Sina Advances in New York on Report of Premium Weibo Service

Sina Corp., operator of the Twitter-like Weibo service in China, rose to a five-week high in New York after a report that it would offer users a premium subscription service.

Sina advanced 3.8 percent to $57.05 at the close of trading in New York, its highest price since May 16.

Sina is seeking ways to increase sales by offering a premium service for Weibo users, China National Radio reported today.

“Subscription online services have yet to have much success in China, but Sina management certainly gets credit for trying to see if this will work,” said Echo He, an analyst at Maxim Group LLC in New York, in a phone interview. “It could be a positive if they can offer users services they really want and don’t get from the free service.”

Current users are being given the option of upgrading for a fee of 10 yuan per month ($1.57), the report from the radio news said.

“This is another step in Sina’s effort to try to monetize the commercial user,” Andy Yeung, a New York-based analyst for Oppenheimer & Co., said in a phone interview. “They’re going after a smaller segment, probably people with more money, who they believe will pay a subscription for more services.”

Separately, Sina agreed to partner with HTC Corp., Asia’s second-largest smartphone maker, on services and applications for mobile Internet. Sina and HTC will cooperate on social networking, e-commerce and cloud computing, HTC said in an e-mailed statement sent to Bloomberg News.

“This partnership will allow Sina to get Weibo on HTC phones before they’re sold,” said Maxim’s He. “It’s still a question whether social media operators can make money in mobile services but they’ll only find out if they keep trying.”

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