Form 20-F
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Table of Contents
 
 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, DC 20549
 
FORM
 
20-F
 
(Mark One)
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(b) OR 12(g) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
OR
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
OR
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
 
 
 
 
 
OR
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
                    
For the transition period from
                    
to
                    
Commission file number:
001-33853
 
TRIP.COM GROUP LIMITED
(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)
968 Jin Zhong Road
Shanghai 200335
People’s Republic of China
(Address of principal executive offices)
Jane Jie Sun, Chief Executive Officer
Telephone: +86 (21) 3406-4880
Facsimile: +86 (21) 5251-0000
968 Jin Zhong Road
Shanghai 200335
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
 
Trading
Symbol
 
Name of each exchange
on which registered
American depositary shares,
each representing 0.125 ordinary
shares
, par value US$0.01 per share
 
TCOM
 
Nasdaq Stock Market LLC
(Nasdaq Global Select Market)
Ordinary shares, par value US$0.01 per share*
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
* Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing of American depositary shares on the Nasdaq Global Select Market.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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: 74,086,404 ordinary shares, par value US$0.01 per share, as of December 31, 2019.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    
  
Yes
    
  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.    
  Yes    
  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.    
  Yes    
  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).    
  Yes    
  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
 
 
Accelerated filer
 
 
Non-accelerated filer
 
                     
 
 
 
 
Emerging growth company
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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.  
 
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  
 
        International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
 
Other  
 
 
        by the International Accounting Standards Board  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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.    
  Item 17    
  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).    
  Yes    
  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.    
  Yes    
  No
 
 

Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
             
 
 
   
1
 
 
 
   
2
 
ITEM 1.
     
2
 
ITEM 2.
     
2
 
ITEM 3.
     
2
 
ITEM 4.
     
34
 
ITEM 4.A.
     
49
 
ITEM 5.
     
49
 
ITEM 6.
     
67
 
ITEM 7.
     
76
 
ITEM 8.
     
80
 
ITEM 9.
     
81
 
ITEM 10.
     
81
 
ITEM 11.
     
89
 
ITEM 12.
     
90
 
 
 
   
91
 
ITEM 13.
     
91
 
ITEM 14.
     
91
 
ITEM 15.
     
91
 
ITEM 16A.
     
92
 
ITEM 16B.
     
92
 
ITEM 16C.
     
92
 
ITEM 16D.
     
93
 
ITEM 16E.
     
93
 
ITEM 16F.
     
93
 
ITEM 16G.
     
93
 
ITEM 16H.
     
93
 
 
 
   
93
 
ITEM 17.
     
93
 
ITEM 18.
     
93
 
ITEM 19.
     
94
 
 
 
   
97
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
i

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION
In this annual report, unless otherwise indicated or unless the context otherwise requires:
  “ADSs” refers to American depositary shares, each of which represents 0.125 ordinary shares;
 
 
  “China” or “PRC” refers to the People’s Republic of China and, solely for the purpose of this annual report, excludes Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau, and “Greater China” refers to the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau;
 
 
  “Qunar” refers to Qunar Cayman Islands Limited, a Cayman Islands company, and unless the context requires otherwise, includes its predecessor entities and consolidated subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated Chinese entities;
 
 
  “Renminbi” or “RMB” refers to the legal currency of China; “U.S. dollars” or “US$” refers to the legal currency of the United States; and “
” refers to the legal currency of Eurozone;
 
 
  “shares” or “ordinary shares” refers to our ordinary shares, par value of US$0.01 per share; and
 
 
  “we,” “us,” “our company,” or “Trip.com Group” refers to Trip.com Group Limited (formerly known as Ctrip.com International, Ltd.), its predecessor entities and subsidiaries, and, in the context of describing our operations and consolidated financial information, its consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, unless otherwise indicated herein. We consolidate the financial results of Qunar starting from December 31, 2015. In calculating the number of hotels with which we have room supply relationships, downloads of and transactions through our mobile channel, and other operational data, where applicable, as well as in describing our marketing, branding, and intellectual properties, we have not taken into account the comparable operating data or other information of Qunar.
 
 
Any discrepancies in any table between the amounts identified as total amounts and the sum of the amounts listed therein are due to rounding.
This annual report on Form
 20-F
includes our audited consolidated financial statements for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
On December 1, 2015, we effected a change of the ratio of the ADSs to ordinary shares from four ADSs representing one ordinary share to eight ADSs representing one ordinary share. Unless otherwise indicated, ADSs and per ADS amount in this annual report have been retroactively adjusted to reflect the changes in ratio for all periods presented.
Our reporting currency is Renminbi because our business is primarily conducted in China and most of our revenue is denominated in Renminbi. This annual report on Form
20-F
contains translations from Renminbi to U.S. dollars solely for the convenience of the reader. Unless otherwise stated, all translations from Renminbi to U.S. dollars were made at a rate of RMB6.9618 to US$1.00, which was the certified noon buying rate in effect as of December 31, 2019, as set forth in the H.10 statistical release of The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. The certified noon buying rate in effect as of April 3, 2020 was RMB7.0908 to US$1.00. We make no representation that any Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts referred to in this annual report on Form
20-F
could have been, or could be, converted to U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate, or at all. The PRC government imposes control over its foreign currency reserves in part through direct regulation of the conversion of Renminbi into foreign exchange.
1

Table of Contents
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
Selected Consolidated Financial Data
The following table presents the selected consolidated financial information for our business. You should read the following information in conjunction with “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects” below. The selected consolidated statements of income data for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2018, and 2019 and the selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2018 and 2019 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements and should be read in conjunction with those statements, which are included in this annual report beginning on page
 F-1.
The selected consolidated statements of income/(loss) data for the years ended December 31, 2015 and 2016 and the selected consolidated balance sheets data as of December 31, 2015, 2016, and 2017 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements for these periods, which are not included in this annual report.
Our historical results do not necessarily indicate results expected for any future periods.
                                                 
 
For the Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2015
 
 
2016
(1) (2)
 
 
2017
(2)
 
 
2018
(2)
 
 
2019
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
US$
 
 
(in millions, except for share and per share data)
 
Selected Consolidated Statements of Income/(Loss) Data
   
     
     
     
     
     
 
Net revenues
   
10,897
     
19,245
     
26,796
     
30,965
     
35,666
     
5,122
 
Cost of revenues
   
(3,043
)    
(4,730
)    
(4,678
)    
(6,324
)    
(7,372
)    
(1,059
)
                                                 
Gross profit
   
7,854
     
14,515
     
22,118
     
24,641
     
28,294
     
4,063
 
Operating expenses
   
     
     
     
     
     
 
—Product development
(3)
   
(3,297
)    
(7,687
)    
(8,259
)    
(9,620
)    
(10,670
)    
(1,533
)
—Sales and marketing
(3)
   
(3,088
)    
(5,861
)    
(8,294
)    
(9,596
)    
(9,295
)    
(1,335
)
—General and administrative
(3)
   
(1,088
)    
(2,519
)    
(2,622
)    
(2,820
)    
(3,289
)    
(472
)
                                                 
Total operating expenses
   
(7,473
)    
(16,067
)    
(19,175
)    
(22,036
)    
(23,254
)    
(3,340
)
                                                 
Income/(Loss) from operations
   
381
     
(1,552
)    
2,943
     
2,605
     
5,040
     
723
 
Net interest income/(expense) and other income/(expense)
(4)
   
2,624
     
(192
)    
581
     
(684
)    
4,047
     
581
 
                                                 
Income/(loss) before income tax expense and equity in (loss)/income of affiliates
   
3,005
     
(1,744
)    
3,524
     
1,921
     
9,087
     
1,304
 
Income tax expense
   
(470
)    
(482
)    
(1,285
)    
(793
)    
(1,742
)    
(250
)
Equity in (loss)/income of affiliates
   
(136
)    
602
     
(65
)    
(32
)    
(347
)    
(50
)
                                                 
Net income/(loss)
   
2,399
     
(1,624
)    
2,174
     
1,096
     
6,998
     
1,004
 
                                                 
Net loss/(income) attributable to
non-controlling
interests
   
108
     
206
     
(19
)    
16
     
57
     
8
 
Accretion to redemption value of redeemable
non-controlling
interests
   
     
     
     
     
(44
)    
(6
)
 
 
2

Table of Contents
                                                 
 
For the Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2015
 
 
2016
(1) (2)
 
 
2017
(2)
 
 
2018
(2)
 
 
2019
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
US$
 
 
(in millions, except for share and per share data)
 
Selected Consolidated Statements of Income/(Loss) Data
   
     
     
     
     
     
 
Net income/(loss) attributable to Trip.com Group’s shareholders
   
2,507
     
(1,418
)    
2,155
     
1,112
     
7,011
     
1,006
 
Earnings/(losses) per ordinary share data:
   
     
     
     
     
     
 
Earnings/(losses) per ordinary share
(5)
, basic
   
66.34
     
(23.97
)    
32.51
     
16.25
     
98.78
     
14.19
 
Earnings/(losses) per ordinary share
(5)
, diluted
   
56.85
     
(23.97
)    
30.75
     
15.67
     
92.02
     
13.22
 
Weighted average ordinary shares outstanding, basic
   
37,797,698
     
59,166,582
     
66,300,808
     
68,403,426
     
70,983,996
     
70,983,996
 
Weighted average ordinary shares outstanding, diluted
   
47,375,248
     
59,166,582
     
71,775,893
     
70,924,623
     
80,244,014
     
80,244,014
 
 
 
                                                 
 
As of December 31,
 
 
2015
(1)
 
 
2016
(2)
 
 
2017
(2)
 
 
2018
(2)
 
 
2019
(6)
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
RMB
 
 
US$
 
 
(in millions)
 
Selected Consolidated Balance Sheets Data
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents
   
19,216
     
18,435
     
18,243
     
21,530
     
19,923
     
2,862
 
Restricted cash
   
2,287
     
1,744
     
1,749
     
4,244
     
1,824
     
262
 
Short-term investments
   
8,236
     
14,113
     
28,130
     
36,753
     
23,058
     
3,312
 
Current assets
   
40,602
     
45,928
     
59,418
     
79,394
     
67,955
     
9,761
 
Investments
(4)
   
13,871
     
20,533
     
25,574
     
26,874
     
51,278
     
7,366
 
Total assets
   
118,844
     
144,430
     
162,240
     
185,830
     
200,169
     
28,752
 
Current liabilities
   
33,666
     
30,295
     
42,162
     
68,784
     
69,182
     
9,937
 
Long-term debt
   
18,355
     
34,651
     
29,220
     
24,146
     
19,537
     
2,806
 
Total liabilities
   
55,159
     
68,898
     
75,625
     
97,097
     
93,324
     
13,405
 
Redeemable
non-controlling
interests
(7)
   
     
     
     
     
1,142
     
164
 
Share capital
   
4
     
5
     
5
     
5
     
6
     
1
 
Total Trip.com Group’s shareholders’ equity
   
44,551
     
71,548
     
84,836
     
86,715
     
103,442
     
14,858
 
Non-controlling
interests
   
19,134
     
3,984
     
1,779
     
2,018
     
2,261
     
325
 
Total shareholders’ equity
   
63,685
     
75,532
     
86,615
     
88,733
     
105,703
     
15,183
 
 
 
 
Notes:
(1) Our consolidated balance sheets data has reflected the effect of consolidation of Qunar’s financial statements starting from December 31, 2015. Our consolidated statements of income/(loss) data has reflected the effect of consolidation of Qunar’s financial statements starting from January 1, 2016.
 
 
(2) Effective from January 1, 2018, we adopted ASC Topic 606, a new accounting standard on the recognition of revenue issued by FASB in 2014, and have applied this accounting standard retrospectively to the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2017. The financial data for the year ended December 31, 2015 and as of December 31, 2015 has not been recast and as such is not comparable.
 
 
(3) Share-based compensation was included in the related operating expense categories as follows:
 
 
                                                 
 
 
For the Year Ended December 31,
 
 
 
2015
   
2016
(1)
   
2017
   
2018
   
2019
   
2019
 
 
 
RMB
   
RMB
   
RMB
   
RMB
   
RMB
   
US$
 
 
 
(in millions)
 
Product development
   
292
     
2,080
     
1,013
     
934
     
919
     
132
 
Sales and marketing
   
66
     
393
     
186
     
156
     
144
     
21
 
General and administrative
   
285
     
1,087
     
635
     
617
     
651
     
94
 
 
 
(4) In 2015, a gain of RMB2.3 billion was recognized in the other income for the deconsolidation of Tujia, which was once a subsidiary of our company. In 2017 and 2018, we also disposed of certain long-term investments and recognized a gain of RMB1.4 billion and RMB1.2 billion, respectively. In January 2018, we adopted a new financial instruments accounting standard ASU No.
 2016-01,
which requires equity investments to be measured at fair value with subsequent changes recognized in net income, except for those accounted for under the equity method or requiring consideration. Fair value changes for such equity investments were a fair value loss of RMB3.1 billion and a fair value gain of RMB2.3 billion for the years ended December 31, 2018 and 2019, respectively. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospectus — Results of Operations” for further information. The new standard also changes the accounting for investments without a readily determinable fair value and that do not qualify for the practical expedient to estimate fair value. A policy election can be made for these investments whereby investment will be carried at cost and adjusted in subsequent periods for any impairment or changes in observable prices of identical or similar investments.
 
 
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(5) Each ADS represents 0.125 ordinary shares.
(6) Effective from January 1, 2019, we adopted ASC No.
 2018-11,
a new accounting standard on the recognition of
right-of-use
assets and lease liabilities issued by FASB in 2018, and have applied this accounting standard on a modified retrospective basis and have elected not to restate comparative periods. See Notes 2 and 11 to our audited consolidated financial statements included elsewhere in this annual report for further information.
(7) One of our subsidiaries issued redeemable preferred shares to certain third-party investors in 2019. These preferred shares are redeemable at a holder’s option when that subsidiary fails to complete a qualified IPO in a
pre-agreed
period of time since its issuance with a redemption price measured by 10% interest per annum. These preferred shares are therefore accounted for as redeemable
non-controlling
interests in mezzanine equity and are accreted to the redemption value over the period starting from the issuance date.
B.    
Capitalization and Indebtedness
Not applicable.
C.    
Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
Not applicable.
D.    
Risk Factors
Risks Relating to Our Business and Industry
Our business could suffer if we do not successfully manage current growth and potential future growth.
Our business has grown significantly as a result of both organic growth of existing operations and acquisitions, and, despite the current
COVID-19
outbreak, we may experience such growth from time to time in the future. We have significantly expanded, and may further expand, our operations and workforce, as a result of the continued growth of our service offerings, customer base, and geographic coverage. For example, we have invested in, and may continue to invest in, organic growth by rolling out new business initiatives focusing on a diverse range of areas including car services, bus tickets, and train tickets. Consequentially, in 2019, we invested US$1.5 billion in product development. If such new business initiatives fail to perform as expected, our financial condition and results of operations could be adversely affected. Our growth to date has placed, and our anticipated future operations will continue to place, significant strain on our management, systems, and resources. In addition to training and managing our workforce, we will need to continue to improve and develop our financial and managerial controls and our reporting systems and procedures. We cannot assure you that we will be able to efficiently or effectively manage the growth of our operations, and any failure to do so may limit our future growth and hamper our business strategy.
Pandemics, epidemics, or fear of spread of contagious diseases could disrupt the travel industry and our operations, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Global pandemics, epidemics in China or elsewhere in the world, or fear of spread of contagious diseases, such as Ebola virus disease (EVD), coronavirus disease 2019
(COVID-19),
Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), H1N1 flu, H7N9 flu, and avian flu could disrupt the travel industry and our business operations in China and elsewhere in the world, reduce or restrict demand for travel and travel-related products and services, or result in regional or global economic distress, which may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations. Any one or more of these events or recurrence may adversely affect our sales results, or even for a prolonged period of time, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
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The current
COVID-19
pandemic has already adversely affected many aspects of our business. Since January 2020, we have experienced, and expect to continue to experience, a significant decline in travel demand resulting in significant customer cancellations and refund requests and reduced new orders relating to international and domestic travel and lodging. Since February 2020, supply of domestic transportation tickets and international air tickets also has dropped significantly in response to comprehensive containment measures in China and other international regions. We have been affirmatively facilitating our customers in their cancellations and refund requests and working with our travel suppliers to prepare for difficult market conditions, for which we have incurred and may continue to incur significant costs and expenses. In addition, our China-based facilities underwent temporary yet prolonged closure in February 2020, and most of our employees had worked from home for weeks and have only recently reported to work, both as part of China’s nationwide efforts to contain the spread of the
COVID-19.
We and our suppliers and business partners are still recovering from the general shutdown and delay in commencement of operations in China. Even though our business is currently operational, our service capacity and operational efficiency are still adversely affected by the
COVID-19
pandemic due to insufficient workforce as a result of temporary travel restrictions in China and the necessity to comply with disease control protocols in our business facilities. Our suppliers’ abilities to timely deliver products and services and respond to rescheduling or cancellations are also adversely affected for similar reasons, especially those located in critical regions such as Hubei Province, China. The global spread of
COVID-19
may also affect our overseas suppliers. While the duration of this disruption to our business and related financial impacts cannot be reasonably estimated at this time, we expect that our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows for the first half of 2020 will be materially and adversely affected with potential continuing impacts on subsequent periods. In particular, our revenues for the first half of 2020 will be materially and adversely affected as a result of the domestic and international travel restrictions and significant incremental costs and expenses incurred to facilitate our users’ cancellations and refund requests; we may experience difficulty in collection of receivables, which may result in additional allowance for doubtful accounts; if the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic become other than temporary, we may also need to recognize significant downward adjustments or impairment to our goodwill or long-term investments, including the investments that are not measured at fair value in publicly traded companies whose share prices are declining recently. We currently expect our net revenue for the first quarter of 2020 to decrease year-over-year by approximately 45% to 50%, which reflects our preliminary view and is subject to change. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the financial impacts to our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows for the first half of 2020 and subsequent periods. The global spread of
COVID-19
pandemic in a significant number of countries around the world has resulted in, and may intensify, global economic distress, and the extent to which it may affect our financial condition, results of operations, and cash flows will depend on future developments, which are highly uncertain and cannot be predicted. We cannot assure you that the
COVID-19
pandemic can be eliminated or contained in the near future, or at all, or a similar outbreak will not occur again. If the
COVID-19
pandemic and the resulting disruption to our business were to extend over a prolonged period, it could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Strategic acquisition of complementary businesses and assets, and the subsequent integration of newly acquired business into our own, create significant challenges that may materially and adversely affect our business, reputation, results of operations, and financial condition.
We have made and intend to continue to make strategic acquisitions in the travel industry in Greater China and overseas. For example, in October 2015, we completed a share exchange transaction with Baidu Inc., or Baidu, whereby we obtained approximately 45% of the aggregate voting interest of Qunar in exchange for our newly issued ordinary shares. Subsequently, we issued ordinary shares represented by ADSs to certain special purpose vehicles holding shares solely for the benefit of certain Qunar employees and, in return, we received Class B ordinary shares of Qunar from these employees. We directly injected these shares to a third-party investment entity dedicated to investing in business in China. From an accounting perspective, we consolidated the financial statements of these
non-U.S.
investment entities and started to consolidate Qunar’s financial statements from December 31, 2015. In October 2016, we participated as a member in the buying consortium in Qunar’s going-private transaction and rolled our then existing equity stake into the entity that wholly owns Qunar upon the completion of the transaction in February 2017. In addition, in December 2016, we consummated an acquisition transaction whereby shares held by nearly all of the shareholders of Skyscanner, a leading global travel search site headquartered in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, were acquired by Trip.com Group (then known as Ctrip.com International, Ltd.).
If we are presented with appropriate opportunities, we may continue to acquire complementary businesses and assets in the future. However, strategic acquisitions and the subsequent integration of new businesses and assets 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 adversely affect our business operations. In addition, acquisitions could result in potential dilutive issuances of equity securities, use of substantial amounts of cash, and exposure to potential ongoing financial obligations and unforeseen or hidden liabilities of the acquired business. The cost and duration of, and difficulties in, integrating newly acquired businesses and managing a larger overall business could also materially exceed our expectations. Moreover, we may not be able to achieve our intended strategic strategies and record substantial impairment charges to goodwill, if we fail to successfully integrate the newly acquired business or manage a larger business. Any such negative developments could materially and adversely affect our business, reputation, results of operations, and financial condition.
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Our strategy to acquire or invest in complementary businesses and assets and establish strategic alliances involves significant risk and uncertainties that may have a material adverse effect on our business, reputation, results of operations and financial condition.
As part of our plan to expand our product and service offerings, we have made and intend to make strategic acquisitions or investments in the travel service industries in Greater China and overseas, such as the following, in addition to our transactions relating to Qunar and Skyscanner described elsewhere in this annual report:
  In May 2015, we acquired approximately 38% share capital of eLong, Inc. In May 2016, eLong, Inc. completed its going-private transaction and merger with
E-dragon
Holdings Limited, or eLong. In December 2017, eLong and Tongcheng Network Technology Co., Ltd., or LY.com, announced an agreement to merge and form Tongcheng-Elong Holdings Limited (SEHK: 0780), which was consummated in March 2018. In exchange for our prior holdings in eLong, we received an equity method investment in the enlarged group.
  In April 2016, we announced strategic collaboration with China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited, one of China’s three major air transportation groups, on a broad range of products and services. In June 2016, we invested approximately RMB3.0 billion in approximately 466 million A shares of China Eastern Airlines in a private placement.
  In December 2016, in connection with our share exchange transaction with BTG Hotels (Group) Co., Ltd., or BTG, a PRC joint stock company that is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and principally engaged in the management of hotels and tourism destinations, and Homeinns Hotel Group, or Homeinns, we exchanged our previously held equity interest in Homeinns for 22% equity interest of BTG.
  We have invested in convertible notes (which had been subsequently converted to ordinary shares) and ordinary shares of MakeMyTrip Limited, or MakeMyTrip, a leading online travel company in India, in January 2016 and May 2017 respectively. In August 2019, we completed a share exchange transaction with Naspers Limited, or Naspers, pursuant to which Naspers exchanged its stake in MakeMyTrip, for newly issued shares in our company. Concurrent with the share exchange, we also invested certain ordinary shares and Class B shares of MakeMyTrip in a third-party investment entity. Immediately after the closing of the transaction, Naspers owned approximately 5.6% of our then total issued and outstanding ordinary shares, and we owned ordinary shares and Class B shares of MakeMyTrip, representing approximately 49.0% of the then total voting power in MakeMyTrip.
  In May 2018, we acquired substantially all of the remaining equity interest of an offline travel agency company in which we previously held approximately 48% equity interest for the consideration of RMB198 million in cash and 1.9%
non-controlling
interest of one of our subsidiaries with the fair value of RMB399 million.
If the ADS or share prices of the public companies that we have invested in or may invest in the future which are classified as equity securities with readily determinable fair values investments decline and become lower than our share purchase prices, as have happened historically, we could record changes in fair value recorded in the income statement under U.S. GAAP, which in turn would adversely affect our financial results for the relevant periods. In addition, if any of our investees in which our investments are classified as equity method investments incur net losses in the future, we will share their net losses proportionate to our equity interest in them.
Our strategic investments could also subject us to other uncertainties and risks, and our failure to address any of these uncertainties and risks, among others, may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations:
  diversion of our resources and management attention;
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  high acquisition and financing costs;
  failure to achieve our intended objectives or benefits in making these investments or revenue-enhancing opportunities;
  potential claims or litigation regarding our board’s exercise of its duty of care and other duties required under applicable law in connection with any of our significant investments approved by the board; and
  failure to be in full compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations.
In particular, our strategy of acquiring or investing in a competing business could be adversely affected by uncertainties in the implementation and enforcement of the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law. Under the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law, companies undertaking acquisitions or investments in a business in China must notify the PRC Ministry of Commerce, or MOFCOM, in advance of any transaction where the parties’ revenues in the China market and global market exceed certain thresholds and the buyer would obtain control of, or decisive influence over, the target. There are numerous factors MOFCOM considers in determining “control” or “decisive influence,” and, depending on certain criteria, MOFCOM will conduct anti-monopoly review of transactions in respect of which it was notified. In light of the uncertainties relating to the interpretation, implementation and enforcement of the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law, we cannot assure you that MOFCOM will not deem our past and future acquisitions or investments, including the ones referenced herein or elsewhere in this annual report, to have met the filing criteria under the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law and therefore demand a filing for merger review. However, there have been limited cases of MOFCOM anti-monopoly review of filings involving companies with a “variable interest entity” structure, or VIE structure, similar to ours. If we are found to have violated the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law for failing to file the notification of concentration and request for review, we could be subject to a fine of up to RMB500,000, and the parts of the transaction causing the prohibited concentration could be ordered to be unwound. Such unwinding could affect our business and financial results, and harm our reputation. Further, if any of our business cooperation arrangements with Qunar are determined to have violated the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law, we could be subject to sanctions including an order to cease the relevant activities, confiscation of illegal gains and fines of 1% to 10% of our sales revenue from the previous year.
In addition, we establish strategic alliances with various third parties to further our business purpose 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 counter-party, an increase in expenses incurred in establishing new strategic alliances, inefficiencies caused by failure to integrate strategic partners’ businesses with our own, and unforeseen levels of diversion of our resources and management attention, any of which may materially and adversely affect our business.
As a result of any of the above factors, any actual or perceived failure to realize the benefits we expected from these investments may materially and adversely affect our business and financial results and cause the trading price of our ADSs to decline.
Our business is sensitive to global economic conditions. A severe or prolonged downturn in the global or Chinese economy may have a material and adverse effect on our business, and may materially and adversely affect our growth and profitability.
The global macroeconomic environment is facing numerous challenges. The growth rate of the Chinese economy has gradually slowed since 2010 and the trend may continue. 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. Unrest, terrorist threats, and the potential for war in the Middle East and elsewhere may increase market volatility across the globe. There have also been concerns about the relationship between China and other countries, including the surrounding Asian countries, which may potentially have economic effects. In particular, there is significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United States and China with respect to trade policies, treaties, government regulations, and tariffs. The terms of the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, commonly referred to as the “Brexit,” remain undetermined, resulting in market volatility and exchange rate fluctuations from time to time both globally and most specifically in the United Kingdom and rest of the Europe. The Brexit has created significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. These developments, or the perception that any of them could occur, may adversely affect European and worldwide economic and market conditions. Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions, as well as changes in domestic economic and political policies and the expected or perceived overall economic growth rate in China. Any severe or prolonged slowdown in the global or Chinese economy may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations, and financial condition.
 
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Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions. Our business and operations are primarily based in China and most of our revenues are derived from our operations in China. Accordingly, our financial results have been, and are expected to continue to be, affected by the economy and travel industry in China. Since we derive the majority of our revenues from accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, and packaged-tour services in China, any severe or prolonged slowdown in the global or Chinese economy or the recurrence of any financial disruptions could reduce expenditures for travel, which in turn may adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition in a number of ways. For example, the weakness in the economy could erode consumer confidence which, in turn, could result in changes to consumer spending patterns relating to travel products and services. If consumer demand for travel products and services we offer decreases, our revenues may decline. Furthermore, continued turbulence in the international markets may adversely affect our ability to access the capital markets to meet liquidity needs.
General declines or disruptions in the travel industry may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Our business is significantly affected by the trends that occur in the travel industry in China, including the hotel, transportation ticketing, and packaged-tour sectors. As the travel industry is highly sensitive to business and personal discretionary spending levels, it tends to decline during general economic downturns. The recent worldwide recession has led to a weakening in the demand for travel services. Other trends or events that tend to reduce travel and are likely to reduce our revenues include:
  Actual or threatened war or terrorist activities;
  an outbreak of EVD,
COVID-19,
MERS, SARS, H1N1 flu, H7N9 flu, and avian flu, or any other serious contagious diseases;
  increasing prices in the hotel, transportation ticketing, or other travel-related sectors;
  increasing occurrence of travel-related accidents;
  political unrest, civil strife, or other geopolitical uncertainty;
  natural disasters or poor weather conditions, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis; and
  any travel restrictions or other security procedures implemented in connection with any major events in China.
We could be severely and adversely affected by declines or disruptions in the travel industry and, in many cases, have little or no control over the occurrence of such events. Such events could result in a decrease in demand for our travel and travel-related products and services. This decrease in demand, depending on the scope and duration, could significantly and adversely affect our business and financial performance over the short and long term. For a discussion of impact of
COVID-19
on our business, see “Item 3.D. Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Our Business and Industry—Pandemics, epidemics, or fear of spread of contagious diseases could disrupt the travel industry and our operations, which could materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.”
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We recorded a significant amount of goodwill and indefinite lived intangible assets in connection with our strategic acquisitions and investments, and we may incur material impairment charges to our goodwill and indefinite lived intangible assets if the recoverability of these assets become substantially reduced.
In connection with our strategic acquisitions over the recent years, we recorded a significant amount of goodwill and indefinite lived intangible assets booked in our financial statements. As of December 31, 2019, our goodwill was RMB58.3 billion (US$8.4 billion) and our indefinite lived intangible assets were RMB11.8 billion (US$1.7 billion). In 2015, our acquisition of Qunar securities resulted in a RMB43.0 billion increase in our goodwill. ASC 350 “Intangibles—Goodwill and Other” provides that intangible assets that have indefinite useful lives and goodwill will not be amortized but rather will be tested at least annually for impairment. ASC 350 also requires that long-lived assets be reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount of an asset may not be recoverable from its undiscounted future cash flow. For 2017, 2018, and 2019, we did not recognize any impairment charges for goodwill or intangible assets. If different judgments or estimates had been utilized, however, material differences could have resulted in the amount and timing of the impairment charge. We may potentially incur significant impairment charges if the recoverability of these assets become substantially reduced in the future. Any such impairment charges would adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. In light of the continuing global spread of the
COVID-19
pandemic, our ADS price declined generally in the first quarter of 2020, and the amount by which the share price exceeded the carrying value of the reporting unit has become minimal. If our ADS price continues to decline and becomes lower than the carrying value of the reporting unit, it may be considered an indicator for us to perform interim goodwill impairment test and we may need to recognize impairment on goodwill or other long-lived assets if the impacts from the
COVID-19
pandemic become other than temporary. See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects — Critical Accounting Policies and Estimates—Goodwill.”
The trading price of our ADSs has been volatile historically and may continue to be volatile regardless of our operating performance.
The trading price of our ADSs has been and may continue to be subject to wide fluctuations. In 2019, the trading prices of our ADSs on the Nasdaq Global Select Market have ranged from US$26.32 to US$46.50 per ADS, and the last reported trading price on April 8, 2020 was US$24.51 per ADS. The price of our ADSs may fluctuate in response to a number of events and factors, including the following:
  actual or anticipated fluctuations in our quarterly operating results;
 
 
 
  changes in financial estimates by securities analysts;
 
 
 
  conditions in the internet or travel industries;
 
 
 
  changes in the economic performance or market valuations of other internet or travel companies or other companies that primarily operate in China;
 
 
 
  changes in major business terms between our travel suppliers and us;
 
 
 
  announcements by us or our competitors of new products or services, significant acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures, or capital commitments;
 
 
 
  negative publicity in connection with our business operation;
 
 
 
  additions or departures of key personnel; and
 
 
 
  market and volume fluctuations in the stock market in general.
 
 
 
In addition, the stock market in general, and the market prices for internet-related companies and companies with operations in China in particular, have experienced volatility that often has been unrelated to the operating performance of such companies. The securities of some China-based U.S.-listed companies have experienced significant volatility since their initial public offerings, including, in some cases, substantial declines in the trading prices of their securities. The trading performance of the securities of these China-based U.S.-listed companies after their offerings and the surge in the number of China-based U.S.-listed companies that commenced going-private proceedings in recent years may affect the attitudes of investors toward China-based U.S.-listed companies, which consequently may impact the trading performance of the ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. Furthermore, some negative news and perceptions about inadequate corporate governance practices or fraudulent accounting, corporate structure including the use of VIE structures or other matters of other China-based U.S.-listed companies have negatively affected the attitudes of investors towards China-based U.S.-listed companies, including us, in general in the past, regardless of whether we have engaged in any inappropriate activities, and any news or perceptions with a similar nature may continue to negatively affect us in the future. In addition, the global financial crisis and the ensuing economic recessions in many countries have contributed and may continue to contribute to extreme volatility in the global stock markets, such as the large decline in share prices in the United States, China and other jurisdictions in recent years. These broad market and industry fluctuations may continue to adversely affect the trading price of the ADSs, regardless of our operating performance. Additionally, volatility or a lack of positive performance in our ADS price may adversely affect our ability to retain key employees, all of whom have been granted share-based awards.
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If we are unable to maintain existing relationships with travel suppliers and strategic alliances, or unable to establish new arrangements with travel suppliers and strategic alliances at or on favorable terms or at terms similar to those we currently have, or at all, our business, market share and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
We rely on travel suppliers (including without limitation hotels and domestic and international airlines) to make their services available to consumers through us, and our business prospects depend on our ability to maintain and expand relationships with travel suppliers. If we are unable to maintain satisfactory relationships with our existing travel suppliers, or if our travel suppliers establish similar or more favorable relationships with our competitors, or if our travel suppliers increase their competition with us through their direct sales, or if any one or more of our travel suppliers significantly reduce participation in our services for a sustained period of time or completely withdraw participation in our services, our business, market share and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. To the extent any of those major or popular travel suppliers ceased to participate in our services in favor of one of our competitors’ systems or decided to require consumers to purchase services directly from them, our business, market share and results of operations may suffer.
Our business depends significantly upon our ability to contract with hotels in advance for the guaranteed availability of certain hotel rooms. We rely on hotel suppliers to provide us with rooms at discounted prices. However, our contracts with our hotel suppliers are not exclusive and most of the contracts must be renewed semi-annually or annually. We cannot assure you that our hotel suppliers will renew our contracts in the future on favorable terms or terms similar to those we currently have agreed. The hotel suppliers may reduce the commission rates on bookings made through us. Furthermore, in order to maintain and grow our business and to effectively compete with many of our competitors in all potential markets, we will need to establish new arrangements with hotels and accommodations of all ratings and categories in our existing markets and in new markets. We cannot assure you that we will be able to identify appropriate hotels or enter into arrangements with those hotels on favorable terms, if at all. This failure could harm the growth of our business and adversely affect our operating results and financial condition, which consequently will impact the trading price of our ADSs.
We derive revenues and other significant benefits from our arrangements with major domestic airlines in China and international airlines. Our airline ticket suppliers allow us to book and sell tickets on their behalf and collect commissions on tickets booked and sold through us. Although we currently have supply relationships with these airlines, they also compete with us for ticket bookings and have entered into similar arrangements with many of our competitors and may continue to do so in the future. Such arrangements may be on better terms than we have. Starting in early 2016, some PRC airlines, including four of the largest airlines in China, announced suspension of their respective business cooperation with Qunar without indicating the length of such suspension and cited serious customer complaints in their respective announcements. Although most of these airlines have resumed cooperation with Qunar, if any airlines choose to take similar actions against us and additional airlines follow suit, our business, market share and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. We cannot assure you that any of these airlines will continue to have supplier relationships with us or pay us commissions at the same or similar rates as what they paid us in the past. Further, on July 1, 2016, the four largest airlines in China announced that third-party ticketing agents are prohibited from selling tickets for domestic flights on third-party platforms, such as ours. Additionally, on July 1, 2016, most major domestic airlines also replaced their commissions and rebate incentives completely with a reduced, fixed “admin fee” per ticket. The loss of supplier relationships or further adverse changes in major business terms with our travel suppliers would materially impair our operating results and financial condition as we would lose an increasingly significant source of our revenues.
Part of the revenues that we derive from our hotel suppliers, airline ticket suppliers and other travel service providers are obtained through our strategic alliances with various third parties. We cannot assure you, however, that we will be able to successfully establish and maintain strategic alliances with third parties which are effective and beneficial for our business. Our inability to do so could have a material adverse effect on our market penetration, revenue growth and profitability.
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If we fail to further increase our brand recognition, we may face difficulty in maintaining existing and acquiring new customers and business partners and our business may be harmed.
We believe that maintaining and enhancing our brands depends in part on our ability to grow our customer base and obtain new business partners. Some of our potential competitors already have well-established brands in the travel industry. The successful promotion of our brands will depend largely on our ability to maintain a sizeable and active customer base, maintain relationships with our business partners, provide high-quality customer service, properly address customer needs and handle customer complaints and organize effective marketing and advertising programs. If our customer base significantly declines or grows more slowly than our key competitors, the quality of our customer services substantially deteriorates, or our business partners cease to do business with us, we may not be able to cost-effectively maintain and promote our brands, and our business may be harmed.
Negative publicity with respect to us or the travel industry in general could impair our reputation, which in turn could materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and price of ADSs.
The reputation of our brands is critical to our business and competitiveness. Negative publicity with respect to us or the travel industry in general, from time to time, whether or not we are negligent or at fault, including but not limited to those relating to our business, products and services, customer experiences, employee relationships and welfare, compliance with law, financial conditions or prospects, whether with or without merit, could impair our reputation and adversely affect our business and operating results. Prospective customers may be prevented from engaging in transactions with us if there is any negative publicity in connection with the use of our services or products, the operation of our business and other aspects about us. In addition, the negative publicity of any of our brands may extend far beyond the brand involved, especially due to our comprehensive presences in the travel industry in general, to affect some or all of our other brands. Furthermore, negative publicity about other market players or isolated incidents, regardless of whether or not it is factually correct or whether we have engaged in any inappropriate activities, may result in negative perception of our industry as a whole and undermine the credibility we have established. Negative developments in the market may lead to tightened regulatory scrutiny and limit the scope of our permissible business activities. We could lose significant number of customers due to negative publicity with respect to us or the travel industry in general, which may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and price of ADSs. We may incur additional costs to recover from the impact caused by the negative publicity, which may divert management’s attention and other resources from our business and operations.
If we do not compete successfully against new and existing competitors, we may lose our market share, and our business may be materially and adversely affected.
We compete primarily with other consolidators of hotel accommodations and transportation reservation services based in China, including the platforms operated by other major internet companies. We also compete with traditional travel agencies and new internet travel search websites. In the future, we may also face competition from new players in the hotel consolidation market in China and abroad that may enter China.
We may face more competition from hotels and airlines as they enter the discount rate market directly or through alliances with other travel consolidators. In addition, international travelers have become an increasingly important customer base. Competitors that have formed stronger strategic alliances with overseas travel consolidators may have more effective channels to address the needs of customers in China to travel overseas. Furthermore, we do not have exclusive arrangements with our travel suppliers. The combination of these factors means that potential entrants to our industry face relatively low entry barriers.
In the past, certain competitors launched aggressive advertising campaigns, special promotions and engaged in other marketing activities to promote their brands, acquire new customers or to increase their market shares. In response to such competitive pressure, we started to take and may continue to take similar measures and as a result will incur significant expenses, which in turn could negatively affect our operating margins in the quarters or years when such promotional activities are carried out. For example, we launched a promotion program in recent years to offer certain selected transportation tickets, hotel rooms, and packaged tours as well as grant of
e-coupons
to our customers in response to promotion campaigns that our competitors have launched. Primarily as a result of the enhanced marketing efforts and additional investment in product developments in response to the intensified market competition, our operational margin was negatively affected. In addition, some of our existing and potential competitors may have competitive advantages, such as significantly larger active customer base on mobile or other online platforms, greater financial, marketing and strategic relationships and alliances or other resources or name recognition, and may be able to imitate and adopt our business model. In particular, other major internet platforms may benefit from the existing customer base of their other services. These platforms can utilize the traffic they already obtain and direct the customers from their other services offerings to their travel services and further achieve synergies effects. We cannot assure you that we will be able to successfully compete against new or existing competitors. In the event we are not able to compete successfully, our business, results of operations and profit margins may be materially and adversely affected.
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Our quarterly results are likely to fluctuate because of seasonality in the travel industry in Greater China.
Our business experiences fluctuations, reflecting seasonal variations in demand for travel services. For example, the first quarter of each year generally contributes the lowest portion of our annual net revenues primarily due to a slowdown in business activity around and during the Chinese New Year holiday, which occurs during the period. Consequently, our results of operations may fluctuate from quarter to quarter.
Any failure to maintain satisfactory performance of our mobile platform, websites, and systems, particularly those leading to disruptions in our services, could materially and adversely affect our business and reputation, and our business may be harmed if our infrastructure or technology is damaged or otherwise fails or becomes obsolete.
The satisfactory performance, reliability, and availability of our infrastructure, including our mobile platform, websites, and systems, are critical to the success of our business. Any system interruptions that result in the unavailability or slowdown of our mobile platform, websites, or other systems and the disruption in our services could reduce the volume of our business and make us less attractive to customers. Most of our computer and communications systems are located at our customer service centers in China and abroad, such as Shanghai, Nantong, Tokyo, Seoul, and Edinburgh. Our technology platform and computer and communication systems are vulnerable to damage or interruption from human error, computer viruses, fire, flood, power loss, telecommunications failure, physical or electronic
break-ins,
hacking or other attempts at system sabotage, vandalism, natural disasters, and other similar events. For example, we experienced a network shut-down for a few hours in May 2015 resulting in temporary disruption to our mobile platform and websites and customer services, and a hotel booking system failure for a few hours in October 2019 affecting temporary hotel booking services.
No data leakage occurred in either incident. We have implemented extensive measures to ensure prompt responses to any network shutdown, system failure, or similar incidents in the future, and to continue to update our security protocol to protect our systems from any human error, third-party intrusions, viruses or hacker attacks, information or data theft, or other similar activities. However, we cannot assure you that unexpected interruptions to our systems will not occur again in the future. We do not carry business interruption insurance to compensate us for losses that may occur as a result of such disruptions. In addition, any such future occurrences could reduce customer satisfaction levels, damage our reputation and materially and adversely affect our business.
We use an internally developed booking software system that supports nearly all aspects of our booking transactions. Our business may be harmed if we are unable to upgrade our systems and infrastructure quickly enough to accommodate future traffic levels, avoid obsolescence or successfully integrate any newly developed or purchased technology with our existing system. Capacity constraints could cause unanticipated system disruptions, slower response times, poor customer service, impaired quality and speed of reservations and confirmations and delays in reporting accurate financial and operating information. These factors could cause us to lose customers and suppliers, which would have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition.
In addition, our future success will depend on our ability to adapt our products and services to the changes in technologies and internet user behavior. For example, the number of people accessing the internet through mobile devices, including smart devices, mobile phones, tablets and other hand-held devices, has increased in recent years, and we expect this trend to continue while 5G and more advanced mobile communications technologies are broadly implemented. As we make our services available across a variety of mobile operating systems and devices, we are dependent on the interoperability of our services with popular mobile devices and mobile operating systems that we do not control, such as Android, iOS, and Windows. Any changes in such mobile operating systems or devices that degrade the functionality of our services or give preferential treatment to competitive services could adversely affect usage of our services. Further, if the number of platforms for which we develop our services increases, which is typically seen in a dynamic and fragmented mobile services market such as China, it will result in an increase in our costs and expenses. In order to deliver high quality services, it is important that our services work well across a range of mobile operating systems, networks, mobile devices, and standards that we do not control. If we fail to develop products and technologies that are compatible with all mobile devices and operating systems, or if the products and services we develop are not widely accepted and used by users of various mobile devices and operating systems, we may not be able to penetrate the mobile internet market. In addition, the widespread adoption of new internet technologies or other technological changes could require significant expenditures to modify or integrate our products or services. If we fail to keep up with these changes to remain competitive, our future success may be adversely affected.
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Our business depends substantially on the continuing efforts of our key executives, and our business may be severely disrupted if we lose their services.
Our future success depends heavily upon the continued services of our key executives. We rely on their expertise in business operations, finance and travel services and on their relationships with our suppliers, shareholders and business partners. If one or more of our key executives are unable or unwilling to continue in their present positions, we may not be able to easily replace them. In that case, our business may be severely disrupted, we may incur additional expenses to recruit and train personnel and our financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
In addition, if any of these key executives joins a competitor or forms a competing company, we may lose customers and suppliers. Each of our executive officers has entered into an employment agreement with us that contains confidentiality and
non-competition
provisions. If any disputes arise between our executive officers and us, we cannot assure you of the extent to which any of these agreements would be enforced in China, where most of these executive officers reside and hold most of their assets, in light of the uncertainties with China’s legal system. See “Item 3.D. Key Information—Risk Factors—Risks Relating to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.”
If we are unable to attract, train and retain key individuals and highly skilled employees, our business may be adversely affected.
If our business continues to expand, we will need to hire additional employees, including travel supplier management personnel to maintain and expand our travel supplier network, information technology and engineering personnel to maintain and expand our mobile platform, websites, customer service centers and systems and customer service representatives to serve an increasing number of customers. If we are unable to identify, attract, hire, train and retain sufficient employees in these areas, users of our mobile platform, websites and customer service centers may not have satisfactory experiences and may turn to our competitors, which may adversely affect our business and results of operations.
The PRC government regulates the
air-ticketing,
travel agency, and internet industries. If we fail to obtain or maintain all pertinent permits and approvals or if the PRC government imposes more restrictions on these industries, our business may be adversely affected.
The PRC government regulates the
air-ticketing,
travel agency, and internet industries. We are required to obtain applicable permits or approvals from different regulatory authorities to conduct our business, including separate licenses for value-added telecommunications,
air-ticketing,
travel agency and internet-related activities. If we fail to obtain or maintain any of the required permits or approvals in the future, we may be subject to various penalties, such as fines or suspension of operations in these regulated businesses, which could severely disrupt our business operations. As a result, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected.
In particular, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, or CAAC, together with National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, regulates pricing of air tickets. CAAC also supervises commissions payable to
air-ticketing
agencies together with China Air Transport Association, or CATA. If restrictive policies are adopted by CAAC, NDRC, or CATA, or any of their regional branches, our
air-ticketing
revenues may be adversely affected.
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Furthermore, we provide online consumer finance services incidental to our core businesses. Due to the relatively short history of China’s online consumer finance industry, the PRC government is still in the process of establishing a comprehensive regulatory framework governing this industry. The relevant rules and regulations governing this industry are general in nature and yet to be further interpreted or supplemented. In addition, we may have to make significant changes to our operations from time to time in order to comply with changing laws, regulations and policies governing the online consumer finance industry, which may increase our cost of operation or limit our options of service offering, which in turn may adversely affect our results of operations.
We may not be able to prevent others from using our intellectual property, which may harm our business and expose us to litigation.
We regard our domain names, trade names, trademarks and similar intellectual property as critical to our success. We try to protect our intellectual property rights by relying on trademark protection and confidentiality laws and contracts. Trademark and confidentiality protection in China may not be as effective as that in the United States. Policing unauthorized use of proprietary technology is difficult and expensive. In addition, as our business operations further evolves globally, we may not be able to enforce our intellectual property rights throughout the world, which may in turn adversely impact our international operations and business. We may encounter significant problems in protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights in certain foreign jurisdictions. The legal systems of certain countries do not favor the enforcement of intellectual property protection, which could make it difficult for us to stop the infringement or misappropriation of our intellectual property rights. Proceedings to enforce our proprietary rights in foreign jurisdictions could result in substantial costs and divert our efforts and attention from other aspects of our business.
The steps we have taken may be inadequate to prevent the misappropriation of our proprietary technology. Any misappropriation could have a negative effect on our business and operating results. Furthermore, we may need to go to court to enforce our intellectual property rights. Litigation relating to our intellectual property might result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. See “Item 3.D. Key Information — Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Doing Business in China — Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.”
We rely on services from third parties to carry out our business and to deliver our products to customers, and if there is any interruption or deterioration in the quality of these services, our customers may not continue using our services.
We rely on third-party computer systems to host our websites, as well as third-party licenses for some of the software underlying our technology platform. In addition, we rely on third-party transportation ticketing agencies to issue transportation tickets and travel insurance products, confirmations and deliveries in some cities in Greater China. We also rely on third-party local operators to deliver
on-site
services to our packaged-tour customers. Any interruption in our ability to obtain the products or services of these or other third parties or deterioration in their performance, such as server errors or interruptions, or dishonest business conduct, could impair the timing and quality of our own service. If our service providers fail to provide high quality services in a timely manner to our customers or violate any applicable rules and regulations, our services will not meet the expectations of our customers and our reputation and brand will be damaged. Furthermore, if our arrangement with any of these third parties is terminated, we may not find an alternative source of support on a timely basis or on favorable terms to us.
If our hotel suppliers or customers provide us with untrue information regarding our customers’ stay, we may not be able to recognize and collect revenues to which we are entitled.
We generate a majority of our accommodation reservation revenues through commissions from hotels, which depend on the room nights booked through us.
To confirm whether a customer adheres to the booked itinerary, we routinely make inquiries with the hotel and, occasionally, with the customer. We rely on the hotel and the customer to provide us truthful information regarding the customer’s
check-in
and
check-out
dates, which forms the basis for calculating the commission we are entitled to receive from the hotel. If our hotel suppliers or customers provide us with untrue information with respect to our customers’ length of stay at the hotels, we would not be able to collect revenues to which we are entitled. In addition, using such untrue information may lead to inaccurate business projections and plans, which may adversely affect our business planning and strategy.
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We may suffer losses if we are unable to predict the amount of inventory we will need to purchase during the peak holiday seasons.
During the peak holiday seasons in China, we establish limited merchant business relationships with selected travel service suppliers, in order to secure adequate supplies for our customers. In merchant business relationships, we buy hotel rooms and transportation tickets before selling them to our customers and thereby incur inventory risk. As we expanded our offline business in 2019, partially attributable to our packaged-tour products, our demands also increased correspondingly. If we are unable to correctly predict demand for hotel rooms and transportation tickets that we are committed to purchase, we would be responsible for covering the cost of the hotel rooms and transportation tickets we are unable to sell, and our financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected.
If tax benefits available to our subsidiaries in China are reduced or repealed, our results of operations could suffer.
Under the PRC Enterprise Income Tax Law and the relevant implementation rules, or the EIT Law, effective on January 1, 2008, foreign-invested enterprises, or FIEs, and domestic enterprises are subject to EIT at a uniform rate of 25%. Certain enterprises will benefit from a preferential tax rate of 15% under the EIT Law if they qualify as “high and new technology enterprises,” or HNTEs, or if they are located in applicable PRC regions as specified in the Catalogue of Encouraged Industries in Western Regions, or the Western Regions Catalogue, subject to certain general restrictions described in the EIT Law and the related regulations.
In December 2008 and 2009, some of our PRC subsidiaries, Ctrip Computer Technology, Ctrip Travel Information, Ctrip Travel Network and Qunar Software, and one of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, Qunar Beijing, were each designated by relevant local authorities as a HNTE under the EIT Law with an effective period of three years. Therefore, these entities were entitled to enjoy a preferential tax rate of 15%, as long as they maintained their qualifications for HNTEs that are subject to verification by competent authorities and renewals every three years. The qualifications of these entities as HNTEs have been renewed and will expire by the end of 2019 or 2020. We cannot assure you that our subsidiaries and the consolidated affiliated Chinese entity will continue to qualify as HNTEs when they are subject to reevaluation in the future. In 2002, the PRC State Administration of Taxation, or SAT, started to implement preferential tax policy in China’s western region, and companies located in applicable jurisdictions covered by the Western Regions Catalogue are eligible to apply for a preferential income tax rate of 15% if their businesses fall within the “encouraged” category of the policy and the revenue derived from such “encouraged” businesses accounts for more than 70% of the total revenue. Benefiting from this policy, Chengdu Ctrip and Chengdu Ctrip International obtained approval from local tax authorities to apply the 15% tax rate for their annual tax filing subject to periodic renewals over the years since 2012. After the initial effective period expired in 2014, the two entities were approved by the relevant government authority to renew this qualification, which will expire in 2020. In 2013, Chengdu Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Chengdu Information, obtained approval from local tax authorities to apply the 15% tax rate for its 2012 tax filing and for the years from 2013 to 2020. In the event that the preferential tax treatment for these entities is discontinued, these entities will become subject to the standard tax rate at 25%, which would materially increase our tax obligations.
We have sustained losses in the past and may experience earnings declines or net losses in the future.
We sustained net losses in certain past periods, and we cannot assure you that we can sustain profitability or avoid net losses in the future. We expect that our operating expenses will increase and the degree of increase in these expenses is largely based on anticipated growth, revenue trends and competitive pressure. As a result, any decrease or delay in generating additional sales volume and revenues and increase in our operating expenses may result in substantial operating losses. Moreover, consolidation of Qunar’s financial statements starting from December 31, 2015 had negatively impacted our financial statements previously, which may happen again in the future.
We have incurred substantial indebtedness and may incur additional indebtedness in the future. We may not be able to generate sufficient cash to satisfy our outstanding and future debt obligations.
As of December 31, 2019, our total short-term bank borrowings and long-term bank borrowings (current portions) were RMB21.1 billion (US$3.0 billion), our total long-term borrowings (excluding current portions) were RMB11.0 billion (US$1.6 billion), the aggregate principal amount of our outstanding convertible notes was US$2.4 billion (RMB16.9 billion), and our securitization debt was RMB1.1 billion (US$154 million). To the extent that we were to settle or redeem our convertible notes in cash, our debt obligations would become more substantial.
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Our substantial indebtedness could have important consequences to you. For example, it could:
  increase our vulnerability to adverse general economic and industry conditions;
 
  require us to dedicate a substantial portion of our cash flow from operations to servicing and repaying our indebtedness, thereby reducing the availability of our cash flow to fund working capital, capital expenditures and other general corporate purposes; and
 
  limit, along with the financial and other restrictive covenants of our indebtedness, among other things, our ability to conduct additional financing activities, or increase the cost of additional financing.
 
We may from time to time incur additional indebtedness and contingent liabilities. If we incur additional debt, the risks that we face as a result of our substantial indebtedness and leverage could intensify. For example, since 2018, we entered into asset backed securitization arrangements with third-party financial institution and set up a securitization vehicle which issued revolving debt securities to third party investors. In addition, in July 2019, we entered into a facility agreement as a borrower with certain financial institutions for up to US$2.0 billion equivalent transferable term loan facility with a greenshoe option of up to US$500 million. In April 2020, we entered into another facility agreement as a borrower with certain financial institutions for up to US$1.0 billion transferrable term and revolving loan facility with an incremental facility of up to US$500 million.
Our ability to generate sufficient cash to satisfy our outstanding and future debt obligations will depend upon our future operating performance, which will be affected by prevailing economic conditions and financial, business and other factors, many of which are beyond our control. As a result, we may not generate or obtain sufficient cash flow to meet our anticipated operating expenses and to service our debt obligation as they become due.
We may be subject to legal or administrative proceedings regarding information provided on our online portals or other aspects of our business operations, which may be time-consuming to defend.
Our online portals contain information about hotels, transportation, popular vacation destinations, and other travel-related topics. It is possible that if any information accessible on our online portals contains errors or false or misleading information, third parties could take action against us for losses incurred in connection with the use of such information. From time to time, we have become and may in the future become a party to various legal or administrative proceedings arising in the ordinary course of our business, including actions with respect to labor and employment claims, breach of contract claims, anti-competition claims, and other matters. Although such proceedings are inherently uncertain and their results cannot be predicted with certainty, we believe that the resolution of our current pending matters will not have a material adverse effect on our business, consolidated financial position, results of operations, or cash flow. Regardless of the outcome and merit of such proceedings, however, any legal action can have an adverse impact on us because of defense costs, negative publicity, diversion of management’s attention, and other factors. In addition, it is possible that an unfavorable resolution of one or more legal or administrative proceedings, whether in China or in another jurisdiction, could materially and adversely affect our financial position, results of operations or cash flows in a particular period or damage our reputation.
We could be liable for breaches of internet security or fraudulent transactions by users of our mobile platform and our websites.
Internet industry is facing significant challenges regarding information security and privacy, including the storage, transmission and sharing of confidential information. In recent years, PRC government authorities have enacted legislation on internet use to protect personal information from any unauthorized disclosure. See “Item 4.B. Information on the Company—Business Overview—PRC Government Regulations—Internet Privacy.” We conduct a significant portion of our transactions through the internet, including our mobile platform and websites. In such transactions, secured transmission of confidential information (such as customers’ itineraries, hotel and other reservation information, credit card information, personal information, and billing addresses) over public networks and ensuring the confidentiality, integrity, availability, and authenticity of the information of our users, customers, hotel suppliers, and airline partners are essential to maintaining their confidence in our online products and services. Our current security measures may not be adequate and may contain deficiencies that we fail to identify, and advances in technology, increased levels of expertise of hackers, new discoveries in the field of cryptography or others could increase our vulnerability. For example, a third-party website with focus on internet security information exchange released news in March 2014 that as a result of a temporary testing function performed by us, certain data files containing customers’ credit card information had been stored on local servers maintained by us, which may lead to potential exposure of these customers’ information to hackers. We removed the cause of the potential security concern within two hours of the release of the news report and then examined all other possible leaks and found that 93 customers’ credit card information might have been downloaded by the above-mentioned website for the purpose of confirming potential risks. Although to our knowledge, no customer has suffered financial loss or other damage from the incident as of the date of that report, our business, results of operations, user experience, and reputation may be materially and adversely affected if similar incidents related to internet security recur in the future. In August 2011, the PRC Supreme People’s Court and the PRC Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued judicial interpretations regarding hacking and other internet crimes. However, its effect on curbing hacking and other illegal online activities still remains to be seen.
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Significant capital, managerial and human resources are required to enhance information security and to address any issues caused by security failures. If we are unable to protect our systems and the information stored in our systems from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction, such problems or security breaches may cause loss, expose us to litigation and possible liability to the owners of confidential information, disrupt our operations and may harm our reputation and ability to attract customers.
Our failure to comply with privacy and data protection laws and regulations in various jurisdictions could subject us to sanctions, damages, and litigation, and could harm our reputation and business.
We collect and process certain personal data of our users, including email addresses, usage data, identification information, user passwords and additional information. We also collect and process user billing information, such as credit card numbers, full names, billing addresses and phone numbers of our users.
We are subject to the privacy and data protection laws and regulations in various jurisdictions, including China, European Union and Korea. Privacy laws provide restrictions and guidance in connection with our storage, use, processing, disclosure, transfer and protection of personal information. We strive to comply with all applicable laws, regulations, policies relating to privacy and data protection. We are also subject to privacy and data security-related obligations deriving from our privacy policy and terms of use with our users, and we may be liable to third parties in the event we are deemed wrongfully processed personal data.
European Union traditionally takes a broader view as to what is considered personal information and has imposed greater obligations under their privacy and data protection laws. In particular, the European Union adopted a new General Data Protection Regulation in April 2016, which became effective in May 2018. The General Data Protection Regulation results in more stringent requirements for data processors and controllers, including more fulsome disclosures about the processing of personal information, data retention limits, and deletion requirements, mandatory notification in the case of a data breach, and elevated standards regarding valid consent in some specific cases of data processing. The General Data Protection Regulation also includes substantially higher penalties for failure to comply with the requirements. For example, in the event of violations, a fine up to
20 million or up to 4% of the annual worldwide turnover, whichever is greater, may be imposed. In addition to General Data Protection Regulation, when other future laws and regulations come into effect, the more stringent requirements on privacy user notifications and data handling will require us to adapt our business and incur additional costs.
Privacy concerns are becoming more widely acknowledged and may cause our users to resist providing the personal data necessary to allow them to use our platform effectively. We have implemented multiple measures and security protocols to maintain and improve our privacy protection capability. However, measures we have implemented may not alleviate all potential privacy concerns and threats. In addition, a failure by us or a third-party contractor providing services to us to comply with applicable privacy and data security laws, regulations, obligations, or our terms of use with our users, may result in sanctions, statutory or contractual damages or litigation. These violations or proceedings may, among other things, force us to spend money in defense or settlement, result in the imposition of monetary liability or restrict access to our services from certain territory, which could adversely affect our reputation and business.
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We may be the subject of detrimental conduct by third parties, including complaints to regulatory agencies, negative blog postings, and the public dissemination of malicious assessments of our business, which could have a negative impact on our reputation and cause us to lose market share, travel suppliers, 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 may include complaints, anonymous or otherwise, to regulatory agencies regarding our operations, accounting, revenues, business relationships, business prospects and business ethics. Additionally, allegations, directly or indirectly against us, may be posted in internet chat-rooms or on blogs or any websites by anyone, whether or not related to us, on an anonymous basis. We may be subject to government or regulatory investigation as a result of such third-party conduct and may be required to spend significant time and incur substantial costs to address such third-party conduct, and we cannot assure you that we will be able to conclusively refute each of the allegations within a reasonable period of time, or at all. Our reputation may also 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, travel suppliers and customers and revenues and adversely affect the price of our ADSs.
Our business is subject to the risks of international operations.
We had overseas expansion of our business over the years and operate our business in many foreign jurisdictions such as European and southeast Asian countries. Compliance with foreign laws and regulations that apply to our international operations increases our cost of doing business in foreign jurisdictions. These laws and regulations include data privacy requirements, labor relations laws, tax laws, foreign currency-related regulations, anti-competition regulations, prohibitions on payments to governmental officials, market access, import, export and general trade regulations, including but not limited to economic sanctions and embargos. Violations of these laws and regulations could result in fines and penalties, criminal sanctions against us, our officers or our employees, and prohibitions on the conduct of our business, including the loss of trade privileges. Any such violations could result in prohibitions on our ability to offer our products and services in one or more countries, could delay or prevent potential acquisitions and could also materially damage our reputation, our brand, our international expansion efforts, our ability to attract and retain employees, our business and our operating results. Compliance with these laws requires a significant amount of management attention and effort, which may divert management’s attention from running our business operations and could harm our ability to grow our business, or may increase our expenses as we engage specialized or other additional resources to assist us with our compliance efforts. Our success depends, in part, on our ability to anticipate these risks and manage these difficulties. We monitor our operations and investigate allegations of improprieties relating to transactions and the way in which such transactions are recorded. Where circumstances warrant, we provide information and report our findings to government authorities, but no assurance can be given that action will not be taken by such authorities. In addition, as our business and operation expand in international markets, we could be exposed to increased foreign exchange risks for other currencies.
We have limited business insurance coverage in Greater China.
Insurance companies in Greater China offer limited business insurance products and generally do not, to our knowledge, offer business liability insurance. Business disruption insurance is available to a limited extent in Greater China, but we have determined that the risks of disruption, the cost of such insurance and the difficulties associated with acquiring such insurance make it impractical for us to have such insurance. We do not maintain insurance coverage for any kinds of business liabilities or disruptions and would have to bear the costs and expenses associated with any such events out of our own resources.
We hire celebrities to be our brand ambassadors to market our brands and products and this marketing initiative may not be effective.
From time to time, we hire celebrities to be our brand ambassadors to market our brands or our products and services that are important to our business. However, we cannot assure you that the endorsement from our brand ambassadors or related advertisements will remain effective, that the brand ambassadors will remain popular or their images will remain positive and compatible with the messages that our brand and products aim to convey. Furthermore, we cannot assure you that we can successfully find suitable celebrities to replace any of our existing brand ambassadors if any of their popularities decline or if the existing brand ambassadors are no longer able or suitable to continue the engagement, and termination of such engagements may have a significant impact on our brand images and the promotion or sales of our products. If any of these situations occurs, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
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We may face greater risk of doubtful accounts as our business increases in scale.
We provide credit terms to our merchant customers, and also extend credit to our users by making payments on behalf of them when they book travel products on our platform. Our accounts receivable and other receivables have increased as our business grows. We cannot assure you that we will be able to collect payment fully and in a timely manner on our outstanding receivables from our merchant customers and users. As a result, we may face a greater risk of
non-payment
of our receivables and, as our business grows in scale, we may need to make higher provisions for doubtful accounts. For the years ended December 31, 2017, 2018, and 2019, we recognized the provisions for accounts receivable and receivables relating to financial services of approximately RMB98 million, RMB69 million, and RMB191 million (US$27 million), respectively. The increase in the provisions for accounts receivable and receivables relating to financial services from 2018 to 2019 was primarily due to our business growth.
Our operating results and financial condition may be materially and adversely affected if we are unable to successfully manage our receivables.
Our accounting treatment for share-based compensation could continue to significantly reduce our net income.
We have accounted for share-based compensation in accordance with ASC 718 “Compensation — Stock Compensation,” or ASC 718, which requires a public company to recognize, as an expense, the fair value of share options and other share-based compensation to employees based on the requisite service period of the share-based awards. We have granted share-based compensation awards, including share options and restricted share units, to employees, officers and directors to incentivize performance and align their interests with ours. See “Item 6.B. Directors, Senior Management and Employees — Compensation — Employees’ Share Incentive Plans.” As a result of the grants and potential future grants under our share incentive plans, we had incurred in the past and expect to continue to incur in future periods significant share-based compensation expenses. The amount of these expenses is based on the fair value of the share-based awards.
Our board of directors has the discretion to change terms of any previously issued share options and any such change may significantly increase the amount of our share-based compensation expenses for the period that the change takes effect as well as those for any future periods. For example, in December 2019, we completed a one-time modification of share options, pursuant to which each eligible grantee could exchange every four of the share options that were granted under the 2017 Share Incentive Plan and the Amended and Restated Global Incentive Plan with exercise price exceeding US$320 per ordinary share for one new option entitling each eligible grantee to purchase one ordinary share at the exercise price of US$0.01 with the original vesting schedules remaining unchanged. As a result of
the modification, the prior options to purchase 835,849 ordinary shares were exchanged for new options to purchase 209,026 ordinary shares. In addition, with the historic changes and extensions to our share incentive awards, the application of ASC 718 will continue to have a significant impact on our net income. Further, future changes to various assumptions used to determine the fair value of awards issued or the amount and type of equity awards granted may also create uncertainty as to the amount of future share-based compensation expense.
Changes in accounting standards may affect the results of our operations.
We are required to adopt new accounting standards under FASB from time to time. Certain new accounting standards may impose significant different accounting treatments on certain line items on our consolidated financial statements, which could result in unexpected changes to our results of operation.
For example, in May 2014, the FASB issued a new accounting standard on the recognition of revenue generated from contracts with customers that was designed to create greater comparability for financial statement users across industries and jurisdictions. The core principle of this new standard is that an “entity recognizes revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services.” We adopted this new standard, effective from January 1, 2018, and applied the full retrospective transition approach to all contracts, which means that the financial statements for the year ended and as of December 31, 2018 and 2019 were reported under this new standard and the financial statements for the years ended and as of December 31, 2016 and 2017 were retrospectively adjusted. The new standard did not change the presentation of our revenues, which continues to be substantially reported on a net basis. However, the timing of revenue recognition for certain revenue streams is changed under the new standard. In particular, revenue for accommodation reservation services, which used to be recognized after
end-users
completed their stays, is now recognized when the reservation becomes
non-cancellable.
Revenue for packaged-tour services, which used to be recognized when packaged tours were completed, is now recognized on the departure date of a tour.
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On January 1, 2018, we adopted new financial instruments accounting standard ASU No.
 2016-01,
which requires equity investments to be measured at fair value with subsequent changes recognized in net income, except for those accounted for under the equity method or requiring consolidation. The new standard also changes the accounting for investments without a readily determinable fair value and that do not qualify for the practical expedient to estimate fair value. A policy election can be made for these investments whereby investment will be carried at cost and adjusted in subsequent periods for any impairment or changes in observable prices of identical or similar investments. With the adoption of the new standard, we recognized the changes in fair value for all equity investments measured at fair value through net income/(loss). For investments in equity securities lacking of readily determinable fair values, we elected to use the measurement alternative defined as cost, less impairments, adjusted by observable price changes. The new standard also requires us to reclassify the accumulated unrealized gain or loss of the equity investments measure at fair value that were previously recognized in other comprehensive income to retained earnings on the date of the adoption.
In February 2016, the FASB issued ASU
2016-02,
Leases (Topic 842), which requires that a lessee should recognize the assets and liabilities that arise from operating leases. A lessee should recognize in the balance sheet a liability to make lease payments (the lease liability) and a
right-of-use
asset representing its right to use the underlying asset for the lease term. For leases with a term of 12 months or less, a lessee is permitted to make an accounting policy election by class of underlying asset not to recognize lease assets and lease liabilities. If a lessee makes this election, it should recognize lease expenses for such lease generally on a straight-line basis over the lease term. The new leases standard also provides lessees with a practical expedient, by class of underlying asset, to not separate
non-lease
components from the associated lease component. If a lessee makes that accounting policy election, it is required to account for the
non-lease
components together with the associated lease component as a single lease component and to provide certain disclosures. Entities were initially required to adopt the new leases standard using a modified retrospective transition method. Under that transition method, an entity initially applies the new leases standard (subject to specific transition requirements and optional practical expedients) at the beginning of the earliest period presented in the financial statements. In July 2018, the FASB issued ASU
2018-11,
which provides another transition method in addition to the existing transition method by allowing entities to initially apply the new leases standard at the adoption date and recognize a cumulative-effect adjustment to the opening balance of retained earnings in the period of adoption consistent with preparers’ requests. The amendments in this Update are effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018, including interim periods within those fiscal years for public entities. We have adopted this new guidance for the year ended December 31, 2019. The standard had a material impact on our consolidated balance sheets, but did not have a material impact on our consolidated statements of income or statements of cash flows. The most significant impact was the recognition of
right-of-use
assets, or ROU assets, of RMB1.0 billion (US$146 million) and lease liabilities of RMB980 million (US$141 million) for operating leases. Other than disclosed, we do not expect the new standard to have a material impact on our remaining consolidated financial statements.
For further details, see “Item 5.A. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects — Operating Results — Critical Accounting Policy.” As a result of changes in accounting standards, our results of operations may be adversely affected.
Failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could result in errors in our published financial statements, which in turn could have a material adverse effect on the trading price of our ADSs.
We are subject to the reporting obligations under the U.S. securities laws. As required under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, the SEC has adopted rules requiring public companies to include a report of management on the effectiveness of such companies’ internal control over financial reporting in its annual report. In addition, an independent registered public accounting firm for a public company must issue an attestation report on the effectiveness of the company’s internal control over financial reporting. Our management conducted an evaluation of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting and concluded that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2019. In addition, our independent registered public accounting firm attested the effectiveness of our internal control and reported that our internal control over financial reporting was effective as of December 31, 2019. If we fail to maintain the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, we may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Moreover, effective internal control over financial reporting is necessary for us to produce reliable financial reports. As a result, any failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could result in the loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial statements, which in turn could negatively impact the trading price of our ADSs. Furthermore, we 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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We may need additional capital and we may not be able to obtain it.
We believe that our current cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments, cash flow from operations and proceeds from our financing activities will be sufficient to meet our anticipated cash needs for the foreseeable future. We may, however, require additional cash resources due to changed business conditions or other future developments, including any investments or acquisitions we may decide to pursue. If these resources are insufficient to satisfy our cash requirements, we may seek to sell additional equity or debt securities or obtain a credit facility. The sale of additional equity securities could result in additional dilution to our 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. We cannot assure you that financing will be available in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, if at all. In particular, the recent financial turmoil affecting the financial markets and banking system may significantly restrict our ability to obtain financing in the capital markets or from financial institutions on commercially reasonable terms, or at all.
Risks Relating to Our Corporate Structure
PRC laws and regulations restrict foreign investment in the travel agency and value-added telecommunications businesses, and substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the application and implementation of PRC laws and regulations.
We are a Cayman Islands incorporated company and a foreign person under PRC law. Due to foreign ownership restrictions in the travel agency and value-added telecommunications industries, we conduct part of our business through contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities. These entities hold the licenses and approvals that are essential for our business operations.
In the opinion of our PRC counsel, Commerce & Finance Law Offices, our current ownership structure, the ownership structure of our subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, the contractual arrangements among us, our subsidiaries, our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities and their shareholders, as described in this annual report, are in compliance with existing PRC laws, rules and regulations. There are, however, substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current or future PRC laws and regulations. Accordingly, we cannot assure you that PRC government authorities will not ultimately take a view contrary to the opinion of our PRC legal counsel due to the lack of official interpretation and clear guidance.
If we and our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities are found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations, the relevant governmental authorities would have broad discretion in dealing with such violation, including, without limitation, levying fines, confiscating our income or the income of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, revoking our business licenses or the business licenses of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, requiring us and our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities to restructure our ownership structure or operations and requiring us or our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities to discontinue any portion or all of our value-added telecommunications or travel agency businesses. In particular, if the PRC government authorities impose penalties which cause us to lose our rights to direct the activities of and receive economic benefits from our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, we may lose the ability to consolidate and reflect in our financial statements the operation results of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities. Any of these actions could cause significant disruption to our business operations, and may materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations.
According to the PRC Property Rights Law, effective as of October 1, 2007, and the Measures for the Registration of Equity Pledge with the PRC State Administration for Industry and Commerce (2016 Revision), effective as of April 29, 2016, the effectiveness of the pledges will be denied if the pledges are not registered with the PRC State Administration for Industry and Commerce, or SAIC, which was integrated into the State Administration for Market Regulation, or the SAMR. Our equity pledges have been duly registered with the relevant local branches of SAMR. Under the equity pledge agreements between our subsidiaries and the shareholders of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, the shareholders of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities pledged their respective equity interests in these entities to our subsidiaries. The effectiveness of the pledges upon registration will be recognized by PRC courts if disputes arise on certain pledged equity interests and that our subsidiaries’ interests as pledgees will prevail over those of third parties.
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Furthermore, we were aware that a China-based U.S.-listed company announced in 2012 that it was subject to SEC’s investigation, which it believed was related to the consolidation of its consolidated affiliated Chinese entities. Following the announcement, that issuer’s stock price declined significantly. Although we are not aware of any actual or threatened investigation, inquiry or other action by SEC, Nasdaq or any other regulatory authority with respect to consolidation of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, we cannot assure you that we will not be subject to any such investigation or inquiry in the future. In the event we are subject to any regulatory investigation or inquiry relating to our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, including the consolidation of such entities into our financial statements, or any other matters, we may need to spend significant amount of time and expenses in connection with the investigation or inquiry, our reputation may be harmed regardless of the outcome, and the trading price of our ADS may materially decline or fluctuate.
If our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities violate our contractual arrangements with them, our business could be disrupted, our reputation may be harmed and we may have to resort to litigation to enforce our rights, which may be time-consuming and expensive.
As the PRC government restricts foreign ownership of value-added telecommunications and travel agency businesses in China, we depend on our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, in which we have no ownership interest, to conduct part of our business activities through a series of contractual arrangements, which are intended to provide us with effective control over these entities and allow us to obtain economic benefits from them. Although we have been advised by our PRC counsel, Commerce & Finance Law Offices, that the contractual arrangements as described in this annual report are valid, binding and enforceable under current PRC laws, these arrangements are not as effective in providing control as direct ownership of these businesses. For example, our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities could violate our contractual arrangements with them by, among other things, failing to operate our packaged-tour business in an acceptable manner or pay us for our consulting or other services. In any such event, we would have to rely on the PRC legal system for the enforcement of those agreements, which could have uncertain results. Any legal proceeding could result in the disruption of our business, damage to our reputation, diversion of our resources and incurrence of substantial costs. See “Item 3.D. Key Information — Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Doing Business in China — Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.”
The principal shareholders of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities have potential conflict of interest with us, which may adversely affect our business.
Some of our directors and officers were also the principal shareholders of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities as of the date of this annual report. Thus, conflict of interest between their duties to our company and their interests in our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities may arise. We cannot assure you that when conflict of interest arises, these persons will act entirely in our interests or that the conflict of interest will be resolved in our favor. In addition, these persons could violate their
non-competition
or employment agreements with us or their legal duties by diverting business opportunities from us to others, resulting in our loss of corporate opportunities. In any such event, we would have to rely on the PRC legal system for the enforcement of these agreements, which could have uncertain results. Any legal proceeding could result in the disruption of our business, diversion of our resources and incurrence of substantial costs. See “Item 3.D. Key Information — Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Doing Business in China — Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.”
Our business may be significantly affected by the new PRC Foreign Investment Law.
The new PRC Foreign Investment Law was approved by the PRC National People’s Congress on March 15, 2019 and became effective from January 1, 2020. The new PRC Foreign Investment Law has repealed the PRC Wholly Foreign-owned Enterprise Law, the PRC Sino-foreign Equity Joint Venture Law, and the PRC Sino-foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Law. Therefore, establishment and operation of companies in China, including FIEs, will generally follow the PRC Company Law unless specifically provided for in the new PRC Foreign Investment Law, in which case the provisions of the new PRC Foreign Investment Law will prevail. In December 2019, the Implementing Regulation of the Foreign Investment Law was promulgated by the PRC State Council and became effective from January 1, 2020.
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The new PRC Foreign Investment Law does not touch upon the relevant concepts and regulatory regimes that were historically suggested for the regulation of VIE structures, and thus this regulatory topic remains unclear thereunder. Since the PRC Foreign Investment Law is new, there are substantial uncertainties exist with respect to its implementation and interpretation and it is also possible that the VIE entities will be deemed as FIEs and be subject to restrictions in the future. Such restrictions may cause interruptions to our operations and may incur additional compliance cost, which may in turn materially and adversely affect our business, financial condition, and results of operations.
Our contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities may result in adverse tax consequences to us.
As a result of our corporate structure and the contractual arrangements between us and our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, we are effectively subject to the 6% PRC value-added tax, or VAT, on both revenues generated by our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities’ operations in China and revenues derived from our contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities. We might be subject to adverse tax consequences if the PRC tax authorities were to determine that the contracts between us and our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities were not made on an
arm’s-length
basis and therefore constitute favorable transfer pricing arrangements. If this occurs, the PRC tax authorities could request that our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities adjust their taxable income upward for PRC tax purposes. Such an adjustment could adversely affect us by increasing our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities’ tax expenses without reducing our tax expenses, which could subject our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities to late payment fees and other penalties for underpayment of taxes, and/or result in the loss of the tax benefits available to our subsidiaries in China. The EIT Law requires every enterprise in China to submit its annual enterprise income tax return together with a report on transactions with its affiliates to the relevant tax authorities. The tax authorities may impose reasonable adjustments on taxation if they have identified any related party transactions that are inconsistent with
arm’s-length
principles. As a result, our contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities may result in adverse tax consequences to us.
Our subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated Chinese entities in China are subject to restrictions on paying dividends or making other payments to us, which may restrict our ability to satisfy our liquidity requirements.
We are a holding company incorporated in the Cayman Islands. We rely on dividends from our subsidiaries in China and consulting and other fees paid to us by our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities. Under PRC laws and regulations, our subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated Chinese entities in China are required to set aside at least 10% of their respective
after-tax
profit each year, if any, to statutory reserve funds unless these reserve funds have reached 50% of the subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated Chinese entities’ registered capital. These reserves are not distributable as cash dividends and dividends cannot be distributed until any losses from prior fiscal years have been offset. Furthermore, if our subsidiaries and consolidated affiliated Chinese entities in China incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing the debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other payments to us, which may restrict our ability to satisfy our liquidity requirements.
Pursuant to the EIT Law, its implementing rules and a circular of Taxation on Several Preferential Policies on Enterprise Income Tax issued by the PRC Ministry of Finance, or MOF, and SAT, in February 2008, the dividends declared out of the profits earned after January 1, 2008 by an FIE to its immediate offshore holding company are subject to a 10% withholding tax unless such offshore holding company’s jurisdiction of incorporation has a tax treaty with China that provides for a different withholding arrangement, and certain supplementary requirements and procedures stipulated by SAT for such tax treaty are met and observed. Our subsidiaries in China are considered FIEs and are directly or indirectly held by our subsidiaries in Hong Kong. According to the currently effective tax treaty between China and Hong Kong, dividends payable by an FIE in China to a company in Hong Kong that directly holds at least 25% of the equity interests in the FIE will be subject to a withholding tax of 5%. In February 2009, SAT issued SAT Notice No. 81, pursuant to which an enterprise must be the “beneficial owner” of the relevant dividend income in order to enjoy the preferential withholding tax rates on dividend. If, however, such enterprise otherwise qualifies for such preferential withholding tax rates through any transaction or arrangement, whose main purpose is to qualify for such preferential withholding tax rates, the enterprise nevertheless cannot enjoy the preferential withholding tax rates and the competent tax authority has the power to adjust the applicable withholding tax rates if it so determines. In October 2009, SAT issued SAT Notice No. 601 to provide guidance on the criteria for determining whether an enterprise qualifies as the “beneficial owner” of the PRC sourced income for the purpose of obtaining preferential treatment under tax treaties. SAT Notice No. 601 was abolished by a SAT Notice No. 9 that took effect in April 2018, which indicated that “beneficial owner” refers to a person who has ownership and disposal rights to the income or any rights and assets arising from such income, and the tax authority has discretion to determine whether or not an enterprise is determined as a “beneficial owner.” However, since the SAT Notice No. 9 is newly issued, it remains unclear how the PRC tax authorities will implement SAT Notice No. 9 in practice and to what extent they will affect the dividend withholding tax rates for dividends distributed by our PRC subsidiaries to our Hong Kong subsidiary. If the relevant tax authority determines that our Hong Kong subsidiary is a conduit company and does not qualify as the “beneficial owner” of the dividend income it receives from our PRC subsidiaries, the higher 10% withholding tax rate will apply to such dividends.
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Under the EIT Law, an enterprise established outside of China with its “de facto management body” within China is considered a PRC resident enterprise and will be subject to enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on its worldwide income. The “de facto management body” is defined as the organizational body that effectively exercises overall management and control over production and business operations, personnel, finance and accounting, and properties of the enterprise. It remains unclear how the PRC tax authorities will interpret such a broad definition. If the PRC tax authorities determine that we should be classified as a PRC resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes, our global income will be subject to income tax at a uniform rate of 25%, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Notwithstanding the foregoing provision, the EIT Law also provides that, if a PRC resident enterprise directly invests in another PRC resident enterprise, the dividends received by the investing PRC resident enterprise from the invested PRC resident enterprise are exempted from income tax, subject to certain conditions. However, it remains unclear how the PRC tax authorities will interpret the PRC tax resident treatment of an offshore company with indirect ownership interests in PRC resident enterprises through intermediary holding companies.
Moreover, under the EIT Law, foreign ADS holders that are
non-PRC
resident enterprises may be subject to a 10% withholding tax upon dividends payable by a PRC entity that is considered as a PRC resident enterprise and gains realized on the sale or other disposition of ADSs or ordinary shares, if such income is considered as income derived from within China. Any such tax would reduce the returns on your investment in our ADSs.
If we exercise the option to acquire equity ownership in our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, such ownership transfer requires approval from or filings with PRC governmental authorities and subject to taxation, which may result in substantial costs to us.
Pursuant to the relevant contractual arrangements, both of our PRC subsidiaries, Ctrip Travel Information and Ctrip Travel Network (or their respective designees), have their respective exclusive rights to purchase all or any part of the equity interests in the applicable consolidated affiliated Chinese entities of ours from the respective shareholders of these consolidated affiliated Chinese entities for a price that is the higher of (i) the amount of capital contribution to such consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, or the consideration paid in exchange for the equity interests in such consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, or (ii) another minimum price as permitted by the then applicable PRC laws. Such equity transfers may be subject to approvals from, or filings with, relevant PRC authorities. In addition, the relevant equity transfer prices may be subject to review and adjustment for tax determination by the relevant tax authorities. Moreover, the shareholders of our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, under the circumstances of such equity transfers, will be subject to PRC individual income tax on the difference between the equity transfer prices and the then current registered capital of the relevant consolidated affiliated Chinese entities. The shareholders of such consolidated affiliated Chinese entities will pay, after deducting such taxes, the remaining amount to Ctrip Travel Information or Ctrip Travel Network, as appropriate, under the applicable contractual arrangements. The amount to be received by Ctrip Travel Information and Ctrip Travel Network may also be subject to enterprise income tax. Any of the aforementioned tax amounts could be substantial. Similar risk is faced by Qunar Software.
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We face uncertainty with respect to indirect transfer of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises by their
non-PRC
holding companies.
We face uncertainties regarding the reporting on and consequences of previous private equity financing transactions involving the transfer and exchange of shares in our company by
non-PRC
resident investors. According to the Notice on Strengthening Administration of Enterprise Income Tax for Share Transfers by
Non-PRC
Resident Enterprises issued by SAT on December 10, 2009, or SAT Circular 698, where a
non-PRC
resident enterprise transfers the equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise indirectly through a disposition of equity interests in an offshore holding company (other than a purchase and sale of shares issued by a PRC resident enterprise in public securities market), or an Indirect Transfer, the
non-PRC
resident enterprise, as the seller, may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax of up to 10% of the gains derived from the Indirect Transfer in certain circumstances.
On February 3, 2015, SAT issued Announcement on Several Issues Concerning the Enterprise Income Tax on Indirect Property Transfers by
Non-RPC
Resident Enterprises, or SAT Notice No. 7, to supersede the existing tax rules in relation to the tax treatment of the Indirect Transfer, while the other provisions of SAT Circular 698 irrelevant to the Indirect Transfer remain in force. SAT Notice No. 7 introduces a new tax regime that is significantly different from that under a notice issued by SAT Circular 698. It extends SAT’s tax jurisdiction to capture not only the Indirect Transfer as set forth under SAT Circular 698 but also transactions involving indirect transfer of (i) real properties in China and (ii) assets of an “establishment or place” situated in China, by a
non-PRC
resident enterprise through a disposition of equity interests in an offshore holding company. SAT Notice No. 7 also extends the interpretation with respect to the disposition of equity interests in an offshore holding company broadly. In addition, SAT Notice No. 7 further clarifies how to assess reasonable commercial purposes and introduces safe harbors applicable to internal group restructurings. However, it also brings challenges to both offshore transferor and transferee as they are required to make self-assessment on whether an Indirect Transfer or similar transaction should be subject to PRC tax and whether they should file or withhold any tax payment accordingly. On October 17, 2017, the SAT issued a Notice Concerning Withholding Income Tax of
Non-Resident
Enterprise, or SAT Notice No. 37, which abolishes SAT Circular 698 and certain provision of SAT Notice 7. SAT Notice No. 37 further reduces the burden of withholding obligator, such as revocation of contract filing requirements and tax liquidation procedures, strengthens the cooperation of tax authorities in different places, and clarifies the calculation of tax payable and mechanism of foreign exchange.
There is uncertainty as to the application of SAT Notice No. 7 and SAT Notice No. 37. In the event that
non-PRC
resident investors were involved in our private equity financing transactions and such transactions were determined by the competent tax authorities as lack of reasonable commercial purposes, we and our
non-PRC
resident investors may become at risk of being taxed under and SAT Notice No. 7 and SAT Notice No. 37 and may be required to expend costly resources to comply with and SAT Notice No. 7 and SAT Notice No. 37, or to establish a case to be tax exempt under SAT Notice No. 7 and SAT Notice No. 37, which may cause us to incur additional costs and may have a negative impact on the value of your investment in us.
The PRC tax authorities have discretion under SAT Notice No. 7 and SAT Notice No. 37 to adjust the taxable capital gains based on the difference between the fair value of the transferred equity interests and the investment cost. We may pursue acquisitions in the future that may involve complex corporate structures. If we are deemed as a
non-PRC
resident enterprise under the EIT Law and if the PRC tax authorities adjust the taxable income of the transactions under SAT Notice No. 7 and SAT Notice No. 37, our income tax expenses associated with such potential acquisitions will increase, which may have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Risks Relating to Doing Business in China
Adverse changes in economic and political policies of the PRC government could have a material adverse effect on the overall economic growth of China, which could adversely affect our business.
The majority of our business operations are conducted in mainland China. Accordingly, our results of operations, financial condition and prospects are subject to a significant degree to economic, political and legal developments in China. The Chinese economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including with respect to the amount of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. While the Chinese economy has experienced significant growth in the past decades, that growth may not continue, as evidenced by the slowing of the growth of the Chinese economy since 2012. Any adverse changes in economic conditions in China, in the policies of the PRC government or in the laws and regulations in China could have a material adverse effect on the overall economic growth of China. Such developments could adversely affect our business and operating results, lead to reduction in demand for our services and adversely affect our competitive position. The PRC government has implemented various measures to encourage economic development and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures benefit the overall Chinese economy, but may also 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 that are applicable to us. In addition, future measures to control the pace of economic growth may cause a decrease in the level of economic activity in China, which in turn could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
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Inflation in China may disrupt our business and have an adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
The Chinese economy has experienced rapid expansion together with rising rates of inflation. Inflation may erode disposable incomes and consumer spending, which may have an adverse effect on the Chinese economy and lead to a reduction in business and leisure travel as the travel industry is highly sensitive to business and personal discretionary spending levels. This in turn could adversely impact our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Future movements in exchange rates between U.S. dollars and Renminbi may adversely affect the value of our ADSs.
The conversion of Renminbi into foreign currencies, including U.S. dollars, is based on rates set by the People’s Bank of China. Renminbi has fluctuated against U.S. dollars, at times significantly and unpredictably. The value of Renminbi against U.S. dollars and other currencies is affected by changes in China’s political and economic conditions and by China’s foreign exchange policies, among other things. We cannot assure you that Renminbi will not appreciate or depreciate significantly in value against U.S. dollars in the future. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between Renminbi and U.S. dollars in the future.
The majority of our revenues and costs are denominated in Renminbi, while a portion of our financial assets and our dividend payments are denominated in U.S. dollars. Very limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. To date, we have used forward contracts and currency borrowings to help hedge our exposure to foreign currency risk. Any significant revaluation of Renminbi or U.S. dollars may adversely affect our cash flows, earnings and financial position, and the value of, and any dividends payable on, our ADSs. For example, an appreciation of Renminbi against U.S. dollars would make any new Renminbi-denominated investments or expenditures more costly to us, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars into Renminbi for such purposes. An appreciation of Renminbi against U.S. dollars would also result in foreign currency translation losses for financial reporting purposes when we translate our U.S. dollar-denominated financial assets into Renminbi, our reporting currency. Conversely, if we decide to convert Renminbi into U.S. dollars for the purpose of making payments for dividends on our ordinary shares or ADSs or for other business purposes, appreciation of U.S. dollars against Renminbi would have a negative effect on the U.S. dollar amount available to us.
Restrictions on currency exchange may limit our ability to receive and use our revenues effectively.
Because the majority of our revenues are denominated in Renminbi, any restrictions on currency exchange may limit our ability to use Renminbi-denominated revenues to fund our business activities outside China or to make dividend payments in U.S. dollars. The principal PRC regulation governing foreign currency exchange is the Regulations on Administration of Foreign Exchange, as amended, or the Forex Regulations. Under the Forex Regulations, Renminbi is freely convertible for trade- and service-related foreign exchange transactions, but not for direct investment, loan or investment in securities outside China unless prior approval of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, is obtained. Although the PRC regulations now allow greater convertibility of Renminbi for current account transactions, significant restrictions remain. For example, foreign exchange transactions under our subsidiaries’ capital account, including principal payments in respect of foreign currency-denominated obligations, remain subject to significant foreign exchange controls and the approval of SAFE. These limitations could affect our ability to obtain foreign exchange for capital expenditures. We cannot be certain that the PRC regulatory authorities will not impose more stringent restrictions on the convertibility of Renminbi, especially with respect to foreign exchange transactions.
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PRC regulations relating to the establishment of offshore special purpose vehicles by PRC residents and the grant of employee stock options by overseas-listed companies may subject our PRC resident shareholders to personal liability and limit our ability to inject capital into our PRC subsidiaries, limit our subsidiaries’ ability to distribute profits to us, or otherwise adversely affect us.
SAFE issued a public notice, or SAFE Circular 75, in October 2005 requiring PRC residents to register with the local SAFE branches before establishing or controlling any company outside of China for the purpose of capital financing with assets or equity interests in any onshore enterprise located in China, referred to in the notice as a “special purpose vehicle.” On July 4, 2014, SAFE issued the SAFE’s Notice on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Administration for PRC Residents to Engage in Outbound Investment and Financing and Inbound Investment via Special Purpose Vehicles, or SAFE Circular 37, which has superseded SAFE Circular 75. Under SAFE Circular 75, SAFE Circular 37 and other relevant foreign exchange regulations, PRC residents who make, or have previously made, prior to the implementation of these foreign exchange regulations, direct or indirect investments in offshore companies will be required to register those investments. In addition, any PRC resident who is a direct or indirect shareholder of an offshore company is also required to file or update the registration with the local branches of SAFE, with respect to that offshore company for any material change involving its round-trip investment, capital variation, such as an increase or decrease in capital, transfer or swap of shares, merger, division, long-term equity or debt investment or the creation of any security interest. If any PRC shareholder fails to make the required registration or update the previously filed registration, the PRC subsidiary of that offshore parent company may be prohibited from distributing their profits and the proceeds from any reduction in capital, share transfer or liquidation to their offshore parent company, and the offshore parent company may also be prohibited from injecting additional capital into its PRC subsidiary. Moreover, failure to comply with the various foreign exchange registration requirements described above could result in liability under PRC laws for evasion of applicable foreign exchange restrictions.
We have notified holders of our ordinary shares who we know are PRC residents to register with the local SAFE branches as required under the applicable foreign exchange regulations. The failure or inability of our PRC resident shareholders to comply with the registration procedures set forth therein may subject them to fines and legal sanctions and may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital into our PRC subsidiaries, limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute profits to our company or otherwise adversely affect our business.
On February 15, 2012, SAFE promulgated the Circular on Relevant Issues Concerning Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in an Employees Share Incentive Plan of an Overseas-Listed Company (replacing the prior circular in 2007, Application Procedure of Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in an Employee Stock Holding Plan or Stock Option Plan of an Overseas-Listed Company), or the Share Incentive Rules. Under the Share Incentive Rules, PRC resident individuals who participate in a share incentive plan of an overseas publicly listed company are required to register with SAFE and complete certain other procedures. All such participants need to retain a PRC agent through PRC subsidiaries to register with SAFE and handle foreign exchange matters such as opening accounts, transferring and settlement of the relevant proceeds. The Share Incentive Rules further require an offshore agent to be designated to handle matters in connection with the exercise of share options and sale of proceeds for the participants of share incentive plans. We and our PRC employees who have been granted stock options are subject to the Share Incentive Rules. If we or our PRC optionees fail to comply with these regulations, we or our PRC optionees may be subject to fines and legal sanctions.
Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.
We conduct our business primarily through our wholly-owned subsidiaries incorporated in China. Our subsidiaries are generally subject to laws and regulations applicable to foreign investment in China and, in particular, laws applicable to wholly foreign-owned enterprises, or WFOEs. In addition, we depend on several consolidated affiliated Chinese entities in China to honor their service agreements with us. Almost all of these agreements are governed by PRC law and disputes arising out of these agreements are expected to be decided by arbitration in China. The PRC legal system is based on written statutes. Prior court decisions may be cited for reference but have limited precedential value. Since 1979, PRC legislation and regulations have significantly enhanced the foreign investments in China. However, since the PRC legal system is still evolving, the interpretations of many laws, regulations and rules are not always uniform and enforcement of these laws, regulations and rules involve uncertainties, which may limit remedies available to us. In addition, any litigation in China may be protracted and result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention. If we and our consolidated affiliated Chinese 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 in dealing with such violations, including restructuring. See “Item 3.D. Key Information — Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Our Corporate Structure — PRC laws and regulations restrict foreign investment in the
air-ticketing,
travel agency and value-added telecommunications businesses, and substantial uncertainties exist with respect to the application and implementation of PRC laws and regulations.” and “Item 3.D. Key Information — Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Our Corporate Structure — Our business may be significantly affected by the New Foreign Investment Law.”
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Implementation of laws and regulations relating to data privacy in China could adversely affect our business.
Certain data and services collected, provided or used by us or provided to and used by us or our users are currently subject to regulations in certain jurisdictions, including China. The PRC Constitution states that PRC laws protect the freedom and privacy of communications of citizens and prohibit infringement of such basic rights, and the PRC Contract Law prohibits contracting parties from disclosing or misusing the trade secrets of the other party. Further, companies or their employees who illegally trade or disclose customer data may face criminal charges. Although the definition and scope of “privacy” and “trade secret” remain relatively ambiguous under PRC law, growing concerns about individual privacy and the collection, distribution and use of information about individuals have led to national and local regulations that could increase our expenses.
In December 2012, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress enacted the Decision to Enhance the Protection of Network Information, or the Information Protection Decision, to further enhance the protection of users’ personal information in electronic form. The Information Protection Decision provides that internet information service providers must expressly inform their users of the purpose, manner and scope of the collection and use of users’ personal information by internet information service providers, publish the internet information service providers’ standards for their collection and use of users’ personal information, and collect and use users’ personal information only with the consent of the users and only within the scope of such consent. The Information Protection Decision also mandates that internet information service providers and their employees keep users’ personal information that they collect strictly confidential, and that they must take such technical and other measures as are necessary to safeguard the information against disclosure, damages and loss. Pursuant to the Order for the Protection of Telecommunication and internet User Personal Information issued in July 2013 by the PRC Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (formerly known as the Ministry of Information Industry), or MIIT, any collection and use of users’ personal information must be subject to the consent of the users, abide by the principles of legality, rationality and necessity and be within the specified purposes, methods and scopes. Compliance with current regulations and regulations that may come into effect in these areas may increase our expenses related to regulatory compliance, which could have an adverse effect on our financial condition and operating results.
PRC regulation of loans and direct investment by offshore holding companies to PRC entities may delay or prevent us from using the proceeds from the offerings of any securities to make loans or additional capital contributions to our PRC operating subsidiaries.
In September 2012, we completed an offering of US$180 million in aggregate principal amount of convertible senior notes due 2017, or the 2017 Notes. In October 2013, we completed another offering of US$800 million in aggregate principal amount of 1.25% convertible senior notes due 2018, or the 2018 Notes. In June 2015, we completed an offering of US$700 million in aggregate principal amount of 1.00% convertible senior notes due 2020, or the 2020 Notes, and US$400 million in aggregate principal amount of 1.99% convertible senior notes due 2025, or the 2025 Notes. In September 2016, we concurrently completed an offering of 32,775,000 ADSs at US$45.96 per ADS (taking into account of the fully exercised over-allotment option) and an offering of US$975 million in aggregate principal amount of 1.25% convertible senior notes due 2022 (taking into account of the fully exercised over-allotment option), or the 2022 Notes. In August 2014, May 2015, December 2015 and September 2016, we issued US$500 million in aggregate principal amount of 1.00% convertible notes due 2019, or the 2019 Booking Notes, US$250 million in aggregate principal amount of 1.00% convertible notes due 2020, or the 2020 Booking Notes, US$500 million in aggregate principal amount of 2.00% convertible notes due 2025, or the 2025 Booking Notes, and US$25 million in aggregate principal amount of 1.25% convertible notes due 2022, or the 2022 Booking Notes, respectively, to a subsidiary of Booking Holdings Inc. (formerly known as The Priceline Group Inc.), or Booking. In December 2015, we issued US$500 million in aggregate principal amount of 2.00% convertible notes due 2025, or the 2025 Hillhouse Notes, to Gaoling Fund, L.P. and YHG Investment, L.P., or collectively Hillhouse, in addition to the aforementioned issuance to Booking. In September 2016, we closed private placements of our ordinary shares with the respective subsidiaries of Baidu and Booking at an aggregate amount of US$100 million and US$25 million, respectively. As an offshore holding company, our ability to make loans or additional capital contributions to our PRC operating subsidiaries is subject to PRC regulations and approvals and there are restrictions for us to make loans to our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities. These regulations and approvals may delay or prevent us from using the proceeds we received in the past or will receive in the future from the offerings of securities to make loans or additional capital contributions to our PRC operating subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, and impair our ability to fund and expand our business which may adversely affect our business, financial condition and result of operations.
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For example, on March 3, 2015, SAFE promulgated a Circular on the Reforming of Administrative Methods Regarding the Foreign Exchange Capital Settlement of Foreign-Invested Companies, or SAFE Circular 19, which became effective on June 1, 2015 and replaced SAFE Circular 142. Previously, pursuant to SAFE Circular 142, the registered capital of an FIE settled in Renminbi converted from foreign currencies may only be used within the business scope approved by the applicable government authority and may not be used for equity investments in China, and the FIE may not change how it uses such capital without SAFE’s approval, and may not in any case use such capital to repay Renminbi loans if they have not used the proceeds of such loans. Although SAFE Circular 19 restates certain restrictions on the use of investment capital denominated in foreign currency by FIEs, it specifies that the registered capital of an FIE whose main business is investment, denominated in foreign currency, can be converted into Renminbi at the discretion of such FIE and can be used for equity investment in China subject to the invested company’s filing of a reinvestment registration with the relevant local SAFE. On June 9, 2016, SAFE issued the Circular on Reforming and Regulating the Administrative Policy of the Settlement under Capital Accounts, or SAFE Circular 16, which became effective on the same date. Although SAFE Circular 16 further extends the reform to cover foreign currency income under capital account, including capital, foreign debt and proceeds from offshore offering and listing, an FIE’s foreign currency income and such income settled in Renminbi under the capital account cannot be used directly and indirectly for any purposes out of the FIE’s business scope or in areas prohibited by laws and regulations. According to the Circular on Further Promoting the Facilitation of Cross-Border Trade and Investment promulgated by SAFE on October 23, 2019, or SAFE Circular 28,
non-investment
FIEs are allowed to use their capital for equity investment in China provided that such investment is not in violation of the Special Administrative Measures (Negative List) for Foreign Investment Access and the purposes of such investment is truthful and compliant with relevant laws and regulations. However, the interpretation and enforcement of SAFE Circular 19, SAFE Circular 16, and SAFE Circular 28 remained to be subject to uncertainty.
In light of the various requirements imposed by PRC regulations on loans to and direct investment in PRC entities by offshore holding companies, 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 by us to our PRC subsidiaries or with respect to future capital contributions by us to our PRC subsidiaries. If we fail to complete such registrations or obtain such approvals, our ability to use the proceeds we received from our various offerings 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.
We have attempted to comply with the PRC regulations regarding licensing requirements by entering into a series of agreements with our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities. If the PRC laws and regulations change, our business in China may be adversely affected.
To comply with the PRC regulations regarding licensing requirements, we have entered into a series of agreements with our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities to maintain our operational control over them and secure consulting fees and other payments from them. Although we have been advised by our PRC counsel, Commerce & Finance Law Offices, that our contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities, as described in this annual report, are valid under current PRC laws and regulations, as there is substantial uncertainty regarding the interpretation and application of PRC laws and regulations, we cannot assure you that the PRC government would agree with our counsel’s position or that we will not be required to restructure our organizational structure and operations in China to comply with changing and new PRC laws and regulations. Restructuring of our operations may result in disruption of our business, diversion of management attention and the incurrence of substantial costs. See “Item 3.D. Key Information — Risk Factors — Risks Relating to Our Corporate Structure — Our business may be significantly affected by the new PRC Foreign Investment Law.”
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The continued growth of the Chinese internet market depends on the development of telecommunications infrastructure.
Although private sector internet service providers currently exist in China, almost all access to the internet is maintained through state-owned telecommunication operations under MIIT’s administrative control and regulatory supervision. In addition, the national networks in China connect to the internet through government-controlled international gateways. These international gateways are the only channels through which a domestic PRC user can connect to the international internet network. We rely on this infrastructure, primarily China Telecom and China Unicom, to provide data communications capacity. Although the PRC government has announced plans to aggressively develop the national information infrastructure, we cannot assure you that this infrastructure will be developed, or that it will be sufficiently upgraded to meet the specifications of the existing or future technological advancement, such as 5G internet. In addition, we will have no access to alternative networks and services, on a timely basis if at all, in the event of any infrastructure disruption or failure. The internet infrastructure in China may not support the demands associated with continued growth in internet usage.
In addition, we have no control over the costs of the services provided by telecommunication service providers. If the prices we pay for telecommunications and internet services rise significantly, our results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. Furthermore, if internet access fees or other charges to internet users increase, some users may be prevented from accessing the mobile internet and thus cause the growth of mobile internet users to decelerate. Such deceleration may adversely affect our ability to continue to expand our user base and maintain our user experience.
Our auditor, like other independent registered public accounting firms operating in China, is not permitted to be subject to inspection by Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and as such, investors may be deprived of the benefits of such inspection.
Our independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit reports included in our annual reports filed with the SEC, as an auditor of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), or PCAOB, is required by the laws of the United States to undergo regular inspections by PCAOB to assess its compliance with the applicable professional standards. Because our auditor is located in China, a jurisdiction where PCAOB is currently unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the PRC authorities, our auditor, like other independent registered public accounting firms operating in China, is currently not inspected by PCAOB. On December 7, 2018, SEC and 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. The joint statement reflects a heightened interest in an issue that has vexed U.S. regulators in recent years. However, it remains unclear what further actions SEC and PCAOB will take to address the problem.
Inspections of other firms that PCAOB has conducted outside of China have identified deficiencies in those firms’ audit procedures and quality control procedures, which may be addressed as part of the inspection process to improve future audit quality. 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, investors in the ADSs are 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 in our stock to lose confidence in our audit procedures and reported financial information and the quality of our financial statements.
As part of a continued regulatory focus in the United States on access to audit and other information currently protected by national law, in particular China’s, in June 2019, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced bills in both houses of the U.S. Congress, which if passed, would require the SEC to maintain a list of issuers for which PCAOB is not able to inspect or investigate an auditor report issued by a foreign public accounting firm. The proposed Ensuring Quality Information and Transparency for Abroad-Based Listings on our Exchanges (EQUITABLE) Act prescribes increased disclosure requirements for these issuers and, beginning in 2025, the delisting from U.S. national securities exchanges of issuers included on the SEC’s list for three consecutive years. Enactment of this legislation or other efforts to increase U.S. regulatory access to audit information could cause investor uncertainty for affected issuers, including us, and the market price of our ADSs could be adversely affected. It is unclear if this proposed legislation would be enacted. Furthermore, there has been recent media reports on deliberations within the U.S. government regarding potentially limiting or restricting China-based companies from accessing U.S. capital markets. If any such deliberations were to materialize, the resulting legislation may have material and adverse impact on the stock performance of China-based issuers listed in the United States.
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Proceedings instituted by SEC against the PRC affiliates of the Big Four accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, could result in our financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended.
Starting in 2011, the PRC affiliates of the Big Four accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, were affected by a conflict between U.S. and PRC law. Specifically, for certain U.S.-listed companies operating and audited in mainland China, the SEC and the PCAOB sought to obtain from the PRC firms access to their audit work paper and other related documents. The firms were, however, advised and directed that under PRC law, they could not respond directly to the U.S. regulators on those requests, and that requests by foreign regulators for access to such papers in China had to be channeled through China Securities Regulatory Commission, or CSRC.
In December 2012, SEC brought administrative proceedings against the Big Four accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm in China, alleging that they had refused to produce audit work papers and other documents related to certain other China-based companies under SEC’s investigation for potential accounting fraud. On January 22, 2014, an initial administrative law decision, or Initial Decision, was issued, censuring these accounting firms and suspending four of the five firms from practicing before SEC for a period of six months. The accounting firms filed a Petition for Review of the Initial Decision to SEC. On February 6, 2015, the Big Four China-based accounting firms each agreed to a censure and to pay a fine to SEC to settle the dispute and avoid suspension of their ability to practice before SEC and audit U.S.-listed companies. The settlement required the firms to follow detailed procedures and to seek to provide SEC with access to PRC firms’ audit documents via the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or CSRC. If future document productions fail to meet 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.
While we cannot predict if SEC will further review the four China-based accounting firms’ compliance with specified criteria or if the results of such a review would result in SEC imposing penalties such as suspensions or restarting the administrative proceedings, if the accounting firms are subject to additional remedial measures, our ability to file our financial statements in compliance with SEC requirements could be impacted. A determination that we have not timely filed financial statements in compliance with SEC requirements could ultimately lead to the delisting of our ADSs from Nasdaq or the termination of the registration of our ADSs under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of our ADSs in the United States.
Risks Relating to Our Ordinary Shares and ADSs
The future sales of a substantial number of ADSs in the public market could adversely affect the price of the ADSs.
In the future, we may sell additional ADSs to raise capital, and our existing shareholders could sell substantial amounts of the ADSs, including those issued upon the exercise of outstanding options, in the public market. We cannot predict the size of such future issuance or the effect, if any, that they may have on the market price of the ADSs. Any future sales of a substantial number of the ADSs in the public market, or the perception that such issuance and sale may occur, could adversely affect the price of the ADSs and impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional equity securities.
Provisions of our convertible notes could discourage an acquisition of us by a third party.
As of December 31, 2019, the aggregate principal amount of our outstanding convertible notes was US$2.4 billion. Certain provisions of our convertible notes could make it more difficult or more expensive for a third party to acquire us. The indentures for these convertible notes define a “fundamental change” to include, among other things: (i) any person or group gaining control of our company; (ii) our company merging with or into another company or disposing of substantially all of its assets; (iii) any recapitalization, reclassification or change of our ordinary shares or the ADSs as a result of which these securities would be converted into, or exchanged for, stock, other securities, other property or assets; (iv) the adoption of any plan relating to the dissolution or liquidation of our company; or (v) our ADSs ceasing to be listed on a major U.S. national securities exchange in certain circumstances, subject to certain exceptions where the applicable consideration comprises U.S.-listed common equity or ADSs. Upon the occurrence of a fundamental change, holders of these notes will have the right, at their option, to require us to repurchase all of their notes or any portion of the principal amount of such notes in integral multiples of US$1,000. In the event of a fundamental change, we may also be required to issue additional ADSs upon conversion of our convertible notes.
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As a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands, we are permitted to adopt certain home country practices in relation to corporate governance matters that differ significantly from the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards; these practices may afford less protection to shareholders than they would enjoy if we complied fully with the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards.
As a Cayman Islands company listed on the Nasdaq, we are subject to the 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 the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards. As we have chosen, or may from time to time to choose, to follow home country practice exemptions with respect to certain corporate matters such as the requirement of majority independent directors on our board of directors, our shareholders may be afforded less protection than they otherwise would under the Nasdaq corporate governance listing standards applicable to U.S. domestic issuers. See “Item 16G. Corporate Governance.”
You may face difficulties in protecting your interests, and our ability to protect our rights through the U.S. federal courts may be limited, because we are incorporated under Cayman Islands law.
Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association and by the Companies Law (2020 Revision) of the Cayman Islands, or the Companies Law, and the common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary duties of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedents in some jurisdictions in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws as compared to the United States. Therefore, our public shareholders may have more difficulties in protecting their interests in the face of actions by our management, directors or controlling shareholders than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a jurisdiction in the United States.
Your ability to bring an action against us or against our directors and officers, or to enforce a judgment against us or them, may be limited because we are incorporated in the Cayman Islands, and because we conduct the majority of our operations in China and because the majority of our directors and officers reside outside of the United States.
We are incorporated in the Cayman Islands, and we conduct the majority of our operations in China through our wholly-owned subsidiaries and several consolidated affiliated Chinese entities in China. Most of our directors and officers reside outside of the United States and most of the assets of those persons are located outside of the United States. As a result, it may be difficult for you to bring an action in the United States upon these persons. It may also be difficult for you to enforce in United States courts judgments obtained in United States courts based on the civil liability provisions of the United States federal securities laws against us and our officers and directors, most of whom are not residents in the United States and the substantial majority of whose assets are located outside of the United States. Even if you are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands or China may render you unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers.
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The voting rights of holders of ADSs are limited by the terms of the deposit agreement, and you may not be able to exercise your right to direct how the ordinary shares represented by your ADSs are voted.
As a holder of ADSs, you will not have any right to attend general meetings of our shareholders or to cast any votes directly at such meetings. You will only be able to exercise the voting rights that attach to the underlying ordinary shares represented by your ADSs indirectly by giving voting instructions to the depositary in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under the deposit agreement, you may vote only by giving voting instructions to the depositary, as the registered holder of the underlying ordinary shares which are represented by your ADSs. Upon receipt of your voting instructions, the depositary will endeavor to vote the underlying ordinary shares in accordance with your instructions. You will not be able to directly exercise any right to vote with respect to the underlying shares unless you withdraw the shares and become the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date for the general meeting. Under our memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required to be given by our company to our registered shareholders for convening a general meeting is seven days. When a general meeting is convened, you may not receive sufficient advance notice to enable you to withdraw the underlying shares represented by your ADSs and become the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date for the general meeting to allow you to attend the general meeting and to vote directly with respect to any specific matter or resolution that is to be considered and voted upon at the general meeting. In addition, under our memorandum and articles of association, for the purposes of determining those shareholders who are entitled to attend and vote at any general meeting, our directors may close our register of members and/or fix in advance a record date for such meeting, and such closure of our register of members or the setting of such a record date may prevent you from withdrawing the underlying shares which are represented by your ADSs and becoming the registered holder of such shares prior to the record date, so that you would not be able to attend the general meeting or to vote directly. Where any matter is to be put to a vote at a general meeting, the depositary will endeavor to notify you of the upcoming vote and arrange to deliver our voting materials to you. We cannot assure you that you will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that you can instruct the depositary to vote the underlying shares that are represented by your ADSs. In addition, the depositary and its agents are not responsible for failing to carry out voting instructions or for the manner of carrying out voting instructions. This means that you may not be able to exercise your right to direct the voting of the underlying shares that are represented by your ADSs and there may be nothing you can do if the shares underlying your ADSs are not voted as you requested.
Under our deposit agreement, the depositary will give us a discretionary proxy to vote the ordinary shares underlying your ADSs at shareholders’ meetings if you do not vote, unless we have instructed the depositary that we do not wish a discretionary proxy to be given or any of the other situations specified under the deposit agreement takes place. The effect of this discretionary proxy is that you cannot prevent ordinary shares underlying your ADSs from being voted, absent the situations described above, and it 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.
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 the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Securities Act, or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Also, under the deposit agreement, the depositary bank will not make these rights available to you unless the distribution to ADS holders of both the rights and any related securities 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. Moreover, we may not be able to establish an 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 distributions on ordinary shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical to make them available to you.
The depositary has agreed to pay to you the cash dividends or other distributions it or the custodian receives on ordinary shares or other deposited securities after deducting its fees and expenses. You will receive these distributions in proportion to the number of ordinary shares your ADSs represent. However, the depositary is not responsible if it decides that it is unlawful or impractical to make a distribution available to any holders of ADSs. We have no obligation to register ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or other securities under U.S. securities laws. We also have no obligation to take any other action to permit the distribution of ADSs, ordinary shares, rights or anything else to holders of ADSs. This means that you may not receive the distribution we make on our ordinary shares or any value for them if it is illegal or impractical for us to make them available to you. These restrictions may have a material adverse effect on the value of your ADSs.
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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 thinks 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.
Provisions of our shareholder rights plan could delay or prevent an acquisition of our company, even if the acquisition would be beneficial to our shareholders.
In November 2007, we adopted a shareholder rights plan, which was subsequently amended. Although the rights plan will not prevent a takeover, it is intended to encourage anyone seeking to acquire our company to negotiate with our board of directors prior to attempting a takeover by potentially significantly diluting an acquirer’s ownership interest in our outstanding shares. The existence of the rights plan may also discourage transactions that otherwise could involve payment of a premium over prevailing market prices for the ADSs.
There can be no assurance that we will not be classified as a passive foreign investment company, or PFIC, which may result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences for U.S. holders of the ADSs or ordinary shares.
A
non-U.S.
corporation, such as our company, will be classified as a PFIC for U.S. 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. Passive income generally includes dividends, interest, royalties, rents, annuities, net gains from the sale or exchange of property producing such income, and net foreign currency gains. For this purpose, cash is categorized as a passive asset and the company’s unbooked intangibles associated with active business activity are taken into account as a
non-passive
asset.
Based on our income and assets, and the value of our ADSs, we do not believe that we were classified as a PFIC for the taxable year ending December 31, 2019 and we do not expect to be a PFIC for the foreseeable future. Although we do not anticipate becoming a PFIC, changes in the nature of our income or assets or the value of our ADSs may cause us to become a PFIC for the current or any subsequent taxable year. Recent fluctuations in the market price of our ADSs or ordinary shares increased our risk of becoming a PFIC. The market price of the ADSs and ordinary shares may continue to fluctuate considerably; consequently, we cannot assure you of our PFIC status for any taxable year. 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 expend significant amounts of cash for working capital or other purposes, our risk of becoming classified as a PFIC may substantially increase.
If we were treated as a PFIC for any taxable year during which a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10.E. Additional Information — Taxation — U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations”) held our ADSs or ordinary shares, certain adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences could apply to such U.S. Holder. For a more detailed discussion of U.S. federal income tax considerations to U.S. Holders if we are or become classified as a PFIC, see “Item 10.E. Additional Information — Taxation — U.S. Federal Income Tax Considerations.”
ITEM 4.
INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
 
A.    
History and Development of the Company
We commenced our business in June 1999. In March 2000, we established an exempted company with limited liability under the Companies Law in the Cayman Islands, Ctrip.com International, Ltd. as our new holding company. In October 2019, we changed our company name to “Trip.com Group Limited.” Since our inception, we have conducted the majority of our operations in China and expanded our operations overseas in 2009. As of December 31, 2019, we mainly operated our business through the following significant subsidiaries:
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C-Travel
International Limited;
 
 
  Ctrip.com (Hong Kong) Limited;
 
 
  Ctrip Computer Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., or Ctrip Computer Technology;
 
 
  Ctrip Travel Information Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., or Ctrip Travel Information;
 
 
  Ctrip Travel Network Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., or Ctrip Travel Network;
 
 
  Wancheng (Shanghai) Travel Agency Co., Ltd., or Wancheng;
 
 
  Shanghai Hecheng International Travel Agency Co., Ltd., or Hecheng;
 
 
  Skyscanner Holdings Limited, or Skyscanner;
 
 
  Shanghai Ctrip International Travel Agency Co., Ltd. (formerly known as Shanghai Ctrip Charming International Travel Agency Co., Ltd.), or Shanghai Ctrip;
 
 
  Chengdu Ctrip International Travel Agency Co., Ltd., or Chengdu Ctrip International; and
 
 
  Chengdu Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Chengdu Information.
 
 
After our share exchange transaction with Baidu in October 2015, we obtained approximately 45% of the aggregate voting interest of Qunar. In December 2015, we issued ordinary shares represented by ADSs to certain special purpose vehicles holding shares solely for the benefit of certain Qunar employees and, as consideration, we received class B ordinary shares of Qunar and directly injected these shares to a third-party investment entity dedicated to investing in business in China. From accounting perspective, we started to consolidate Qunar’s financial statements from December 31, 2015. Therefore, Qunar Cayman Islands Limited, the Cayman Islands holding company of Qunar, and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Beijing Qunar Software Technology Co., Ltd., or Qunar Software, may also be deemed as our significant subsidiary from accounting perspective, although Qunar continues to operate its businesses independently.
We also conduct part of our business in China primarily through the following significant consolidated affiliated Chinese entities and certain of their subsidiaries:
  Shanghai Ctrip Commerce Co., Ltd., or Ctrip Commerce, which holds a value-added telecommunications business license;
 
 
  Chengdu Ctrip Travel Agency Co., Ltd, or Chengdu Ctrip, which holds a domestic travel agency license; and
 
 
  Shanghai Huacheng Southwest International Travel Agency Co., Ltd. (formerly known as Shanghai Huacheng Southwest Travel Agency Co., Ltd.), or Shanghai Huacheng, which holds a domestic travel agency license.
 
 
In addition, after we started to consolidate the financial statements of Qunar from December 31, 2015, Beijing Qu Na Information Technology Co., Ltd., or Qunar Beijing, which holds the licenses, approvals and key assets such as mobile application and website that are essential to the business operations of Qunar, may be deemed as our significant consolidated affiliated Chinese entity from accounting perspective, although Qunar continues to operate its businesses independently.
From time to time, we have selectively acquired or invested in businesses that complement our existing business, and will continue to do so in the future to expand and develop our business. See “Item 4.B. Information on the Company — Business Overview — Strategic Investments and Acquisitions” for material strategic investments and acquisitions over the past two years. Other than the material acquisitions or investments disclosed under “Item 4.B. Information on the Company — Business Overview — Strategic Investments and Acquisitions” or elsewhere in this annual report on Form
 20-F,
no acquisitions or investments was material to our businesses or financial results at the time we made the acquisition or investment.
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We offered inducements to the holders of the 2017 Notes and the 2018 Notes for early conversion. As a result, for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2017, approximately US$26 million and US$352 million aggregate principal amount of the 2017 Notes and the 2018 Notes were early converted to approximately 2.6 million and 10.8 million ADSs, respectively, at the respective initial conversion rates of the 2017 Notes and the 2018 Notes. Such early conversion also resulted in an early termination of the 2012 Purchased Call Option and the 2013 Purchased Call Option, from which we received approximately US$12 million and US$100 million in 2016 and 2017, respectively. In June 2017, we also entered into privately negotiated exchange transactions with a limited number of holders of the 2018 Notes to exchange approximately US$327 million aggregate principal amount of then outstanding 2018 Notes for a combination of our ADSs and cash.
In July 2019, we entered into a facility agreement as a borrower with certain financial institutions for up to US$2.0 billion equivalent transferable term loan facility with a greenshoe option of up to US$500 million. The facilities have a
3-year
tenor. The proceeds borrowed under such facilities may be used for our general working capital requirements, including repayment of any existing financial indebtedness.
In September 2019, we completed put right offer relating to the 2022 Notes. US$924 million aggregate principal amount of the 2022 Notes were validly surrendered and not withdrawn prior to the expiration of the put right offer. The aggregate purchase price of these 2022 Notes was US$924 million. Following the settlement of repurchase of these 2022 Notes, our total number of ordinary shares on a fully diluted basis reduced by 1.8 million shares.
In October 2019, we completed a secondary offering of an aggregate of 36,000,000 ADSs, which included the exercise in full by the underwriters of their option to purchase up to 4,695,648 additional ADSs to cover over-allotment, by our shareholder Baidu Holdings Limited at US$28.00 per ADS. We did not issue or sell any ADSs in the offering or receive any proceeds from the sale of the ADSs by the selling shareholder.
In April 2020, we entered into a facility agreement as a borrower with certain financial institutions for up to US$1.0 billion transferrable term and revolving loan facility with an incremental facility of up to US$500 million. The facilities have a 3-year tranche and a 5-year tranche. The proceeds borrowed under the facilities may be used for our general working capital requirements, including repayment of any existing financial indebtedness.
Effective December 1, 2015, we changed our ADS to ordinary share ratio from four ADS representing one ordinary share to eight ADSs representing one ordinary share. Unless otherwise indicated, ADSs and per ADS amount in this annual report have been retroactively adjusted to reflect the changes in ratio for all periods presented.
Our principal executive offices are located at 968 Jin Zhong Road, Shanghai 200335, People’s Republic of China, and our telephone number is +86 (21) 3406-4880. Our agent for service of process in the United States is CT Corporation System. Our principal website address is
www.ctrip.com
. The information on our websites should not be deemed to be part of this annual report. SEC also maintains a website at
www.sec.gov
that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding registrants that make electronic filings with SEC using its EDGAR system.
B.    
Business Overview
We are a leading travel service provider for accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, packaged tours and corporate travel management. We aggregate hotel and transportation information to enable business and leisure travelers to make informed and cost-effective bookings. We help leisure travelers book tour packages and guided tours, and help corporate clients effectively manage their travel requirements. In addition, we offer a variety of other travel-related services, including but not limited to travelers’ reviews, attraction tickets, travel-related financing and car services, and travel insurance and visa services to meet the various booking and travelling needs of both leisure and business travelers. Since inception in 1999, we have become one of the best-known travel brands in China capable of providing truly
one-stop
travel services. Our leading market position has been further strengthened since our investment in Qunar, one of the leading mobile and online commerce platforms for travel in China. Qunar has been operating independently as a travel service provider after our investment.
We pioneered the development of a reservation and fulfillment infrastructure that enables our customers to:
  choose and reserve hotel rooms in cities throughout China and abroad;
 
 
  book and purchase transportation tickets for domestic and international flights and trains;
 
 
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  choose and reserve packaged tours that include transportation and accommodations, as well as guided tours and other value-added services in some instances; and
 
 
  book and purchase other travel-related services for their leisure and business travels.
 
 
Meanwhile, Qunar continued its independent innovation of technology capabilities, leveraging its proprietary mobile applications, the complementary SaaS system and its search services, to provide more efficient and comprehensive services and accelerate its network effect.
We target our services primarily at business and leisure travelers in China who do not travel in groups, catering for their increasing needs for both domestic and international travel with an emphasis on the latter to enable us to quickly adjust to the changing market environment. These types of travelers, who are referred to in the travel industry as frequent independent travelers, or FITs, and whom we refer to as independent travelers in this annual report, form a traditionally under-served yet fast-growing segment of the China travel market, and we saw opportunities of growth from this segment’s need for international travel. We present substantially all of our revenues on a net basis as the travel supplier is primarily responsible for providing the underlying travel services and we do not control the service provided by the travel supplier to the traveler. Revenues are recognized at gross amounts where we undertake substantive inventory risks by
pre-purchasing
inventories, the amounts which were not significant these years. We derive our accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing and packaged-tour revenues mainly through commissions from our travel suppliers, primarily based on the transaction value of the rooms, transportation tickets and packaged-tour products, respectively, booked through our services.
We believe that we are the largest consolidator of hotel accommodations in China in terms of gross merchandise volume. As of December 31, 2019, we had secured room supply relationships with approximately 1.4 million hotels in China and abroad, which covered a broad range of hotels in terms of prices and geographical locations. Through strategic cooperation arrangements with other leading online accommodation reservation service providers in recent years, we expanded our overseas hotel network by gaining access to more international hotels on these platforms through our accommodation reservation services. The quality and depth of our hotel supplier network enable us to offer our customers a wide selection of hotel accommodations. We believe our ability to offer reservations at highly rated hotels is particularly appealing to our customers. The hotel business of Qunar, which covers a wide range of hotels from upscale hotels to mass-market hotels to
family-run
and small boutique hotels, has begun to benefit from our hotel accommodation capabilities by accessing our
high-end
hotel supplies.
We believe that we are the largest consolidator of airline tickets and the top air tickets distribution agency in China in terms of gross merchandise volume of airline tickets booked and sold through us. Our airline ticket suppliers include all major PRC airlines and over 300 international airlines that operate flights originating in cities at home and abroad, and offer over 3 million flight routes, connecting over 5,000 cities in approximately 200 countries and regions. Partnering with over 1,000 third-party travel service providers, we are among the few airline ticket consolidators in China that maintain a centralized reservation system and ticket fulfillment infrastructure covering substantially all of the economically prosperous regions of China. Our customers can make flight reservations on their chosen routes through mobile platform, internet websites and customer service centers and arrange electronic payment. In addition, we provide the same levels of centralization and convenience to customers seeking to make reservations on their chosen train and bus routes. We believe that we have realized a notable innovation in our transportation ticketing services, namely, our integrated product offering of air, train, and bus tickets. The number of international airline ticket sales transactions through our platform grew significantly in 2019.
Our continuing development of an advanced and centralized system further strengthens our cross-selling strategy. When users search for any of the three transportation products on our database, our system can automatically provide the recommendations to the other two transportation modes with the same dates, origins and destinations. This capability significantly helps our customers to streamline their decision-making process in searching for the most convenient, cost-efficient transportation.
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We also offer independent leisure travelers bundled packaged-tour products, including group tours, semi-group tours, customized tours, and packaged tours with different transportation arrangements, such as flights, cruises, buses, or car rental. We are the top packaged-tour operator in China in terms of online market share and most recognized brand in China’s outbound travel services. We also have offline stores to provide local service support and reach out to users who are otherwise difficult to be converted to customers through online channel, especially in the lower-tier cities in China. We provide integrated transportation and accommodation services through cooperation with nearly 30,000 platform partners, and offer a variety of value-added services including transportation at destinations, as well as attraction tickets, local activities, insurance, visa services and tour guides.
We offer customers
one-stop
services to meet their needs before, during and after their trips. We also provide high quality customer services, supplier management and customer relationship management services. Our packaged-tour products cover a variety of domestic and international destinations.
We have been building up a multifaceted ecosystem within the travel section, and offer our services to customers through an advanced transaction and service platform consisting of our multi-lingual websites, mobile platform, and our centralized,
24-hour
customer service centers. We have built up an industry-leading mobile platform which enhances user experience and user engagement. We have had billions of cumulative downloads for our mobile application by the end of 2019. In addition, our
24-hour
service centers, which provide responsive and high quality customer services, further differentiate us from other online travel service providers. In 2019, transactions effected through our mobile channel accounted for over 80% of our transaction orders.
We operate an open platform to further bridge the gap between travelers and travel suppliers with a diverse range of products and services. Travel suppliers ranging from airlines and third-party travel agencies to
e-commerce
websites offering travel products and services can list their inventories on our open platform to expand their business opportunities. We also offer high quality supplier management services and technology and financial support to enhance supplier experience and encourage supplier participation on the open platform. In addition, we offer high quality customer service to travelers for all the products and services they purchase through our open platform. We believe that our open platform helps us expand the number and types of products and services available to travelers and enhance our price competitiveness, and further build and strengthen the vibrant travel ecosystem on our open platform.
Our revenues are primarily generated from the accommodation reservation, transportation ticketing, packaged-tour services, and corporate travel. For information on revenues attributable to our different products and services, see “Item 5.A. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects — Operating Results.”
Products and Services
We began offering accommodation reservation and transportation ticketing in October 1999. In 2019, we derived approximately 38% of our revenues from the accommodation reservation business and 39% of our revenues from the transportation ticketing business.
In addition, we offer other products and services including packaged tours, mostly bundled by us, that cover hotel, ticketing, and transportation as well as corporate travel management services. As part of our global cooperation with TripAdvisor agreed in November 2019, we have distributed and may continue to distribute selected TripAdvisor content on our major brands.
Accommodation Reservations.
 We act as an agent in substantially all of our hotel-related transactions. Most of our customers make prepayments to us, while others receive confirmed bookings first and pay hotels directly upon completion of their stays. For some of our hotel suppliers, we earn
pre-negotiated
fixed commissions on hotel rooms we sell. For other hotels, we have commission arrangements that we refer to as the “ratchet system,” whereby our commission rate per room night is adjusted upward with the increase in the volume of room nights we sell for such hotel during such month.
We contract with hotels for rooms under two agency models, the “guaranteed allotment” model and the
“on-request”
model. Hotel suppliers would generally notify us in advance if they have promotional sales, so that we can lower our prices accordingly.
In addition to the agreements that we enter into with all of our hotel suppliers, we enter into a supplemental agreement with each of the hotel suppliers with which we have a guaranteed allotment arrangement. Pursuant to this agreement, a hotel guarantees us a specified number of available rooms every day, allowing us to provide instant confirmations on such rooms to our customers before notifying the hotel. The hotel is required to notify us in advance if it will not be able to make the guaranteed rooms available to our customers due to reasons beyond its control.
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As of December 31, 2019, a significant number of our partnered hotels in China had guaranteed room allotments, allowing us to confirm orders instantly and reserve rooms for our users even during peak seasons. Rooms booked in hotels with which we have a guaranteed allotment arrangement currently account for a significant part of our total hotel room transaction volume. With the remaining hotel suppliers, we book rooms on an
“on-request”
basis, meaning our ability to secure hotel rooms for our customers is subject to room availability at the time of booking.
Transportation Ticketing.
 Transportation Ticketing revenues mainly represent revenues from reservation of air tickets, railway-tickets and other related services. We sell air tickets as an agent for all major domestic PRC airlines, such as Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines and many international airlines operating flights that originate from cities at home and abroad, such as Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Emirates Airlines, Qantas Airways, Air
France-KLM,
and Delta Air Lines. We also provide other related service to our customers, such as sales of aviation and train insurance,
air-ticket
delivery services, online
check-in,
and other value-added services, such as online seat selection, express security check, and real-time flight status.
Our customers can book tickets through our mobile platform, internet websites and customer service centers and make payment electronically. The domestic airline industry, including airline ticket pricing, is regulated by CAAC.
Packaged-Tours
. We also offer independent leisure travelers bundled packaged-tour products, including group tours, semi-group tours, customized tours and packaged tours with different transportation arrangements, such as flights, cruises, buses and car rental. We provide integrated transportation and accommodations services and offer a variety of value-added services including transportation at destinations, as well as attraction tickets, local activities, insurance, visa services and tour guides. We offer customers
one-stop
services to meet their needs before, during and after their trips. We also provide high quality customer services, supplier management and customer relationship management services. Our packaged-tour products cover a variety of domestic and international destinations.
Corporate Travel.
 We provide transportation ticket booking, accommodation reservation, packaged-tour services and other value-added services to our corporate clients to help them plan business travels in a cost-efficient way. In addition, we also provide our corporate clients with travel data collection and analysis, industry benchmark, cost saving analysis and travel management solutions. We have independently developed the Corporate Travel Management Systems, which is a comprehensive online platform integrating information maintenance, online booking, online authorization, online enquiry and travel report system.
Other Businesses
. Our other businesses primarily include online advertising services and financial services.
In December 2017, we started a new partnership with Tennis Australia, the governing body for tennis in Australia, which will allow Chinese fans to purchase Australian Open tickets directly through our online platform. In addition, in January 2018, we formed a partnership with the Booking’s OpenTable, which will allow our mobile application users to book tens of thousands of restaurants across North America. Other products and services accounted for a small portion of our total revenues in 2019.
Seasonality
Our business experiences fluctuations, reflecting seasonal variations in demand for travel services. See “Item 5.A. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects — Operating Results” for a discussion of seasonality in the travel industry.
Transaction and Service Platform
Our customers can reach us for their travel-related needs through either our mobile platform, our multi-lingual websites or our customer service centers. In 2019, transactions executed through our mobile channel accounted for over 80% of our transaction orders.
To improve the efficiency of our service platform and expand our business opportunities, we have made some technology improvements, such as enhanced international flight search capability, expanded payment methods and virtual desktop technology, which is deployed and in operation for our customer service centers.
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Mobile Platform.
 Our mobile booking application and other mobile access channels provide a
one-stop
travel platform to our customers who search for hotels, flights, trains, car rental, tickets and other travel products, and completes bookings within minutes. Mobile applications enable our customers to make bookings more efficiently and have fueled our business growth in new direction. Our customers can also search for travel-related editorial content about destinations and travel tips through the mobile platform. Moreover, travelers can share their travel experience and micro-blogs with others through our community. We first introduced mobile applications in 2010. Since then we have upgraded mobile applications, added new functions into it on a regular basis and engaged celebrities to promote our brands and mobile platform. We have had billions of cumulative downloads for our mobile application by the end of 2019 with a significant portion of our hotel and air ticket transactions executed on it on a daily basis. Users can also enjoy similar convenient services by accessing our mobile platform via other mobile access channels, such as HTML5.
In 2013, we developed a corporate travel mobile application, which was the first of its kind in China and provides efficiency to corporate travelers. The application has extensive booking capabilities that match the personal preference of the traveler with their companies’ travel policies. It also features “smart itinerary” and “travel update” functions to ensure users are informed immediately of any changes to their journey. Users of this application may also enjoy our call center support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In 2017, we introduced mobile application for Trip.com, with which users can book hotels, air tickets and train tickets in 26 different currencies as of the date of this annual report.
Internet Websites
. Through our internet websites, we continue improving shopping experience in hotel accommodations, flight tickets, vacation packages, train tickets, and other travel products to our customers.
We have been constantly upgrading our open platform, so that our suppliers and partners are connected to us more efficiently. We have opened up our system to international partners, search engines,
e-commerce
websites and affiliated websites to expand business opportunities. We have made great efforts to enhance our price competitiveness by improving the efficiency of our IT system and by working closely with major airlines, numerous air ticketing agencies and accommodation suppliers, and thousands of destination business partners through the open platform.
We maintain our main website in Chinese at
www.ctrip.com
and our global website in English at
www.trip.com
. Over time, we also established localized websites outside the Greater China, specifically targeting Japan, Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Russia, Vietnam, Israel, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italia, Netherlands, Poland, Greece, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, and United States markets.
We consolidate and organize travel-related information for our consumers, including hotel reviews, travel blogs and community forums. Destination guides and community users actively search for travel information on our websites. Our customers refer to editorial content for destination research and travel tips.
Customer Service Centers
. We have customer service centers located in China and abroad, such as Shanghai, Nantong, Tokyo, Seoul, and Edinburgh. They operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Unlike some companies in the United States that outsource their customer service to third-party call centers, our customer service representatives are
in-house
travel specialists. All of our customer service representatives participated in a formal training program before commencing work.
Marketing and Brand Awareness
Through mobile and online marketing, brand promotion, cross-marketing, and customer rewards program, we have created a strong brand that is commonly associated in China with value travel products and services and superior customer service. We will continue to use our focused marketing strategy to further enhance awareness of our brand and acquire new customers.
Mobile Marketing.
 We have worked with major internet portals and leading mobile applications in their respective sectors to advertise locally and also have worked with top smart phone manufacturers to increase the number of our app downloads and promote more activations and transactions. In addition, we are actively testing all kinds of innovative and rapid-growing mobile channels that are appealing to consumers.
Online Marketing
. We have contracted with majority of the leading online marketing channels, such as search engines, browsers and navigation websites, to prominently feature our websites and have cooperated with online companies to promote our services, as well as conducting public relations activities. We have purchased related keywords or directory links to direct potential customers to our websites.
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Brand Promotion
. We conduct our brand campaigns through advertising on video streaming platforms, targeted LCD displays in public space, and billboards at airport, railway station and bus station. We also work with celebrities and embed our brand and travel products into TV live shows, movies and other entertainment marketing channels. Based on our experience, we believe these are effective ways to enhance brand awareness and attract new generation of customers.
Cross-Marketing
. We have entered into cross-marketing arrangements with major PRC domestic airlines, financial institutions, telecommunications service providers and other corporations. Our airline partners and financial institution partners recommend our products and services to members of their mileage programs or bank card holders. Customers can accumulate miles by booking air tickets through us, or earn points by paying through
co-branded
credit cards.
Customer Rewards Program
. To secure our customers’ loyalty and further promote our brand, we provide our customers with a customer rewards program. This program allows our customers to accumulate membership points calculated according to the services purchased by the customers. Our membership points have a fixed validity term and our customers may redeem these points for travel awards and other gifts.
Supplier Relationship Management
We have cultivated and maintained good relationships with our travel suppliers since our inception. We have a team of employees dedicated to enhance our relationship with existing travel suppliers and develop relationships with prospective travel suppliers.
Furthermore, we have developed an electronic confirmation system that enables participating hotel suppliers to receive our customer’s reservation information and confirm such reservation through our online interface with the hotel suppliers. We believe that the electronic confirmation system is a cost-effective and convenient way for hotels to interface with us. We have not had any material disputes with our travel suppliers with respect to the amount of commissions to which we were entitled.
Technology and Infrastructure
Since our inception, we have been able to support substantial growth in our offline and online traffic and transactions with our technology and infrastructure.
We provide customer services and support through our mobile applications, websites, and telephone or
e-mail,
24 hours a day, seven days a week. We maintain
in-house
call centers to ensure high quality of our services. Our call centers are located in both China and abroad, such as Shanghai, Nantong, Tokyo, Seoul, and Edinburgh. We have invested significantly in our call center technologies over years and provide
top-notch
services globally.
Both our ctrip.com and trip.com platforms are comprised of thousands of applications which are hosted in a hybrid cloud infrastructure with both private cloud and public cloud to ensure high reliability, high scalability, and high speed of access. These infrastructure and applications are monitored and supported 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hybrid cloud infrastructure is equipped with
back-up
capabilities and perform real-time mirror
back-up
and additional
back-up
for
off-site
storage on a daily basis.
We continuously upgrade our infrastructure and applications and procure security services to protect our system against unauthorized access to data, or unauthorized alteration or destruction of data.
We believe the cutting-edge technology used throughout our quality services distinguishes us from our competitors in China. Our goal has been to build a reliable, scalable, and secure infrastructure to fully support our customer service centers, mobile and website operations and
one-stop
travel platform.
Competition
In the hotel consolidation market, we compete primarily with domestic and foreign invested consolidators of hotel accommodations. We also compete with new online travel search and service provider platforms, including the ones operated by other major internet companies, as well as traditional travel agencies. We believe we are a leading online accommodation booking platform in China in terms of gross merchandise volume from FITs. However, as the travel business in China continues to grow, we may face competition from new players in the hotel consolidation market in China and foreign travel consolidators that may enter the China market.
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In the transportation ticketing market, we compete primarily with other consolidators of air tickets with a multi-province airline ticket sales and fulfillment infrastructure in China. We also compete with new online travel search and service provider platforms, including the ones operated by other major internet companies. In the markets where we face local competition, our competitors generally conduct ticketing transactions in person, and not over the internet or through customer service centers. Many local
air-ticketing
agencies are primarily involved in the wholesale business and do not directly serve individual travelers, who are our targeted customers. However, as the airline ticket distribution business continues to grow in China, we believe that more companies involved in the travel services industry may develop their services that compete with our transportation ticketing business.
Intellectual Property
Our intellectual property rights include trademarks and domain names associated with the name “Ctrip” and “Trip.com Group” and copyright and other rights associated with our websites, technology platform, booking software and other aspects of our business.
We regard our intellectual property as a factor contributing to our success, although we are not dependent on any patents, intellectual property related contracts or licenses other than some commercial software licenses available to the general public. We rely on trademark and copyright law, trade secret protection,
non-competition
and confidentiality agreements with our employees to protect our intellectual property rights. We require our employees to enter into agreements to keep confidential all information relating to our customers, methods, business and trade secrets during and after their employment with us. Our employees are required to acknowledge and recognize that all inventions, trade secrets, works of authorship, developments and other processes made by them during their employment are our property.
Our major domain names are
ctrip.com
,
ctrip.com.cn
, and
trip.com
, all of which have been registered with www.markmonitor.com, and we have full legal rights over these domain names. We conduct our business under the Ctrip brand name and logo. We have registered our major trademarks “Ctrip” and “
携程
” (Chinese characters for Ctrip) with the Trademark Office of the PRC National Intellectual Property Administration, with the Registrar of Trademarks in Hong Kong and also with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. In 2009, we registered the trademark “携程Ctrip” (a combination of the Chinese and English characters for Ctrip) with the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office and with Direcção dos Serviços de Economia of Macau. We have also registered the trademark “Ctrip” and “携程” (Chinese characters for Ctrip) in Korea, European Union, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Turkey, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, India, South Africa, Brazil and the Kingdom of Cambodia. We have also registered the trademark “Trip.com” in European Union, Japan and the United States.
In 2016, we were awarded the “Most Valuable App” at the China App Development Forum and 2016 Most Popular App Awards Ceremony held in Beijing, China. Our customer service was recognized as the “2016 Best Call Center” at the 2016 internet + China
E-Commerce
Summit Forum & China Call Center Development.” We were ranked in the “China’s top 10 most innovative companies” and the “10 most innovative companies in travel” lists of 2017 by Fast Company, a major financial business magazine in the United States. In 2017, we were recognized as “the Best Online Travel Agency in China” by Travel Weekly China and the “Most Honored Company” in the
Technology, Media & internet
category by Institutional Investor in the 2017
All-Asia
Executive Team Rankings. In 2018, we were recognized as the “Best Employer in Customer Contact Industry in China,” “Top 50 Global Enterprises” by Center for China and Globalization and “Top 20 Tourism Groups of China” by China Tourism Research Institute and China Tourism Association. In 2019, we were recognized as the “Global Trend Awards – Annual Responsibility Practice” by Global Times, the “Most Valuable Online Travel Agency” at the China Internet Economic Forum, the “Best Customer Reputation” by China Customer Contact Center, and the Annual Ingenuity Service by People.cn.
Strategic Investments and Acquisitions
To maintain and strengthen our leading market position in China and to become a major travel service provider in the Greater China market, we constantly evaluate opportunities for strategic investments in, and acquisitions of, complementary businesses, assets and technologies and have made such investments and acquisitions from time to time. We have made the following material strategic investments and acquisitions over the past two years.
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In May 2015, we acquired approximately 38% share capital of eLong, Inc. In May 2016, eLong, Inc. completed its “going-private” transaction and merger with eLong. In December 2017, eLong announced a merger with LY.com and the merger was consummated in March 2018 and we received an equity method investment in the enlarged group.
In January 2016, we invested US$180 million to purchase the convertible bonds of MakeMyTrip, a leading online travel company in India, which were subsequently converted to approximately 10% equity interest in MakeMyTrip. In May 2017, we further invested approximately US$33 million in MakeMyTrip by subscribing for 916,666 of its ordinary shares. In August 2019, we completed a share exchange transaction with Naspers, a shareholder of MakeMyTrip, pursuant to which Naspers exchanged certain ordinary shares and Class B convertible ordinary shares of MakeMyTrip for 4,108,831 newly issued ordinary shares of our company with fair value of US$1.1 billion as of the closing date.
Concurrently with the share exchange, we invested in a third-party investment entity by contributing certain ordinary shares and Class B convertible ordinary shares of MakeMyTrip held by us and recorded the investment using equity method. Immediately after the closing of the transaction, Naspers owned approximately 5.6% of our then total issued and outstanding ordinary shares, and we owned certain number of ordinary shares and Class B convertible ordinary shares of MakeMyTrip, representing approximately 49% of MakeMyTrip’s then total voting power. From an accounting perspective, we recorded this investment using equity method and the total consideration for the shares we held in MakeMyTrip immediately after the closing of the transaction consisted of certain number of our newly issued ordinary shares worth of US$1.0 billion and our previously held equity investment of US$0.2 billion.
In May 2018, we acquired substantially all of the remaining equity interest of an offline travel agency company in which we previously held approximately 48% equity interest for the consideration of RMB198 million in cash and 1.9%
non-controlling
interest of one of our subsidiaries with the fair value of RMB399 million. The financial results of the acquired company have been included in our consolidated financial statements since the date we obtained control and were not significant to us for the year ended December 31, 2018.
In November 2019, we and TripAdvisor, Inc. (Nasdaq: TRIP), or TripAdvisor, agreed on a strategic partnership to expand global cooperation through various contracts. We and TripAdvisor agreed through our respective subsidiaries to form and jointly control a joint venture, where we would contribute cash and market expertise and TripAdvisor would contribute a long-term exclusive brand and content license and other assets of its China business. The joint venture is being formed as of the date of this annual report. We both would share inventories in travel categories at the joint venture level. The joint venture would operate globally as TripAdvisor China.
In November 2019, we obtained control of an online travel agency company in which we previously had held 51% equity interest with substantive participating rights being held by the
non-controlling
shareholder. We obtained control of the online travel agency company when the
non-controlling
shareholder agreed to remove these substantive participating rights. The deemed consideration was the previously held 51% equity interest, the fair value of which was RMB259 million. We also recognized a gain of RMB196 million from the
re-measurement
of the previously held equity interest.
PRC Government Regulations
Current PRC laws and regulations impose substantial restrictions on foreign ownership of the travel agency and value-added telecommunications businesses in China. As a result, we conduct these businesses in China through contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities as well as certain independent travel agencies. Some of our directors and officers, all of whom are PRC citizens, directly or indirectly own all or most of the equity interests in our consolidated affiliated Chinese entities as of the date of this annual report.
According to our PRC counsel, Commerce & Finance Law Offices, the ownership structures, as described in this annual report, comply with all existing PRC laws, rules and regulations.
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Restrictions on Foreign Ownership
Travel Agency
. Currently, foreign investors are permitted to establish or own a travel agency upon PRC government approval, subject to considerable restrictions on its scope of business. For examples, under the Travel Agency Regulations, which became effective on May 1, 2009 as amended subsequently, foreign-invested travel agencies cannot arrange for PRC residents to travel overseas or to Hong Kong, Macau or Taiwan, unless otherwise decided by the State Council or allowed under any applicable free trade agreement executed by the PRC government or according to the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement between mainland China and Hong Kong or Macau, or CEPA. According to the CEPAs, starting from January 1, 2013, travel agencies in which qualified Hong Kong or Macau investors hold an interest are permitted to arrange group tours for PRC residents from mainland China to Hong Kong and Macau. Moreover, on a trial basis, one qualified Sino-foreign joint venture, in which qualified Hong Kong investors hold an interest, and one qualified Sino-foreign joint venture, in which qualified Macau investors hold an interest, were permitted to arrange group tours for PRC residents to travel overseas (excluding Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan). On August 29, 2010, the PRC National Tourism Administration, or NTA, and MOFCOM further promulgated the Interim Measures for Supervising Pilot Operation of Overseas Travel Business by Sino-Foreign Joint Venture Travel Agencies, according to which NTA may choose and approve certain qualified Sino-foreign joint venture travel agencies to operate business of arranging PRC residents travelling to overseas destinations, Hong Kong and Macau (excluding Taiwan), on a trial basis. In 2017, China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone has implemented a pilot project that allows the wholly foreign-owned travel agencies registered in China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone and satisfied with required conditions to operate outbound tourism business. One of our subsidiaries, Wancheng, has obtained the approval in 2017 to operate outbound tourism business from National Tourism Administration with the pilot period of three years. In 2019, the PRC State Council promulgated the Approval to the Work Plan on Fully Promoting the Comprehensive Pilot Program for Expanding the
Opening-Up
of the Service Industry of Beijing Municipality, which supports foreign invested travel agencies to provide outbound travel services (except for Taiwan) and allows wholly foreign-owned travel agencies to provide outbound travel services (except for Taiwan) for PRC citizens on a trial basis.
Online Advertising
. The principal regulation governing foreign-invested advertising agencies in China are the Administrative Measures for Foreign Invested Advertising Enterprise, which was abolished due to the issuance of Foreign Investment Industrial Guidance Catalogue (2015 Revision), or the Catalogue, which came into effect on April 10, 2015. Under the Catalogue, foreign investors are allowed to own 100% of an advertising agency in China subject to certain qualification requirements. However, foreign investment in advertising agencies that provide online advertising services is still subject to restrictions of foreign investment in the value-added telecommunications business.
Value-added Telecommunications Business License
. The principal regulations governing foreign investment in the value-added telecommunications service provision business in China include:
  Foreign Investment Industrial Guidance Catalogue;
 
 
 
 
  Telecommunications Regulations; and
 
 
 
 
  Administrative Provisions on Foreign Invested Telecommunications Enterprises.
 
 
 
 
Under these regulations, a foreign entity is prohibited from owning more than 50% of a PRC entity that provides value-added telecommunications services except for commercial
e-commerce
business, which allows 100% foreign investment.
In July 2006, MIIT issued the Circular on Strengthening the Administration of Foreign Investment in Value-added Telecommunication Business, which stipulates that a domestic company that holds a value-added telecommunications business license is prohibited from leasing, transferring or selling the license to foreign investors in any form, and prohibited from providing any assistance in forms of resources, sites or facilities to foreign investors that conduct value-added telecommunications business illegally in China. Furthermore, the relevant trademarks and domain names used in the value-added telecommunications business must be owned by the domestic value-added telecommunications license holders. Due to lack of further interpretation by MIIT, it remains unclear what impact the above circular will have on us or other PRC internet companies that have adopted the same or similar corporate and contractual structures as ours.
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General Regulation of Businesses
Tourism Law
. On April 25, 2013, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress issued the PRC Tourism Law, which took effect on October 1, 2013 and was amended in 2016 and 2018. The PRC Tourism Law aims to protect tourists’ legal rights, regulate travel market and promote the development of travel industry, and sets forth specific requirements for the operation of travel agencies. Travel agencies are prohibited from (i) leasing, lending or illegally transferring travel agency operation licenses or otherwise disseminating untrue or inaccurate information when soliciting customers and organizing tours, (ii) conducting any false publicity to mislead customers, (iii) arranging visits to or participation in any project or activity in violation of PRC laws and regulations or social morality, (iv) organizing tours at unreasonably low price to induce or cheat tourists, or obtaining unlawful profits such as kickbacks, and (v) changing or ceasing scheduled itineraries without reasons and forcing the tourists to participate in other activities against the will of tourists. In addition, travel agencies must enter into contracts with customers for travel services; and before a tour starts, a customer may assign his personal rights and obligations in a packaged-tour contract to any third person, whom the travel agency cannot refuse without cause, as long as any fee increase will be borne by the customer and the relevant third person. Accordingly, travel agencies may be subject to civil liabilities for failing to fulfill the obligations discussed above, which include rectification, issuance of a warning, confiscation of any illegal income, imposition of a fine, an order to cease business operation, or revocation of its travel agency permit.
Air-ticketing
. The
air-ticketing
business is subject to the supervision of CATA and its regional branches. In 2019, the principal regulation governing
air-ticketing
in China, the Air Transportation Sales Agent Qualification Accreditation Measures, was abolished and air transportation sales agencies can operate
air-ticketing
business without permits as was previously required. Alternatively, the Self-Discipline Measures for Air Transportation Sales Agency Business was promulgated by the CATA, which encourages self-discipline administration for air transportation sale agency business. CATA has further promulgated the Business Standards of Air Passenger Transportation Sales Agencies and the Business Standards of Air Freight Transportation Sales Agencies, which introduce general business standards applied by airlines for selecting and authorizing their
air-ticketing
sales agents. For example, basic requirements for passenger air transportation sales agencies are (i) having proper business license, (ii) having value-added telecommunication business license if conducting online
air-ticketing
sales, (iii) having suitable capital contributed for business operation, (iv) having capital guarantee or pledge in favor of airlines, (v) agencies and their principals not having poor credit records, and (vi) having sufficient, properly trained employees.
Travel Agency
. The travel industry is subject to the supervision of Ministry of Culture and Tourism of People’s Republic of China, formerly known as the NTA and local tourism administrations. The principal regulations governing travel agencies in China include:
  Travel Agency Regulations; and
 
 
 
 
  Implementing Rules of Travel Agency Regulations.
 
 
 
 
Under these regulations, a travel agency must obtain a license from NTA to conduct cross-border travel business, and a license from the provincial-level tourism administration to conduct domestic travel agency business.
Advertising.
 SAMR is responsible for regulating advertising activities in China. The principal regulations governing advertising (including online advertising) in China include:
  Advertising Law;
 
 
 
 
  Advertising Administrative Regulations; and
 
 
 
 
  Interim Measures of the Administration of Online Advertisement.
 
 
 
 
Under these regulations, any entity conducting advertising activities must file with the local branch of SAMR. The Advertising Law was amended in 2015 and 2018, which was a major overhaul of an advertising law enacted in 1994, increases the potential legal liability of providers of advertising services, and includes provisions intended to strengthen identification of false advertising and the power of regulatory authorities.
Value-added Telecommunications Business and Online Commerce
. Our provision of travel-related content on our websites is subject to PRC laws and regulations relating to the telecommunications industry and internet, and regulated by various government authorities, including MIIT and SAMR. The principal regulations governing the telecommunications industry and internet include:
  Telecommunications Regulations;
 
 
 
 
  The Administrative Measures for Telecommunications Business Operating Licenses; and
 
 
 
 
  The internet Information Services Administrative Measures.
 
 
 
 
Under these regulations, internet content provision services are classified as value-added telecommunications businesses, and a commercial operator of such services must obtain a value-added telecommunications business license from the appropriate telecommunications authorities to conduct any commercial value-added telecommunications operations in China.
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With respect to online commerce, the SAIC (currently known as SAMR) promulgated the Administrative Measures for Online Trading, which became effective on March 15, 2014 and the MOFCOM promulgated the Provisions on the Procedures for Formulating Transaction Rules of Third Party Online Retail Platforms (Trial), which became effective on April 1, 2015, to regulate the formulation, revision and enforcement of transaction rules by online retail third-party platfo