Vivo and Oppo, two Chinese smartphone manufacturers, are in trouble after being charged by several government authorities of money laundering and tax evasion, respectively. However, did you know that Vivo, Oppo, Realme and OnePlus are all owned by just one secret Chinese company known as BBK Electronics.
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In a money-laundering investigation last week, the Enforcement Directorate raided 48 locations of the phone manufacturer and 23 affiliated companies before freezing Vivo’s 10 Indian bank accounts. On July 13, the Delhi High Court granted Vivo access to its bank accounts, but with a condition. It is required to provide a bank guarantee of Rs 950 crore and to keep Rs 250 crore in its accounts at all times.
Regarding Oppo India, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has allegedly discovered over Rs 4,389 crore in customs duty evasion. The offices of Oppo India and the homes of its senior management employees were recently searched, according to a news release issued by the finance ministry on July 13th.
Although Vivo and Oppo are often frequently referred to as phonemakers, they are actually divisions of BBK Technologies, a huge conglomerate that also owns the Realme, OnePlus, and iQOO brands.
Duan Yongping, a reclusive billionaire, founded the privately held smartphone manufacturer BBK Electronics in Dongguan in 1995. BBK Electronics is the unrecognized name behind some of the most well-known smartphone brands in India, controlling one of the biggest and most sophisticated electronics supply chains in the world.
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Many consider Yongping to be the father of the Chinese smartphone industry.
Since its inception, BBK has had three main verticals with distinct division heads and teams: education electronics, audiovisual equipment, and communications devices.
In 1999, four years after the company’s creation, Yongping started spinning out these divisions into separate companies, bringing his ownership of BBK Electronics down to 17 percent. On this basis, Chen Mingyong founded Oppo in 2004 and Shen Wei founded Vivo in 2009.
Additionally, BBK Electronics expanded its brand lineup by adding fresh names including OnePlus, Realme, and most recently iQOO.
Largest smartphone maker?
According to the widely accepted narrative, Samsung, Apple, and Xiaomi are leading the race to become the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, but BBK Electronics is never included on the list.
However, according to data from research firm Canalys from April, it is almost the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, with Oppo and Vivo holding a 10 percent and 8 percent worldwide market share, respectively.
This places BBK above Xiaomi at 13 percent and on par with Apple (18 percent).
Not only is BBK the largest phone manufacturer in China, but also in India, where its brands have had great success.
Despite this, many people are still not familiar with the name BBK. This is not a coincidence; rather, it is a result of the plan Yongping developed when he initially founded the company.