China's biggest social media company Tencent is now worth more than Facebook
Tencent, the Chinese internet giant behind the WeChat messaging app, has surpassed Facebook in value after it became the first company in China to be worth more than $500bn (€426bn)
The company's share price rose 2.4pc on Tuesday in Hong Kong to leapfrog Facebook and become the world's fifth-most valuable listed company, disrupting the hegemony of the US tech behemoths.
As of today’s closing price, it is still in fifth place.
Tencent is little known as a consumer name in the West but its WeChat app dominates in China, where Facebook, Twitter and Google are banned.
The messaging app has around 500m users in China, and almost 1bn in total. Unlike most messaging apps in the West, it is far more than a mere communications service, but acts as a "portal" for thousands of different products, from payments to customer service.
Tencent is also a huge player in mobile games, owning Clash of Clans maker Supercell and the smash hit Honour of Kings. It also owns large stakes in Snapchat, Chinese online retailer JD.com and taxi-hailing app Didi, as well as having China's most popular video website.
Shares have more than doubled this year, making Tencent Asia's most valuable company. Last week it posted better-than-expected third-quarter results, largely because of the success of its gaming empire, sending shares up.
Along with domestic peers Alibaba and Baidu it is seen as one of the biggest foils to the dominance of US tech giants.
China has tightened its grip on the internet in recent years, in contrast to the liberalisation of the country's economy. US internet companies have been censored due to their refusal to censor content or weaken encrypted messages, leading to a handful of Chinese internet giants taking their place.
The seven-biggest listed firms in the world by market capitalisation are now internet or technology companies, with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway the first non-technology stock.