and plus or minus subsequent adjustments for observable price changes. The adoption of ASU 2016-01 has had a significant impact on our earnings, and we recorded a loss of RMB1.5 billion (US$0.2 billion) resulting from the fair value change in long-term investments in 2018.

 

Uncertainties relating to the growth and profitability of the retail industry in China in general, and the online retail industry in particular, could adversely affect our revenues and business prospects.

 

We generate the majority of our revenues from online retail. While online retail has existed in China since the 1990s, only recently have certain large online retail companies become profitable. The long-term viability and prospects of various online retail business models in China remain relatively untested. Our future results of operations will depend on numerous factors affecting the development of the online retail industry in China, which may be beyond our control. These factors include:

 

·                  the growth of internet, broadband, personal computer and mobile penetration and usage in China, and the rate of any such growth;

 

·                  the trust and confidence level of online retail consumers in China, as well as changes in customer demographics and consumer tastes and preferences;

 

·                  the selection, price and popularity of products that we and our competitors offer online;

 

·                  whether alternative retail channels or business models that better address the needs of consumers emerge in China; and

 

·                  the development of fulfillment, payment and other ancillary services associated with online purchases.

 

A decline in the popularity of online shopping in general, or any failure by us to adapt our websites and mobile apps and to improve the online shopping experience of our customers in response to trends and consumer requirements, may adversely affect our net revenues and business prospects.

 

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Furthermore, the retail industry is very sensitive to macroeconomic changes, and retail purchases tend to decline during recessionary periods. The majority of our net revenues are derived from retail sales in China. Many factors outside of our control, including inflation and deflation, currency exchange rate fluctuation, volatility of stock and property markets, interest rates, tax rates and other government policies and unemployment rates can adversely affect consumer confidence and spending, which could in turn materially and adversely affect our growth and profitability. Unfavorable developments in domestic and international politics, including military conflicts, political turmoil and social instability, may also adversely affect consumer confidence and reduce spending, which could in turn materially and adversely affect our growth and profitability.

 

Our success depends on the continuing and collaborative efforts of our management team, and our business may be severely disrupted if we lose their services.

 

Our success heavily depends upon the continued services of our management. In particular, we rely on the expertise and experience of Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu, our chairman and chief executive officer, and other executive officers. If one or more of our senior management were unable or unwilling to continue in their present positions, we might not be able to replace them easily or at all, and our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. If any of our senior management joins a competitor or forms a competing business, we may lose customers, suppliers, know-how and key professionals and staff members. Our senior management has entered into employment agreements and confidentiality and non-competition agreements with us. However, if any dispute arises between our officers and us, we may have to incur substantial costs and expenses in order to enforce such agreements in China or we may be unable to enforce them at all. In addition, we do not have key-man insurance for any of our executive officers or other key personnel. Events or activities attributed to our executive officers or other key personnel, and related publicity, whether or not justified, may affect their ability or willingness to continue to serve our company or dedicate their full time and efforts to our company, resulting in an adverse effect on our business, operating results and financial condition.

 

If we are unable to recruit, train and retain qualified personnel or sufficient workforce while controlling our labor costs, our business may be materially and adversely affected.

 

We intend to hire additional qualified employees to support our business operations and planned expansion. Our future success depends, to a significant extent, on our ability to recruit, train and retain qualified personnel, particularly technical, fulfillment, marketing and other operational personnel with experience in the online retail industry. Our experienced mid-level managers are instrumental in implementing our business strategies, executing our business plans and supporting our business operations and growth. The effective operation of our managerial and operating systems, fulfillment infrastructure, customer service center and other back office functions also depends on the hard work and quality performance of our management and employees. Since our industry is characterized by high demand and intense competition for talent and labor, we can provide no assurance that we will be able to attract or retain qualified staff or other highly skilled employees that we will need to achieve our strategic objectives. Our fulfillment infrastructure is labor intensive and requires a substantial number of blue-collar workers, and these positions tend to have higher than average turnover. As of December 31, 2018, we employed a total of 124,277 warehouse and delivery personnel. We have observed an overall tightening of the labor market and an emerging trend of shortage of labor supply. Failure to obtain stable and dedicated warehousing, delivery and other labor support may lead to underperformance of these functions and cause disruption to our business. Labor costs in China have increased with China’s economic development, particularly in the large cities where we operate our regional fulfillment centers and more generally in the urban areas where we maintain our delivery and pickup stations. Because we operate our own fulfillment infrastructure, which requires a large and rapidly growing work force, our cost structure is more vulnerable to labor costs than that of many of our competitors, which may put us at a competitive disadvantage. Therefore, to maintain and enhance our competitiveness, we may from time to time need to adjust certain elements of our operations in response to evolving economic conditions and business needs. For example, JD Logistics recently announced that it will make certain adjustments to the compensation structure of its warehouse and delivery personnel. These adjustments, however, may not be sufficient to allow JD Logistics to address the various challenges it faces or improve its results of operations and financial performance as expected. Furthermore, if the compensation package offered is not competitive in the market, JD Logistics may not be able to provide sufficient incentives to or maintain stable and dedicated warehousing, delivery and other labor support. Any failure to address these risks and uncertainties could materially and adversely affect JD Logistics’ results of operations and financial performance and its prospects of achieving profitability, which could have a material adverse impact on our business development, financial conditions and results of operations. In addition, our ability to train and integrate new employees into our operations may also be limited and may not meet the demand for our business growth on a timely fashion, or at all, and rapid expansion may impair our ability to maintain our corporate culture.

 

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We may incur liability or become subject to administrative penalties for counterfeit or unauthorized products sold on our websites and mobile apps, or for products sold on our websites and mobile apps or content posted on our websites and mobile apps that infringe on third-party intellectual property rights, or for other misconduct.

 

We sourced our products from over 19,000 suppliers as of December 31, 2018. Third-party sellers on our online marketplace are separately responsible for sourcing the products they sell on our websites and mobile apps. As of December 31, 2018, we had over 210,000 third-party sellers on our online marketplace. Although we have adopted measures to verify the authenticity and authorization of products sold on our websites and mobile apps and avoid potential infringement of third-party intellectual property rights in the course of sourcing and selling products, we may not always be successful. As part of our cross-border e-commerce business, we source products outside of China and allow overseas brands or partners to sell their products through our online marketplace, which could make it more difficult for us to verify the authenticity and authorization of products sold.

 

In the event that counterfeit, unauthorized or infringing products are sold on our websites and mobile apps or infringing content is posted on our websites and mobile apps, we could face claims that we should be held liable. We have in the past received claims alleging our infringement of third parties’ rights. Irrespective of the validity of such claims, we could incur significant costs and efforts in either defending against or settling such claims. If there is a successful claim against us, we might be required to pay substantial damages or refrain from further sale of the relevant products. Potential liability under PRC law if we negligently participated or assisted in infringement activities associated with counterfeit goods includes injunctions to cease infringing activities, rectification, compensation, administrative penalties and even criminal liability. Moreover, such third-party claims or administrative penalties could result in negative publicity and our reputation could be severely damaged. Any of these events could have a material and adverse effect on our business, results of operations or financial condition.

 

Under our standard form agreements, we require suppliers or third-party sellers to indemnify us for any losses we suffer or any costs that we incur due to any products we source from these suppliers or any products sold by these third-party sellers. However, not all of our agreements with suppliers and third-party sellers have such terms, and for those agreements that have such terms, we may not be able to successfully enforce our contractual rights and may need to initiate costly and lengthy legal proceedings in China to protect our rights. See “—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—We may be adversely affected by the complexity, uncertainties and changes in PRC regulation of internet-related business and companies.”

 

We may be subject to product liability claims if people or properties are harmed by the products we sell.

 

We sell products manufactured by third parties, some of which may be defectively designed or manufactured. As a result, sales of such products could expose us to product liability claims relating to personal injury or property damage and may require product recalls or other actions. Third parties subject to such injury or damage may bring claims or legal proceedings against us as the retailer of the product. Although we would have legal recourse against the manufacturer of such products under PRC law, attempting to enforce our rights against the manufacturer may be expensive, time-consuming and ultimately futile. In addition, we do not currently maintain any third-party liability insurance or product liability insurance in relation to products we sell. As a result, any material product liability claim or litigation could have a material and adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations. Even unsuccessful claims could result in the expenditure of funds and managerial efforts in defending them and could have a negative impact on our reputation.

 

The proper functioning of our technology platform is essential to our business. Any failure to maintain the satisfactory performance of our websites, mobile apps and systems could materially and adversely affect our business and reputation.

 

The satisfactory performance, reliability and availability of our technology platform are critical to our success and our ability to attract and retain customers and provide quality customer service. Almost all of our sales of products are made online through our websites and mobile apps, and the fulfillment services we provide to third-party sellers are related to sales of their products through our websites and mobile apps. Any system interruptions caused by telecommunications failures, computer viruses, hacking or other attempts to harm our systems that result in the unavailability or slowdown of our websites or reduced order fulfillment performance could reduce the volume of products sold and the attractiveness of product offerings on our websites and mobile apps. Our servers may also be vulnerable to computer viruses, physical or electronic break-ins and similar disruptions, which could lead to system interruptions, website slowdown or unavailability, delays or errors in transaction processing, loss of data or the inability to accept and fulfill customer orders. Security breaches, computer viruses and hacking attacks have become more prevalent in our industry. Because of our brand recognition in the online retail industry in China, we believe we are a particularly attractive target for such attacks. We have experienced in the past, and may experience in the future, such attacks and unexpected interruptions. We can provide no assurance that our current security mechanisms will be sufficient to protect our IT systems from any third-party intrusions, viruses or hacker attacks, information or data theft or other similar activities. Any such future occurrences could reduce customer satisfaction, damage our reputation and result in a material decrease in our revenue.

 

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Additionally, we must continue to upgrade and improve our technology platform to support our business growth, and failure to do so could impede our growth. However, we cannot assure you that we will be successful in executing these system upgrades and improvement strategies. In particular, our systems may experience interruptions during upgrades, and the new technologies or infrastructures may not be fully integrated with the existing systems on a timely basis, or at all. In addition, we experience surges in online traffic and orders associated with promotional activities and holiday seasons, such as June 18 and November 11, which can put additional demands on our technology platform at specific times. If our existing or future technology platform does not function properly, it could cause system disruptions and slow response times, affecting data transmission, which in turn could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Any deficiencies in China’s internet infrastructure could impair our ability to sell products over our websites and mobile apps, which could cause us to lose customers and harm our operating results.

 

Almost all of our sales of products are made online through our websites and mobile apps, and the fulfillment services we provide to third-party sellers are related to sales of their products through our websites and mobile apps. Our business depends on the performance and reliability of the internet infrastructure in China. The availability of our websites and mobile apps depends on telecommunications carriers and other third-party providers for communications and storage capacity, including bandwidth and server storage, among other things. If we are unable to enter into and renew agreements with these providers on acceptable terms, or if any of our existing agreements with such providers are terminated as a result of our breach or otherwise, our ability to provide our services to our customers could be adversely affected. Almost all access to the internet in China is maintained through state-owned telecommunication carriers under administrative control, and we obtain access to end-user networks operated by such telecommunications carriers and internet service providers to give customers access to our websites and mobile apps. We have experienced service interruptions in the past, which were typically caused by service interruptions at the underlying external telecommunications service providers, such as the internet data centers and broadband carriers from which we receive services. Service interruptions prevent consumers from accessing our websites and mobile apps and placing orders, and frequent interruptions could frustrate customers and discourage them from attempting to place orders, which could cause us to lose customers and harm our operating results.

 

If we fail to adopt new technologies or adapt our websites, mobile apps and systems to changing customer requirements or emerging industry standards, or if our efforts to invest in the development of new technologies are unsuccessful, our business may be materially and adversely affected.

 

To remain competitive, we must continue to enhance and improve the responsiveness, functionality and features of our websites and mobile apps. The internet and the online retail industry are characterized by rapid technological evolution, changes in customer requirements and preferences, frequent introductions of new products and services embodying new technologies and the emergence of new industry standards and practices, any of which could render our existing technologies and systems obsolete. Our success will depend, in part, on our ability to identify, develop, acquire or license leading technologies useful in our business, and respond to technological advances and emerging industry standards and practices, such as mobile internet, in a cost-effective and timely way. In recent years, we invested in the development of many new technologies and business initiatives, such as AI, big data and cloud. The development of websites, mobile apps and other proprietary technologies entails significant technical and business risks. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully develop or effectively use new technologies, recoup the costs of developing new technologies or adapt our websites, mobile apps, proprietary technologies and systems to meet customer requirements or emerging industry standards. If we are unable to develop technologies successfully or adapt in a cost-effective and timely manner in response to changing market conditions or customer requirements, whether for technical, legal, financial or other reasons, our business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

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Customer growth and activity on mobile devices depends upon effective use of mobile operating systems, networks and standards that we do not control.

 

Purchases using mobile devices by consumers generally, and by our customers specifically, have increased significantly, and we expect this trend to continue. To optimize the mobile shopping experience, we are somewhat dependent on our customers downloading our specific mobile apps for their particular devices as opposed to accessing our sites from an internet browser on their mobile device. As new mobile devices and platforms are released, it is difficult to predict the problems we may encounter in developing applications for these alternative devices and platforms, and we may need to devote significant resources to the development, support and maintenance of such applications. In addition, our future growth and our results of operations could suffer if we experience difficulties in the future in integrating our mobile apps into mobile devices or if problems arise with our relationships with providers of mobile operating systems or mobile app download stores, if our apps receive unfavorable treatment compared to competing apps on the download stores, or if we face increased costs to distribute or have customers use our mobile apps. We are further dependent on the interoperability of our sites with popular mobile operating systems that we do not control, such as iOS and Android, and any changes in such systems that degrade the functionality of our sites or give preferential treatment to competitive products could adversely affect the usage of our sites on mobile devices. In the event that it is more difficult for our customers to access and use our sites on their mobile devices, or if our customers choose not to access or to use our sites on their mobile devices or to use mobile products that do not offer access to our sites, our customer growth could be harmed and our business, financial condition and operating results may be adversely affected.

 

Failure to protect confidential information of our customers and network against security breaches could damage our reputation and brand and substantially harm our business and results of operations.

 

A significant challenge to the online retail industry is the secure storage of confidential information and its secure transmission over public networks. Almost all of the orders and some of the payments for products we offer are made through our websites and our mobile apps. In addition, some online payments for our products are settled through third-party online payment services. We also share certain personal information about our customers with contracted third-party couriers, such as their names, addresses, phone numbers and transaction records. In addition, with the rapid development of our AI, big data and cloud technologies and services, we have accumulated a large volume of data, which covers customer’s browsing and consumption behavior information, product manufacturing and sales information, warehousing and distribution information, customer service information, among others. We also formed strategic partnerships with some leading mobile internet companies to leverage their powerful big data resources, massive user bases and AI-driven technologies. Maintaining complete security for the storage and transmission of confidential information on our technology platform is essential to maintaining our operating efficiency and customer confidence as well as complying with the applicable laws and standards.

 

We have adopted security policies and measures, including encryption technology, to protect our proprietary data and customer information. However, advances in technology, the expertise of hackers, improper use or sharing of data, new discoveries in the field of cryptography or other events or developments could result in a compromise or breach of the technology that we use to protect confidential information. We may not be able to prevent third parties, especially hackers or other individuals or entities engaging in similar activities, from illegally obtaining such confidential or private information we hold as a result of our customers’ visits to our websites and use of our mobile apps. Such individuals or entities obtaining our customers’ confidential or private information may further engage in various other illegal activities using such information. In addition, we have limited control or influence over the security policies or measures adopted by business partners including strategic partners or third-party providers of online payment services through which some of our customers may choose to make payment for purchases. The contracted third-party couriers we use may also violate their confidentiality obligations and disclose or use information about our customers illegally. Any negative publicity on our websites’ or mobile apps’ safety or privacy protection mechanisms and policies, and any claims asserted against us or fines imposed upon us as a result of actual or perceived failures, could have a material and adverse effect on our public image, reputation, financial condition and results of operations. We have experienced breaches of our information security measures in the past due to external causes beyond our control, such as a leak of user account information from the China Software Developer Network (CSDN) in 2011, although none of the past breaches individually or in the aggregate was material to our business or operations. We cannot assure you that similar events will not occur in the future. If we give third parties greater access to our technology platform in the future as part of providing more technology services to third-party sellers and others, it may become more challenging for us to ensure the security of our systems. Any compromise of our information security or the information security measures of our contracted third-party couriers or third-party online payment service providers or other business partners could have a material and adverse effect on our reputation, business, prospects, financial condition and results of operations. Practices regarding the collection, use, storage, transmission and security of personal information by companies operating over the internet and mobile platforms are under increased public scrutiny. As online retail industry and AI technology continue to evolve, we believe that increased regulation by the PRC government of data privacy on the internet is likely. We may become subject to new laws and regulations applying to the solicitation, collection, processing or use of personal or consumer information that could affect how we store, process and share data with our customers, suppliers and third-party sellers. For example, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine and Standardization Administration jointly issued the Standard of Information Security Technology—Personal Information Security Specification, which came into effect in May 2018. Pursuant to this new standard, the personal data controller refers to entities or persons who are authorized to determine the purposes and methods for using and processing personal information. The personal data controller should collect information in accordance with the principles of legality and minimization and should also obtain a consent from the information provider. In addition, we may need to comply with increasingly complex and rigorous regulatory standards enacted to protect business and personal data in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere. For example, the European Union adopted the General Data Protection Regulation, or the GDPR, which became effective on May 25, 2018. The GDPR imposes additional obligations on companies regarding the handling of personal data and provides certain individual privacy rights to persons whose data is stored. Compliance with existing, proposed and recently enacted laws (including implementation of the privacy and process enhancements called for under GDPR) and regulations can be costly; any failure to comply with these regulatory standards could subject us to legal and reputational risks.

 

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We generally comply with industry standards and are subject to the terms of our own privacy policies. Compliance with any additional laws could be expensive, and may place restrictions on the conduct of our business and the manner in which we interact with our customers. Any failure to comply with applicable regulations could also result in regulatory enforcement actions against us, and misuse of or failure to secure personal information could also result in violation of data privacy laws and regulations, proceedings against us by governmental authorities or other authorities, damage to our reputation and credibility and could have a negative impact on revenues and profits.

 

Significant capital and other resources may be required to protect against information security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by such breaches or to comply with our privacy policies or privacy-related legal obligations. The resources required may increase over time as the methods used by hackers and others engaged in online criminal activities are increasingly sophisticated and constantly evolving. Any failure or perceived failure by us to prevent information security breaches or to comply with privacy policies or privacy-related legal obligations, or any compromise of security that results in the unauthorized release or transfer of personally identifiable information or other customer data, could cause our customers to lose trust in us and could expose us to legal claims. Any perception by the public that online transactions or the privacy of user information are becoming increasingly unsafe or vulnerable to attacks could inhibit the growth of online retail and other online services generally, which may reduce the number of orders we receive.

 

The wide variety of payment methods that we accept subjects us to third-party payment processing-related risks.

 

We accept payments using a variety of methods, including payment on delivery, bank transfers, online payments through various third-party online payment platforms such as Weixin Pay, JD Pay and UnionPay. For certain payment methods, we pay interchange and other fees, which may increase over time and raise our operating costs and lower our profit margins. We may also be subject to fraud and other illegal activities in connection with the various payment methods we offer, including online payment and cash on delivery options. Although we deliver a majority of the orders directly to customers ourselves, we use contracted third-party couriers to service areas that are not directly covered by our delivery network. Given that customers place their orders online but often choose the cash-on-delivery option, the delivery personnel of our contracted third-party couriers collect payments on our behalf, and we require the contracted third-party couriers to remit the payment collected to us on the following day. If these companies fail to remit the payment collected to us in a timely fashion or at all, if they become unwilling or unable to provide these services to us, or if their service quality deteriorates, our business could be disrupted. We are also subject to various rules, regulations and requirements, regulatory or otherwise, governing electronic funds transfers, which could change or be reinterpreted to make it difficult or impossible for us to comply. If we fail to comply with these rules or requirements, we may be subject to fines and higher transaction fees and lose our ability to accept credit and debit card payments from our customers, process electronic funds transfers or facilitate other types of online payments, and our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

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Our delivery, return and exchange policies may materially and adversely affect our results of operations.

 

We have adopted shipping policies that do not necessarily pass the full cost of shipping on to our customers. We also have adopted customer-friendly return and exchange policies that make it convenient and easy for customers to change their minds after completing purchases. We may also be required by law to adopt new or amend existing return and exchange policies from time to time. For example, pursuant to the amended Consumer Protection Law, which became effective in March 2014, except for certain types of products, such as custom-made goods, fresh and perishable goods, consumers are generally entitled to return the products purchased within seven days upon receipt without giving any reasons when they purchase the products from business operators on the internet. See “Item 4.B. Information on the Company—Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations Relating to Product Quality and Consumer Protection.” These policies improve customers’ shopping experience and promote customer loyalty, which in turn help us acquire and retain customers. However, these policies also subject us to additional costs and expenses which we may not recoup through increased revenue. Our ability to handle a large volume of returns is unproven. If our return and exchange policy is misused by a significant number of customers, our costs may increase significantly and our results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. If we revise these policies to reduce our costs and expenses, our customers may be dissatisfied, which may result in loss of existing customers or failure to acquire new customers at a desirable pace, which may materially and adversely affect our results of operations.

 

The offline fresh food markets operated under our 7FRESH brand rely heavily on sales of perishable products, and ordering errors or product supply disruptions may have an adverse impact on the profitability and operating results.

 

Our offline fresh food markets rely on various suppliers and vendors to provide and deliver our perishable product inventory promptly on an ongoing basis. We could suffer significant product inventory losses in the event of the loss of a major supplier or vendor, disruption of our distribution network, extended power outages, natural disasters or other catastrophic occurrences. We have implemented certain systems to ensure our ordering is in line with demand. We cannot assure you, however, that our ordering system will always work efficiently, in particular in connection with the opening of new stores, which have no, or a limited, ordering history. If we were to over-order, we could suffer inventory losses, which would negatively impact our operating results.

 

We may experience negative impact on our reputation due to real or perceived quality or health issues with the food products sold at our offline fresh food markets, which could have an adverse impact on our operating results.

 

Customers of our offline fresh food markets expect us to provide them with fresh, high-quality food products. Concerns regarding the safety of our food products or the safety and quality of our food supply chain could cause shoppers to avoid purchasing certain products from us, or to seek alternative sources of food, even if the basis for the concern is outside of our control. Negative publicity about these concerns, whether or not ultimately based on facts, and whether or not involving products sold at our stores, could discourage consumers from buying our products and have an adverse impact on our operating results. Furthermore, sales of food products entails inherent risks of product liability claims, product recall and the resulting negative publicity. Food products containing contaminants could be inadvertently distributed by us and, if processing by the consumers level does not eliminate them, these contaminants could result in illness or death. We cannot assure you that product liability claims will not be asserted against us or that we will not be obligated to perform product recalls or held liable in the future.

 

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Any loss in confidence on the part of our customers would be difficult and costly to reestablish. Any such adverse impact could be exacerbated by our position in the market as a purveyor of fresh, high-quality food products and could significantly reduce our brand value. Issues regarding the safety of any food items sold by us, regardless of the cause, could have a material and adverse impact on our sales and operating results.

 

If JD Digits is unable to successfully manage its business or conflicts that could arise between us and JD Digits are not resolved in our favor, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects could be materially and adversely affected as a result.

 

As of June 30, 2017, JD Digits was deconsolidated from our company as a result of the reorganization of JD Digits. After the reorganization, we do not have legal ownership or effective control of JD Digits. Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu, our chairman and chief executive officer, has a majority of the voting interests in JD Digits through his equity stake and voting arrangements. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—A. History and Development of the Company” and “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions—Agreements and Transactions Relating to JD Digits” for further information.

 

JD Digits currently provides us with certain payment services on a non-exclusive basis and may provide additional services to us in the future. If JD Digits will not be able to successfully manage its risks such as credit risks, its ability to continue to deliver payment and other services to us may be undermined. In such event, JD Digits might seek to amend the terms of its agreements and arrangements with us, which could potentially result in a conflict of interest. Other conflicts of interest between us and JD Digits may arise relating to commercial or strategic opportunities or initiatives. Although we and JD Digits have each agreed to certain non-competition undertakings after the reorganization, we cannot assure you that JD Digits would not pursue opportunities to provide services to our competitors or other opportunities that would conflict with our interests. If JD Digits is unable to successfully manage its business or conflicts of interest that could arise between us and JD Digits are not resolved in our favor, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospectus could be materially and adversely affected.

 

In addition, we continue to license certain of our intellectual properties, including our “JD” brand and related trademarks and domain names, to JD Digits in exchange for the right to receive a portion of the pre-tax profit of JD Digits, subject to certain conditions and potential proportional dilution as a result of any future equity financings and ESOP pool increases of JD Digits. While we do not control JD Digits, because of JD Digits’s ability to continue to use our brand, our close association with JD Digits and overlapping user base, events that negatively affect JD Digits, for example, alleged engagement in inappropriate activities, involvement in any legal or administrative proceedings, or negative publicity, could also negatively affect customers’, regulators’ and other third parties’ perception of us and our JD brand, harm our credibility and reputation and adversely affect our business.

 

We may not be able to acquire a direct equity ownership interest in JD Digits.

 

The Framework Agreement we entered into with JD Digits in connection with the reorganization of JD Digits provides for future potential equity issuances of up to 40% of equity interest in JD Digits to us in the event that JD Digits applies for and receives certain PRC regulatory approvals in the future. In addition, upon a qualified IPO or other liquidity event of JD Digits, if our total ownership of equity interests in JD Digits, if any, has not reached 40%, we would be entitled, at our election, to receive a one-time payment up to 40% of the equity value, immediately prior to such qualified IPO or other liquidity event of JD Digits. If we acquire equity interests in JD Digits in an aggregate amount less than the full 40% equity interest, then the percentage of JD Digits’s equity value used to calculate the liquidity event payment will be reduced proportionately. The above-mentioned maximum percentages of JD Digits’s equity interest that may be issued to us and JD Digits’s equity value in the form of liquidity payment to us at our election are also subject to potential proportional dilution as a result of any future equity financings or ESOP pool increases of JD Digits, and have been diluted to approximately 36% in connection with JD Digits’s additional round of financing in 2018.

 

If JD Digits does not receive the required PRC regulatory approvals mentioned above, we will not be able to acquire a direct equity ownership interest in JD Digits, and we would fail to benefit from any appreciation in its equity value beyond the date of a qualified IPO or other liquidity event of JD Digits. Our inability to reap the benefits of any appreciation in equity value of JD Digits, including in connection with a qualified IPO or other liquidity event of JD Digits, could represent a significant missed opportunity that is beyond our control. In addition, if we elect to receive a one-time payment up to 40% of the equity value of JD Digits, which is subject to potential proportional dilution as a result of any future financings or ESOP pool increases of JD Digits and has been diluted to approximately 36% in connection with JD Digits’s additional round of financing in 2018, immediately prior to a qualified IPO or other liquidity event of JD Digits, it is possible that JD Digits will not have sufficient funds to make the payment in a timely manner or on a schedule acceptable to us. See “Item 7. Major Shareholders and Related Party Transactions—B. Related Party Transactions—Agreements and Transactions Relating to JD Digits.”

 

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Our 7FRESH brand may be unable to keep existing store locations or open new stores in desirable places on favorable terms, which could materially and adversely affect its results of operations.

 

We compete with other retailers and businesses for suitable locations for our offline fresh food stores. Local land use and zoning regulations, environmental regulations and other regulatory requirements may affect our ability to find suitable locations and have an impact on the cost of constructing, renovating and operating our stores. In addition, real estate, zoning, construction and other delays may adversely affect store openings and renovations and increase our costs. Furthermore, changing local demographics at existing store locations may adversely affect revenue and profitability levels at those stores. The termination or expiration of leases at existing store locations may adversely affect us if the renewal terms of those leases are unacceptable to us and we are forced to close or relocate stores. If we determine to close or relocate a store subject to a lease, we may remain obligated under the lease for the remainder of the lease term. If we are unable to maintain our existing store locations or open new locations in desirable places and on favorable terms, the results of operations of our 7 FRESH brand could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our use of some leased properties could be challenged by third parties or government authorities, which may cause interruptions to our business operations.

 

Approximately 3.8% of the lessors of our leased warehouses, approximately 13.6% of the lessors of our leased offices, and approximately 5% of the lessors of our leased delivery stations and pickup stations have not provided us with their property ownership certificates or any other documentation proving their right to lease those properties to us. If our lessors (including the lessors of our 7FRESH offline fresh food stores) are not the owners of the properties and they have not obtained consents from the owners or their lessors or permits from the relevant government authorities, our leases could be invalidated. If this occurs, we may have to renegotiate the leases with the owners or the parties who have the right to lease the properties, and the terms of the new leases may be less favorable to us. Some of the leased properties were also subject to mortgage at the time the leases were entered into. If no consent had been obtained from the mortgage holder under such circumstances, the lease may not be binding on the transferee of the property in the event that the mortgage holder forecloses on the mortgage and transfers the property to another party. In addition, a substantial portion of our leasehold interests in leased properties have not been registered with the relevant PRC government authorities as required by PRC law, which may expose us to potential fines if we fail to remediate after receiving any notice from the relevant PRC government authorities.

 

As of the date of this annual report, we are not aware of any material claims or actions being contemplated or initiated by government authorities, property owners or any other third parties with respect to our leasehold interests in or use of such properties. However, we cannot assure you that our use of such leased properties will not be challenged. In the event that our use of properties is successfully challenged, we may be subject to fines and forced to relocate the affected operations. In addition, we may become involved in disputes with the property owners or third parties who otherwise have rights to or interests in our leased properties. We can provide no assurance that we will be able to find suitable replacement sites on terms acceptable to us on a timely basis, or at all, or that we will not be subject to material liability resulting from third parties’ challenges on our use of such properties. As a result, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.

 

Failure to renew our current leases or locate desirable alternatives for our facilities could materially and adversely affect our business.

 

We lease properties for our offices, customer service center, warehouses, sorting centers, and delivery and pickup stations. We may not be able to successfully extend or renew such leases upon expiration of the current term on commercially reasonable terms or at all, and may therefore be forced to relocate our affected operations. This could disrupt our operations and result in significant relocation expenses, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. In addition, we compete with other businesses for premises at certain locations or of desirable sizes. As a result, even though we could extend or renew our leases, rental payments may significantly increase as a result of the high demand for the leased properties. In addition, we may not be able to locate desirable alternative sites for our facilities as our business continues to grow and failure in relocating our affected operations could materially and adversely affect our business and operations.

 

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Any lack of requisite approvals, licenses or permits applicable to our business may have a material and adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Our business is subject to governmental supervision and regulation by the relevant PRC governmental authorities, including the State Administration for Market Regulation (formerly known as the State Administration for Industry and Commerce), the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or MIIT, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Ministry of Transport, the State Post Bureau and the People’s Bank of China, among others. Together, these government authorities promulgate and enforce regulations that cover many aspects of the operation of the online retail, courier and road freight transportation industries, including entry into these industries, the scope of permissible business activities, licenses and permits for various business activities, and foreign investment. See “Item 4.B. Information on the Company—Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations Relating to Foreign Investment” and “—Licenses and Permits.”

 

Under PRC law, an entity operating courier services across multiple provinces must obtain a cross-provincial Courier Service Operation Permit and conduct its courier services within the permitted scope as indicated in the permit. Furthermore, any entity engaging in road freight transportation services in China must obtain a Road Transportation Operation Permit from the relevant road transportation administrative authorities. We operate a nationwide road freight transportation and delivery network. As of the date of this annual report, we have one cross-provincial Courier Service Operation Permit that allows Jingbangda, a subsidiary of Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng, one of our consolidated variable interest entities providing logistics services, to operate an express delivery business in 31 provinces and 448 cities in China. As of December 31, 2018, Jingbangda and its 37 subsidiaries had obtained Courier Service Operation Permits. As of the same date, Xi’an Jingdong Xuncheng and its 11 branches, and Jingbangda and its 33 subsidiaries had obtained Road Transportation Operation Permits that allow these entities to provide road freight transportation services. We are in the process of making filings with local postal administrations for express delivery terminal outlets of Jingbangda and its branches. However, we cannot assure you that we can obtain such permits and licenses in a timely manner, or at all, due to complex procedural requirements and policies.

 

In addition, we issue one type of prepaid cards which may be used to buy the products sold on our websites and mobile apps. Due to licensing requirements, currently such prepaid cards can only be used to purchase merchandises directly sold by us.

 

There may be some defects with respect to the process of establishing certain of our indirect subsidiaries in China. Certain subsidiaries of our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China were established without obtaining the prior approval from the relevant government authorities that supervise the relevant industries, and some obtain the relevant permits from the government authority at a level lower than as required. We have not received any notice of warning or been subject to penalties or other disciplinary action from the relevant governmental authorities with respect to these defects. However, we cannot assure you that the relevant governmental authorities would not require us to obtain the approvals, or the permits from proper level of government authorities to cure the defects, or take any other actions retrospectively in the future. If the relevant government authorities require us to cure such defects, we cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain the approvals, or the permits from proper level of government authorities, in a timely manner or at all.

 

We provide payment by installments to certain qualified customers for purchasing relevant products sold on our websites. These payment services may be deemed to be providing consumer loans. If so, an approval for consumer finance company from the relevant authority is required, and we cannot assure you that we can obtain such approval in a timely manner, or at all.

 

If the PRC government considers that we were operating without the proper approvals, licenses or permits, it has the power, among other things, to levy fines, confiscate our income, revoke our business licenses, and require us to discontinue our relevant business or impose restrictions on the affected portion of our business. Any of these actions by the PRC government may have a material and adverse effect on our results of operations.

 

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The e-commerce industry, and online retail in particular, is highly regulated by the PRC government. We are required to obtain various licenses and permits from different regulatory authorities in order to distribute certain categories of products on our websites and mobile apps. See “Item 4.B. Information on the Company—Business Overview—Regulation—Licenses and Permits.” We have made great efforts to obtain all the applicable licenses and permits, but due to the large number of products sold on our websites and mobile apps, we may not always be able to do so and we were penalized by governmental authorities for selling products without proper licenses. As we increase our product selection, we may also become subject to new or existing laws and regulations that did not affect us before.

 

As online retail is evolving rapidly in China, new laws and regulations may be adopted from time to time to require additional licenses and permits other than those we currently have, and to address new issues that arise from time to time. For example, in August 2018, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress promulgated the E-Commerce Law, which became effective on January 1, 2019. The E-Commerce Law imposes a number of new requirements and obligations on e-commerce platform operators. As no detailed interpretation and implementation rules have been promulgated, it remains uncertain how the newly adopted E-Commerce Law will be interpreted and implemented. We have adopted a series of measures to comply with such requires under the E-Commerce Law. We cannot assure you, however, that our current business operations meet the requirements under the E-Commerce Law in all respects. If the PRC governmental authorities determine that we are not in compliance with all the requirements under the E-Commerce Law and other applicable laws and rules, we may be subject to fines and/or other sanctions. As a result, substantial uncertainties exist regarding the interpretation and implementation of PRC laws and regulations applicable to online retail businesses. If we are unable to maintain and renew one or more of our licenses and certificates when their current term expires, or obtain such renewals on commercially reasonable terms, our operations could be disrupted. For example, in May 2016, new administrative measures were promulgated to regulate the publication market in replacement of the old measures promulgated in 2011. The new measures require an entity or individual engaged in the distribution of publications via the internet or other information networks to obtain a Publication Operation Permit. Although the new measures allow foreign-invested enterprises to engage in the distribution of publications, it is uncertain how this will be implemented in practice, as the old measures provided that foreign investors may engage in the distribution of audio and video products in China only in the form of contractual joint ventures between foreign and Chinese investors. Therefore, we continue to engage in wholesale and retail of books and audio and video products and other publications through Jiangsu Yuanzhou, one of our consolidated variable interest entities. Jiangsu Yuanzhou has obtained a Publication Operation Permit, which remains valid until March 31, 2020. If the PRC government requires additional licenses or permits or provides more strict supervision requirements in the future in order for us to conduct our businesses, there is no guarantee that we would be able to obtain such licenses or permits or meet all the supervision requirements in a timely manner, or at all.

 

We have granted, and may continue to grant, restricted share units and other types of awards under our Share Incentive Plan, which may result in increased share-based compensation expenses.

 

We have adopted a share incentive plan to provide additional incentives to employees, directors and consultants. See “Item 6.B. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—Compensation—Share Incentive Plan” for a detailed discussion. For example, in May 2015, our board of directors approved a 10-year compensation plan for Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu, under which, Mr. Liu will receive RMB1.00 per year in cash salary and zero cash bonus during the 10-year period and in the meantime, Mr. Liu was granted an option to acquire a total of 26,000,000 Class A ordinary shares of the Company, at an exercise price of US$16.70 per share or US$33.40 per ADS, subject to a 10-year vesting schedule with 10% of the award vested on each anniversary of the grant date. We will not grant any additional equity incentive to Mr. Liu during the 10-year period. We incurred share-based compensation expenses of RMB318 million, RMB227 million and RMB167 million (US$24 million) in connection with this grant of option to Mr. Liu in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. In addition, JD Logistics adopted its own share incentive plan in 2018, which permits the granting of stock options, restricted share units and other types of awards of JD Logistics to its employees, directors and consultants, and granted 187,844,000 share options in 2018. For the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018, we recorded an aggregate of RMB2,061 million, RMB2,780 million and RMB3,660 million (US$532 million), respectively, in share-based compensation expenses. As of December 31, 2018, the awards that had been granted to our directors, officers, employees and consultants and remained outstanding included (i) restricted share units to receive an aggregate of 118,575,638 ordinary shares, excluding restricted share units that were forfeited, cancelled, or vested after the relevant grant date, and (ii) options to purchase an aggregate of 41,747,736 ordinary shares, excluding options that were forfeited, cancelled, or exercised after the relevant grant date. We believe the granting of share-based compensation is of significant importance to our ability to attract and retain key personnel and employees, and we will continue to grant share-based compensation to employees in the future. As a result, our expenses associated with share-based compensation may increase, which may have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

 

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Our results of operations are subject to seasonal fluctuations.

 

We experience seasonality in our business, reflecting a combination of traditional retail seasonality patterns and new patterns associated with online retail in particular. For example, we generally experience less user traffic and purchase orders during national holidays in China, particularly during the Chinese New Year holiday season in the first quarter of each year. Furthermore, sales in the traditional retail industry are significantly higher in the fourth quarter of each calendar year than in the preceding three quarters. E - commerce companies in China hold special promotional campaigns on November 11 each year, and we hold a special promotional campaign in the second quarter of each year, on June 18, to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of our business, both of which can affect our results for those quarters. Overall, the historical seasonality of our business has been relatively mild due to the rapid growth we have experienced and may increase further in the future. Our financial condition and results of operations for future periods may continue to fluctuate. As a result, the trading price of our ADSs may fluctuate from time to time due to seasonality.

 

We may need additional capital, and financing may not be available on terms acceptable to us, or at all.

 

We believe that our current cash and cash equivalents and anticipated cash flow from operations will be sufficient to meet our anticipated cash needs for the next 12 months. We may, however, require additional cash resources due to changed business conditions or other future developments, including any changes in our account payable policy, marketing initiatives or investments we may decide to pursue. If these resources are insufficient to satisfy our cash requirements, we may seek to obtain a credit facility or sell additional equity or debt securities. The sale of additional equity securities could result in dilution of our existing shareholders. The incurrence of indebtedness would result in increased debt service obligations and could result in operating and financing covenants that would restrict our operations. For example, the unsecured senior notes we issued in April 2016 contain covenants including limitation on liens and restriction on consolidation, merger and sale of all or substantially all of our assets, and our term and revolving credit facilities we entered into in 2017 contain covenants that impose certain minimum financial performance requirements on us and that restrict our ability to raise additional debt. It is uncertain whether financing will be available in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, if at all.

 

Our revenues and financial results may be adversely affected by any economic slowdown in China as well as globally.

 

The success of our business ultimately depends on consumer spending. We derive substantially all of our revenues from China. As a result, our revenues and financial results are impacted to a significant extent by economic conditions in China and globally, as well as economic conditions specific to online retail. The global economy, markets and levels of consumer spending are influenced by many factors beyond our control, including consumer perception of current and future economic conditions, political uncertainty, levels of employment, inflation or deflation, real disposable income, interest rates, taxation and currency exchange rates. The PRC government has in recent years implemented a number of measures to control the rate of economic growth, which have contributed to a slowdown of the PRC economy. The growth of the Chinese economy has slowed since 2012, and such slowdown may continue. According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China, China’s gross domestic product (GDP) annual growth rate increased slightly from 6.9% in 2017 to 6.6% in 2018. Any slowdown could significantly reduce domestic commerce in China, including through the internet generally and through us. There have also been concerns about the economic effect of the tensions in the relationship between China and other countries, including the surrounding Asian countries. An economic downturn, whether actual or perceived, a further decrease in economic growth rates or an otherwise uncertain economic outlook in China or any other market in which we may operate could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

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We may not be able to prevent others from unauthorized use of our intellectual property, which could harm our business and competitive position.

 

We regard our trademarks, copyrights, patents, domain names, know-how, proprietary technologies, and similar intellectual property as critical to our success, and we rely on a combination of intellectual property laws and contractual arrangements, including confidentiality, invention assignment and non-compete agreements with our employees and others, to protect our proprietary rights. Although we are not aware of any copycat websites that attempt to cause confusion or diversion of traffic from us at the moment, we may become an attractive target to such attacks in the future because of our brand recognition in the online retail industry in China. Despite these measures, any of our intellectual property rights could be challenged, invalidated, circumvented or misappropriated, or such intellectual property may not be sufficient to provide us with competitive advantages. In addition, there can be no assurance that our patent applications will be approved, that any issued patents will adequately protect our intellectual property, or that such patents will not be challenged by third parties or found by a judicial authority to be invalid or unenforceable. Further, because of the rapid pace of technological change in our industry, parts of our business rely on technologies developed or licensed by third parties, and we may not be able to obtain or continue to obtain licenses and technologies from these third parties at all or on reasonable terms.

 

It is often difficult to register, maintain and enforce intellectual property rights in China. Statutory laws and regulations are subject to judicial interpretation and enforcement and may not be applied consistently due to the lack of clear guidance on statutory interpretation. Confidentiality, invention assignment and non-compete agreements may be breached by counterparties, and there may not be adequate remedies available to us for any such breach. Accordingly, we may not be able to effectively protect our intellectual property rights or to enforce our contractual rights in China. Policing any unauthorized use of our intellectual property is difficult and costly and the steps we take may be inadequate to prevent the infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property. In the event that we resort to litigation to enforce our intellectual property rights, such litigation could result in substantial costs and a diversion of our managerial and financial resources, and could put our intellectual property at risk of being invalidated or narrowed in scope. We can provide no assurance that we will prevail in such litigation, and even if we do prevail, we may not obtain a meaningful recovery. In addition, our trade secrets may be leaked or otherwise become available to, or be independently discovered by, our competitors. Any failure in maintaining, protecting or enforcing our intellectual property rights could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

We may be subject to intellectual property infringement claims, which may be expensive to defend and may disrupt our business and operations.

 

We cannot be certain that our operations or any aspects of our business do not or will not infringe upon or otherwise violate patents, copyrights or other intellectual property rights held by third parties. We have been, and from time to time in the future may be, subject to legal proceedings and claims relating to the intellectual property rights of others. In addition, there may be other third-party intellectual property that is infringed by our products, services or other aspects of our business. There could also be existing patents of which we are not aware that our products may inadvertently infringe. We cannot assure you that holders of patents purportedly relating to some aspect of our technology platform or business, if any such holders exist, would not seek to enforce such patents against us in China, the United States or any other jurisdictions. Further, the application and interpretation of China’s patent laws and the procedures and standards for granting patents in China are still evolving and are uncertain, and we cannot assure you that PRC courts or regulatory authorities would agree with our analysis. If we are found to have violated the intellectual property rights of others, we may be subject to liability for our infringement activities or may be prohibited from using such intellectual property, and we may incur licensing fees or be forced to develop alternatives of our own. In addition, we may incur significant expenses, and may be forced to divert management’s time and other resources from our business and operations to defend against these third-party infringement claims, regardless of their merits. Successful infringement or licensing claims made against us may result in significant monetary liabilities and may materially disrupt our business and operations by restricting or prohibiting our use of the intellectual property in question. Finally, we use open source software in connection with our products and services. Companies that incorporate open source software into their products and services have, from time to time, faced claims challenging the ownership of open source software and compliance with open source license terms. As a result, we could be subject to suits by parties claiming ownership of what we believe to be open source software or noncompliance with open source licensing terms. Some open source software licenses require users who distribute open source software as part of their software to publicly disclose all or part of the source code to such software and make available any derivative works of the open source code on unfavorable terms or at no cost. Any requirement to disclose our source code or pay damages for breach of contract could be harmful to our business, results of operations and financial condition.

 

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We have limited insurance coverage, which could expose us to significant costs and business disruption.

 

We maintain various insurance policies to safeguard against risks and unexpected events. We have purchased all risk property insurance covering our inventory and fixed assets such as equipment, furniture and office facilities. We maintain public liability insurance for our business activities at 16 locations. We also provide social security insurance including pension insurance, unemployment insurance, work-related injury insurance, maternity insurance and medical insurance for our employees. Additionally, we provide group accident insurance for all employees and supplementary medical insurance for all management and technology and other professional personnel. However, insurance companies in China currently offer limited business-related insurance products. We do not maintain business interruption insurance or product liability insurance other than in connection with the fixed business premises of our 7FRESH business, nor do we maintain key-man life insurance. We cannot assure you that our insurance coverage is sufficient to prevent us from any loss or that we will be able to successfully claim our losses under our current insurance policy on a timely basis, or at all. If we incur any loss that is not covered by our insurance policies, or the compensated amount is significantly less than our actual loss, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.

 

Our chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu, has considerable influence over important corporate matters. Our dual-class voting structure will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and could discourage others from pursuing any change of control transactions that holders of our Class A ordinary shares and ADSs may view as beneficial.

 

Our chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu, has considerable influence over important corporate matters. Our ordinary shares are divided into Class A ordinary shares and Class B ordinary shares. Holders of Class A ordinary shares are entitled to one vote per share in respect of matters requiring the votes of shareholders, while holders of Class B ordinary shares are entitled to twenty votes per share, subject to certain exceptions. Each Class B ordinary share is convertible into one Class A ordinary share at any time by the holder thereof, while Class A ordinary shares are not convertible into Class B ordinary shares under any circumstances. Upon any transfer of Class B ordinary shares by a holder thereof to any person or entity which is not an affiliate of such holder, such Class B ordinary shares will be automatically and immediately converted into the equal number of Class A ordinary shares. Due to the disparate voting powers associated with our two classes of ordinary shares, as of February 28, 2019, Mr. Liu beneficially owned 79.0% of the aggregate voting power of our company, including the 6.1% of the aggregate voting power of our company that he may exercise on behalf of Fortune Rising Holdings Limited. Mr. Liu is the sole shareholder and the sole director of Fortune Rising Holdings Limited. Fortune Rising Holdings Limited holds 35,539,060 Class B ordinary shares, representing 6.1% of the aggregate voting power of our company, for the purpose of transferring such shares to the plan participants according to our awards under our Share Incentive Plan, and administers the awards and acts according to our instruction. Fortune Rising Holdings Limited can exercise the 6.1% of the aggregate voting power of our company following our instruction. Mr. Liu, as the representative of Fortune Rising Holdings Limited, can exercise this 6.1% of the aggregate voting power of our company on behalf of Fortune Rising Holdings Limited. See “Item 6.E. Directors, Senior Management and Employees—Share Ownership.” As a result, Mr. Liu has considerable influence over matters such as electing directors and approving material mergers, acquisitions or other business combination transactions. In addition, under our current memorandum and articles of association, our board of directors will not be able to form a quorum without Mr. Liu for so long as Mr. Liu remains a director. This concentrated control will limit your ability to influence corporate matters and could also discourage others from pursuing any potential merger, takeover or other change of control transactions, which could have the effect of depriving the holders of our Class A ordinary shares and our ADSs of the opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over the prevailing market price.

 

Changes in U.S. and international trade policies, particularly with regard to China, may adversely impact our business and operating results.

 

The U.S. government has recently made statements and taken certain actions that may lead to potential changes to U.S. and international trade policies, including imposing several rounds of tariffs affecting certain products manufactured in China. It is unknown whether and to what extent new tariffs (or other new laws or regulations) will be adopted, or the effect that any such actions would have on us or our industry and customers. While cross-border business may not be an area of our focus, any unfavorable government policies on international trade, such as capital controls or tariffs, may affect the demand for our products and services, impact the competitive position of our products or prevent us from selling products in certain countries. If any new tariffs, legislation and/or regulations are implemented, or if existing trade agreements are renegotiated or, in particular, if the U.S. government takes retaliatory trade actions due to the recent U.S.-China trade tension, such changes could have an adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

 

Disruptions in the financial markets and economic conditions could affect our ability to raise capital.

 

Global economies could suffer dramatic downturns as the result of a deterioration in the credit markets and related financial crisis as well as a variety of other factors including, extreme volatility in security prices, severely diminished liquidity and credit availability, ratings downgrades of certain investments and declining valuations of others. In the past, governments have taken unprecedented actions in an attempt to address and rectify these extreme market and economic conditions by providing liquidity and stability to the financial markets. If these actions are not successful, the return of adverse economic conditions may cause a significant impact on our ability to raise capital, if needed, on a timely basis and on acceptable terms or at all.

 

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We may be the subject of anti-competitive, harassing, or other detrimental conduct by third parties including complaints to regulatory agencies, negative blog postings, and the public dissemination of malicious assessments of our business that could harm our reputation and cause us to lose market share, customers and revenues and adversely affect the price of our ADSs.

 

We may be the target of anti-competitive, harassing, or other detrimental conduct by third parties. Such conduct includes complaints, anonymous or otherwise, to regulatory agencies. Our brand name and our business may be harmed by aggressive marketing and communications strategies of our competitors. We may be subject to government or regulatory investigation as a result of such third-party conduct and may be required to expend significant time and incur substantial costs to address such third-party conduct, and there is no assurance that we will be able to conclusively refute each of the allegations within a reasonable period of time, or at all. Additionally, allegations, directly or indirectly against us, may be posted in internet chat-rooms or on blogs or websites by anyone, whether or not related to us, on an anonymous basis. Consumers value readily available information concerning retailers, manufacturers, and their goods and services and often act on such information without further investigation or authentication and without regard to its accuracy. The availability of information on social media platforms and devices is virtually immediate, as is its impact. Social media platforms and devices immediately publish the content their subscribers and participants post, often without filters or checks on the accuracy of the content posted. Information posted may be inaccurate and adverse to us, and it may harm our financial performance, prospects or business. The harm may be immediate without affording us an opportunity for redress or correction. Our reputation may be negatively affected as a result of the public dissemination of anonymous allegations or malicious statements about our business, which in turn may cause us to lose market share, customers and revenues and adversely affect the price of our ADSs.

 

We face risks related to natural disasters, health epidemics and other outbreaks, which could significantly disrupt our operations.

 

Our business could be materially and adversely affected by natural disasters or the outbreak of avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, influenza A (H1N1), Ebola or another epidemic. Any such occurrences could cause severe disruption to our daily operations, including our fulfillment infrastructure and our customer service centers, and may even require a temporary closure of our facilities. In August 2014, a severe earthquake hit part of Yunnan province in south western China, which resulted in significant casualties and property damage. While we did not suffer any loss or experience any significant increase in cost resulting from these earthquakes, if a similar disaster were to occur in the future affecting Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Chengdu, Shenyang or Xi’an, or any other city where we have major operations in China, our operations could be materially and adversely affected due to loss of personnel and damages to property, including our inventory and our technology systems. Our operation could also be severely disrupted if our suppliers, customers or business partners were affected by such natural disasters or health epidemics.

 

If we do not appropriately maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, we may be unable to accurately report our financial results and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely affected.

 

We are subject to reporting obligations under the U.S. securities laws. The SEC, as required under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, adopted rules requiring every public company to include a management report on such company’s internal control over financial reporting in its annual report, which contains management’s assessment of the effectiveness of the company’s internal control over financial reporting. In addition, an independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of the company’s internal control over financial reporting. Our management has concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2018. See “Item 15. Controls and Procedures.”

 

However, if we fail to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in the future, our management and our independent registered public accounting firm may not be able to conclude that we have effective internal control over financial reporting at a reasonable assurance level. This could in turn result in the loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial statements and negatively impact the trading price of our ADSs. Furthermore, we have incurred and may need to incur additional costs and use additional management and other resources in an effort to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and other requirements going forward.

 

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Registered public accounting firms in China, including our independent registered public accounting firm, are not inspected by the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which deprives us and our investors of the benefits of such inspection.

 

Auditors of companies whose shares are registered with the SEC and traded publicly in the United States, including our independent registered public accounting firm, must be registered with the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, or the PCAOB, and is subject to laws in the United States pursuant to which the PCAOB conducts regular inspections to assess its compliance with applicable professional standards. Our independent registered public accounting firm is located in, and organized under the laws of, the PRC, which is a jurisdiction where the PCAOB has been unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities. In May 2013, the PCAOB announced that it had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Enforcement Cooperation with the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, and the PRC Ministry of Finance, which establishes a cooperative framework between the parties for the production and exchange of audit documents relevant to investigations undertaken by the PCAOB, or the CSRC or the PRC Ministry of Finance in the United States and the PRC, respectively. The PCAOB continues to be in discussions with the CSRC and the PRC Ministry of Finance to permit joint inspections in the PRC of audit firms that are registered with the PCAOB and audit Chinese companies that trade on U.S. exchanges. On December 7, 2018, the SEC and the PCAOB issued a joint statement highlighting continued challenges faced by the U.S. regulators in their oversight of financial statement audits of U.S.-listed companies with significant operations in China. However, it remains unclear what further actions, if any, the SEC and PCAOB will take to address the problem.

 

This lack of PCAOB inspections in China prevents the PCAOB from fully evaluating audits and quality control procedures of our independent registered public accounting firm. As a result, we and investors may be deprived of the benefits of such PCAOB inspections. The inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of auditors in China makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our independent registered public accounting firm’s audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to PCAOB inspections, which could cause investors and potential investors of our ADSs to lose confidence in our audit procedures and reported financial information and the quality of our financial statements.

 

Proceedings instituted by the SEC against certain PRC-based accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.

 

In December 2012, the SEC brought administrative proceedings against five accounting firms in China, including our independent registered public accounting firm, alleging that they had refused to produce audit work papers and other documents related to certain other China-based companies under investigation by the SEC. In January 2014, an initial administrative law decision was issued, censuring these accounting firms and suspending four of these firms from practicing before the SEC for a period of six months. The decision was neither final nor legally effective unless and until reviewed and approved by the SEC. In February 2014, four of these PRC-based accounting firms appealed to the SEC against this decision. In February 2015, each of the four PRC-based accounting firms agreed to a censure and to pay a fine to the SEC to settle the dispute and avoid suspension of their ability to practice before the SEC. Under the settlement, the SEC accepted that future requests by the SEC for the production of documents will normally be made to the CSRC. The firms were to receive matching Section 106 requests, and were required to abide by a detailed set of procedures with respect to such requests, which in substance require them to facilitate production via the CSRC. If they failed to meet the specified criteria during a period of four years starting from the settlement date, the SEC retained authority to impose a variety of additional remedial measures on the firms depending on the nature of the failure. Under the terms of the settlement, the underlying proceeding against the four China-based accounting firms was deemed dismissed with prejudice four years after entry of the settlement. The four-year mark occurred on February 6, 2019. While we cannot predict if the SEC will further challenge the four China-based accounting firms’ compliance with U.S. law in connection with U.S. regulatory requests for audit work papers or if the results of such a challenge would result in the SEC imposing penalties such as suspensions. If additional remedial measures are imposed on the Chinese affiliates of the “big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, we could be unable to timely file future financial statements in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.

 

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In the event that the Chinese affiliates of the “big four” become subject to additional legal challenges by the SEC or PCAOB, depending upon the final outcome, listed companies in the United States with major PRC operations may find it difficult or impossible to retain auditors in respect of their operations in the PRC, which could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act, including possible delisting. Moreover, any negative news about the proceedings against these audit firms may cause investor uncertainty regarding China-based, United States-listed companies and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely affected.

 

If our independent registered public accounting firm were denied, even temporarily, the ability to practice before the SEC and we were unable to timely find another registered public accounting firm to audit and issue an opinion on our financial statements, our financial statements could be determined not to be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. Such a determination could ultimately lead to delisting of our ordinary shares from NASDAQ or deregistration from the SEC, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of our ADSs in the United States.

 

We are subject to changing law and regulations regarding regulatory matters, corporate governance and public disclosure that have increased both our costs and the risk of non-compliance.

 

We are subject to rules and regulations by various governing bodies, including, for example, the SEC, which is charged with the protection of investors and the oversight of companies whose securities are publicly traded, and the various regulatory authorities in China and the Cayman Islands, and to new and evolving regulatory measures under applicable law. Our efforts to comply with new and changing laws and regulations have resulted in and are likely to continue to result in, increased general and administrative expenses and a diversion of management time and attention from revenue-generating activities to compliance activities.

 

Moreover, because these laws, regulations and standards are subject to varying interpretations, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance becomes available. This evolution may result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and additional costs necessitated by ongoing revisions to our disclosure and governance practices. If we fail to address and comply with these regulations and any subsequent changes, we may be subject to penalty and our business may be harmed.

 

Our international expansion strategy and ability to conduct business in international markets may be adversely affected by legal, regulatory, political and economic risks.

 

International expansion is a significant component of our growth strategy and may require significant capital investment, which could strain our resources and adversely impact current performance, while adding complexity to our current operations. We are subject to PRC law in addition to the laws of the foreign countries in which we operate. If any of our overseas operations, or our associates or agents, violate such laws, we could become subject to sanctions or other penalties, which could negatively affect our reputation, business and operating results.

 

In addition, we may face operational issues that could have a material adverse effect on our reputation, business and results of operations, if we fail to address certain factors including, but not limited to, the following:

 

·                  difficulties in developing, staffing and simultaneously managing a foreign operation as a result of distance, language and cultural differences;

 

·                  challenges in formulating effective local sales and marketing strategies targeting users from various jurisdictions and cultures, who have a diverse range of preferences and demands;

 

·                  challenges in identifying appropriate local business partners and establishing and maintaining good working relationships with them;

 

·                  dependence on local platforms in marketing our international products and services overseas;

 

·                  challenges in selecting suitable geographical regions for international business;

 

·                  longer customer payment cycles;

 

·                  currency exchange rate fluctuations;

 

·                  political or social unrest or economic instability;

 

·                  compliance with applicable foreign laws and regulations and unexpected changes in laws or regulations;

 

·                  exposure to different tax jurisdictions that may subject us to greater fluctuations in our effective tax rate and potentially adverse tax consequences; and

 

·                  increased costs associated with doing business in foreign jurisdictions.

 

One or more of these factors could harm our overseas operations and consequently, could harm our overall results of operations.

 

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Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure

 

If the PRC government deems that the contractual arrangements in relation to our variable interest entities do not comply with PRC regulatory restrictions on foreign investment in the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.

 

Foreign ownership of certain of our businesses including value-added telecommunication services is subject to restrictions under current PRC laws and regulations. For example, foreign investors are not allowed to own more than 50% of the equity interests in a value-added telecommunication service provider (excluding e-commerce) and any such foreign investor must have experience in providing value-added telecommunications services overseas and maintain a good track record, and foreign investors may engage in the distribution of audio and video products in China only in the form of contractual joint ventures between foreign and Chinese investors. In addition, foreign investors may engage in air freight transport agency services in China only in the form of equity or contractual joint ventures between foreign and Chinese investors.

 

We are a Cayman Islands company and our PRC subsidiaries Jingdong Century, Shanghai Shengdayuan and Xi’an Jingxundi are considered foreign-invested enterprises. Accordingly, none of these PRC subsidiaries is eligible to provide value-added telecommunication services or distribute audio and video products in China or provide certain other restricted services related to our businesses, such as air freight transport agency services or domestic document delivery services. As a result, we conduct or will conduct such business activities through our variable interest entities and their subsidiaries in PRC, including Jingdong 360, Jiangsu Yuanzhou, Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng and Jingbangda. Jingdong 360 holds our ICP license as an internet information provider. Jiangsu Yuanzhou primarily conducts the distribution of books and audio and video products. Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng primarily provides courier services through Jingbangda and its subsidiaries.

 

Jingdong 360, Jiangsu Yuanzhou, Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng and all of our other variable interest entities that have business activities in PRC are 45% owned by Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu, our chairman and chief executive officer, 30% owned by Ms. Yayun Li, our chief compliance officer, and 25% owned by Ms. Pang Zhang, our employee. Mr. Liu, Ms. Li and Ms. Zhang are PRC citizens. We entered into a series of contractual arrangements with Jingdong 360, Jiangsu Yuanzhou, Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng and other variable interest entities in China and their respective shareholders, which enable us to:

 

·                  exercise effective control over Jingdong 360, Jiangsu Yuanzhou, Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng and other variable interest entities in China;

 

·                  receive substantially all of the economic benefits of Jingdong 360, Jiangsu Yuanzhou, Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng and other variable interest entities in China; and

 

·                  have an exclusive option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in Jingdong 360, Jiangsu Yuanzhou, Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng and other variable interest entities in China when and to the extent permitted by PRC law.

 

Because of these contractual arrangements, we are the primary beneficiary of Jingdong 360, Jiangsu Yuanzhou, Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng and other variable interest entities in China and hence consolidate their financial results as our variable interest entities. For a detailed discussion of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4.C. Information on the Company—Organizational Structure.”

 

In the opinion of Zhong Lun Law Firm, our PRC legal counsel, (i) the ownership structures of our variable interest entities in China and the PRC subsidiaries that have entered into contractual arrangements with the variable interest entities, including Jingdong Century, comply with all existing PRC laws and regulations; and (ii) the contractual arrangements between the PRC subsidiaries, including Jingdong Century, the variable interest entities and their respective shareholders governed by PRC law are valid, binding and enforceable, and will not result in any violation of PRC laws or regulations currently in effect. However, our PRC legal counsel has also advised us that there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current and future PRC laws, regulations and rules; accordingly, the PRC regulatory authorities may take a view that is contrary to the opinion of our PRC legal counsel. It is uncertain whether any other new PRC laws or regulations relating to variable interest entity structures will be adopted or if adopted, what they would provide. If we or any of our variable interest entities are found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations, or fail to obtain or maintain any of the required permits or approvals, the relevant PRC regulatory authorities would have broad discretion to take action in dealing with such violations or failures, including:

 

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·                  revoking the business licenses of such entities;

 

·                  discontinuing or restricting the conduct of any transactions between certain of our PRC subsidiaries and variable interest entities;

 

·                  imposing fines, confiscating the income from our variable interest entities, or imposing other requirements with which we or our variable interest entities may not be able to comply;

 

·                  requiring us to restructure our ownership structure or operations, including terminating the contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities and deregistering the equity pledges of our variable interest entities, which in turn would affect our ability to consolidate, derive economic interests from, or exert effective control over our variable interest entities; or

 

·                  restricting or prohibiting our use of the proceeds of any of our financing outside China to finance our business and operations in China.

 

The imposition of any of these penalties would result in a material and adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business. In addition, it is unclear what impact the PRC government actions would have on us and on our ability to consolidate the financial results of our variable interest entities in our consolidated financial statements, if the PRC government authorities were to find our legal structure and contractual arrangements to be in violation of PRC laws and regulations. If the imposition of any of these government actions causes us to lose our right to direct the activities of our variable interest entities or our right to receive substantially all the economic benefits and residual returns from our variable interest entities and we are not able to restructure our ownership structure and operations in a satisfactory manner, we would no longer be able to consolidate the financial results of our variable interest entities in our consolidated financial statements. Either of these results, or any other significant penalties that might be imposed on us in this event, would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

We rely on contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities and their shareholders for a portion of our business operations, which may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing operational control.

 

We have relied and expect to continue to rely on contractual arrangements with Jingdong 360 and its shareholders to hold our ICP license as an internet information provider, contractual arrangements with Jiangsu Yuanzhou and its shareholders to conduct the distribution of books and audio and video products and contractual arrangements with other variable interest entities for the relevant restricted businesses. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4.C. Information on the Company—Organizational Structure.” These contractual arrangements may not be as effective as direct ownership in providing us with control over our variable interest entities.

 

If we had direct ownership of our variable interest entities, we would be able to exercise our rights as a shareholder to effect changes in the board of directors of those entities, which in turn could effect changes, subject to any applicable fiduciary obligations, at the management level. However, under the current contractual arrangements, we rely on the performance by our variable interest entities and their respective shareholders of their obligations under the contracts to exercise control over our variable interest entities. However, the shareholders of our variable interest entities may not act in the best interests of our company or may not perform their obligations under these contracts. Such risks exist throughout the period in which we intend to operate our business through the contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities. We may replace the shareholders of our variable interest entities at any time pursuant to our contractual arrangements with them and their shareholders. However, if any dispute relating to these contracts remains unresolved, we will have to enforce our rights under these contracts through the operations of PRC law and courts and therefore will be subject to uncertainties in the PRC legal system. See “—Any failure by our variable interest entities or their shareholders to perform their obligations under our contractual arrangements with them would have a material and adverse effect on our business.” Therefore, our contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities may not be as effective in ensuring our control over the relevant portion of our business operations as direct ownership would be.

 

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Any failure by our variable interest entities or their shareholders to perform their obligations under our contractual arrangements with them would have a material and adverse effect on our business.

 

If our variable interest entities or their shareholders fail to perform their respective obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may have to incur substantial costs and expend additional resources to enforce such arrangements. We may also have to rely on legal remedies under PRC law, including seeking specific performance or injunctive relief, and claiming damages, which we cannot assure you will be effective. For example, if the shareholders of our variable interest entities were to refuse to transfer their equity interest in the variable interest entities to us or our designee when we exercise the purchase option pursuant to these contractual arrangements, or if they were otherwise to act in bad faith toward us, we may have to take legal actions to compel them to perform their contractual obligations.

 

All the agreements under our contractual arrangements are governed by PRC law and provide for the resolution of disputes through arbitration in China. Accordingly, these contracts would be interpreted in accordance with PRC law and any disputes would be resolved in accordance with PRC legal procedures. The legal system in the PRC is not as developed as in some other jurisdictions, such as the United States. See “—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.” Meanwhile, there are very few precedents and little formal guidance as to how contractual arrangements in the context of a variable interest entity should be interpreted or enforced under PRC law, and as a result it may be difficult to predict how an arbitration panel would view such contractual arrangements. As a result, uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. Additionally, under PRC law, rulings by arbitrators are final, parties cannot appeal the arbitration results in courts, and if the losing parties fail to carry out the arbitration awards within a prescribed time limit, the prevailing parties may only enforce the arbitration awards in PRC courts through arbitration award recognition proceedings, which would require additional expenses and delay.

 

Our variable interest entities, including their subsidiaries, hold our necessary licenses and permits, including ICP licenses, Courier Service Operation Permits and Aviation Transport Sales Agency Certificate, and conduct our sales of books and audio and video products (including publication of e-books and online audio and video products). In the event we are unable to enforce our contractual arrangements, we may not be able to exert effective control over our variable interest entities, and our ability to conduct these businesses may be negatively affected. We generate the majority of our revenues from products and services that are offered to customers through our websites and mobile apps and any interruption in our ability to use our websites and mobile apps may have a material and adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

The shareholders of our variable interest entities may have potential conflicts of interest with us, which may materially and adversely affect our business and financial condition.

 

Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu, Ms. Yayun Li and Ms. Pang Zhang are the shareholders of our variable interest entities that have business activities, including Jingdong 360, Jiangsu Yuanzhou and Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng, among others. Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu is our chairman and chief executive officer, and Ms. Yayun Li and Ms. Pang Zhang are our employees. The shareholders of our variable interest entities may have potential conflicts of interest with us. These shareholders may breach, or cause our variable interest entities to breach, or refuse to renew, the existing contractual arrangements we have with them and our variable interest entities, which would have a material and adverse effect on our ability to effectively control our variable interest entities and receive substantially all the economic benefits from them. For example, the shareholders may be able to cause our agreements with our variable interest entities to be performed in a manner adverse to us by, among other things, failing to remit payments due under the contractual arrangements to us on a timely basis. We cannot assure you that when conflicts of interest arise, any or all of these shareholders will act in the best interests of our company or such conflicts will be resolved in our favor.

 

Currently, we do not have any arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest between these shareholders and our company. Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu is also a director and executive officer of our company. We rely on Mr. Liu to abide by the laws of the Cayman Islands and China, which provide that directors owe a fiduciary duty to the company that requires them to act in good faith and in what they believe to be the best interests of the company and not to use their position for personal gains. If we cannot resolve any conflict of interest or dispute between us and the shareholders of our variable interest entities, we would have to rely on legal proceedings, which could result in disruption of our business and subject us to substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of any such legal proceedings.

 

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We may rely on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our PRC subsidiaries to fund any cash and financing requirements we may have, and any limitation on the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to make payments to us could have a material and adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business.

 

We are a holding company, and we may rely on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our PRC subsidiaries like Jingdong Century for our cash and financing requirements, including the funds necessary to pay dividends and other cash distributions to our shareholders and service any debt we may incur. If these subsidiaries incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing the debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other distributions to us. In addition, the PRC tax authorities may require Jingdong Century or any other relevant PRC subsidiary to adjust its taxable income under the contractual arrangements it currently has in place with our variable interest entities in a manner that would materially and adversely affect its ability to pay dividends and other distributions to us. See “—Contractual arrangements in relation to our variable interest entities may be subject to scrutiny by the PRC tax authorities and they may determine that we or our PRC variable interest entities owe additional taxes, which could negatively affected our financial condition and the value of your investment.”

 

Under PRC laws and regulations, our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China may pay dividends only out of their respective accumulated profits as determined in accordance with PRC accounting standards and regulations. In addition, a wholly foreign-owned enterprise is required to set aside at least 10% of its accumulated after-tax profits each year, if any, to fund certain statutory reserve fund, until the aggregate amount of such fund reaches 50% of its registered capital. At its discretion, a wholly foreign-owned enterprise may allocate a portion of its after-tax profits based on PRC accounting standards to enterprise expansion fund and staff welfare and bonus fund. The statutory reserve fund, enterprise expansion fund and staff welfare and bonus fund are not distributable as cash dividends.

 

Any limitation on the ability of our PRC subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other distributions to us could materially and adversely limit our ability to grow, make investments or acquisitions that could be beneficial to our business, pay dividends, or otherwise fund and conduct our business. See also “—Risks Related to Doing Business in China—If we are classified as a PRC resident enterprise for PRC income tax purposes, such classification could result in unfavorable tax consequences to us and our non-PRC shareholders or ADS holders.”

 

PRC regulation of loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may delay or prevent us from making loans to our PRC subsidiaries and consolidated variable interest entities or making additional capital contributions to our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.

 

We are an offshore holding company conducting our operations in China through our PRC subsidiaries and consolidated variable interest entities. We may make loans to our PRC subsidiaries and consolidated variable interest entities subject to the approval from governmental authorities and limitation of amount, or we may make additional capital contributions to our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China.

 

Any loans to our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China, which are treated as foreign-invested enterprises under PRC law, are subject to PRC regulations and foreign exchange loan registrations. For example, loans by us to our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China to finance their activities cannot exceed statutory limits and must be registered with the local counterpart of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE. The statutory limit for the total amount of foreign debts of a foreign-invested company is the difference between the amount of total investment as approved by the Ministry of Commerce or its local counterpart and the amount of registered capital of such foreign-invested company. For example, the current amounts of approved total investment and registered capital of Jingdong Century are approximately US$3,274 million and US$1,398 million, respectively, which means Jingdong Century cannot obtain loans in excess of US$1,876 million from our entities outside of China currently. The current statutory limit on the loans to our other wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China, such as Xi’an Jingxundi and Shanghai Shengdayuan, is RMB1,920 million and US$49 million, respectively. According to a notice issued by the People’s Bank of China regarding foreign debt on January 11, 2017, the maximum amount of foreign debt that each of our PRC subsidiaries or consolidated variable interest entities or other PRC domestic entities is allowed to borrow is two times of their respective net assets. Pursuant to this notice and other PRC laws and regulations regarding foreign debt, within a one-year grace period starting from January 11, 2017, the statutory limit for the total amount of foreign debt of a foreign-invested company, which is subject to its own election, is either the difference between the amount of total investment and the amount of registered capital as approved by the Ministry of Commerce or its local counterpart, or two times of their respective net assets. Although the one-year grace period has expired, the statutory limit is still subject to the notice in practice. With respect to our consolidated variable interest entities or other domestic PRC entities, the limit for the total amount of foreign debt is two times of their respective net assets pursuant to the notice.

 

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We may also decide to finance our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China by means of capital contributions. These capital contributions must be approved by or registered with the Ministry of Commerce or its local counterpart. SAFE issued SAFE Circular No. 19, which took effect on June 1, 2015. SAFE Circular No. 19 allows for the use of RMB converted from the foreign currency-denominated capital for equity investments in the PRC. Foreign-invested enterprises’ use of the converted RMB for purposes beyond the business scope, for entrusted loans or for inter-company RMB loans, however, are subject to SAFE restrictions under SAFE Circular No. 19. On June 9, 2016, SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Reforming and Standardizing the Foreign Exchange Settlement Management Policy of Capital Account, or SAFE Circular No. 16, effective on the same day. SAFE Circular No. 16 amends the prohibition against using RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested company to issue RMB entrusted loans to a prohibition against using such capital to issue loans to non-associated enterprises. However, the use of RMB capital converted from foreign currency registered capital of a foreign-invested company may not be altered without SAFE’s approval, and such RMB capital may not in any case be used to repay RMB loans if the proceeds of such loans have not been used. The applicable SAFE regulations may significantly limit our ability to transfer any foreign currency we hold, including the net proceeds from offerings of our securities, to our consolidated variable interest entities and the subsidiaries of our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China, and we may not be able to convert the foreign currency into RMB to invest in or establish certain other PRC companies in China.

 

Due to the restrictions imposed on loans in foreign currencies extended to any PRC domestic companies, we are not likely to make such loans to the subsidiaries of our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China and our consolidated variable interest entities, each a PRC domestic company. Meanwhile, we are not likely to finance the activities of our consolidated variable interest entities by means of capital contributions given the restrictions on foreign investment in the businesses that are currently conducted by our consolidated variable interest entities.

 

In light of the various requirements imposed by PRC regulations on loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies, including SAFE Circular No. 19, SAFE Circular No. 16 and other relevant rules and regulations, we cannot assure you that we will be able to complete the necessary government registrations or obtain the necessary government approvals on a timely basis, if at all, with respect to future loans to our PRC subsidiaries or any consolidated variable interest entity or future capital contributions by us to our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China. As a result, uncertainties exist as to our ability to provide prompt financial support to our PRC subsidiaries or consolidated variable interest entities when needed. If we fail to complete such registrations or obtain such approvals, our ability to use foreign currency, including the proceeds we received from our initial public offering, and to capitalize or otherwise fund our PRC operations may be negatively affected, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.

 

Contractual arrangements in relation to our variable interest entities may be subject to scrutiny by the PRC tax authorities and they may determine that we or our PRC variable interest entities owe additional taxes, which could negatively affect our financial condition and the value of your investment.

 

Under applicable PRC laws and regulations, transactions among related parties may be subject to audit or challenge by the PRC tax authorities. If the PRC tax authorities deem the transactions between the PRC subsidiaries and our variable interest entities in China, and their respective shareholders were not entered into on an arm’s-length basis and resulted in deferral or underpayment in taxes, they are entitled to make special tax adjustments which might result in the increase of the variable interest entities’ tax liabilities. If the tax authorities conduct special tax adjustments, they might impose interest charges for the underpaid taxes. Our financial position could be adversely affected if our variable interest entities’ tax liabilities increase or if they are required to pay interest charge.

 

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Our current corporate structure and business operations may be affected by the newly enacted Foreign Investment Law

 

On March 15, 2019, the National People’s Congress promulgated the Foreign Investment Law or the FIL, which will take effect on January 1, 2020,and replace the existing laws regulating foreign investment in China, namely, the PRC Equity Joint Venture Law, the PRC Cooperative Joint Venture Law and the Wholly Foreign-owned Enterprise Law, or Existing FIE Laws, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations. The FIL embodies an expected PRC regulatory trend to rationalize its foreign investment regulatory regime in line with prevailing international practice and the legislative efforts to unify the corporate legal requirements for both foreign and domestic investments. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulation on Foreign Investment.”

 

However, uncertainties still exist in relation to interpretation and implementation of the FIL, especially in regard to, including, among other things, the nature of variable interest entities contractual arrangements, the promulgation schedule of both the “negative list” under the FIL and specific rules regulating the organization form of foreign-invested enterprises within the five-year transition period. While FIL does not define contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment explicitly, we cannot assure you that future laws and regulations will not provide for contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment. Therefore, there can be no assurance that our control over our VIEs through contractual arrangements will not be deemed as foreign investment in the future. In the event that any possible implementing regulations of the FIL, any other future laws, administrative regulations or provisions deem contractual arrangements as a way of foreign investment, or if any of our operations through contractual arrangements is classified in the “restricted” or “prohibited” industry in the future “negative list” under the FIL, our contractual arrangements may be deemed as invalid and illegal, and we may be required to unwind the variable interest entity contractual arrangements and/or dispose of any affected business. Also, if future laws, administrative regulations or provisions mandate further actions to be taken with respect to existing contractual arrangements, we may face substantial uncertainties as to whether we can complete such actions in a timely manner, or at all. Furthermore, under the FIL, foreign investors or the foreign investment enterprise should be imposed legal liabilities for failing to report investment information in accordance with the requirements. In addition, the FIL provides that foreign invested enterprises established according to the existing laws regulating foreign investment may maintain their structure and corporate governance within a five-year transition period, which means that we may be required to adjust the structure and corporate governance of certain of our PRC subsidiaries in such transition period. Failure to take timely and appropriate measures to cope with any of these or similar regulatory compliance challenges could materially and adversely affect our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations.

 

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Risks Related to Doing Business in China

 

Changes in China’s or global economic, political or social conditions or government policies could have a material and adverse effect on our business and operations.

 

Substantially all of our operations are located in China. Accordingly, our business, financial condition, results of operations and prospects may be influenced to a significant degree by political, economic and social conditions in China generally and by continued economic growth in China as a whole.

 

The Chinese economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including the amount of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. Although the Chinese government has implemented measures emphasizing the utilization of market forces for economic reform, the reduction of state ownership of productive assets, and the establishment of improved corporate governance in business enterprises, a substantial portion of productive assets in China is still owned by the government. In addition, the Chinese government continues to play a significant role in regulating industry development by imposing industrial policies. The Chinese government also exercises significant control over China’s economic growth through allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy, and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies.

 

While the Chinese economy has experienced significant growth over the past decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy, and the rate of growth has been slowing. The Chinese government has implemented various measures to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures may benefit the overall Chinese economy, but may have a negative effect on us. For example, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by government control over capital investments or changes in tax regulations. In addition, in the past the Chinese government has implemented certain measures, including interest rate increases, to control the pace of economic growth. These measures may cause decreased economic activity in China, which may adversely affect our business and operating results.

 

In addition, the global macroeconomic environment is facing challenges. There is considerable uncertainty over the long-term effects of the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies adopted by the central banks and financial authorities of some of the world’s leading economies, including the United States and China. There have been concerns over unrest and terrorist threats in the Middle East, Europe and Africa and over the conflicts involving Ukraine, Syria and North Korea. There have also been concerns on the relationship among China and other Asian countries, which may result in or intensify potential conflicts in relation to territorial disputes, and the possibility of a trade war between the United States and China. In addition, the U.K. held a referendum on June 23, 2016 on its membership in the E.U., in which a majority of voters in the U.K. voted to exit the E.U. (commonly referred to as “Brexit”). The U.K.’s departure from the E.U. remains uncertain. Brexit could adversely affect European and worldwide economic and market conditions and could contribute to instability in global financial and foreign exchange markets. It is unclear whether these challenges and uncertainties will be contained or resolved, and what effects they may have on the global political and economic conditions in the long term.

 

Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.

 

We conduct our business primarily through our PRC subsidiaries and consolidated variable interest entities in China. Our operations in China are governed by PRC laws and regulations. Our PRC subsidiaries are subject to laws and regulations applicable to foreign investment in China. The PRC legal system is a civil law system based on written statutes. Unlike the common law system, prior court decisions may be cited for reference but have limited precedential value. The PRC legal system is evolving rapidly, and the interpretation of many laws, regulations and rules may contain inconsistencies and enforcement of these laws, regulations and rules involves uncertainties.

 

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From time to time, we may have to resort to administrative and court proceedings to enforce our legal rights. Any administrative and court proceedings in China may be protracted, resulting in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. Since PRC administrative and court authorities have significant discretion in interpreting and implementing statutory and contractual terms, it may be more difficult to evaluate the outcome of administrative and court proceedings and the level of legal protection we enjoy than in more developed legal systems. These uncertainties may impede our ability to enforce the contracts we have entered into and could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations. Furthermore, the PRC legal system is based, in part, on government policies and internal rules, some of which are not published in a timely manner, or at all, but which may have retroactive effect. As a result, we may not always be aware of any potential violation of these policies and rules. Such unpredictability towards our contractual, property and procedural rights could adversely affect our business and impede our ability to continue our operations.

 

We are subject to consumer protection laws that could require us to modify our current business practices and incur increased costs.

 

We are subject to numerous PRC laws and regulations that regulate retailers generally or govern online retailers specifically, such as the Consumer Protection Law. If these regulations were to change or if we, suppliers or third-party sellers on our marketplace were to violate them, the costs of certain products or services could increase, or we could be subject to fines or penalties or suffer reputational harm, which could reduce demand for the products or services offered on our websites and mobile apps and hurt our business and results of operations. For example, the amended Consumer Protection Law, which became effective in March 2014, further strengthens the protection of consumers and imposes more stringent requirements and obligations on business operators, especially on businesses that operate on the internet. Pursuant to the Consumer Protection Law, except for certain types of products, such as custom-made goods, fresh and perishable goods, consumers are generally entitled to return goods purchased within seven days upon receipt without giving any reasons if they purchased the goods over the internet. Consumers whose interests have been damaged due to their purchase of goods or acceptance of services on online marketplace platforms may claim damages from sellers or service providers. Where the operators of an online marketplace platform are unable to provide the real names, addresses and valid contact details of the sellers or service providers, the consumers may also claim damages from the operators of the online marketplace platforms. Operators of online marketplace platforms that know or should have known that sellers or service providers use their platforms to infringe upon the legitimate rights and interests of consumers but fail to take necessary measures must bear joint and several liability with the sellers or service providers. Moreover, if business operators deceive consumers or knowingly sell substandard or defective products, they should not only compensate consumers for their losses, but also pay additional damages equal to three times the price of the goods or services. Legal requirements are frequently changed and subject to interpretation, and we are unable to predict the ultimate cost of compliance with these requirements or their effect on our operations. We may be required to make significant expenditures or modify our business practices to comply with existing or future laws and regulations, which may increase our costs and materially limit our ability to operate our business.

 

We may be adversely affected by the complexity, uncertainties and changes in PRC regulation of internet-related business and companies.

 

The PRC government extensively regulates the internet industry, including foreign ownership of, and the licensing and permit requirements pertaining to, companies in the internet industry. These internet-related laws and regulations are relatively new and evolving, and their interpretation and enforcement involve significant uncertainties. As a result, in certain circumstances it may be difficult to determine what actions or omissions may be deemed to be in violation of applicable laws and regulations. Issues, risks and uncertainties relating to PRC government regulation of the internet industry include, but are not limited to, the following:

 

We only have control over our websites through contractual arrangements. We do not own the websites in China due to the restriction of foreign investment in businesses providing value-added telecommunication services in China, including internet information provision services. This may significantly disrupt our business, subject us to sanctions, compromise enforceability of related contractual arrangements, or have other harmful effects on us.

 

The evolving PRC regulatory system for the internet industry may lead to the establishment of new regulatory agencies. For example, in May 2011, the State Council announced the establishment of a new department, the Cyberspace Administration of China (with the involvement of the State Council Information Office, the MIIT, and the Ministry of Public Security). The primary role of this agency is to facilitate the policy-making and legislative development in this field to direct and coordinate with the relevant departments in connection with online content administration and to deal with cross-ministry regulatory matters in relation to the internet industry.

 

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New laws and regulations may be promulgated that will regulate internet activities, including online retail. If these new laws and regulations are promulgated, additional licenses may be required for our operations. If our operations do not comply with these new regulations at the time they become effective, or if we fail to obtain any licenses required under these new laws and regulations, we could be subject to penalties.

 

The Circular on Strengthening the Administration of Foreign Investment in and Operation of Value-added Telecommunications Business, issued by the MIIT in July 2006, prohibits domestic telecommunication service providers from leasing, transferring or selling telecommunications business operating licenses to any foreign investor in any form, or providing any resources, sites or facilities to any foreign investor for their illegal operation of a telecommunications business in China. According to this circular, either the holder of a value-added telecommunication services operation permit or its shareholders must directly own the domain names and trademarks used by such license holders in their provision of value-added telecommunication services. The circular also requires each license holder to have the necessary facilities, including servers, for its approved business operations and to maintain such facilities in the regions covered by its license. If an ICP license holder fails to comply with the requirements and also fails to remedy such non-compliance within a specified period of time, the MIIT or its local counterparts have the discretion to take administrative measures against such license holder, including revoking its ICP license. Currently, Jingdong 360, our PRC consolidated variable interest entity, holds an ICP license and operates our www.jd.com website. Jingdong 360 owns the relevant domain names and registered trademarks and has the necessary personnel to operate such website.

 

The interpretation and application of existing PRC laws, regulations and policies and possible new laws, regulations or policies relating to the internet industry have created substantial uncertainties regarding the legality of existing and future foreign investments in, and the businesses and activities of, internet businesses in China, including our business. We cannot assure you that we have obtained all the permits or licenses required for conducting our business in China or will be able to maintain our existing licenses or obtain new ones.

 

Failure to make adequate contributions to various employee benefit plans as required by PRC regulations may subject us to penalties.

 

Companies operating in China are required to participate in various government sponsored employee benefit plans, including certain social insurance, housing funds and other welfare-oriented payment obligations, and contribute to the plans in amounts equal to certain percentages of salaries, including bonuses and allowances, of our employees up to a maximum amount specified by the local government from time to time at locations where we operate our businesses. The requirement of employee benefit plans has not been implemented consistently by the local governments in China given the different levels of economic development in different locations. Although almost all of our PRC operating entities incorporated in various locations in China have made the required employee benefit payments, we cannot assure you that we are able to make adequate contribution in a timely manner at all time. If we are subject to late fees or fines in relation to the underpaid employee benefits, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.

 

We may be required to register our operating offices outside of our residence addresses as branch offices under PRC law.

 

Under PRC law, a company setting up premises for business operations outside its residence address must register them as branch offices with the relevant local market regulation bureau at the place where the premises are located and obtain business licenses for them as branch offices. As of December 31, 2018, our comprehensive fulfillment facilities cover almost all the counties and districts across China. We seek to register branch offices in all the locations where we have delivery stations and pickup stations. However, as of the date of this annual report, we have not been able to register branch offices in all of these locations. Furthermore, we may expand our fulfillment network in the future to additional locations in China, and we may not be able to register branch offices in a timely manner due to complex procedural requirements and relocation of branch offices from time to time. If the PRC regulatory authorities determine that we are in violation of the relevant laws and regulations, we may be subject to penalties, including fines, confiscation of income and suspension of operation. If we become subject to these penalties, our business, results of operations, financial condition and prospects could be materially and adversely affected.

 

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Regulation and censorship of information disseminated over the internet in China may adversely affect our business, and we may be liable for content that is displayed on our websites.

 

China has enacted laws and regulations governing internet access and the distribution of products, services, news, information, audio-video programs and other content through the internet. In the past, the PRC government has prohibited the distribution of information through the internet that it deems to be in violation of PRC laws and regulations. In November 2016, China promulgated the Cyber Security Law, which came into effect on June 1, 2017, to protect cyberspace security and order. Cyber Security Law tightens control of cyber security and sets forth various security protection obligations for network operators. If any of our internet information were deemed by the PRC government to violate any content restrictions, we would not be able to continue to display such content and could become subject to penalties, including confiscation of income, fines, suspension of business and revocation of required licenses, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. We may also be subject to potential liability for any unlawful actions of our customers or users of our websites or for content we distribute that is deemed inappropriate. It may be difficult to determine the type of content that may result in liability to us, and if we are found to be liable, we may be prevented from operating our websites in China.

 

Fluctuations in exchange rates could have a material and adverse effect on our results of operations and the value of your investment.

 

The value of RMB against the U.S. dollar and other currencies is affected by changes in China’s political and economic conditions and by China’s foreign exchange policies, among other things. In July 2005, the PRC government changed its decades-old policy of pegging the value of the RMB to the U.S. dollar, and the RMB appreciated more than 20% against the U.S. dollar over the following three years. Between July 2008 and June 2010, this appreciation halted and the exchange rate between the RMB and the U.S. dollar remained within a narrow band. Since June 2010, the RMB has fluctuated against the U.S. dollar, at times significantly and unpredictably. While appreciating approximately by 7% against the U.S. dollar in 2017, the RMB depreciated approximately by 5% against the U.S. dollar in 2018. Since October 1, 2016, the RMB has joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s basket of currencies that make up the Special Drawing Right (SDR), along with the U.S. dollar, the Euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound. With the development of the foreign exchange market and progress towards interest rate liberalization and RMB internationalization, the PRC government may in the future announce further changes to the exchange rate system and there is no guarantee that the RMB will not appreciate or depreciate significantly in value against the U.S. dollar in the future. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between the RMB and the U.S. dollar in the future.

 

Significant revaluation of the RMB may have a material and adverse effect on your investment. For example, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars into RMB for our operations, appreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar would have an adverse effect on the RMB amount we would receive from the conversion. Conversely, if we decide to convert our RMB into U.S. dollars for the purpose of making payments for dividends on our ordinary shares or ADSs, repaying our U.S. dollar denominated notes or other payment obligations or for other business purposes, appreciation of the U.S. dollar against the RMB would have a negative effect on the U.S. dollar amount available to us. In addition, appreciation or depreciation in the value of the RMB relative to U.S. dollars would affect our financial results reported in U.S. dollar terms regardless of any underlying change in our business or results of operations.

 

Very limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. To date, we have not entered into any hedging transactions in an effort to reduce our exposure to foreign currency exchange risk. While we may decide to enter into hedging transactions in the future, the availability and effectiveness of these hedges may be limited and we may not be able to adequately hedge our exposure or at all. In addition, our currency exchange losses may be magnified by PRC exchange control regulations that restrict our ability to convert RMB into a foreign currency.

 

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Governmental control of currency conversion may limit our ability to utilize our revenues effectively and affect the value of your investment.

 

The PRC government imposes controls on the convertibility of the RMB into foreign currencies and, in certain cases, the remittance of currency out of China. We receive substantially all of our revenues in RMB. Under our current corporate structure, our company in the Cayman Islands may rely on dividend payments from our PRC subsidiaries to fund any cash and financing requirements we may have. Under existing PRC foreign exchange regulations, payments of current account items, such as profit distributions and trade and service-related foreign exchange transactions, can be made in foreign currencies without prior approval from SAFE by complying with certain procedural requirements. Therefore, our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China are able to pay dividends in foreign currencies to us without prior approval from SAFE, subject to the condition that the remittance of such dividends outside of the PRC complies with certain procedures under PRC foreign exchange regulation, such as the overseas investment registrations by our shareholders or the ultimate shareholders of our corporate shareholders who are PRC residents. But approval from or registration with appropriate government authorities or delegated banks is required where RMB is to be converted into foreign currency and remitted out of China to pay capital expenses such as the repayment of loans denominated in foreign currencies. The PRC government may also at its discretion restrict access in the future to foreign currencies for current account transactions. If the foreign exchange control system prevents us from obtaining sufficient foreign currencies to satisfy our foreign currency demands, we may not be able to pay dividends in foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of our ADSs.

 

PRC regulations establish complex procedures for some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors, which could make it more difficult for us to pursue growth through acquisitions in China.

 

PRC regulations and rules concerning mergers and acquisitions including the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Companies by Foreign Investors, or the M&A Rules, established additional procedures and requirements that could make merger and acquisition activities by foreign investors more time consuming and complex. For example, the M&A Rules require that the Ministry of Commerce be notified in advance of any change-of-control transaction in which a foreign investor takes control of a PRC domestic enterprise, if (i) any important industry is concerned, (ii) such transaction involves factors that have or may have impact on the national economic security, or (iii) such transaction will lead to a change in control of a domestic enterprise which holds famous trademarks or PRC time-honored brands. Mergers, acquisitions or contractual arrangements that allow one market player to take control of or to exert decisive impact on another market player must also be notified in advance to the Ministry of Commerce when the threshold under the Provisions on Thresholds for Prior Notification of Concentrations of Undertakings, or the Prior Notification Rules, issued by the State Council in August 2008 is triggered. In addition, the security review rules issued by the Ministry of Commerce that became effective in September 2011 specify that mergers and acquisitions by foreign investors that raise “national defense and security” concerns and mergers and acquisitions through which foreign investors may acquire de facto control over domestic enterprises that raise “national security” concerns are subject to strict review by the Ministry of Commerce, and the rules prohibit any activities attempting to bypass a security review, including by structuring the transaction through a proxy or contractual control arrangement. In the future, we may grow our business by acquiring complementary businesses. Complying with the requirements of the above-mentioned regulations and other relevant rules to complete such transactions could be time consuming, and any required approval processes, including obtaining approval from the Ministry of Commerce or its local counterparts may delay or inhibit our ability to complete such transactions. It is unclear whether our business would be deemed to be in an industry that raises “national defense and security” or “national security” concerns. However, the Ministry of Commerce or other government agencies may publish explanations in the future determining that our business is in an industry subject to the security review, in which case our future acquisitions in the PRC, including those by way of entering into contractual control arrangements with target entities, may be closely scrutinized or prohibited. Our ability to expand our business or maintain or expand our market share through future acquisitions would as such be materially and adversely affected.

 

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PRC regulations relating to the establishment of offshore special purpose companies by PRC residents may subject our PRC resident beneficial owners or our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China to liability or penalties, limit our ability to inject capital into these subsidiaries, limit these subsidiaries’ ability to increase their registered capital or distribute profits to us, or may otherwise adversely affect us.

 

The Notice on Issues Relating to the Administration of Foreign Exchange in Fund-Raising and Round-Trip Investment Activities of Domestic Residents Conducted via Offshore Special Purpose Companies, or SAFE Circular No. 75, requires PRC residents to register with the relevant local branch of SAFE before establishing or controlling any company outside of China, referred to as an offshore special purpose company, for the purpose of raising funds from overseas to acquire or exchange the assets of, or acquiring equity interests in, PRC entities held by such PRC residents and to update such registration in the event of any significant changes with respect to that offshore company. SAFE promulgated the Circular on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Control on Domestic Residents’ Offshore Investment and Financing and Roundtrip Investment through Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular No. 37, in July 2014, which replaced the SAFE Circular No. 75. SAFE Circular No. 37 requires PRC residents to register with local branches of SAFE in connection with their direct establishment or indirect control of an offshore entity, for the purpose of overseas investment and financing, with such PRC residents’ legally owned assets or equity interests in domestic enterprises or offshore assets or interests, referred to in SAFE Circular No.37 as a “special purpose vehicle.” The term “control” under SAFE Circular No. 37 is broadly defined as the operation rights, beneficiary rights or decision-making rights acquired by the PRC residents in the offshore special purpose vehicles or PRC companies by such means as acquisition, trust, proxy, voting rights, repurchase, convertible bonds or other arrangements. SAFE Circular No. 37 further requires amendment to the registration in the event of any changes with respect to the basic information of the special purpose vehicle, such as changes in a PRC resident individual shareholder, name or operation period; or any significant changes with respect to the special purpose vehicle, such as increase or decrease of capital contributed by PRC individuals, share transfer or exchange, merger, division or other material event. If the shareholders of the offshore holding company who are PRC residents do not complete their registration with the local SAFE branches, the PRC subsidiaries may be prohibited from distributing their profits and proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation to the offshore company, and the offshore company may be restricted in its ability to contribute additional capital to its PRC subsidiaries. Moreover, failure to comply with SAFE registration and amendment requirements described above could result in liability under PRC law for evasion of applicable foreign exchange restrictions. In February 2015, SAFE issued SAFE Circular No. 13, which took effect on June 1, 2015. SAFE Circular No. 13 has delegated to the qualified banks the authority to register all PRC residents’ investment in “special purpose vehicle” pursuant to the SAFE Circular No. 37, except that those PRC residents who have failed to comply with the SAFE Circular No. 37 will remain to fall into the jurisdiction of the local SAFE branch and must make their supplementary registration application with the local SAFE branch.

 

We have requested PRC residents who we know hold direct or indirect interest in our company to make the necessary applications, filings and amendments as required under SAFE Circular No. 37 and other related rules. Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu, our founder and beneficial owner, has completed required registrations with SAFE in relation to our financing and restructuring and will make amendments when needed and required in accordance with SAFE Circular No. 37. However, we may not be informed of the identities of all the PRC residents holding direct or indirect interest in our company, and we cannot provide any assurance that these PRC residents will comply with our request to make or obtain any applicable registrations or comply with other requirements under SAFE Circular No. 37 or other related rules. The failure or inability of our PRC resident shareholders to comply with the registration procedures set forth in these regulations may subject us to fines and legal sanctions, restrict our cross-border investment activities, limit the ability of our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China to distribute dividends and the proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation to us, and we may also be prohibited from injecting additional capital into these subsidiaries. Moreover, failure to comply with the various foreign exchange registration requirements described above could result in liability under PRC law for circumventing applicable foreign exchange restrictions. As a result, our business operations and our ability to distribute profits to you could be materially and adversely affected.

 

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Any failure to comply with PRC regulations regarding the registration requirements for employee stock incentive plans may subject the PRC plan participants or us to fines and other legal or administrative sanctions.

 

Pursuant to the Notice on Issues Concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in Stock Incentive Plan of Overseas Publicly Listed Company, issued by SAFE in February 2012, employees, directors, supervisors and other senior management participating in any stock incentive plan of an overseas publicly listed company who are PRC citizens or who are non-PRC citizens residing in China for a continuous period of not less than one year, subject to a few exceptions, are required to register with SAFE through a domestic qualified agent, which could be a PRC subsidiary of such overseas listed company, and complete certain other procedures. We and our directors, executive officers and other employees who are PRC citizens or who reside in the PRC for a continuous period of not less than one year and who have been granted restricted shares, restricted share units or options are subject to these regulations. We have completed the filing procedures with respect to our employee stock incentive plan in 2017. However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to complete the relevant registration for new employees who participate in such stock incentive plan in the future in a timely manner or at all. Failure to complete the SAFE registrations may subject them to fines and legal sanctions and may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital into our wholly foreign-owned subsidiaries in China and limit these subsidiaries’ ability to distribute dividends to us. We also face regulatory uncertainties that could restrict our ability to adopt additional incentive plans for our directors and employees under PRC law.

 

Our business benefits from certain financial incentives and discretionary policies granted by local governments. Expiration of, or changes to, these incentives or policies would have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

 

In the past, local governments in China granted certain financial incentives from time to time to our PRC subsidiaries or consolidated variable interest entities as part of their efforts to encourage the development of local businesses. We received approximately RMB722 million, RMB843 million and RMB615 million (US$123 million) in financial incentives from local governments relating to our business operations in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. The timing, amount and criteria of government financial incentives are determined within the sole discretion of the local government authorities and cannot be predicted with certainty before we actually receive any financial incentive. We generally do not have the ability to influence local governments in making these decisions. Local governments may decide to reduce or eliminate incentives at any time. We cannot assure you of the continued availability of the government incentives currently enjoyed by our PRC subsidiaries or consolidated variable interest entities. Any reduction or elimination of incentives would have an adverse effect on our results of operations.

 

If we are classified as a PRC resident enterprise for PRC income tax purposes, such classification could result in unfavorable tax consequences to us and our non-PRC shareholders or ADS holders.

 

Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation rules, an enterprise established outside of the PRC with “de facto management body” within the PRC is considered a resident enterprise and will be subject to the enterprise income tax on its global income at the rate of 25%. The implementation rules define the term “de facto management body” as the body that exercises full and substantial control and overall management over the business, productions, personnel, accounts and properties of an enterprise. In April 2009, the State Administration of Taxation issued a circular, known as Circular 82, which provides certain specific criteria for determining whether the “de facto management body” of a PRC-controlled enterprise that is incorporated offshore is located in China. Although this circular only applies to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC enterprise groups, not those controlled by PRC individuals or foreigners, the criteria set forth in the circular may reflect the State Administration of Taxation’s general position on how the “de facto management body” text should be applied in determining the tax resident status of all offshore enterprises. According to Circular 82, an offshore incorporated enterprise controlled by a PRC enterprise or a PRC enterprise group will be regarded as a PRC tax resident by virtue of having its “de facto management body” in China and will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax on its global income only if all of the following conditions are met: (i) the primary location of the day-to-day operational management is in the PRC; (ii) decisions relating to the enterprise’s financial and human resource matters are made or are subject to approval by organizations or personnel in the PRC; (iii) the enterprise’s primary assets, accounting books and records, company seals, and board and shareholder resolutions, are located or maintained in the PRC; and (iv) at least 50% of voting board members or senior executives habitually reside in the PRC.

 

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We believe that none of JD.com, Inc. and its subsidiaries outside of China is a PRC resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes. See “Item 10.E. Additional Information—Taxation—People’s Republic of China Taxation.” However, the tax resident status of an enterprise is subject to determination by the PRC tax authorities and uncertainties remain with respect to the interpretation of the term “de facto management body.” If the PRC tax authorities determine that JD.com, Inc. or any of its subsidiaries outside of China is a PRC resident enterprise for enterprise income tax purposes, they would be subject to a 25% enterprise income tax on their global income. If these entities derive income other than dividends from their wholly-owned subsidiaries in the PRC, a 25% enterprise income tax on their global income may increase our tax burden. If JD.com, Inc. or any of its subsidiaries outside of China is classified as a PRC resident enterprise, dividends paid to it from its wholly-owned subsidiaries in China may be regarded as tax-exempted income if such dividends are deemed to be “dividends between qualified PRC resident enterprises” under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and its implementation rules. However, we cannot assure you that such dividends will not be subject to PRC withholding tax, as the PRC tax authorities, which enforce the withholding tax, have not yet issued guidance with respect to the processing of outbound remittances to entities that are treated as resident enterprises for PRC income tax purposes.

 

In addition, if JD.com, Inc. is classified as a PRC resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes and unless a tax treaty or similar arrangement provides otherwise, we may be required to withhold a 10% withholding tax from dividends we pay to our shareholders that are non-resident enterprises, including the holders of our ADSs. In addition, non-resident enterprise shareholders (including our ADS holders) may be subject to a 10% PRC withholding tax on gains realized on the sale or other disposition of ADSs or ordinary shares, if such income is treated as sourced from within the PRC. Furthermore, gains derived by our non-PRC individual shareholders from the sale of our shares and ADSs may be subject to a 20% PRC withholding tax. It is unclear whether our non-PRC individual shareholders (including our ADS holders) would be subject to any PRC tax on dividends obtained by such non-PRC individual shareholders in the event we are determined to be a PRC resident enterprise. If any PRC tax were to apply to such dividends, it would generally apply at a rate of 20% unless a reduced rate is available under an applicable tax treaty. However, it is also unclear whether non-PRC shareholders of JD.com, Inc. would be able to claim the benefits of any tax treaties between their country of tax residence and the PRC in the event that JD.com, Inc. is treated as a PRC resident enterprise.

 

Under the Arrangement Between the PRC and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with Respect to Taxes on Income and Capital, the dividend withholding tax rate may be reduced to 5%, if a Hong Kong resident enterprise is considered a non-PRC tax resident enterprise and holds at least 25% of the equity interests in the PRC enterprise distributing the dividends, subject to approval of the PRC local tax authority. However, if the Hong Kong resident enterprise is not considered to be the beneficial owner of such dividends under applicable PRC tax regulations, such dividends may remain subject to withholding tax at a rate of 10%. In October 2009, the State Administration of Taxation issued a circular, known as Circular 601, which provides guidance on determining whether an enterprise is a “beneficial owner” under China’s tax treaties and tax arrangements. Circular 601 provides that, in order to be a beneficial owner, an entity generally must be engaged in substantive business activities, and that a company that is set up for the purpose of avoiding or reducing taxes or transferring or accumulating profits will not be regarded as a beneficial owner and will not qualify for treaty benefits such as preferential dividend withholding tax rates. In February 2018, the State Administration of Taxation issued a new circular (Circular No. 9) to replace Circular 601, which came into effect on April 1, 2018. Circular No. 9 provides a more flexible framework in determining whether an applicant engages in substantive business activities. In addition, in the event that an enterprise does not satisfy the criteria for “beneficial owner,” but the person who holds 100% ownership interests in the enterprise directly or indirectly satisfies the criteria for “beneficial owner” and the circumstances fall under Circular No. 9, the enterprise will be deemed as a “beneficial owner.” If our Hong Kong subsidiaries are, in the light of Circular 601, considered to be a non-beneficial owner for purposes of the tax arrangement mentioned above, any dividends paid to them by our wholly foreign-owned PRC subsidiaries would not qualify for the preferential dividend withholding tax rate of 5%, but rather would be subject to a rate of 10%.

 

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We face uncertainties with respect to indirect transfers of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises by their non-PRC holding companies, and heightened scrutiny over acquisition transactions by the PRC tax authorities may have a negative impact on potential acquisitions we may pursue in the future.

 

The State Administration of Taxation has issued several rules and notices to tighten the scrutiny over acquisition transactions in recent years, including the Notice on Strengthening Administration of Enterprise Income Tax for Share Transfers by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises issued in December 2009, or SAT Circular 698, the Notice on Several Issues Regarding the Income Tax of Non-PRC Resident Enterprises promulgated issued in March 2011, or SAT Circular 24, and the Notice on Certain Corporate Income Tax Matters on Indirect Transfer of Properties by Non-PRC Resident Enterprises issued in February 2015, or SAT Circular 7. Pursuant to these rules and notices, if a non-PRC resident enterprise indirectly transfers PRC taxable properties, referring to properties of an establishment or a place in the PRC, real estate properties in the PRC or equity investments in a PRC tax resident enterprise, by disposing of equity interest in an overseas holding company, excluding trading of a public overseas company’s shares through stock exchanges without a reasonable commercial purpose and resulting in the avoidance of PRC enterprise income tax, such indirect transfer should be deemed as a direct transfer of PRC taxable properties and gains derived from such indirect transfer may be subject to the PRC withholding tax at a rate of up to 10%. SAT Circular 7 sets out several factors to be taken into consideration by tax authorities in determining whether an indirect transfer has a reasonable commercial purpose. An indirect transfer satisfying all the following criteria will be deemed to lack reasonable commercial purpose and be taxable under PRC law: (i) 75% or more of the equity value of the intermediary enterprise being transferred is derived directly or indirectly from the PRC taxable properties; (ii) at any time during the one-year period before the indirect transfer, 90% or more of the asset value of the intermediary enterprise (excluding cash) is comprised directly or indirectly of investments in the PRC, or 90% or more of its income is derived directly or indirectly from the PRC; (iii) the functions performed and risks assumed by the intermediary enterprise and any of its subsidiaries that directly or indirectly hold the PRC taxable properties are limited and are insufficient to prove their economic substance; and (iv) the foreign tax payable on the gain derived from the indirect transfer of the PRC taxable properties is lower than the potential PRC income tax on the direct transfer of such assets. Nevertheless, the indirect transfer falling into the safe harbor available under SAT Circular 7 may not be subject to PRC tax and the scope of the safe harbor includes qualified group restructuring as specifically set out in SAT Circular 7, public market trading and tax treaty exemptions.

 

In October 2017, the SAT released the Public Notice Regarding Issues Concerning the Withholding of Non-resident Enterprise Income Tax at Source, or SAT Public Notice 37, effective from December 2017. SAT Public Notice 37 replaced a series of important circulars, including but not limited to SAT Circular 698, and revised the rules governing the administration of withholding tax on China-source income derived by a nonresident enterprise. SAT Public Notice 37 provides for certain key changes to the current withholding regime, such as (i) the withholding obligation for a non-resident enterprise deriving dividend arises on the date on which the payment is actually made rather than on the date of the resolution that declared the dividends, (ii) non-resident enterprises are not obligated to report to the taxes authorities if their withholding agents fail to perform the withholding obligation.

 

Under SAT Circular 7 and SAT Public Notice 37, the entities or individuals obligated to pay the transfer price to the transferor are the withholding agents and must withhold the PRC income tax from the transfer price if the indirect transfer is subject to the PRC enterprise income tax. If the withholding agent fails to do so, the transferor should report to and pay the tax to the PRC tax authorities. In the event that neither the withholding agent nor the transferor fulfills their obligations under SAT Circular 7 and SAT Public Notice 37, according to the applicable law, apart from imposing penalties such as late payment interest on the transferor, the tax authority may also hold the withholding agent liable and impose a penalty of 50% to 300% of the unpaid tax on the withholding agent. The penalty imposed on the withholding agent may be reduced or waived if the withholding agent has submitted the relevant materials in connection with the indirect transfer to the PRC tax authorities in accordance with SAT Circular 7.

 

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However, as these rules and notices are relatively new and there is a lack of clear statutory interpretation, we face uncertainties on the reporting and consequences on future private equity financing transactions, share exchange or other transactions involving the transfer of shares in our company by investors that are non-PRC resident enterprises, or sale or purchase of shares in other non-PRC resident companies or other taxable assets by us. Our company and other non-resident enterprises in our group may be subject to filing obligations or being taxed if our company and other non-resident enterprises in our group are transferors in such transactions, and may be subject to withholding obligations if our company and other non-resident enterprises in our group are transferees in such transactions. For the transfer of shares in our company by investors that are non-PRC resident enterprises, our PRC subsidiaries may be requested to assist in the filing under the rules and notices. As a result, we may be required to expend valuable resources to comply with these rules and notices or to request the relevant transferors from whom we purchase taxable assets to comply, or to establish that our company and other non-resident enterprises in our group should not be taxed under these rules and notices, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. There is no assurance that the tax authorities will not apply the rules and notices to our offshore restructuring transactions where non-PRC residents were involved if any of such transactions were determined by the tax authorities to lack reasonable commercial purpose. As a result, we and our non-PRC resident investors may be at risk of being taxed under these rules and notices and may be required to comply with or to establish that we should not be taxed under such rules and notices, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations or such non-PRC resident investors’ investments in us. We have conducted acquisition transactions in the past and may conduct additional acquisition transactions in the future. We cannot assure you that the PRC tax authorities will not, at their discretion, adjust any capital gains and impose tax return filing obligations on us or require us to provide assistance for the investigation of PRC tax authorities with respect thereto. Heightened scrutiny over acquisition transactions by the PRC tax authorities may have a negative impact on potential acquisitions we may pursue in the future.

 

Risks Related to Our ADSs

 

The trading price of our ADSs may be volatile.

 

The trading price of our ADSs ranged from US$19.21 to US$50.68 per ADS in 2018. The trading prices of our ADSs may be volatile and could fluctuate widely due to factors beyond our control. This may happen because of broad market and industry factors, like the performance and fluctuation in the market prices or the underperformance or deteriorating financial results of other listed companies based in China. The securities of some of these companies have experienced significant volatility since their initial public offerings, including, in some cases, substantial price declines in the trading prices of their securities. The trading performances of other Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings, including internet and e-commerce companies, may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in the United States, which consequently may impact the trading performance of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. In addition, any negative news or perceptions about inadequate corporate governance practices or fraudulent accounting, corporate structure or matters of other Chinese companies may also negatively affect the attitudes of investors towards Chinese companies in general, including us, regardless of whether we have conducted any inappropriate activities. In addition, securities markets may from time to time experience significant price and volume fluctuations that are not related to our operating performance, such as the large decline in share prices in the United States, China and other jurisdictions in late 2008, early 2009, the second half of 2011, mid-2015 and early 2016, which may have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of our ADSs.

 

In addition to the above factors, the price and trading volume of our ADSs may be highly volatile due to multiple factors, including the following:

 

·                  regulatory developments affecting us or our industry, customers, suppliers or third-party sellers;

 

·                  announcements of studies and reports relating to the quality of our product and service offerings or those of our competitors;

 

·                  changes in the economic performance or market valuations of other online retail or e-commerce companies;

 

·                  actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly results of operations and changes or revisions of our expected results;

 

·                  changes in financial estimates by securities research analysts;

 

·                  conditions in the online retail market;

 

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·                  announcements by us or our competitors of new product and service offerings, acquisitions, strategic relationships, joint ventures, capital raisings or capital commitments;

 

·                  additions to or departures of our senior management;

 

·                  fluctuations of exchange rates between the RMB and the U.S. dollar;

 

·                  release or expiry of lock-up or other transfer restrictions on our outstanding shares or ADSs;

 

·                  sales or perceived potential sales of additional ordinary shares or ADSs;

 

·                  any actual or alleged illegal acts of our senior management or other key employees;

 

·                  any share repurchase program; and

 

·                  proceedings instituted by the SEC against PRC-based accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm.

 

We cannot guarantee that any share repurchase program will be fully consummated or that any share repurchase program will enhance long-term shareholder value, and share repurchases could increase the volatility of the price of our ADSs and could diminish our cash reserves.

 

On December 25, 2018, our board of directors authorized a share repurchase program, under which we may repurchase up to US$1.0 billion of our ADSs or ordinary shares over the next 12 months through December 25, 2019. As of December 31, 2018, we had repurchased approximately 1.4 million ADSs at an average price of US$21.48 per ADS under this program. Our share repurchase program could affect the price of our stock and increase volatility and may be suspended or terminated at any time.

 

If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price for our ADSs and trading volume could decline.

 

The trading market for our ADSs will depend in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If research analysts do not establish and maintain adequate research coverage or if one or more of the analysts who covers us downgrades our ADSs or publishes inaccurate or unfavorable research about our business, the market price for our ADSs would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to publish reports on us regularly, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which, in turn, could cause the market price or trading volume for our ADSs to decline.

 

Because we do not expect to pay dividends in the foreseeable future, you must rely on price appreciation of our ADSs for return on your investment.

 

We currently intend to retain most, if not all, of our available funds and any future earnings to fund the development and growth of our business. As a result, we do not expect to pay any cash dividends in the foreseeable future. Therefore, you should not rely on an investment in our ADSs as a source for any future dividend income.

 

Our board of directors has complete discretion as to whether to distribute dividends subject to our memorandum and articles of association and certain restrictions under Cayman Islands law. Our shareholders may by ordinary resolution declare a dividend, but no dividend may exceed the amount recommended by our board of directors. Even if our board of directors decides to declare and pay dividends, the timing, amount and form of future dividends, if any, will depend on, among other things, our future results of operations and cash flow, our capital requirements and surplus, the amount of distributions, if any, received by us from our subsidiaries, our financial condition, contractual restrictions and other factors deemed relevant by our board of directors. Accordingly, the return on your investment in our ADSs will likely depend entirely upon any future price appreciation of our ADSs. There is no guarantee that our ADSs will appreciate in value or even maintain the price at which you purchased the ADSs. You may not realize a return on your investment in our ADSs and you may even lose your entire investment in our ADSs.

 

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Substantial future sales or perceived potential sales of our ADSs in the public market could cause the price of our ADSs to decline.

 

Sales of our ADSs in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of our ADSs to decline. As of February 28, 2019, we had 2,907,939,381 ordinary shares outstanding, comprising of (i)2,450,892,898 Class A ordinary shares (excluding the 57,876,466 Class A ordinary shares issued to our depositary bank for bulk issuance of ADSs reserved for future issuances upon the exercise or vesting of awards granted under our Share Incentive Plan), and (ii)457,046,483 Class B ordinary shares. Among these shares, 1,792,588,288 Class A ordinary shares are in the form of ADSs, which are freely transferable without restriction or additional registration under the Securities Act. The remaining Class A ordinary shares outstanding and the Class B ordinary shares will be available for sale, subject to volume and other restrictions as applicable under Rules 144 and 701 under the Securities Act. Certain holders of our ordinary shares may cause us to register under the Securities Act the sale of their shares. Registration of these shares under the Securities Act would result in ADSs representing these shares becoming freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act immediately upon the effectiveness of the registration. Sales of these registered shares in the form of ADSs in the public market could cause the price of our ADSs to decline.

 

You, as holders of ADSs, may have fewer rights than holders of our ordinary shares and must act through the depositary to exercise those rights.

 

Holders of ADSs do not have the same rights of our shareholders and may only exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying Class A ordinary shares in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under our memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required to convene a general meeting is seven days. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient notice of a shareholders’ meeting to permit you to withdraw the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs to allow you to cast your vote with respect to any specific matter. In addition, the depositary and its agents may not be able to send voting instructions to you or carry out your voting instructions in a timely manner. We will make all reasonable efforts to cause the depositary to extend voting rights to you in a timely manner, but we cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote your ADSs. Furthermore, the depositary and its agents will not be responsible for any failure to carry out any instructions to vote, for the manner in which any vote is cast or for the effect of any such vote. As a result, you may not be able to exercise your right to vote and you may lack recourse if the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs are not voted as you requested. In addition, in your capacity as an ADS holder, you will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting.

 

Except in limited circumstances, the depositary for our ADSs will give us a discretionary proxy to vote the Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs if you do not vote at shareholders’ meetings, which could adversely affect your interests.

 

Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, if you do not vote, the depositary will give us a discretionary proxy to vote the Class A ordinary shares underlying your ADSs at shareholders’ meetings unless:

 

·                  we have instructed the depositary that we do not wish a discretionary proxy to be given;

 

·                  we have informed the depositary that there is substantial opposition as to a matter to be voted on at the meeting;

 

·                  a matter to be voted on at the meeting would have a material adverse impact on shareholders; or

 

·                  the voting at the meeting is to be made on a show of hands.

 

The effect of this discretionary proxy is that you cannot prevent our ordinary shares underlying your ADSs from being voted, except under the circumstances described above. This may make it more difficult for shareholders to influence the management of our company. Holders of our ordinary shares are not subject to this discretionary proxy.

 

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Your right to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to your holdings.

 

We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make rights available to you in the United States unless we register both the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Under the deposit agreement, the depositary will not make rights available to you unless both the rights and the underlying securities to be distributed to ADS holders are either registered under the Securities Act or exempt from registration under the Securities Act. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective and we may not be able to establish a necessary exemption from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, you may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution in your holdings.

 

You may not receive cash dividends if the depositary decides it is impractical to make them available to you.

 

The depositary will pay cash dividends on the ADSs only to the extent that we decide to distribute dividends on our Class A ordinary shares or other deposited securities, and we do not have any present plan to pay any cash dividends on our ordinary shares in the foreseeable future. To the extent that there is a distribution, the depositary of our ADSs has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on our Class A ordinary shares or other deposited securities after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of Class A ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary may, at its discretion, decide that it is inequitable or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. For example, the depositary may determine that it is not practicable to distribute certain property through the mail, or that the value of certain distributions may be less than the cost of mailing them. In these cases, the depositary may decide not to distribute such property to you.

 

You may be subject to limitations on transfer of your ADSs.

 

Your ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its transfer books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deems it advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.

 

Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.

 

We are an exempted company with limited liability registered by way of continuation under the laws of the Cayman Islands. We conduct our operations in China and substantially all of our assets are located in China. In addition, our directors and executive officers, and some of the experts named in this annual report, reside within China, and most of the assets of these persons are located within China. As a result, it may be difficult or impossible for you to effect service of process within the United States upon us or these persons, or to bring an action against us or against these persons in the United States in the event that you believe that your rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of the PRC may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers.

 

There is no statutory enforcement in the Cayman Islands of judgments obtained in the federal or state courts of the United States (and the Cayman Islands are not a party to any treaties for the reciprocal enforcement or recognition of such judgments), a judgment obtained in such jurisdiction will be recognized and enforced in the courts of the Cayman Islands at common law, without any re-examination of the merits of the underlying dispute, by an action commenced on the foreign judgment debt in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands, provided such judgment (a) is given by a foreign court of competent jurisdiction, (b) imposes on the judgment debtor a liability to pay a liquidated sum for which the judgment has been given, (c) is final, (d) is not in respect of taxes, a fine or a penalty, and (e) was not obtained in a manner and is not of a kind the enforcement of which is contrary to natural justice or the public policy of the Cayman Islands. However, the Cayman Islands courts are unlikely to enforce a judgment obtained from the U.S. courts under civil liability provisions of the U.S. federal securities law if such judgment is determined by the courts of the Cayman Islands to give rise to obligations to make payments that are penal or punitive in nature. Because such a determination has not yet been made by a court of the Cayman Islands, it is uncertain whether such civil liability judgments from U.S. courts would be enforceable in the Cayman Islands.

 

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The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are provided for under the PRC Civil Procedures Law. PRC courts may recognize and enforce foreign judgments in accordance with the requirements of the PRC Civil Procedures Law based either on treaties between China and the country where the judgment is made or on principles of reciprocity between jurisdictions. China does not have any treaties or other forms of reciprocity with the United States that provide for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. In addition, according to the PRC Civil Procedures Law, the PRC courts will not enforce a foreign judgment against us or our director and officers if they decide that the judgment violates the basic principles of PRC laws or national sovereignty, security or public interest. As a result, it is uncertain whether and on what basis a PRC court would enforce a judgment rendered by a court in the United States.

 

Since we are a Cayman Islands company, the rights of our shareholders may be more limited than those of shareholders of a company organized in the United States.

 

Under the laws of some jurisdictions in the United States, majority and controlling shareholders generally have certain fiduciary responsibilities to the minority shareholders. Shareholder action must be taken in good faith, and actions by controlling shareholders which are obviously unreasonable may be declared null and void. Cayman Islands law protecting the interests of minority shareholders may not be as protective in all circumstances as the law protecting minority shareholders in some U.S. jurisdictions. In addition, the circumstances in which a shareholder of a Cayman Islands company may sue the company derivatively, and the procedures and defenses that may be available to the company, may result in the rights of shareholders of a Cayman Islands company being more limited than those of shareholders of a company organized in the United States.

 

Furthermore, our directors have the power to take certain actions without shareholder approval which would require shareholder approval under the laws of most U.S. jurisdictions. The directors of a Cayman Islands company, without shareholder approval, may implement a sale of any assets, property, part of the business, or securities of the company. Our ability to create and issue new classes or series of shares without shareholder approval could have the effect of delaying, deterring or preventing a change in control without any further action by our shareholders, including a tender offer to purchase our ordinary shares at a premium over then current market prices.

 

Our memorandum and articles of association contains anti-takeover provisions that could discourage a third party from acquiring us and adversely affect the rights of holders of our Class A ordinary shares and ADSs.

 

Our memorandum and articles of association contain certain provisions that could limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company, including a dual-class voting structure that gives disproportionate voting power to the Class B ordinary shares held by Max Smart Limited, a company wholly-owned by our chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu and of which he is the sole director, and those held by Fortune Rising Holdings Limited of which Mr. Liu is the sole shareholder and sole director. As of February 28, 2019, Mr. Liu beneficially owned 79.0% of the aggregate voting power of our company, including 6.1% of the aggregate voting power of our company that he may exercise on behalf of Fortune Rising Holdings Limited. Fortune Rising Holdings Limited holds the shares for the purpose of transferring such shares to the plan participants according to our awards under our Share Incentive Plan, and administers the awards and acts according to our instruction, and is therefore treated as our consolidated variable interest entity under U.S. GAAP. In addition, our memorandum and articles of association also contains a provision that grants authority to our board of directors to establish and issue from time to time one or more series of preferred shares without action by our shareholders and to determine, with respect to any series of preferred shares, the terms and rights of that series. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of the opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over the prevailing market price by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transactions.

 

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We are a foreign private issuer within the meaning of the rules under the Exchange Act, and as such we are exempt from certain provisions applicable to U.S. domestic public companies.

 

Because we qualify as a foreign private issuer under the Exchange Act, we are exempt from certain provisions of the securities rules and regulations in the United States that are applicable to U.S. domestic issuers, including:

 

·                  the rules under the Exchange Act requiring the filing with the SEC of quarterly reports on Form 10-Q or current reports on Form 8-K;

 

·                  the sections of the Exchange Act regulating the solicitation of proxies, consents, or authorizations in respect of a security registered under the Exchange Act;

 

·                  the sections of the Exchange Act requiring insiders to file public reports of their stock ownership and trading activities and liability for insiders who profit from trades made in a short period of time; and

 

·                  the selective disclosure rules by issuers of material nonpublic information under Regulation FD.

 

We are required to file an annual report on Form 20-F within four months of the end of each fiscal year. In addition, we intend to publish our results on a quarterly basis as press releases, distributed pursuant to the rules and regulations of NASDAQ. Press releases relating to financial results and material events will also be furnished to the SEC on Form 6-K. However, the information we are required to file with or furnish to the SEC will be less extensive and less timely compared to that required to be filed with the SEC by U.S. domestic issuers. As a result, you may not be afforded the same protections or information that would be made available to you were you investing in a U.S. domestic issuer.

 

As a Cayman Islands company, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from NASDAQ corporate governance listing standards; these practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with NASDAQ corporate governance listing standards.

 

As a Cayman Islands company listed on NASDAQ, we are subject to NASDAQ corporate governance listing standards. However, NASDAQ rules permit a foreign private issuer like us to follow the corporate governance practices of its home country. Certain corporate governance practices in the Cayman Islands, which is our home country, may differ significantly from NASDAQ corporate governance listing standards. For example, neither the Companies Law (2018 Revision) of the Cayman Islands nor our memorandum and articles of association requires a majority of our directors to be independent and we could include non-independent directors as members of our compensation committee and nominating committee, and our independent directors would not necessarily hold regularly scheduled meetings at which only independent directors are present. We follow home country practice with respect to annual meetings and did not hold an annual meeting of shareholders in 2018. We will, however, hold annual shareholders meetings in the future if there are matters that require shareholders’ approval. If we choose to follow other home country practice in the future, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would under NASDAQ corporate governance listing standards applicable to U.S. domestic issuers.

 

We may be classified as a passive foreign investment company for United States federal income tax purposes, which could subject United States investors in the ADSs or ordinary shares to significant adverse tax consequences.

 

Depending upon the value of our assets, which may be determined based, in part, on the market value of our ADSs and ordinary shares, and the nature of our assets and income over time, we could be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, for United States federal income tax purposes. A non-United States corporation, such as our company, will be classified as a PFIC for United States federal income tax purposes for any taxable year, if either (i) 75% or more of its gross income for such year consists of certain types of “passive” income or (ii) 50% or more of the value of its assets (determined on the basis of a quarterly average) during such year produce or are held for the production of passive income. The average percentage of a corporation’s assets that produce or are held for the production of passive income generally is determined on the basis of the fair market value of the corporation’s assets at the end of each quarter. This determination is based on the adjusted tax basis of the corporation’s assets.

 

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In addition, we will be treated as owning a proportionate share of the assets and earning a proportionate share of the income of any other corporation in which we own, directly or indirectly, 25% or more (by value) of the stock. Although the law in this regard is unclear, we treat our variable interest entities as being owned by us for United States federal income tax purposes because we control their management decisions and we are entitled to substantially all of the economic benefits, and, as a result, we consolidate their results of operations in our U.S. GAAP financial statements and treat them as being owned by us for United States federal income tax purposes. If it were determined, however, that we are not the owner of our variable interest entities for United States federal income tax purposes, we may be treated as a PFIC for our taxable year ended December 31, 2018 and in future taxable years.

 

Based on our current income and assets and the value of our ADSs and outstanding ordinary shares, we do not believe that we were a PFIC for our taxable year ended December 31, 2018 and we do not expect to be classified as a PFIC in the foreseeable future. Because PFIC status is a fact-intensive determination, no assurance can be given that we will not be classified as a PFIC for that year. While we do not anticipate becoming a PFIC, changes in the nature of our income or assets, or fluctuations in the market price of our ADSs or ordinary shares, may cause us to become a PFIC for future taxable years. In estimating the value of our goodwill and other unbooked intangibles, we have taken into account our market capitalization, which may fluctuate over time. Under circumstances where revenues from activities that produce passive income significantly increase relative to our revenues from activities that produce non-passive income or where we determine not to deploy significant amounts of cash for working capital or other purposes, our risk of becoming classified as a PFIC may substantially increase.

 

We incur increased costs as a result of being a public company.

 

As a public company, we incur significant accounting, legal and other expenses that we did not incur as a private company. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, as well as rules subsequently implemented by the SEC and NASDAQ, have detailed requirements concerning corporate governance practices of public companies, including Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act relating to internal controls over financial reporting. We expect these rules and regulations applicable to public companies to increase our accounting, legal and financial compliance costs and to make certain corporate activities more time-consuming and costly. Our management will be required to devote substantial time and attention to our public company reporting obligations and other compliance matters. We are currently evaluating and monitoring developments with respect to these rules and regulations, and we cannot predict or estimate the amount of additional costs we may incur or the timing of such costs. Our reporting and other compliance obligations as a public company may place a strain on our management, operational and financial resources and systems for the foreseeable future.

 

In the past, shareholders of a public company often brought securities class action suits against the company following periods of instability in the market price of that company’s securities. If we were involved in a class action suit, it could divert a significant amount of our management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations, which could harm our results of operations and require us to incur significant expenses to defend the suit. Any such class action suit, whether or not successful, could harm our reputation and restrict our ability to raise capital in the future. In addition, if a claim is successfully made against us, we may be required to pay significant damages, which could have a material and adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.

 

Item 4.           Information on the Company

 

A.            History and Development of the Company

 

Our History and Development

 

Our chairman and chief executive officer, Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu, launched an online retail website in January 2004. He subsequently formed a company in Beijing and another company in Shanghai and conducted his online retail business through these two companies. In April 2007, we established a wholly-owned PRC subsidiary, Beijing Jingdong Century Trade Co., Ltd., or Jingdong Century, and we acquired certain intellectual property rights from the two companies Mr. Liu had established earlier, which ceased business operations and were later liquidated and dissolved.

 

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In November 2006, we incorporated Star Wave Investments Holdings Limited under the laws of the British Virgin Islands as our offshore holding company in order to facilitate international financing. We later changed the name of this entity to 360buy Jingdong Inc. In January 2014, 360buy Jingdong Inc. was redomiciled in the Cayman Islands as an exempted company registered under the laws of the Cayman Islands, and was renamed JD.com, Inc.

 

We have established additional subsidiaries inside and outside of China and assisted in establishing PRC consolidated variable interest entities to conduct our business operations.

 

Our significant subsidiaries that conduct business operations in China include the following:

 

·                  Jingdong Century, established in April 2007, and certain of its subsidiaries in China, which primarily engage in retail business;

 

·                  Shanghai Shengdayuan Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Shanghai Shengdayuan, which was established in April 2011 and primarily operates our online marketplace business; and

 

·                  Xi’an Jingxundi Supply Chain Technology Co., Ltd., or Xi’an Jingxundi, which was established in May 2017 and provides primarily technology and consulting services relating to logistics services.

 

The significant consolidated variable interest entities and their subsidiaries that conduct our business operations in China include, among others, the following:

 

·                  Beijing Jingdong 360 Degree E-Commerce Co., Ltd., or Jingdong 360, which was established in April 2007 and holds our ICP license as an internet information provider and operates our www.jd.com website;

 

·                  Jiangsu Yuanzhou E-Commerce Co., Ltd., or Jiangsu Yuanzhou, which was established in September 2010 and primarily engages in the business of selling books, audio and video products; and

 

·                  Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Xi’an Jingdong Xincheng, which was established in June 2017 and provides primarily technology and consulting services relating to logistics services.

 

We also rely on other consolidated variable interest entities and their subsidiaries to conduct certain of our business operations, including Jiangsu Jingdong Bangneng Investment Management Co., Ltd., or Jiangsu Jingdong Bangneng.

 

In March 2014, we entered into a series of agreements with Tencent and its affiliates pursuant to which we acquired 100% interests in Tencent’s Paipai and QQ Wanggou online marketplace businesses, a 9.9% stake in Shanghai Icson, logistics personnel and certain other assets. We also entered into a five-year strategic cooperation agreement and an eight-year non-compete agreement with Tencent. In April 2016, we acquired the remaining equity interest in Shanghai Icson by exercising the right previously granted to us in March 2014.

 

On May 22, 2014, our ADSs commenced trading on NASDAQ under the symbol “JD.” We raised from our initial public offering approximately US$1.5 billion in net proceeds after deducting underwriting commissions and the offering expenses payable by us. Concurrently with our initial public offering, we also raised US$1.3 billion from Huang River Investment Limited, our existing shareholder and an affiliate of Tencent, in a private placement.

 

In December 2014, we completed a secondary public offering, pursuant to which certain selling shareholders sold an aggregate of 26,003,171 ADSs, representing 52,006,342 Class A ordinary shares, for an aggregate gross proceeds of approximately US$619 million, and we did not sell any ADSs in the offering.

 

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In June 2016, we entered into a series of agreements with Walmart in relation to our strategic alliance with Walmart, pursuant to which Walmart subscribed for 144,952,250 of our newly issued Class A ordinary shares, representing approximately 5% of our total issued and outstanding shares on a fully diluted basis at the time. As of February 28, 2019, Walmart held Class A ordinary shares representing approximately 9.9% of our total issued and outstanding shares. As part of our strategic alliance with Walmart, we acquired ownership of the Yihaodian marketplace platform assets, including the Yihaodian brand, websites and mobile apps. We have collaborated with Walmart on e-commerce, including launching Sam’s Club Flagship Store and Walmart China Flagship Store on JD.com, as well as Sam’s Club Global Flagship Store, Walmart Global Flagship Store, and ASDA Flagship Store on JD Worldwide and a one-hour delivery service from Walmart Stores in select cities through the JD Daojia app, as well as leveraging one another’s supply chain to increase product selection for customers across China. As part of the strategic alliance, we also entered into an eight-year non-compete arrangement with Walmart, subject to certain conditions and exceptions.

 

In April 2017, we established JD Logistics to leverage our advanced technology and logistics expertise to provide integrated supply chain and logistics services to businesses across a wide range of industries, including those beyond e-commerce. JD Logistics provides business partners with comprehensive supply chain solutions, including warehousing management, transportation, delivery, after-sales service, and logistics technology solutions, including cloud-based service and data analytics, among others. In February 2018, we entered into definitive agreements with third-party investors for the financing for JD Logistics. We raised a total amount of US$2.5 billion from the third-party investors, who owned an aggregate of approximately 19% stake in JD Logistics on a fully diluted basis upon the completion of the transaction and we have remained as the controlling shareholder of JD Logistics.

 

As of June 30, 2017, we had completed the reorganization of our finance business operated by Beijing Jingdong Financial Technology Holding Co., Ltd. (now known as Beijing Jingdong Digital Technology Co., Ltd., or JD Digits). Pursuant to the agreements we entered into with JD Digits and certain other parties in March 2017. Immediately prior to the reorganization, we owned 68.6% of JD Digits. As a result of the reorganization, we disposed of all of our 68.6% equity interest in JD Digits and deconsolidated the financial results of JD Digits from ours since then. Pursuant to the agreements relating to the reorganization, we received approximately RMB14.3 billion in cash with an economic gain of RMB14.2 billion. As JD Digits is under the common control of Mr. Richard Qiangdong Liu through his equity stake and voting arrangements, the gain of RMB14.2 billion was recorded directly to additional paid-in capital in shareholders’ equity. In exchange for certain licenses and services to be provided by us to JD Digits, we will receive 40% of the future pre-tax profit of JD Digits when JD Digits has a positive pre-tax income on a cumulative basis. In addition, we may be able to convert our profit-sharing right with respect to JD Digits into 40% of JD Digits’s equity interest, subject to applicable regulatory approvals. The above percentage of profit sharing and maximum equity interest issuance to us, which we refer to as the Maximum Interest, is subject to potential proportional dilution as a result of any future equity financings or ESOP increases of JD Digits. In connection with JD Digits’s additional round of financing in 2018, the Maximum Interest has been diluted to approximately 36%.

 

In June 2018, Google invested $550 million in us as part of a new strategic partnership, under which Google and we will work together to explore a broad range of possibilities, leveraging our supply chain and logistics expertise and Google’s technology strengths. In early 2019, we joined Google Shopping to offer a curated selection of high-quality products to consumers in the United States, which is our early efforts in joint development of retail solutions in overseas markets.

 

In 2018, we established a property management group, or JDPM, which owns, develops and manages our logistics facilities and other real estate properties, to support JD Logistics and other third parties. In February 2019, JDPM established JD Logistics Properties Core Fund, L.P., or JD LPC Fund, together with GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, for a total committed capital of over RMB4.8 billion. We serve as the general partner and have committed 20% of the total capital of JD LPC Fund, and GIC has committed the remaining 80%. The investment committee of JD LPC Fund, which comprise the representatives from us and GIC, will oversee the key operations of JD LPC Fund. Furthermore, in February 2019, we entered into a definitive agreement with JD LPC Fund, pursuant to which we will dispose of certain of our modern logistics facilities to JD LPC Fund for a total gross asset value of RMB10.9 billion, to unlock meaningful value from our balance sheet and recycle capital for our future growth initiatives. JD LPC Fund will use leverage to finance the purchase, and the closing of the purchase is subject to certain conditions, including the availability of debt financing. It is expected that the disposition of the majority of these logistics facilities will be completed in 2019. Subsequent to the disposition, we will lease back these facilities for operational purposes. JDPM will serve as the asset manager managing JD LPC Fund’s assets.

 

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Our Major Investments

 

In February 2015, we invested a combination of US$400 million in cash and certain resources valued at US$497 million, including exclusive access to the new and used car channels on our e-commerce sites including mobile apps and additional support from our key platforms, as consideration for newly issued ordinary shares of Bitauto, an NYSE-listed provider of internet content and marketing services for China’s fast-growing automotive industry. In June 2016, we made an additional investment of US$50 million in cash to purchase newly issued ordinary shares of Bitauto.

 

In February 2015, we invested US$100 million in newly issued series A preferred shares of Yixin, a subsidiary of Bitauto primarily engaged in e-commerce-related automotive financing platform business and currently listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In August 2016, we, together with Tencent, Baidu, Bitauto and other investors, entered into definitive agreements, pursuant to which we and the other investors invested an aggregate of US$550 million in cash in Yixin. As of December 31, 2018, we held approximately 26% of Bitauto’s issued and outstanding shares and approximately 11% of Yixin’s issued and outstanding shares.

 

In May 2015, we made further investment to acquire newly issued Class A ordinary shares of Tuniu, a NASDAQ-listed and leading online leisure travel company in China, through a combination of US$250 million in cash and certain resources valued at US$108 million, including exclusive rights to operate the leisure travel channel for both our www.jd.com website and mobile apps, and Tuniu’s being our preferred partner for hotel and air tickets booking services. Previously in December 2014, we purchased certain newly issued Class A ordinary shares of Tuniu by a cash consideration of US$50 million. As of December 31, 2018, we held approximately 20.4% of Tuniu’s issued and outstanding shares. Our leisure travel channel is currently operated by Tuniu.

 

In August 2015, we entered into definitive agreements with Yonghui, pursuant to which we subscribed for newly issued ordinary shares of Yonghui with a consideration of RMB4.23 billion (US$616 million). In May 2018, we made an additional investment of RMB1.2 billion (US$178 million) to acquire additional ordinary shares from the existing shareholders of Yonghui. As of December 31, 2018, we hold approximately 12% of Yonghui’s issued and outstanding ordinary shares. In addition, we have formed a strategic partnership with Yonghui to strengthen supply chain management capability primarily through joint procurement, and will continue to explore development opportunities in online-to-offline initiatives and other areas of potential strategic cooperation.

 

In April 2016, we completed the transaction with Dada Nexus Limited, or Dada, China’s largest crowdsourcing delivery company, pursuant to which our online-to-offline business, JD Daojia, became a subsidiary of Dada and we contributed certain resources and US$200 million in cash in exchange for newly issued equity interest in Dada. In December 2017, we exercised our warrant to acquire additional preferred shares of Dada. In August 2018, in conjunction of Dada’s Series F round financing with Walmart, we further invested US$180 million to acquire the newly issued preferred shares of Dada. As of December 31, 2018, we owned approximately 47.5% equity interest of Dada on a fully diluted basis.

 

In June 2017, we invested US$397 million in cash as consideration to acquire certain number of ordinary shares and preferred shares of Farfetch, the leading global e-commerce platform for the fashion industry. As part of this partnership, we became one of the largest shareholders of Farfetch. The strategic partnership between us and Farfetch leverages our leading logistics and technology capabilities and social media resources, including our partnership with Tencent, with Farfetch’s leadership in global luxury, to create a frictionless and seamless brand experience. In September 2018, concurrent with Fartech’s initial public offering and listing on the NYSE, we made an additional investment of US$27 million to purchase its newly issued ordinary shares.

 

In August 2017, we entered into a conditional share subscription agreement with China Unicom, a Chinese telecommunications operator in relation to our investment of approximately RMB5 billion in cash to subscribe for certain privately issued shares of China Unicom. Concurrently, we, through a PRC affiliate, also entered into a strategic business cooperation agreement with China Unicom.

 

In December 2017, we, along with Tencent, entered into a share subscription agreement to subscribe for newly issued Class A ordinary shares of Vipshop, an NYSE-listed online discount retailer for brands in China. In December 2017, we also entered into a business cooperation agreement with Vipshop. We also purchased the ADSs of Vipshop from open market. As of December 31, 2018, we cumulatively invested approximately US$585 million in cash as consideration for Class A ordinary shares and ADSs of Vipshop.

 

In January 2018, we, along with Tencent, entered into a strategic partnership agreement with Wanda Commercial Properties, a leading developer, owner and operator of commercial properties in China, and its major shareholder, Dalian Wanda Group Co., Ltd. Pursuant to the agreement, we invested RMB5 billion to purchase the shares of Wanda Commercial Properties from its existing shareholders.

 

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B.            Business Overview

 

We are a leading technology-driven e-commerce company and retail infrastructure service provider in China. We generated total net revenues of RMB258.3 billion, RMB362.3 billion and RMB462.0 billion (US$67.2 billion) in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. Our GMV increased from RMB939.2 billion in 2016 to RMB1,294.5 billion in 2017 and further to RMB1,676.9 billion (US$243.9 billion) in 2018.

 

We believe we provide consumers with an enjoyable online retail experience. Through our content-rich and user-friendly website www.jd.com and mobile apps, we offer a wide selection of authentic products at competitive prices which are delivered in a speedy and reliable manner. We also offer convenient online and in-person payment options and comprehensive customer services. In order to have better control over fulfillment and to ensure customer satisfaction, we have built our own nationwide fulfillment infrastructure and last-mile delivery network, staffed by our own employees, which supports both our online direct sales and our online marketplace businesses. We have established strong relationships with our suppliers as we develop our online direct sales business. Leveraging our strengths, we launched our online marketplace business in 2010, which has allowed us to significantly expand our selection of products and services.

 

We foster an interactive user community that discusses, rates and reviews our products and services. We believe we have the largest online product review database of any online direct sales company in China with approximately 4,485 million product reviews generated by our customers as of December 31, 2018. As a result of our superior customer experience, our business has grown rapidly. We had 226.6 million, 292.5 million and 305.3 million annual active customer accounts in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

 

Timely and reliable fulfillment is critical to the success of an online retail business. Given the underdevelopment of third-party fulfillment services in China in terms of both warehousing and logistics facilities and last-mile delivery services, we made a strategic decision in 2007 to build and operate our own nationwide fulfillment infrastructure. We believe we have the largest fulfillment infrastructure of any e-commerce company in China. We operated over 550 warehouses with an aggregate gross floor area of approximately 12 million square meters in 81 cities as of December 31, 2018, and had 95,138 delivery personnel, 29,139 warehouse staff and 16,676 customer service personnel as of the same date. Leveraging this nationwide fulfillment infrastructure, we deliver a majority of the orders directly to customers ourselves. As of December 31, 2018, our comprehensive fulfillment facilities covered almost all the counties and districts across China, and we provided same-day and next-day delivery in 2,146 counties and districts in China.

 

We are a technology-driven company and have invested heavily in developing our own highly scalable proprietary technology platform that supports our rapid growth and enables us to provide value-added technology services. In addition, our sophisticated business intelligence system enables us to refine our merchandise sourcing strategy to manage our inventory turnover and control costs and to leverage our large customer database to create customized product recommendations and cost-effective and targeted advertising.

 

We introduced an online marketplace to leverage our brand recognition, large and growing customer base, extensive transaction data, fulfillment infrastructure and proprietary technology platform. Our online marketplace allows us to provide customers a much greater selection of products. We attract and select third-party sellers to offer authentic products to our customers through our online marketplace. We monitor third-party sellers’ performance and activities on our online marketplace closely to ensure that they meet our requirements for authentic products and high-quality customer service. In addition to basic transaction processing and billing services, we offer third-party sellers a suite of value-added fulfillment and other services.

 

Furthermore, we launched a cross-border e-commerce platform, JD Worldwide, on JD.com in April 2015. JD Worldwide is committed to providing consumers in China with high-quality, authentic imported products from worldwide and to serving as a gateway for leading international brands to reach the Chinese market. Since its launch in 2015, JD Worldwide has offered products in a wide variety of categories including maternal and childcare, nutrition and healthcare, personal care and cosmetics, electronics, household and kitchenware, food, and car accessories, among others. JD Worldwide sources products from over 70 countries and regions, including the United States, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, France, and Germany, among many others.

 

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Core Philosophy

 

Our core philosophy to put customers always as our top priority can be illustrated by the following:

 

 

·                  Our team is the foundation of our company. We have built a strong and dedicated team and made significant efforts in hiring, training and retaining our workforce.

 

·                  To support our anticipated growth, we have developed a series of comprehensive front-end and back-end systems, including customer interfaces, transaction processing, supply-chain management, merchant services, logistics, and financial systems, among others, to manage our flow of products, services, information and finances.

 

·                  Our data-driven management employs an array of key performance indicators to minimize costs and maximize efficiency in our operations.

 

·                  As a result, we are able to offer a broad selection of authentic products at competitive prices with comprehensive services. We strive to create a compelling online shopping experience that generates customer loyalty.

 

Our Strategies

 

We believe “Boundaryless Retail” represents the future retail trend for our industry because consumers will become ever-more involved in all aspects of a company’s value chain and proactively interact with businesses. Consumers will not only continue seeking out “low cost” and “convenience,” but also demand more personalized and diversified scenarios and participation at the same time. The interaction between these evolving consumer demands and technology advancement will further transform the retail infrastructure and experience.

 

Based on the knowledge we have accumulated and the capabilities we have built up throughout our years of operation, we have determined that our strategy for the next decade or so will be based on “Retail-as-a-Service.” On one hand, we will continue to expand our retail businesses while striving to reduce costs, improve efficiency and enhance the customer shopping experience, while proactively exploring innovative new business models. On the other hand, we will open up our established infrastructure to all our partners to empower retailers, suppliers and designers, among others, with our supply chain, logistics, technology and other capabilities. Through joint efforts with a wide range of business partners and by leveraging our well-established infrastructure, we believe we can create an even more advanced and comprehensive retail ecosystem to reach consumers wherever and whenever they shop.

 

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To implement this strategy of developing next-generation retail, we are exploring various online and offline integration opportunities and innovative business models. Leveraging our infrastructure, we will enable our partners to achieve digitalization with improved efficiency and expanded access to sales promotions and preferred discounts, regardless of whether consumers are shopping online or in-store.

 

Our Business Model

 

Since founding our company, we have focused on developing our online direct sales business as well as building our own fulfillment infrastructure, including last mile delivery capability, all based on our proprietary technology platform to support our operations. As our online direct sales business grew substantially in size, we launched our online marketplace to complement it and expand our product offerings, leverage our established fulfillment infrastructure and technology platform and ensure a superior customer experience. The combination of our online direct sales and online marketplace, and our own nationwide fulfillment infrastructure and technology platform, make us a uniquely strong player in China’s online retail industry in terms of providing superior customer experience.

 

Leveraging the significant scale of our business, cutting-edge technologies, and our well-established retail infrastructure, we have also begun to offer comprehensive services that complement our core business and create significant value for a wide range of business partners. Ultimately this will boost business development and the overall customer experience.

 

Online Direct Sales

 

In our online direct sales business, we acquire products from suppliers and sell them directly to customers. We started selling computer products online in 2004 and introduced mobile handsets, consumer electronics products and auto parts and accessories by 2007. We significantly expanded our product offerings in 2008 with home appliances and a wide array of general merchandise product categories, and have been continually adding new products and categories since then. As we now offer a wide range of categories through our online direct sales business model, net revenues from electronics products, which include computers, mobile handsets and other mobile digital products, and home appliances, have declined as a percentage of our total net revenues.

 

Retail Infrastructure

 

Online Marketplace. In our online marketplace business, third-party sellers offer products to customers on our online marketplace and pay us commissions on their sales. We launched our online marketplace in October 2010, and have been adding new products and services since then. As of December 31, 2018, there were more than 210,000 third-party sellers on our online marketplace. We provide transaction processing and billing services on all orders placed on our online marketplace and require third-party sellers to meet our strict standards for authenticity and reliability. We tag certain top stores on our platform as “JD Haodian ( 京东好店 ),” based on third-party merchants’ quality of service during the entire purchase process. Such certification can help our top merchants improve their sales volumes on the platform. Furthermore, it sets a benchmark to encourage other merchants to improve their quality of service. We aim to offer customers the same high-quality customer experience regardless of the source of the products they choose.

 

Marketing Services. Leveraging our AI capabilities and the comprehensive dataset accumulated from a wide range of business scenarios along the entire value chain, we provide a variety of marketing services to suppliers, merchants and other partners in the ecosystem through our proprietary advertisement technology platform.

 

In 2017, we started to offer our suppliers and merchants a new fully-automated marketing platform that can make targeted product recommendations to users on www.jd.com and our mobile apps, and across our content partnership network, driving new customers and repeat purchases for advertisers automatically. Powered by AI, the platform only requires advertisers to input total budget, unit bid price and optimization goals to market to their targeted audiences, which enables advertisers to lower their operating costs and increase their returns.

 

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In order to provide our partners with better targeted marketing and broader access to advertisement resources, in addition to our successful partnership with Tencent, Baidu and ByteDance, we also formed strategic partnerships with other leading mobile internet companies such as Qutoutiao and iQIYI, with an aim to leverage these companies’ powerful big data resources, massive user bases and AI-driven technologies to strengthen collaboration in precision marketing, user access points and content-driven marketing.

 

JD Logistics Services. In April 2017, leveraging our advanced technology and logistics expertise, we established JD Logistics, a business group under JD.com, to provide logistics services to businesses across a wide range of industries including those beyond e-commerce. We have opened up our technology-driven fulfillment infrastructure by offering comprehensive supply chain solutions to third-party sellers on our marketplace and to merchants that do not sell products on our online marketplace, including warehousing management, transportation, delivery, after-sale services, and logistics technology solutions, including cloud-based service and data analytics, or a combination of these services. Our logistics services to third parties have experienced rapid growth and have been well received by major clients such as Nestle, NetEase, Gree, and others. We are dedicated to developing an effective, environmental-friendly, innovative and smart “green logistics system” through developing and promoting the use of innovative and environmental-friendly materials and a series of technological innovations.

 

In the second quarter of 2018, to reduce product-to-customer distance and provide customers with innovative delivery options, JD Logistics launched the “Flash Delivery” initiative, offering delivery times ranging from several minutes to about one hour for selected merchandise in certain areas through optimally allocating merchandise across its distribution network, including front-line metropolitan distribution centers, delivery stations and partners’ offline stores, based on its analysis of customer demands. Moreover, in October 2018, JD Logistics opened up its leading logistics network to consumers, offering parcel delivery service to users in certain regions. Leveraging JD Logistics’s extensive delivery network, users in these areas can conveniently send items intra-city and throughout most of mainland China with JD Logistics’s same fast and reliable delivery service.

 

JD Property Management Group. In 2018, we established our property management group, JDPM, which owns, develops and manages our logistics facilities and other real estate properties, to support JD Logistics and third parties. JDPM has unique advantages to secure scarce land resources as we continue to help boost economies across China through creating employment opportunities and contributing tax, among others. JDPM aims to develop its logistics assets portfolios while maintaining strong capital discipline. With the expansion of asset portfolios, we will adopt a capital recycling strategy through our fund management platform and other partnerships, such as our partnership with GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund. See “Item 5.B. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—Liquidity and Capital Resources.” We believe this strategy will help further expand our asset portfolios, minimize our related future capital expenditures and enhance our returns.

 

Omni-channel Initiatives. To achieve our “Boundaryless Retail” vision, we are exploring a variety of omni-channel integration opportunities and innovative business models. Leveraging our well-established retail infrastructure, we believe we are well-positioned to create an enhanced shopping experience for consumers and improve efficiency for our business partners.

 

We believe we are well-positioned to provide omni-channel solutions to customers and offline retailers in select locations in China by capitalizing on our strong online presence and leveraging Dada’s crowdsourced delivery system. Dada is one of our equity investees and its online-to-offline supermarket platform JD Daojia, which was JD’s asset before our transaction with Dada in April 2016, leverages the expanded delivery network, focuses on the location-based mobile commerce sector and collaborates with offline supermarkets, convenience stores and other local businesses to provide consumers with a speedy premium shopping experience. As of December 31, 2018, our joint venture, Dada-JD Daojia, had partnered with more than 100,000 stores from leading supermarket brands, including Walmart, Yonghui, Carrefour and CR Vanguard, by leveraging Dada’s crowd-sourcing delivery network. Dada-JD Daojia is China’s leading on-demand logistics and omni-channel e-commerce platform.

 

In June 2016, we entered into a series of agreements in relation to our strategic alliance with Walmart. We have collaborated with Walmart on e-commerce, including launching a Sam’s Club Flagship Store and Walmart China Flagship Store on JD.com, Sam’s Club Global Flagship Store, Walmart Global Flagship Store, and ASDA Flagship Store on JD Worldwide, and a one-hour delivery service from Walmart Stores in select cities through the JD Daojia app, as well as leveraging each other’s supply chain to enhance product selection for customers across China. We also experimented on other omni-channel opportunities, aiming at offering shoppers across China faster and more convenient access to high-quality products through multiple channels.

 

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To provide customers with a more dynamic and interactive integrated omni-channel shopping experience, we have enabled some of our offline partners with a variety of the latest technologies such as facial recognition, product recognition, tracking system for customers’ in-store activities to name just a few. We have established a closed loop to accumulate a large volume of offline shopping data, and through further analysis of the integrated online and offline dataset, we can offer differentiated products in each offline franchise store that best suit potential customer demands. For instance, in August 2018, we launched a cooperation with China-based home furnishing retailer Qumei. Leveraging our extensive product selection, Qumei expanded its offering from furniture to a wide range of home products. Our ability to use big data to build accurate customer profiles has enabled Qumei to more effectively match its product selection with consumer demand. With the help of our cutting-edge technologies such as AI-based facial recognition and AR features, the cooperation enables Qumei to deliver a fully-interactive shopping experience in its traditional offline stores.

 

7FRESH, our offline fresh food market brand, is an example of a real-world trial of our “Boundaryless Retail” vision, the idea of enabling consumers to buy whatever they want, wherever and whenever they want it. In December 2017, we opened our first 7FRESH store in Beijing’s Yizhuang suburban area. Integrating advanced supply chain management know-how and cutting-edge storage technologies, our 7FRESH store is able to deliver a unique shopping experience by offering many fresh products (including fruit, flowers, vegetables and quality fresh seafood), providing food preparation and catering services, and making available a 30-minute delivery service for customers within three kilometers of the store. As of March 31, 2019, we opened 13 7FRESH stores in 8 cities.

 

We believe our 7FRESH business model will continue to evolve as we strive to pursue an enhanced shopping experience for our consumers and partners by exploring a variety of omni-channel opportunities, integrating quality products with superior services and providing fresh produce supply chain solutions to our partners.

 

Strategic Cooperations

 

Strategic Cooperation with Tencent

 

On March 10, 2014, we acquired certain e-commerce businesses and assets from, and entered into a strategic cooperation agreement and formed a strategic partnership with Tencent, a leading internet company serving the largest online community in China. Tencent offers a wide variety of internet services in China, including social communications, online games and digital content and payment. Tencent has a large mobile internet user base, as evidenced by the combined monthly active user accounts of 1,098 million on Tencent’s mobile apps Weixin and WeChat as of December 31, 2018 based on publicly available data.

 

As part of the strategic partnership, Tencent agrees to offer us prominent level 1 access points in its mobile apps Weixin and Mobile QQ and provide traffic and other support from other key platforms to us. Level 1 access points refer to entries and links that Tencent users can directly access on the interfaces that will launch after one click on the home interface on Tencent’s mobile apps. We launched level 1 access on Tencent’s Weixin platform for selected Weixin users in Beijing and Shanghai first in May 2014 and subsequently rolled it out to all Weixin users in June 2014, and we also launched direct access on Tencent’s Mobile QQ in August 2014. Our partnership with Tencent’s dominant Weixin and Mobile QQ platforms has helped us generate mobile user traffic from Tencent’s large mobile user base and enhance our customers’ mobile shopping experience.

 

The two parties agree to cooperate in a number of areas including mobile-related products, social networking services, membership systems and payment solutions. The strategic cooperation agreement applies within the territory of the Greater China, including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Under the strategic cooperation agreement, we are Tencent’s preferred partner for all physical goods e-commerce businesses, and Tencent agrees not to engage in any direct sales or managed marketplace business model in physical goods e-commerce businesses in Greater China and a few selected international markets for a period of eight years, other than through its controlled affiliate Shanghai Icson E-Commerce Development Company Limited, or Shanghai Icson. We expect to further leverage the strategic partnership with Tencent to enhance our customers’ online shopping experience, reach Tencent’s large mobile and internet user base and further expand our presence on mobile commerce.

 

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On March 10, 2014, we entered into a series of agreements with Tencent and its affiliates pursuant to which we acquired 100% interests in Tencent’s Paipai and QQ Wanggou online marketplace businesses, a 9.9% stake in Shanghai Icson, logistics personnel and certain other assets. Paipai and QQ Wanggou, which we acquired from Tencent, were online marketplaces in China that brought buyers and sellers together online. Paipai was a consumer-to-consumer or C2C marketplace, whereas QQ Wanggou was a business-to-consumer or B2C marketplace. We re-launched the Paipai C2C marketplace in July 2014, but have closed it down as of the date of this annual report. In addition, we obtained the right to acquire the remaining equity of Shanghai Icson by March 10, 2017 at the higher of the then fair value of Shanghai Icson or RMB800 million. In April 2016, we exercised the right paying RMB800 million and acquired the remaining equity interest in Shanghai Icson. Shanghai Icson operated a B2C e-commerce platform in China.

 

Concurrent with the above transactions, the execution of the strategic cooperation agreement and for US$215 million in cash to us, we issued a total of 351,678,637 ordinary shares to Huang River Investment Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tencent. We paid Tencent RMB181 million in cash as part of the consideration for the transaction during 2014. As part of the agreements, in a private placement concurrent with our initial public offering in May 2014, we issued an aggregate of 139,493,960 Class A ordinary shares to Huang River Investment Limited at the per share equivalent of the price to the public. Huang River Investment Limited is currently one of our principal shareholders and held 17.8% of our total issued and outstanding shares as of February 28, 2019.

 

We have further strengthened our team with the addition of former employees from Tencent. In October 2015, we expanded partnership with Tencent to provide merchants with innovative mobile marketing solutions. The collaboration offers businesses advanced online tools to more precisely reach their target customer groups, build brand recognition and increase return on investment on marketing by providing brands access to Tencent users. In October 2017, we and Tencent expanded our partnership with the launch of the JD-Tencent Retail Marketing Solution. The initiative integrates insights on consumer behavior from Tencent’s social communications platforms with online and offline shopping data from us and our brand partners to enable more precise target marketing and better understanding of consumer behavior for the brands on our platform.

 

The strategic cooperation agreement has a term of five years. We are discussing with Tencent to renew the strategic cooperation agreement. We expect to continue to leverage our strategic partnership with Tencent to enhance our ability to increase our internet and mobile user traffic, to strengthen our direct sales and marketplace businesses on internet and mobile. We believe our continued cooperation with Tencent will raise and maintain our profile among China’s fast growing and large mobile internet users, many of whom frequently use Weixin and Mobile QQ in their daily lives.

 

Strategic Cooperation with Vipshop

 

In December 2017, we, along with Tencent, entered into a share subscription agreement to subscribe for newly issued Class A ordinary shares of Vipshop, an NYSE-listed online discount retailer for brands in China. In December 2017, we also entered into a business cooperation agreement and established a cooperative relationship with Vipshop, pursuant to which we granted Vipshop entries on both the main page of our mobile app and the main page of our Weixin Discovery shopping entry. We also purchased the ADSs of Vipshop from the open market. As of December 31, 2018, we had accumulatively invested approximately US$585 million in cash to purchase Class A ordinary shares and ADSs of Vipshop.

 

Strategic Cooperation with Google

 

In June 2018, Google invested US$550 million in us as part of a new strategic partnership, under which Google and we will work together to explore a broad range of possibilities, leveraging our supply chain and logistics expertise and Google’s technology strengths. In early 2019, we joined Google Shopping to offer a curated selection of high-quality products to consumers in the United States, which is our early efforts in joint development of retail solutions in overseas markets.

 

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Customer Experience

 

Our operation principle is “trust-based, customer-centric value creation,” and we are committed to optimizing the customer experience and achieving customer satisfaction. This commitment drives every aspect of our operations, which are focused on six core components: extensive product offerings, compelling online experience, superior customer service, competitive pricing, timely and accurate fulfillment, and convenient payment options.

 

Products

 

We continually seek to add more products that appeal to our target customers. The number of products we offer has grown rapidly. We offer a wide range of product categories including but not limited to:

 

·                  home appliances;

 

·                  mobile handsets and other digital products;

 

·                  computers, including desktop, laptop and other varieties, as well as printers and other office equipment;

 

·                  furniture and household goods;

 

·                  apparel;

 

·                  cosmetics and other personal care items and pet products;

 

·                  women’s shoes, bags, jewelry and luxury goods;

 

·                  men’s shoes, sports gear and fitness equipment;

 

·                  automobiles and accessories;

 

·                  maternal and childcare products, toys and musical instruments;

 

·                  food, beverage and fresh produce;

 

·                  gifts, flowers and plants;

 

·                  nutritional supplements;

 

·                  books, e-books, music, movies and other media products;

 

·                  virtual goods, including online travel agency, attraction tickets, and prepaid phone cards and game cards;

 

·                  industrial products; and

 

·                  installation and maintenance services.

 

Each of these categories is further divided into numerous subcategories to facilitate browsing.

 

In building up our product offerings, we focus on quality as well as quantity. Due to our nationwide reach and our efficient fulfillment system, suppliers often choose us to launch new products that they expect will be in high demand, and we often act as the preferred distributor for a period of days or weeks when a hot new product first becomes available for sale to the public.

 

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Online Experience

 

We believe that providing a compelling online experience is critical to attracting and retaining customers. We make sales primarily through our content-rich and user-friendly website www.jd.com and mobile apps. Our website not only offers a broad selection of authentic products at competitive prices but also provides easy site navigation, basic and advanced search functions, comprehensive product information and a large volume of customer reviews and ratings. These features address customers’ desire to view, understand and compare products before purchasing. With the increasing popularity of mobile internet-enabled devices, we have also developed apps and features adapted for mobile internet users, and we currently offer mobile access through our mobile website m.jd.com and our various iOS, Android and Windows-based mobile apps. As part of our strategic partnership with Tencent, we have launched level 1 access on Tencent’s Weixin and Mobile QQ, whereby Tencent users can easily access our product offerings and have an enjoyable mobile shopping experience. Over 90% of orders fulfilled were placed through our mobile apps in 2018.

 

Our www.jd.com website and mobile apps contain the following information and features:

 

Comprehensive product information to support prompt decision-making.  Each product page contains pictures, descriptions, and sometimes short videos of the product, the price, a pull-down menu to show whether the product is in stock at the customer’s location, customer reviews and ratings, and whether the product will be delivered by us or by one of our third-party merchants. When customers are browsing product pages, we display product highlights, reliable services available for this product and the post-discount price on the front page so as to support customers to make purchase decisions more efficiently.

 

Interactive user community to enhance customer engagement and loyalty.  Our websites and mobile apps contain a large volume of helpful user-generated content. For each product, customers can provide reviews and ratings that are featured prominently on the product page. We encourage participation by granting loyalty points for posting reviews and ratings. We believe that we have the largest online product review database of any online direct sales company in China, with approximately 4,485 million product reviews generated by our customers as of December 31, 2018, which benefits our customers, suppliers and third-party sellers.

 

Targeted product recommendations to satisfy personalized demands. In 2018, we made progress in personalized recommendations, leveraging our cutting-edge technologies to provide an individualized shopping experience for each of our customers. We identify customers’ demands and make more accurate recommendations based on comprehensive algorithms, which are derived from a large volume of data about customer behavior and preferences.

 

Smart ordering process to further improve the shopping experience.  We continue to optimize the ordering process leveraging our technology, making the shopping experience more convenient and enjoyable. For example, when customers review their shopping carts, not only do we display the special offers at the time for the products in the customers’ shopping carts, but also we combine the existing coupons in our customers’ accounts with special offers, and calculate the all-in benefits for customers to provide them maximum benefits.

 

Real-time order tracking and order information revision system to provide convenient shopping experience.  Customers can log into their accounts to check the status of their orders. Each packages in our system is given a unique identification number and its location is updated each time it is are handled by one of our warehouse or delivery personnel or one of our contracted third-party couriers. Each of our delivery personnel carries a mobile personal digital assistant, which allows customers to track their location in real time on an online map. Furthermore, we provide customers with the option to adjust their order information such as changing the shipping address or the preferred delivery date or time slot.

 

Customer Service

 

Providing satisfactory customer services is a high priority. Our commitment to customers is reflected in the high service levels provided by our customer service staff as well as in our product return and exchange policies. We continue optimizing our customer service to guarantee the best possible shopping experience.

 

In October 2018, we initiated a comprehensive service offering for selected categories with our direct sales business covering the entire purchase process, which includes nearly 30 types of services such as instant refund, repair by exchange program, and home-delivery of replacements, among others. The service offering aims to facilitate consumers’ purchase decisions by providing trustworthy and guaranteed services. Leveraging our optical character recognition technology, we can automatically process a lot of information such as order number, product link, historical queries and recent reviews, to pre-identify potential inquiries from customers, and to develop answers in advance. We seamlessly allocate various customer inquiries to customer service representatives with different qualifications based on our AI technologies, so that we can improve our customer service representatives’ service quality and the customer satisfaction ratio.

 

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24-7 customer service centers.  We operate 24-7 customer service centers in Suqian and Yangzhou of Jiangsu Province and Chengdu of Sichuan Province, handling all kinds of customer queries and complaints regarding our products and services. We obtained COPC (Customer Operation Performance Center) Certification in November 2014. Customers can make queries and file complaints via various channels such as phone calls, online written instant messengers, JD official accounts on Weixin and Weibo, and emails. As of December 31, 2018, we had a total of 12,482 full-time customer service representatives at the Suqian, Yangzhou and Chengdu centers. In January 2018, we launched our brand new customer service hot line “950618” nationwide, which is more concise and easier to remember.

 

Returns and exchanges.  We accept unconditional returns or exchanges within seven days of purchase. Defective merchandise can be returned for exchange within 15 days of purchase. For customers with good credit, we provide “instant refund” service, that is, customers are refunded as soon as they submit their return requests. If customers report defects more than 15 days after receipt but are still within the warranty period, we will have defective goods repaired or take other appropriate action to compensate the customer, depending on the nature of the problem. We will generally pick up defective items for return or exchange at the customer’s address, provided that the return or exchange is requested within 15 days of receipt of the item and the address within the area that is serviced by our employees or by one of the third-party couriers that have agreed to provide this service for us. Alternatively, customers can also mail the merchandise to one of our regional fulfillment centers or bring the product to the nearby pickup station. The same policies apply to products sold through our online marketplace.

 

Membership program.  We have established a membership program to cultivate customer loyalty and encourage our customers to make repeat purchases. In 2017, we upgraded the membership system and changed from a five-tier membership structure to the “Jing Xiang Zhi (京享)” value system, which takes into account various indicators, such as consumer behavior, interaction, credit ratings, and risk level, among others, to determine a comprehensive score for each consumer. We believe the upgraded membership system will be able to effectively enhance the shopping experience and consumer engagement. In addition to our “Jing Xiang Zhi (京享)” membership program, we continued to promote JD Plus, a premium paid membership program. By the end of 2018, we had attracted more than 10 million JD Plus members and continued to introduce new benefits to JD Plus members. JD Plus members enjoy benefits related to merchandises such as, extra rebates, free shipping coupons, exclusive prices on selected product offerings, RMB100 cross-category coupons on monthly basis, VIP customer services, free return services and PLUS DAY promotion events designed specifically for JD Plus members. JD Plus members can also enjoy content and lifestyle service benefits, such as iQIYI VIP benefits, E-books on Zhihu.com Reading, dining, education, entertainment, and travel benefits, among others. JD Plus members can also receive priority access to purchase new products or hot sales products across JD.com.

 

Pricing

 

We offer competitive pricing to attract and retain customers. We make continual efforts to maintain and improve an efficient cost structure and create incentives for our suppliers to provide us with competitive prices.

 

Pricing policy.  We are making continual efforts to set our prices to be competitive with those on other major online retail websites and in physical stores in China. We typically negotiate with our suppliers for prices that are comparable to or lower than those offered to retailers in other sales channels. If we reduce the price on our website and mobile apps before or after the product is delivered to the customer, then the customer generally has an opportunity to lock in the lower price. Currently, third-party sellers are free to set their own prices on our online marketplace. We also continue to enrich our product offerings and service while maintaining low prices.

 

Special promotions.  We offer a selection of discounted products on special occasions, such as our anniversary sales promotional event on June 18 and China’s new online shopping festival on November 11, and on important holidays such as Christmas and Chinese New Year. We also hold daily promotions for selected products for a limited period of time. Special promotions attract bargain hunters and give our customers an additional incentive to visit our website and mobile apps regularly.

 

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Delivery

 

We believe that timely and reliable fulfillment is critical to the continuing success of our business. To this end, we have incurred and will continue to incur significant expenditures in building and operating our own nationwide fulfillment infrastructure. The following are some of the advantages that derive from our nationwide fulfillment infrastructure:

 

Delivery network and personnel.  We deliver products directly to customers in almost all counties and districts across China. We deliver a majority of the orders directly to customers ourselves, and therefore our customers interact with delivery personnel more often than with any other representatives of our company. For this reason, we place great emphasis on training our delivery personnel and setting up delivery stations in more and more counties and districts. We believe that our professionally trained delivery personnel are important in helping us to shape customer experience and distinguish ourselves from our competitors.

 

Flexible delivery arrangements.  We believe that timely and convenient delivery is an essential part of customer satisfaction, and we arrange our delivery schedule to suit our customers’ needs. Customers can choose their preferred delivery period during a day, including evening delivery in selected areas, when they place orders. Customers who need to reschedule a delivery can log into their account on our websites or mobile apps to look up the contact information for the delivery person and contact the delivery person directly themselves, provided that the delivery will be made by our employees.

 

Comprehensive speedy delivery service.  We introduced our 211 program in 2010. For goods that we have in stock at the corresponding regional fulfillment center or front distribution center, any orders received by the morning deadline (11:00 a.m. in most of the locations) will be delivered on the same day, and any orders received by the evening deadline (11:00 p.m.) will be delivered by 3:00 p.m. on the following day. Customers also can request that an order placed by 3:00 p.m. be delivered in the evening on the same day in selected cities. There is no extra charge for delivery under our 211 program for orders that satisfy the minimum size requirement, and customers can check the product page on our websites to see whether the product is in stock and thus eligible. The program does not cover delivery to addresses through third-party couriers or products shipped directly from our third-party sellers. Bulky items such as refrigerators or washing machines are also eligible for same-day or next-day delivery in selected areas. Customers can request expedited delivery within two hours by paying an extra charge in the major cities where we have regional fulfillment centers. JD Logistics also provides scheduled delivery service in selected cities, allowing customers to choose a convenient two-hour delivery window within which to receive their goods. Besides, for luxury products, consumers in major cities can enjoy JD Luxury Express, a premium delivery services. In addition, JD Logistics has launched a new premium logistics service with China Railway Corporation, leveraging domestic high-speed trains for secure, long-distance transportation of high-end goods and JD Luxury Express for the last-mile delivery. The combination has created a seamless network allowing customers to enjoy same-day delivery for high-end goods originating from non-local warehouses. As of December 31, 2018, our same-day and next-day delivery services covered 2,146 counties and districts across China.

 

Customer pickup.  Customers who prefer to pick up their order themselves can select a pickup station when placing the order and use the tracking function to find out when the order has arrived there. We have pickup stations at convenient locations across the country and payment can be made on the spot.

 

Continuous expansion of delivery service. We have established and are making continuous efforts to further expand our cold-chain logistics and cross-border logistics capabilities, and in new business areas, to expand product offerings while ensuring superior customer experience.

 

Payment

 

Payment-on-delivery.  We accept payment-on-delivery in almost all of the counties and districts across China where we make deliveries through our own delivery personnel. Our delivery personnel carry mobile POS machines for processing debit cards and credit cards and they also accept cash. Customers chose payment-on-delivery approximately 6% of the time in 2018.

 

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Online payment.  Various kinds of online payment methods are offered to customers at the time they place their orders, such as Weixin Pay, JD Pay and UnionPay. Customers chose online payment approximately 94% of the time in 2018.

 

Other payment options.  Customers may also choose to pay by postal money order. Enterprise customers can also make payment by wire transfer.

 

Merchandise Sourcing

 

In our online direct sales business, we sourced products from over 19,000 suppliers as of December 31, 2018. Procuring products on such a massive scale requires considerable expertise, which we have built up over a number of years. We negotiate with the manufacturer or a higher-level distributor where possible in order to obtain the most favorable terms, even if we sign a contract with a lower-level distributor for operational reasons. None of our suppliers accounted for over 10% (by value) of the products we purchased in 2018. In addition, we had over 210,000 third-party sellers on our online marketplace as of December 31, 2018.

 

As we increase in scale in particular product categories, we expect to increase our direct purchases from manufacturers and, where appropriate, to become an authorized reseller. We believe that our ability to establish direct relationships with manufacturers will enable us to provide high-quality products, better procurement terms and access to hard-to-get products. We believe that manufacturers and distributors consider us an important channel in certain product categories such as computers and mobile devices, and we are gaining significant traction in related categories like home electronics, where we are one of the largest online channels in China. In April 2018, we launched our C2M (Customer-to-Manufacturer) strategy for our Pingou business, our group purchase business model. Direct cooperation with manufacturers enables us to increase the supply chain efficiency by minimizing supply chain costs and to give customers comfort over product quality. In addition, we have created a supplier interface where our suppliers and third-party sellers access reports regarding inventory status, purchase history and customer reviews of their products. Suppliers and third-party sellers can use this information in their marketing and product development efforts and also in managing their own inventory, which helps them manage costs and makes our services more valuable to them.

 

We select suppliers and third-party sellers on the basis of brand, reliability, volume and price. They must be able to meet our demands for timely supply of authentic products and also provide high quality post-sale customer service. We perform background checks on our suppliers and third-party sellers and the products they provide before we enter into any agreement. We examine their business licenses and the qualification certificates for their products, and check their brand recognition and make investigation about the market acceptance of their products among players in the same industry. We also conduct on-site visits to assess and verify their location, business scale, production capacity, property and equipment, human resources, research and development capability, quality control system and fulfillment capability. Our standard form contract requires suppliers and third-party sellers to represent that their goods are authentic and from lawful sources and do not infringe upon lawful rights of third parties and to pay us liquidated damages for any breach. We normally enter into one-year framework agreements with our suppliers and third-party sellers and renew them annually. We have also put stringent rules in place governing the operations of third-party sellers on our online marketplace. Third-party sellers will be subject to penalties or be asked to end their operations on our online marketplace if they violate the marketplace rules, for example by selling counterfeit products. We have a strict zero-tolerance policy for counterfeit products.

 

Fulfillment

 

We deliver a compelling customer experience by fulfilling orders quickly and accurately. To this end, we have built our nationwide fulfillment infrastructure for the prompt receipt, storage and shipment of our products. Our fulfillment infrastructure is primarily comprised of a nationwide warehouse and delivery network that we operate ourselves, supplemented by contracted third-party couriers to service areas that are not covered by our network. To further enhance inventory accountability and security, we track our inventory at all stages of the receiving and order fulfillment process.

 

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Nationwide Fulfillment Infrastructure

 

We have built a nationwide fulfillment infrastructure that we believe is the largest among all e-commerce companies in China.

 

We had established regional fulfillment centers in seven major cities in China as of December 31, 2018: Shenyang in the northeast, Beijing in the north, Shanghai in the east, Wuhan in the center, Guangzhou in the south, Chengdu in the southwest and Xi’an in the northwest. We had also established front distribution centers in 28 cities stocking products that are in high demand and other additional warehouses in 46 cities in China as of December 31, 2018. We operated over 550 warehouses with an aggregate gross floor area of approximately 12 million square meters in 81 cities as of December 31, 2018, and our comprehensive fulfillment facilities covered almost all counties and districts across China as of the same date.

 

We deliver a majority of the orders directly to customers ourselves. We maintain cooperation arrangements with a number of third-party couriers to deliver our products to our customers in those areas not covered by our own fulfillment infrastructure, particularly in smaller and less developed cities. Third-party sellers also use third-party couriers if they do not use our delivery services.

 

Fulfillment Process

 

The following flow chart outlines our fulfillment process:

 

 

When a customer places an order, our delivery management system automatically processes the order and matches it to the warehouse or warehouses with the appropriate inventory. Picking is done on the basis of instructions that are generated automatically by our warehouse management system. The warehouse management system also automatically generates the bar codes and shipping labels that allow our staff to match the items to the correct order in the packing process. After picking, packing, and sorting process, the order is shipped to a delivery or pickup station in the customer’s city for further handling and delivery. If a customer order contains products from different warehouses, the products will be combined at the last-mile delivery station and then sent to the customer in one delivery. If the customer’s address is not one to which we make deliveries ourselves, we will have a third-party courier pick up the order at our sorting center to make the delivery. In some cases we also use third-party couriers to carry orders between a sorting center and a delivery station. Once the order has been shipped, our system automatically updates the inventory level for each product in the order, ensuring that additional inventory will be ordered as needed. Our customers can track the shipping status of their orders through our websites or mobile apps at each step in the process.

 

We are in the process of constructing new warehouses on land where we have obtained land use rights. As of December 31, 2018, we had launched our warehousing facilities in 11 cities. In addition, we are in the process of constructing warehousing facilities in 16 other cities and plan to construct additional such warehouses in the future. We believe that building our own warehouses will not only increase our storage capacity but will also allow us to restructure and reorganize our fulfillment workflow and processes.

 

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We also have a dedicated internal division, to explore research, development and application of smart logistics and unmanned technology, which we believe represent the future trend of the logistics industry. Through the development of a series of cutting-edge technologies such as intelligent hardware, internet of things, big data, robotics, image and vision recognition, machine learning, deep learning, and smart logistics devices, we intend to revolutionize the logistics industry. We are also in the process of experimenting with these technologies in a wide range of logistics business areas such as unmanned warehouses, drone delivery, self-driving vehicles, unmanned delivery stations and convenience stores, among others. We will continue to invest in smart logistics to improve the intelligence level of our logistics system and to provide consumers with an unparalleled shopping experience.

 

Technology Platform

 

Technology is key to the success of our future business development and the evolution of our ecosystem. Our proprietary technology platform supports our rapidly growing processing capacity requirements, and provides us with detailed and accurate visibility and information based on our cloud computing infrastructure, comprehensive operating data from value chain, and advanced business intelligence analytics powered by AI technologies.

 

As of December 31, 2018, we employed 16,380 research and development professionals to design, develop and operate our technology platform, develop and post content, and improve our AI, big data and cloud technologies and services. At the same time, we have built up a global team of AI and supply-chain technology professionals, including many top-notch AI and supply-chain researchers and scientists.

 

Our security infrastructure provides encryption service using the industry standard AES algorithm to protect our proprietary data and customer information across all JD custom-designed data centers. With multiple layers of encryption, all sensitive data can only be accessed by authenticated and authorized systems, apps and services without compromising confidentiality and privacy.

 

Key components of our technology platform include:

 

Boundaryless Retail Technology to Expand Retail Scenarios

 

We are striving to leverage AI technologies to generate personalized recommendations on our retail technology platform based on the comprehensive data we accumulate daily. The vast scale of our business gives us extensive data about customers that can provide deep insights into customer interests and behavior.

 

Our technologies are widely used in a multitude of retail scenarios, from front-end technology that supports our main customer interface on our websites and mobile apps, to innovative omni-channel technology to support our retail ecosystem with new customer interfaces, such as our 7FRESH offline store, Ding-Dong Smart Speaker, JD Home offline franchise stores and unmanned convenience stores, among others. Our strong retail technology platform is vital in our pursuit of an ever-improving customer experience.

 

Big-Data Analytics and Smart Supply Chain to Enhance Operating Efficiency

 

After years of development, we have accumulated a huge amount of data covering the longest value chain in China’s e-commerce industry, including customer browsing and buying behavior, product manufacturing and sales information, warehousing and distribution information, customer service information and much more. Leveraging our technical capabilities such as batch computation, real-time computation, machine learning and deep learning, our big data platform can fulfill the computational tasks of various complex application scenarios.

 

With supply chain management capability quickly becoming an essential component of JD’s key smart retail infrastructure, we have established a dedicated internal division to integrate cutting-edge technologies such as big data, blockchain, internet of things, or IoT, natural language processing and understanding, machine learning and deep learning, in building our demand-driven and consumer-centric smart supply-chain management capability to enhance operating efficiency and to empower the business partners in our ecosystem.

 

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Smart Logistics to Achieve Superior Customer Experience

 

We have also established another dedicated internal division to explore the application of smart logistics and unmanned technology, which we believe represents the future of the logistics industry. Through exploration and development of a series of cutting-edge technologies such as intelligent hardware, IoT, big data, robotics, image and vision recognition, smart logistics devices and other key technologies, we intend to revolutionize the logistics industry and transform it from automation to intelligence. We are also in the process of applying these technologies in a wide range of logistics business areas such as unmanned warehouses, drone delivery, self-driving vehicles, unmanned delivery stations and convenience stores, among others. We will continue to invest in smart logistics to improve the intelligence level of our logistics system and to provide consumers with an unparalleled shopping experience.

 

Artificial Intelligence Technology to Drive Business Upgrades

 

We are making continuous efforts to develop our technology strength in AI, leveraging our massive volume of data, to explore innovative business models. In September 2017, we established the AI Platform and Research Division as a core component of our company’s technological ecosystem. We have incorporated cutting-edge technologies, such as machine learning, natural language processing and related computational approaches, to continue to improve our operations. In April 2018, we launched our open AI platform, NeuHub, offering a set of AI services ranging from natural language processing, speech recognition, computer vision, and machine learning. One of the platform’s successful applications is the new sentiment analysis API on NeuHub. This API, developed fully in-house by us, leverages a large volume of historical data on our platform, allowing JIMI, our automated customer service assistant, to more precisely identify customers’ emotions and express the appropriate sentiment when replying through online chat. The new functionality has significantly increased user satisfaction on our online chat service. As of the date of this annual report, our applications of AI technologies include intelligent customer service assistant JIMI, intelligent SKUs selection system, and AI-driven advertisement platform, among others.

 

We also strive to assume greater corporate social responsibility by building an advanced public technology platform in order to better serve the community.

 

Marketing

 

We believe that the most effective form of marketing is to continually enhance our customer experience, as customer satisfaction engenders word-of-mouth referrals and repeat purchases. We have been able to build an extensive base of loyal customers primarily through providing superior customer experience and conducting marketing and brand promotion activities.

 

In addition to continuing marketing activities through traditional online and offline channels, we have also designed innovative programs and promotion activities to further enhance the brand awareness of both us and our partners, and to better reach our customers. We have launched a series of successful joint marketing campaigns such as “Super Brand Days,” “Super Category Days” and “Super New Product Days”. We will continue to leverage our data-driven customer insights to provide customized marketing tools and campaigns for business partners and help them to develop brand recognition in China. We have also made progress in social e-commerce innovations. In particular, Pingou, our group purchase business model, has benefitted from the access points of Weixin and QQ, both of which have a large mobile internet user base. Through our Pingou promotions, customized SNS interactive activities, and other activities, we can help brands on the platform increase exposure, drive traffic and achieve deeper penetration into lower-tier cities.

 

With the increasing popularity of mobile internet-enabled devices, over 90% of our orders fulfilled were placed through our mobile apps in 2018. In order to further improve customer experience and increase user engagement on mobile internet, we are exploring cooperation opportunities with many business partners on the mobile side. In addition to our successful partnership with Tencent, Baidu and ByteDance, we also formed strategic partnerships with Qutoutiao and iQIYI, aimed at leveraging these companies’ massive user bases to strengthen collaboration in targeted marketing, user access points and content-driven marketing. We incurred RMB10,159 million, RMB14,918 million and RMB19,237 million (US$2,798 million) of marketing expenses in 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively.

 

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Competition

 

The online retail industry in China is intensely competitive. Our current or potential competitors include (i) major e-commerce companies in China that offer a wide range of general merchandise product categories, such as Alibaba Group, which operates taobao.com and tmall.com, and Amazon China, which operates amazon.cn, and (ii) major traditional retailers in China that are moving into online retailing, such as Suning Appliance Company Limited, which operates suning.com, and Gome Electrical Appliances Holding Limited, which operates gome.com.cn. We also face competition from online retail companies in China focused on specific product categories and from physical retail stores, including big-box stores that also aim to offer a one-stop shopping experience.

 

We anticipate that the online retail market will continually evolve and will continue to experience rapid technological change, evolving industry standards, shifting customer requirements, and frequent innovation. We must continually innovate to remain competitive. We believe that the principal competitive factors in our industry are:

 

·                  brand recognition and reputation;

 

·                  product quality and selection;

 

·                  pricing;

 

·                  fulfillment capabilities; and

 

·                  customer service.

 

In addition, new and enhanced technologies may increase competition in the online retail industry. New competitive business models may appear, for example based on new forms of social media or social commerce.

 

We believe that we are well-positioned to effectively compete on the basis of the factors listed above. However, some of our current or future competitors may have longer operating histories, greater brand recognition, better supplier relationships, larger customer bases or greater financial, technical or marketing resources than we do.

 

Seasonality

 

We experience seasonality in our business, reflecting a combination of seasonal fluctuations in customer purchases, promotional events, and traditional retail seasonality patterns. For example, we generally experience less user traffic and purchase orders during national holidays in China, particularly during the Chinese New Year holiday season in the first quarter of each year. Furthermore, sales in the traditional retail industry are significantly higher in the fourth quarter of each calendar year than in the preceding three quarters. E-commerce companies in China hold special promotional campaigns on November 11 each year that tend to boost sales in the fourth quarter relative to other quarters, and we hold a special promotional campaign in the second quarter of each year, on June 18, to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of our e-commerce business. Overall, the impact of seasonality on our business has been relatively mild due to our rapid growth but we have seen an upward trend and such a trend may continue in the future. Due to our limited operating history, the seasonal trends that we have experienced in the past may not apply to, or be indicative of, our future operating results.

 

Intellectual Property

 

We regard our trademarks, copyrights, patents, domain names, know-how, proprietary technologies, and similar intellectual property as critical to our success, and we rely on copyright, trademark and patent law and confidentiality, invention assignment and non-compete agreements with our employees and others to protect our proprietary rights. As of December 31, 2018, we owned 651 computer software copyrights in China relating to various aspects of our operations and maintained 7,664 trademark registrations inside China and 1,184 trademark registrations outside China. We had approximately 5,984 trademark applications inside China and 2,127 outside China. As of December 31, 2018, we had 1,672 patents granted in China, 7,443 patent applications pending in China and 415 patent applications pending outside China. As of December 31, 2018, we had registered approximately 5,362 domain names. Our registered domain names include jd.com, 360buy.com, 360buy.com.cn and 360buy.cn, among others.

 

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Insurance

 

We maintain various insurance policies to safeguard against risks and unexpected events. We have purchased all risk property insurance covering our inventory and fixed assets such as equipment, furniture and office facilities. We maintain public liability insurance for our business activities at 16 locations. We also provide social security insurance including pension insurance, unemployment insurance, work-related injury insurance, maternity insurance and medical insurance for our employees. Additionally, we provide group accident insurance for all employees and supplementary medical insurance for all management and technology and other professional personnel. We do not maintain business interruption insurance other than in connection with the fixed business premises of our 7FRESH business, nor do we maintain product liability insurance or key-man life insurance. We consider our insurance coverage to be sufficient for our business operations in China.

 

Enterprise Social Responsibility

 

It is an integral part of our business to have a positive impact on the communities in which we operate, and we maintain that our core values, including our commitment to partners, customers, investors, our employees and broader society, are the foundation upon which we build a healthy, vibrant and sustainable ecosystem. Combined with an unrelenting focus on developing our technology capabilities to improve efficiency and service, we have laid the groundwork for many years of robust growth.

 

We are committed to leveraging our technology, logistics infrastructure and relationships with consumers and suppliers to benefit society. We believe in putting our business assets to use to build not only the future of retail, but also a better future for all stakeholders. Our core foci in social responsibility includes environmental sustainability, employee care, poverty alleviation and more. In 2014, we also established the JD Foundation to manage charity- related projects.

 

Environmental Sustainability. We have always been committed to using green logistics and reducing resource consumption, environmental degradation and pollution in the process of storage, transportation and packaging. In 2017, together with brand designers, manufacturers, logistics companies, packaging companies, industry associations, among others, we launched the “Green Stream Initiative,” a joint green supply chain campaign with the goal of improving the utilization rate of supply chain resources and reducing carbon emissions. Additionally, as part of our commitment to sustainable energy, JD Logistics is gradually upgrading its nationwide fleet of delivery trucks, as well as those of its third party partners, to new energy vehicles. JD Logistics has also partnered with several brands to promote reusable packaging across the entire supply chain.

 

We proactively participate in the promotion of sustainable production and consumption. In 2013, we issued the first ever digital invoice in China and as of the date of this annual report, we have already issued more than 2.8 billion digital invoices across China and replaced paper invoices with digital invoices for all direct sales orders. Meanwhile, we launched the “Recycling Plan” in many cities in China. As of the end of 2018, the “Recycling Plan” had helped recycle more than 1.9 million items of clothing, toys and expired medications to reduce carbon emissions and environmental pollution through donation or professional recycling.

 

Employee Care. We have always striven to provide employees with full social benefits, a diverse work environment and a wide range of career development opportunities. As of December 31, 2018, we had a total of 178,927 full-time employees. We have invested significant resources in employee career development and training. For example, we established comprehensive training programs that cover topics such as corporate culture, employee rights and responsibilities, team-building, professional conduct, job performance, management skills, leadership and executive decision-making. We have a special dedicated training facility, JD University, to further strengthen our internal training capabilities. We also sponsored selected senior and mid-level managers to participate in part-time EMBA programs. In addition, we launched the “Go to college in JD” program in association with well-known universities in November 2013, through which approximately 1,000 employees have received their undergraduate or graduate degrees. All employees are eligible to join the program voluntarily and receive company scholarships once they obtain their undergraduate or graduate degree.

 

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We provide all employees, including those who work on the front lines in delivery roles, with various career development opportunities. More than 80% of our mid-level management, as well as more than 70% of our senior-level management were internally promoted. In addition, to improve our employees’ well-being and satisfaction, we provide a multitude of benefits such as special subsidies for front-line employees, a special fund for families of employees suffering major illnesses or facing disasters, maternity and paternity leave, and educational resources for children of employees, among others. In October 2018, JD ranked 131st on the Forbes World’s Best Employers 2018 list, a significant increase from the 251st in 2017.

 

Poverty alleviation. Leveraging our strong supply chain, cutting-edge technologies and logistics network, we participated in poverty alleviation efforts in rural areas. We pioneered the rural e-commerce strategy, aiming to make agriculture products in rural areas available online and at the same time, allow authentic products to reach residents in rural areas. As of the end of 2018, we had over 3 million SKUs from over 800 impoverished counties in China on our online platform. We operate China’s trusted online donation platform, through which our hundreds of millions of customers can purchase products and donate them directly to non-profit organizations and groups in need across China, leveraging our in-house logistics network. To ensure the transparency of the process, we allow customers to track the delivery status of their donations online to make sure their donation reaches the recipient.

 

Disaster relief assistance. In July 2018, we deployed a team of drone engineers as well as drones and ancillary vehicles to support the Beijing municipal government’s storm relief efforts. This was our first disaster relief effort using drones following our establishment of China’s first nationwide drone rescue team in May 2018. Our drones have been used to transport emergency medicines and daily necessities to a remote cliff village in Sichuan province.

 

Regulation

 

This section sets forth a summary of the most significant rules and regulations that affect our business activities in China.

 

Regulations Relating to Foreign Investment

 

Investment activities in the PRC by foreign investors are principally governed by the Catalogue for the Guidance of Foreign Investment Industry, or the Catalogue, which was promulgated and is amended from time to time by the Ministry of Commerce, or MOFCOM, and the National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, and together with Existing FIE Laws and their respective implementation rules and ancillary regulations. The Catalogue lays out the basic framework for foreign investment in China, classifying businesses into three categories with regard to foreign investment: “encourage,” “restricted” and “prohibited.” Industries not listed in the catalog are generally deemed as falling into a fourth category “permitted” unless specifically restricted by other PRC laws. In addition, on June 28, 2018, MOFCOM and the NDRC jointly promulgated the Special Management Measures (Negative List) for the Access of Foreign Investment, or the 2018 Negative List, which became effective on July 28, 2018 to amend the Guidance Catalog and Each of Jingdong Century and Shanghai Shengdayuan primarily engages in the online wholesale and retail of products, the development of computer network technology, technical consultancy and technical services, which are in the permitted category. Under PRC law, the establishment of a wholly foreign owned enterprise is subject to the approval of, or the requirement for record filing with, the Ministry of Commerce or its local counterparts and the wholly foreign owned enterprise must register with the competent market regulation bureau. We have duly obtained the approvals from the Ministry of Commerce or its local counterparts for our interest in our wholly-owned PRC subsidiaries and completed the registration of these PRC subsidiaries with the competent market regulation bureau.

 

Pursuant to the Interim Measures for Record-filing Administration of the Establishment and Change of Foreign-invested Enterprises, or FIE Record-filing Interim Measures, promulgated by the Ministry of Commerce in October 2016 and amended in July 2017, the establishment and change of foreign-invested enterprises are subject to record-filing procedures, instead of prior approval requirements, provided that the establishment or change does not involve special entry administration measures. If the establishment or change of FIE matters involve the Special Administrative Measures for Admission of Foreign Investments (Negative List for Admission of Foreign Investments), the approval of the Ministry of Commerce or its local counterparts is still required. The Special Administrative Measures for Admission of Foreign Investments (Negative List for Admission of Foreign Investments) are consistent with the Catalogue, setting out on a unified basis the restrictive measures for admission of foreign investments, such as the equity ownership requirements, senior management personnel requirements, etc.

 

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On March 15, 2019, the National People’s Congress promulgated the FIL, which will come into effect on January 1, 2020 and upon then the FIL will replace the Existing FIE Laws. The FIL embodies an expected regulatory trend in PRC to rationalize its foreign investment regulatory regime in line with prevailing international practice and the legislative efforts to unify the corporate legal requirements for both foreign and domestic investments. The FIL, by means of legislation, establishes the basic framework for the access, promotion, protection and administration of foreign investment in view of investment protection and fair competition.

 

According to the FIL, foreign investment shall enjoy pre-entry national treatment, except for those foreign invested entities that operate in industries deemed to be either “restricted” or “prohibited” in the “negative list.” The FIL provides that foreign invested entities operating in foreign “restricted” or “prohibited” industries will require entry clearance and other approvals. However, it is unclear whether the “negative list” will differ from the 2018 Negative List. In addition, the FIL does not comment on the concept of “de facto control” or contractual arrangements with variable interest entities, however, it has a catch-all provision under definition of “foreign investment” to include investments made by foreign investors in China through means stipulated by laws or administrative regulations or other methods prescribed by the State Council. Therefore, it still leaves leeway for future laws, administrative regulations or provisions to provide for contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment. See “Item 3. Key Information—D. Risk Factors—Our current corporate structure and business operations may be affected by the newly enacted Foreign Investment Law.”

 

The FIL also provides several protective rules and principles for foreign investors and their investments in the PRC, including, among others, that local governments shall abide by their commitments to the foreign investors; foreign-invested enterprises are allowed to issue stocks and corporate bonds; except for special circumstances, in which case statutory procedures shall be followed and fair and reasonable compensation shall be made in a timely manner, expropriate or requisition the investment of foreign investors is prohibited; mandatory technology transfer is prohibited, allows foreign investors’ funds to be freely transferred out and into the territory of PRC, which run through the entire lifecycle from the entry to the exit of foreign investment, and provide an all-around and multi-angle system to guarantee fair competition of foreign-invested enterprises in the market economy. In addition, foreign investors or the foreign investment enterprise should be imposed legal liabilities for failing to report investment information in accordance with the requirements. Furthermore, the FIL provides that foreign invested enterprises established according to the existing laws regulating foreign investment may maintain their structure and corporate governance within five years after the implementing of the FIL, which means that foreign invested enterprises may be required to adjust the structure and corporate governance in accordance with the current PRC Company Law and other laws and regulations governing the corporate governance.