Trump campaign data firm, once linked to Bannon, eyes China

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(Bloomberg) -- A data analytics firm that worked on Donald Trump’s campaign has its eye on its next battleground: China.

Cambridge Analytica plans to set up an operation to focus on commercial opportunities in China, according to Chief Executive Officer Alexander Nix. The company is largely funded by Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer, co-chief executive of hedge fund firm Renaissance Technologies.

While Cambridge Analytica is known for its work on the Trump campaign and its links to Steve Bannon, who divested his stake in the company to work at Trump’s White House, Nix said only a quarter of the group’s revenue comes from political campaigns. The group initially plans to focus on commercial opportunities and not politics in China.

“We’ve been scoping this market for about a year,” Nix said in an interview in Hong Kong. “We see huge opportunity to bring some of these technologies to advertising and marketing space brands.”

The firm now has offices in 16 countries, with main branches in the United States and United Kingdom and “sizable” operations in Mexico and India, he said. The group plans to have a team of about 10 for its China operation, which may have a presence in Hong Kong as well as mainland China.

Bannon returned to conservative media outlet Brietbart News after he was ousted from his White House chief strategist role. Bannon, 63, has cited his pursuit of a harder line against China as a source of tension with other administration officials. When asked if Bannon could return to Cambridge Analytica, where he was a vice president, Nix said Bannon is "working out what the next phase of his life will look like."

Bannon and Nix gave separate addresses at an event in Hong Kong this week organized by CLSA, an overseas unit of China’s biggest state-owned brokerage. In his speech, Bannon said that while President Donald Trump respects Chinese President Xi Jinping more than any other foreign leader, he also warned that China must cease what he described as economic warfare against the U.S.

Bloomberg News