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Posts Tagged ‘China’

A worrying economic signal?

In Banks, Economy, Shipping on 10/02/2012 at 9:46 am

Investors are in the mood to take more risk in return for higher rewards. They are in “risk on” mode.

Recently, the Baltic Dry Index has fallen to a 25-year-low (since then it has risen by 1.9%) prompting concern that history is about to repeat itself. In the past, say 2008, a weak index foretold a recession, or at least an economic slowdown.But this time there been some special factors at play, according to conventional wisdom. The boom in the Baltic Dry seen before the financial crash and recession was in large part the result of a shortage of ships, which pushed up the cost of carrying freight. There are now far more ships with greater capacity and, because it has taken time for the vessels to be built, the extra capacity has become available when ship owners least want it. A, short-term factor, has been that the Chinese New Year holidays fell early this year, depressing trade in Asia.

Still a 2.9% fall in German industrial production in December suggests that the index might have collapsed due to both increased supply of shipping and weak demand. Germany is the world’s biggest exporter and the hefty slump in output at the tail end of 2011 coincided with the intensification of the crisis in the euro zone. Remember, too, that Germany exports machines to make goods to China.

Update on !0 februart 2012 at 7.05am:

Imports into China fell by 15.3% In January, and this cannot be all due to the Chinese New Year holiday factor. Exports dipped 0.5% from a year earlier hurt by sluggish demand and factories being shut during the Lunar New Year.

This resulted in a trade surplus of $27.3bn which was a six-month high.

More

China’s collapse ‘will bring economic crisis to climax in 2012′

In China, Temasek on 15/01/2012 at 5:56 am

But it’s sunshine from 2013 onwards, if you still got the money.

A looming hard landing in China will bring the financial and economic crisis of the past five years to a climax in 2012, one of the City of London’s leading analysts has warned.

Albert Edwards, head of strategy at Société Générale and one of the UK’s leading “bears”, said the next 12 months would be the “final year of pain and disappointment”.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jan/11/china-economic-collapse-global-crisis

SDP, KennethJ and the usual grumblers will have a field day if this guy is right (he has a good track record, this last few yrs) what with Temasek’s and its TLCs’ (Think DBS, CapitaLand, KepLand), and other GLCs’ (Ascendas for example)  big bets on China.

Predicting a sharp slowdown in activity in the world’s fastest-growing emerging economy, Edwards said: “There is a likelihood of a China hard landing this year. It is hard to think 2013 and onwards will be any worse than this year if China hard-lands.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/jan/11/china-economic-collapse-global-crisis

China: Not immune to Western slowdown?

In China, Economy on 24/08/2011 at 8:31 am

China, the world’s biggest exporter and second biggest economy, is still booming. Its GDP is expanding at about 9% a year and since the 2008 financial crisis, China has helped keep the global economyfrom falling in a recession. But, as the BBC’s  Damian Grammaticas reports, China may not be immune if there is a new slowdown in the US and Europe.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-14578083

S’poreans have two reasons to be interest in the issue. We depend on global growth and Temasek itself, TLCs, other GLCs (like Ascendas) and GIC have big bets on China.

When China plays fail in US

In China, Corporate governance on 30/07/2011 at 7:02 am

The shareholders of dud China plays are increasingly filing class-action lawsuits against the companies, auditors and even the investment banks. The auditors and banks have deep pockets. http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/chinese-reverse-merger-companies-draw-lawsuits/

Too bad for investors in S-Chips that class-action law suits are difficult to undertake here. So the banks are auditors are safe from law suits.

Experts differ on prospects for China; but we got big bets on China

In China, Temasek on 20/06/2011 at 9:36 am

Some see serious trouble ahead, some see the troubles as to be expected in a rapidly expanding economy, and are notb that serious. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13802453

And do remember Temasek has big bets on China.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/tlcs-in-china-groupthink-or-mastermind-at-work/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/sporeans-temasek-may-have-a-problem/

So does GIC.

China: What we don’t hear from our MSM

In China, Economy, GIC, Temasek on 21/01/2011 at 5:16 am

In their new book, “Red Capitalism: The Fragile Financial Foundation of China’s Extraordinary Rise” (John Wiley & Sons), Carl E. Walter and Fraser J.T. Howie paint a troubling portrait of China’s economy and its financial system. Despite the nation’s mind-boggling growth and images of gleaming skyscrapers and luxury cars, the authors say China’s growth model is flawed and fragile, and they warn about substantial risks accumulating in its banking system.

Q&A

Backgrounder: S’pore Inc has big bets on China

HSBC: Returning to its Chinese roots

In Banks, China on 18/12/2010 at 7:03 am

Remember the “S” stands for “Shanghai” and “H” for Hongkong.

Growth in China has averaged around 10 percent a year for the last decade and shows little sign of slowing. As trade flows with the rest of the world increase — HSBC says they will reach $5 trillion by 2015, which means growth of 13 percent a year — more of China’s cross-border trade will be settled in yuan.

On paper, HSBC is well placed to take a good chunk of business in that yuan-denominated trade. It is often one of the first foreign entities to win key licenses in China. It was the first to settle a cross-border yuan trade last year, the first to handle a yuan-denominated interest rate swap in Hong Kong in October, and it became the first international bank to complete yuan settlements in six continents with a deal in Brazil last month. … Read the rest of this entry »

An oil bull still?

In China, Energy on 23/11/2010 at 12:14 pm

Hedge funds cut bullish bets on oil by the most in almost three months amid speculation fallout from the Irish debt crisis and China’s efforts to curb inflation will slow economic growth, sapping demand for fuel.

The funds and other large speculators reduced so-called long positions, or wagers on rising prices, by 15 percent in the seven days ended Nov. 16, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s weekly Commitments of Traders report, released Nov. 19. It was the first drop in four weeks and the largest decline since the seven days ended Aug. 24.

Bloomberg story

And remember that if China uses its energy resources as efficiently as the West and Japan

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/09/28/whither-the-price-of-oil/

HSBC’s view of emerging mkts

In Africa, China, Economy, Emerging markets on 09/11/2010 at 6:04 am

Mkts are flying what with Aug- Oct passing without a mkt collapse and the Fed pumping money into the system. Time to join the party. I’ve sat on the sidelines so far this yr, so I’ll sit on my hands a bit longer. Must admit its hard not to want to do something.

The CEO of HSBC, said late last week, there were likely to be “some bumps in the road ahead” in developing countries, especially in China. Reminder: HSBC generates most of its earnings growth in Asia.

“Our latest data from emerging markets points to a slowdown in the rate of recovery,” he said in a statement. But the bank added that it still expected growth in the region to outpace that of the developed world for the foreseeable future.

He gave a positive outlook for the rest of the year, saying that “the global economy is in better shape than many expected a year ago.” But that “while fears of a double dip in the West may be overplayed, the passage from downturn to upturn is clearly taking longer than previous cycles.”

HSBC said pretax profit in the third quarter was “well ahead” of the period a year earlier, as reserves for bad loans reached its lowest quarterly level since early 2007. Its lending business in the United States accounted for the biggest share of improvements. Business in October was “in line with third-quarter trends,” HSBC said. HSBC does not give detailed earnings figures on a quarterly basis.

The investment banking unit of HSBC also reported a drop in trading. HSBC said performance of the business was “robust although trading activity was lower.”

China plays on S&P 500

In China on 04/11/2010 at 5:26 am

The Economist has constructed a “Sinodependency index”, comprising 22 members of America’s S&P 500 stockmarket index with a high proportion of revenues in China. The index is weighted by the firms’ market capitalisation and the share of their revenues they get from China. It includes Intel and Qualcomm, both chipmakers; Yum! Brands, which owns KFC and other restaurant chains; Boeing, which makes aircraft; and Corning, a glassmaker. The index outperformed the broader S&P 500 by 10% in 2009, when China’s economy outpaced America’s by over 11 percentage points. But it reconverged in April, as the Chinese government grappled with a nascent housing bubble.

I’ll try to get the names of other companies on this index.

China Black Swan risks quantified

In Banks, China on 14/09/2010 at 5:27 am

Morgan Stanley’s Qing Wang created a new tracking concept, the China Macro Risk Radar (CMRR). The  goal is to provide a framework to asses and monitor risk events of low to moderate probability (high probability events already have their own standing at the firm and are singled out in client calls) and high impact.

As part of its inaugural edition, MS has assigned 10 risk events to four different categories on the CMRR – each risk event is assessed according to six aspects, including its description, content, potential impact, likelihood, timeframe, and evolving direction. The top 10 event  that shld concern investors  can be summarized along the following four verticals:

Risk Category A: Macroeconomic

Risk Event 1: Massive NPLs

Risk Event 2: Local Governments Default

Risk Event 3: Economic Hard Landing

Risk Category B: Policy and Regulatory Changes

Risk Event 4: Rapid Wage Increase

Risk Event 5: Introduction of Property Tax

Risk Event 6: Resource Tax Reform

Risk Category C: Financial Market Shocks

Risk Event 7: Property Bubble Burst

Risk Event 8: Commodity Prices Spike

Risk Category D: External Shocks

Risk Event 9: European Sovereign Debt Crisis Redux

Risk Event 10: Trade Protectionism

A visual summary

S’poreans, Temasek may have a problem

In Banks, China, Temasek on 03/09/2010 at 6:52 am

Of the 90 publicly listed Chinese property developers listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, almost two-thirds of them reported negative operating cash flows for the first half of 2010.

This makes clear why the Chinese authorities had earlier asked the banks to use a 60% haircut in estimating residential property  losses.http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/temasek-what-abt-these-chinese-property-charts/

Looks like trouble for the Chinese property developers and banks may be coming sooner than later, and for China bank bull Temasek. A repeat of Merrill Lynch and Barclays?

Remember Temasek owns 4% of Bank of China; and 6% of  China Construction Bank. And StanChart is a cornerstone investor  in Agricultural Bank of China with abt 1% paying US$500m for this privilege). Temasek owns 18% of StanChart.

And what about CapLand and KepLand, with their biggish exposure to Chinese residential properties?

Sigh

China: Rerun of US Sub Prime? Part II

In Banks, China on 13/08/2010 at 5:25 am

Chinese banks have been ordered to account for around Rmb2,300bn ($340bn) in off-balance sheet loans in a move that could put some lenders under serious stress and require another large round of capital-raising, reports FT.

Lenders must put all loans sold or transferred to lightly regulated Chinese trust companies back on their books by the end of 2011. And must stop using “informal securitisation” to evade regulatory requirements.

Trying to ensure that banks don’t do what Citi, Merrill Lynch and other US banks were doing? Concealing their leverage albeit legally.

Reminder: Other big problematic numbers are loans to local governments, more than US$230bn of which are considered to be at serious risk of default, and real estate exposure, which accounts for roughly one-tenth of the big banks’ corporate loan books. FT

We live in interesting times.

China: Rerun of US Sub Prime? Part I

In China, Property on 12/08/2010 at 5:43 am

In 2009,  banks were ordered to increase their loan books by a third.  The result has been a sharp rise  in real estate prices and the pace of construction.

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research paper, “Evaluating Conditions in Major Chinese Housing Markets”, notes that Beijing land prices have nearly tripled since early 2008. Land sales have become the main source of income for local governments.

Some Rmb10,000bn (£946bn, €1,129bn, $1,475bn) of bank loans have been made local government infrastructure projects. Meanwhile, Chinese banks are repackaging their loans and selling them on to investors, says Fitch.

Sounds a bit too close to what was happening in US, where everything depended on rising house prices.

We shall see if the results are the same.

GE: Opportunities beyond China

In China, Temasek on 07/07/2010 at 5:31 am

Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s chief executive, has launched a rare broadside against the Chinese government, which he accused of being increasingly hostile to foreign multinationals.

He warned that the world’s largest manufacturing company was exploring better prospects elsewhere in resource-rich countries, which did not want to be “colonised” by Chinese investors. “I really worry about China,” Mr Immelt told an audience of top Italian executives in Rome, accusing the Chinese government of becoming increasingly protectionist. “I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful.” Mr Immelt acknowledged the importance of the Chinese market, which contributed $5.3bn to the group’s revenues last year – FT.

But US$5.3 bn is a peanutty 3% of 2009 revenues, and China will always need natural resources, so his plan to do without China is credible, unlike Google’s*.

Hmm maybe, China-fixated Temasek and its TLCs can learn from this? In their case, diversify away from China without losing the opportunity cost of not investing direct in China. Get what I mean?

Temasek Gp are big in China

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/tlcs-in-china-groupthink-or-mastermind-at-work/

Mentality of China bulls

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/understanding-the-mentality-of-china-bulls/

*But Google has a cunning plan to use Android to soften losses on search in China. Never count Google out.


Yuan flexibility: winners & losers

In Economy on 22/06/2010 at 7:29 am

S’pore is a big winner because the world trade is the biggest beneficiary of greater yuan flexibility (better word than “revaluation”).

One loser — Overseas consumers of Chinese will likely pay higher prices.

Not certain if commodity producers will be winners or losers.

More

Update

Analysts at Credit Suisse reckon the renminbi is 50 per cent undervalued, while Chinese inflation recently hit a 19-month high. So, even if external pressure wanes as a result of its latest baby steps, the rationale for a bigger move is building.

With about 70 per cent of China’s foreign exchange reserves in dollars, mostly in Treasuries, maintaining the peg has helped keep the cost of US borrowing low in the face of record issuance. A quicker revaluation would act as a stealth monetary tightening not only in China but also the US. And, although isolated export industries in the US might benefit, the net effect on US equities would be negative if borrowing costs rise materially. Even commodities might suffer as lower Chinese fixed investment and damped US growth outweigh Chinese consumers’ enhanced buying power. Cheering markets should be careful what they wish for.

China: a problem S’pore doesn’t have

In China, Economy, GIC, Temasek on 31/05/2010 at 6:03 am

It’s labour unrest . Add another entry to the list of worries for the global economy and financial markets: labor unrest in China – NYT

I sure hope Temasek andits TLCs who have big bets in China have taken this into account. Remember, we don’t do”labour unrest” here.

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/tlcs-in-china-groupthink-or-mastermind-at-work/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/02/09/why-my-obsession-with-tlcs-in-china/

Err time for Lim Say Swee to lecture the Chinese leaders on what they can learn from MM Lee and him on how to keep the workers docile?

Midas: Here be value?

In China, Economy on 24/05/2010 at 4:29 am

[Update on 31 May 2010 -- Midas wins S$234m  Shanghai metro contract.]

Brokers’ reports say that S-Chip Midas will be beneficiary of China’s rail expansion.

How big is this expansion, sometime back FT reported:  Bank of China, the country’s third-largest lender by assets, will invest $1.1bn in a railway line as Beijing encourages state-controlled financial institutions to help pay for the world’s most ambitious rail network expansion .

BoC said it would buy a 14.5 per cent stake in a new railway operator that will build a line to transport coal from inland Shanxi province to Shandong province on the eastern seaboard.

The announcement came one month after the bank said it would invest nearly $900m in a state company that is building the high-speed rail line between Shanghai and Beijing.

China is expected to account for well over half of all global rail investment this year, with an estimated Rmb824bn ($120bn) budgeted for 2010 alone.

“Apart from the US interstate expansion in the 1950s and 1960s or the US railway build-out in the early 19th century there has never been anything like this,” according to John Scales, transport co-ordinator at the World Bank office in Beijing.

S=US$

Sino-E: Expectations raised then dashed in three weeks

In China, Corporate governance, Uncategorized on 15/05/2010 at 5:19 am

It was less than a month ago that Sino-Environment annced that S$14 million had been “secured”. http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/03/29/sino-e-wheres-the-14m/ and implied that things were looking up

So it must have come as a shock to shareholders that the CEO had quit and the company is in interim judical mgt.

Were the independent directors doing the right thing earlier this year? http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/sino-e-where-are-the-managers-doc/

Or were they intent on making sure they could not be sued?http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/sini-e-the-plot-thickens/

Hopefully someone will explain to the shareholders how within the space of less than a month expectations were raised and then dashed. Though I doubt it.

Just when you tot it was safe

In China, Economy, Emerging markets, India, Indonesia on 29/04/2010 at 5:18 am

Thinking of starting to  invest seriously in emerging markets? Standard Chartered warns of bubble in emerging markets. Extract from Guardian article:

Gerard Lyons, chief economist at Standard Chartered, said Asia was the main recipient of western capital, but there was also evidence of speculative activity in Latin America, Eastern Europe and Africa.

A combination of a prolonged period of low interest rates in the west and strong growth in emerging markets meant the money would continue to flow in. “The size of the flows could become more significant,” he added. “There is a significant risk, even though it is a consequence of economic success.”

The report noted that many countries did not have the capacity to absorb the capital inflows, with the result that the money boosted share and property prices, adding to inflationary pressures.

“The longer it takes to address this, the bigger the problem will be. Just as excess liquidity contributed to problems in the western developed economies ahead of the financial crisis, excess liquidity has the potential to cause fresh economic and financial problems across the emerging world.”

Massive flows of capital from emerging economies, especially those in Asia, helped to inflate the asset bubbles in the west that led to the financial crash of 2007. Standard Chartered said global liquidity flows had now reversed, with emerging economies now on the receiving end. Recipients included countries with current account surpluses such as China, and those running current account deficits such as Vietnam and India.

Lyons said China was the emerging economy investors were looking at for signs of trouble. “China is not a bubble economy but it is an economy with bubbles.” But he added that the problem was not confined to Asia, and that hedge funds were now looking at “frontier markets” in Africa.

While emerging markets needed foreign direct investment to help them grow, Standard Chartered said the influx of hot money was a big worry. “Although hot money is regarded as temporary, it persists until the incentive to speculate is eliminated.”

Oh and there is the Greek crisis. 2008, here we come again?

“We are short entities that are selling into China”

In China, Property on 19/04/2010 at 5:19 am
BI: So when do you see the bubble bursting for China?

Sino-E: More $ down the drain?

In China, Corporate governance on 12/04/2010 at 5:03 am

Can’t understand why Sino-Environment spends $ on advisers* in connection with the proposed restructuring of the Company’s 4% convertible bonds due 2013 issued in an aggregate principal amountof S$149 million (the “Bonds”) and its debt obligations.

When it terminated nTan Corporate Advisory in March as the independent financial adviser (IFA ) to the Company, the board said, “In line with the Company’s cost-cutting measures, the Company has terminated the appointment of the IFA with effect from 18 February 2010. The Company’s newlyappointed chief executive officer, Mr Sam Chong Keen, will undertake the task of negotiating and liaising with the Company’s bondholders.”

I think the board owes the shareholders an explanation for this change of mind. And I hope SIAS or SGX will ask the board for an explanation. Though something tells me that nothing will happen.  Poor shareholders, they might reasonably think that  directors are spending shareholders’ money to ensure that the board doesn’t get sued.

Or that the board thinks CEO is not up to job?

*Ernst & Young Solutions LLP (“E&Y”) is the financial adviser. “E&Y’s scope of work will include, among other things:

(a) advising and assisting the Group on suitable options for discussion with the holders of the Bonds (the “Bondholders”) and providing assistance on the development of a comprehensive debtrestructuring plan of the Company’s existing borrowings and liaising and negotiating with the Bondholders in connection with the debt restructuring exercise; and

(b) undertaking a business and financial analysis on certain related matters.”

“The Company has also appointed Stamford Law Corporation as its legal adviser to act for the Group in relation to matters arising from the debt restructuring.”

Value in China stocks: Indexation guru

In ETFs, Investments on 03/04/2010 at 3:53 am

Princeton University economist Burton Malkiel, the author of  “A Random Walk Down Wall Street”, a book that introduced many to the idea of investing via indexed-linked funds, sees value in Chinese shares, he tells the FT.

The FTSE-Xinhua index of the 25 largest Chinese stocks quoted in Hong Kong (”H” shares) is different [from the Shanghai "A" shares which he thinks overvalued], he says. This year, while the Shanghai has gained 53.8 per cent, the FTSE Xinhua is up 6.8 per cent – less than the S&P 500.

A “matched pair” study – comparing oil company CNOOC with ExxonMobil, its equivalent in the S&P, and so on – shows that FTSE-Xinhua price/earnings multiples are higher than in the S&P. But their rate of earnings growth is also higher. Crucially, their “PEG ratio” (the earnings multiple divided by the growth rate) is actually lower. So, Malkiel says, Chinese “H” shares are “moderately priced” compared to the S&P.

That is why he is buying China. But Malkiel is not selling his principles. He recommends investing in “H” shares via exchange-traded funds tied to the index – and not backing anyone who says they can beat the market. (Note there is an ETF traded here that tracks  the FTSE-Xinhua index of the 25 largest Chinese stocks quoted in Hong Kong (”H” shares): DBXT FTChina25.)

Bubble or collapse in China?

He would not be surprised if China took a near-term hit. But long term, he believes it is the place to be … He is concerned about asset bubbles forming in real estate, banking, and in the stock market. “This is bound to occur wherever economies grow fast, and China’s expansion over the past decade has been unprecedented in the history of industrialisation.”

But will the economy collapse if any of these asset bubbles burst? “Absolutely not,” says Mr Malkiel. “They will correct, and restart because of the strength of the underlying story and the country’s extraordinary balance sheet.”

He does not think the country can continue to rely on export-led growth for both geopolitical and economic reasons.

“China potentially has the largest consumer market in the world, but its consumption is less than 40 per cent of GDP, a ratio that has not changed over the past decade. In the US, the ratio is about 70 per cent.”

But key reasons for low consumption remain extant: people need to save because there are virtually no government safety nets; and the one-child policy makes it difficult for children to adequately care for their parents.

The divide between the Haves and the Have Nots is what most worries Mr Malkiel. “There are seismic gaps in China between rich and poor, especially seen in the affluent east versus the impoverished central and western regions.”

This has already led to some unrest. Potential instability is a great danger. “But that’s why the government is developing infrastructure, education and a nascent social safety net,” he says.

He contends that a purchasing power-adjusted gross domestic product weighting, which adjusts for the renminbi’s significant undervaluation by this measure, suggests equity exposure of between 6 and 12 per cent.

So how does he (and his clients) invest in China?

As chief investment officer of China-focused AlphaShares, he is certainly helping investors find their way into the mainland. He has crafted a series of indices, some of which are trading as ETFs, that provide specific sector exposure (infrastructure, consumer, technology and real estate) and market exposure (all cap and small cap).

But his firm has also developed a set of private actively managed funds. These include a China-linked fund, which invests in non-Chinese companies that are directly benefiting from China’s growth, and an enhanced index fund – a broad-market fund with an enhanced weighting of small and value stocks. A buy-write fund aims to exploit Chinese market equity volatility by going long the highly liquid FTSE Xinhua 25 Index and writing options against it to pick up premium income. AlphaShares may take these funds public.

Mr Malkiel squares this active management with his long-term embrace of passive investing by citing the inherent inefficiencies in the way the Chinese market functions and is tracked. He believes unprecedented growth, trifurcated shares [mainland, Hong Kong and foreign classes], and volatility present special opportunities that cannot be captured through traditional indices.

Finally, it should be no surprise, he is a bull on emerging markets, and equities in general.

For a 40-something US investor with a family, he is recommending a portfolio with 80 per cent equity exposure. And he thinks half of that should be foreign stocks. He believes long-term investors will be best served with half of this international exposure being in emerging markets such as Brazil, India, and China.

He remains a believer that passive exchange traded funds are the most efficient means of gaining market exposure around the globe. His recommended 50 per cent US exposure is close to the MSCI All-Country World Index weighting of 44 per cent. However, he deviates significantly in his exposure to so-called EAFE countries, the developed world ex-US and Canada. He recommends 25 per cent EAFE exposure versus the global weighting of almost 41 per cent, in the belief that Europe and Japan will not experience significant growth in the coming years.

He departs from market-cap benchmarking even more materially in recommending 25 per cent equity exposure to emerging markets, twice the All-World Index’s weighting.

Mr Malkiel justifies this by citing a perceived fundamental shift in growth away from developed to emerging markets. “My portfolio strategy remains passive, I’m not picking stocks,” he says. “I’m adjusting for economic realities. And we see the need for such investment modification in China where a low free float [on which most indices are based] undercounts China by at least a factor of four.”

Connected post

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2009/12/08/bull-in-a-china-shop-but-will-he-find-value-in-s-chips/




DBS: What the new chairman should be looking at II

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, India, Indonesia on 30/03/2010 at 6:04 am

He should ensure that any acquisition in Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Thailand,  the countries where DBS says it would look for acquisition opportunities is disciplined in terms of valuation, strategic fit and execution.  Investors still remember the Dao Heng fiasco, overpaying and having to take billion dollar impairement charge. And the purchase of POSB was not such a gd deal as anti-government subversives like to imply that it is.

Better still he shld relook at the rationale for these M&A activities.

DBS is  Singapore and Hong Kong centric. But, in February, it said it was aiming to have 30 per cent of its revenue from South and South-east Asia, excluding Singapore, 30 per cent from Greater China and 40 per cent from Singapore within five years.

Morgan Stanley estimates that DBS would have to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 40 per cent a year in South and South-east Asia to achieve its stated target in that region i.e. it would have to grow via acquisitions.

BTW last Friday BT reported that DBS’s CEO had said DBS had identified unnamed acquisition targets in Indonesia which shld worry investors.

Previous post on topic

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/dbs-what-the-new-chairman-shld-be-looking-at/

He shld be relooking at FT policy — both in principle and execution.

Sino-E: Where’s the $14m?

In Accounting, China, Corporate governance on 29/03/2010 at 5:08 am

In the middle of March, BT reported that the CEO declined to comment on the S$14 million cash reserves the group’s former executive directors claimed to have kept in a Xiamen bank, saying: “We haven’t sent the auditors in yet, so I don’t want to make any comments on the cash as that could be quite misleading.”

Have the auditors gone in yet? And if not, when? Sin0-E shld be telling its shareholders.

[Update on 18 April 2010 -- Co says money is there and that it has been secured]

As a group of managers have asked for the opportunity to subscribe for 20% or more of the group’s issued paid-up capital in the form of new shares, shareholders could be reassured that there is value in Sin0-E, something that the CEO was quick to point out. But they should worry that this request was tied to a pledge of support to the new directors.

A polite threat?

Understanding the mentality of China bulls

In China, Economy, Property, Temasek on 12/03/2010 at 5:23 am

Reading this, I think I can understand the thinking of CapitaLand and other China property bulls. “Everyone agrees China is in the middle of a spectacular real estate boom. The question is whether it is in the middle of a rapidly growing real estate bubble.”

There’s serious money to be made in the short-term.

And a very reputable economist and China watcher, Nicholas R. Lardy at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, say the housing boom is being propelled by a huge urbanization push that is creating premium-priced houses. He is not the only economist to say this. And CapLand said this yesterday.

So if China is a core market, you really don’t have a choice. You got to double, triple yr bets, and pray hard that you get out in time.

Relevant posts

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/capland-what-price-the-mega-china-deal/

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/tlcs-in-china-groupthink-or-mastermind-at-work/

OCBC: More on GE Life

In Uncategorized on 09/03/2010 at 5:39 am

OCBC mgt could also try MetLife of the US. Metlife is buying AIA’s sister company, Alico, from AIA for a reported US$15.5 billion.

Alico has Asian insurance operations in Japan, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Yes thaz all.  Buying GE Life can add S’pore, M’sia, Brunei, Indonesia and China (the last two admittedly smallish, but still better than Nepal or Pakistan. Both are almost failed states.)

And Zurich Financial Services Group which together with Axa and Allianz according to Reuters are the European insurers looking for a bigger slice of Asia’s high-growth markets considering  unsolicited bids for ING’s Asian businesses

Reuters reports further that, “Analysts say the AIG sale supports the valuation of ING’s businesses and that ING will be able to exit insurance at book value of around 16 billion euros  or more before the end of 2013, by when it must sell the business … UBS research analysts put proceeds of a divestment of the Asian business at 5.6 billion euros [US$7.6 billion]… ‘ING’s Asian business is not the likes of AIA, but it is good. I thought we could see some unsolicited bids even before the Prudential deal was announced,’ said a second investment banker who asked not to be named.

“ING, splitting off its global insurance operations as part of a restructuring deal mandated by the European Union, has made clear since late October that it preferred an IPO rather than a trade sale for the insurance unit … made no secret of the intense trade interest in the business, with chief executive Jan Hommen famously saying he had to use ‘hands and feet’ to count all the suitors who had called him.”

I doubt Axa would be interested in GE Life or ING Asia as it is in the midst of trying to privatise Axa Pacific which is listed in Oz Land.  The latest bid by NBA is worth US$12 billion. NBA will keep the Oz operations, and sell to Axa the Asian operations.

Where shld Standard Chartered base its CEO?

In China, India, Temasek on 04/03/2010 at 5:28 am

Last sat ST reported that analysts were saying  that Standard Chartered will be forced to relocate its CEO into Asia in imitation of HSBC.

If it does, it will be a test of Temasek protestations that it does not interfere with the commercial decisions of its investee companies. Remember it is the single largest shareholder in SC (195 ), and all the other big shareholders are “peanuts” as Mrs SM might put it.

The logical place for the CEO is to base himself in HK, SC’s biggest market and which is part of China: it and HSBC are targeting China as the biggest driver for growth.

But could Temasek or its shareholder resist the temptation to have  SC’s CEO here. Singapore is way behind HK in IPOs, hedge fund HQs (Soros prefers HK as his Asia HQ), fund mgt,   and in wealth mgt where S’pore wants to be a global player, the head so HSBC and JP Morgan’s private bank are basing themselves in HK, or thaz what reports are saying.

Already the private bank’s  and PE’s global HQs of SC are here, giving SC  the perfect excuse for relocating its CEO here.And S’pore’s nearer India, another big driver for SC’s future growth. As  to HK and China, he can fly there on SIA, not Cathay, of course.

And relocating here will give our MSM the excuse they need to exult the merits of this government before the expected early general elections.  Hard for the MSM to laud the government given the growing inability of ministers to avoid contradicting one another.

Note the news that SC’s CEO will also donate his bonus to charity, came only after it was reported that HSBC’s CEO would donate his. SC is always playing catch up to HSBC. At one time they were the same size, but one is a global player, the other is 19% owned by Temasek. But then OCBC was once on par with HSBC.

I’m a shareholder of HSBC for over 25 yrs.

BTW the relative sizes of both and how both had a gd crisis:

“The ranking three years ago and for most of the preceding few years saw HSBC as the biggest bank, Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland chasing its tail, Lloyds some way behind that and Standard Chartered as the enthusiastic, fast-growing puppy.

‘Today HSBC isn’t just the biggest British bank. Its market value of more than £120bn is more than that of all the other four added together. It’s in a league of its own.”

“Today the market value of Standard Chartered, at an almost unbelievable £32bn, is only £2bn less than Lloyds’ and £5bn less than Barclays. And it is £11bn more than RBS (although that’s to ignore all the “B” shares that RBS has flogged to taxpayers).”

Excerpt from http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2010/03/the_new_banking_hierarchy.html

and if you want to read why HSBC and SC did so well a gd read.

S-Chips: putting their cash into S’pore banks

In Accounting, China, Corporate governance on 02/03/2010 at 5:38 am

The ST suggested that S-Chips should deposit their cash in in DBS, OCBC or UOB and not Chinese banks.  This could reassure investors that the S-Chips’  cash were safe.  This would in turn help the shares to trade above their net cash per share.

Err might not be a gd idea. Forget about the practical reasons like

– the companies not having the cash they claim they have; or

– withdrawing the cash after depositing it for reporting purposes and deposting it again just before the next reporting date. To prevent this the banks would need clear mandates to report such actions, and manpower and systems to track such movements.

It could be that the investors are (or will be) concerned that the cash could be used up in unprofitable businesses. Chinese dot.com companies listed on Nasdaq were trading below their net cash positions after the dot.com bust. Investors rightly assumed that they would not see the cash.The cash would be used to fund internet ventures etc. Anything else except be returned to shareholders.

They were right.

S-Chips: A warning on the prospectus?

In China on 26/02/2010 at 5:56 am

SIAS presient was reported in Wednesday’s ST as saying, “If ever a China company is listed in S’pore which has got business in China, management in China and money in China — please think 100 times before you put your money into the company.”

This should have been put on the prospectus of all S-Chips. But don’t you think it is too much to ask SGX to make this warning mandatory? It needs new listings, even tiny ones. At a time when there is talk of a billion dollar China co wanting to list here, HK is preparing for a US$20bn listing of AIG’s Asian life insurance operations. It could come as early as April this year.

But maybe responsible IPO managers should include this in bold lettering on the cover of future S-Chips IPOs?  And with the appropriate changes, for any IPO where only the listing is here?

Sino-E’s board are powerless/ SIAS needs to growl louder

In Accounting, China, Corporate governance on 25/02/2010 at 5:31 am

I’ve always wondered why SIAS had been quiet on the lack of news from Sino-E’s board on what was being done to protect the assets and business of the company. I had tot that maybe company had quietly assured SIAS that things were in motion but that publicity could cause problems.

So I was surprised to read in Wednesday’s papers that SIAS had gone public on Tuesday, saying it had asked asked questions since December, but had been ignored. ST also reported that Sino-E had responded in a sense. No wonder it didn’t earlier reply or inform shareholders, the news is not reassuring. Bugger-all has been done other than reconstituting the board and appointing a CEO. Production has ceased, and the cash has not been secured.

Though to be fair, the board is S’pore-based, while business, assets are in a faraway district in a faraway province from Beijing or Shanghai in China.  And the board could could argue that since the shares are still suspended, there was no need to upset shareholders with the bad news.

Let’s hope that SIAS has learnt that a nicely, nicely approach could be taken as a sign of weakness and impotence.  More and louder growls, pls. If nec, howls pls. Wolves are feared: lap dogs and toothless mutts are not.  As MM has said, S’poreans needed to be spurred.

Sino-Environment: Still waiting for reassurance or bad news

In China, Corporate governance on 21/02/2010 at 6:02 am

Just before CNY, Sino-Environment annced that one of the directors had become CEO.

Well and gd that co has a CEO.

But if I were a Sino-E investor, I still want to know the state of the businesses, whether the assets are still there, and  if the assets are being looked after properly. In short whether the new board is in control on the ground in China.

On this silence.

CapLand: Time to buy?

In China, Property, Temasek on 20/02/2010 at 6:52 am

I read in the media yesterday that Credit Suisse analysts are saying that China’s property stocks, trading at the cheapest level among Asian peers, may be “worth another look”. Today reports that they “have underperformed the MSCI China Index by almost 30 per cent since July and are trading at a 7-per-cent discount relative to the region based on a model that values companies’ net assets and return on equity,” quoting Credit Suisse.

As CapitaLand’s 11% fall from its January highs can be attributed to its mega China deal coming just before China tightened its credit policies; since the US$2.2bn deal giving it seven sites located in Shanghai, Kunshan and Tianjin, takes the group’s Chinese portfolio to 36% of assets from 28%; and since it wants to increase its China exposure to 45% of assets:  Shouldn’t CapitaLand be on the buy list of China- property bulls?

Global (& Chinese) demand is growing: Time to be bullish?

In Uncategorized on 11/02/2010 at 4:58 am

China said on Wednesday that its exports were up 21% in January from a year earlier, while imports were up 85.5%. This suggests that global demand for Chinese made goods is continuing and Chinese consumers are still spending too.

Time to buy equities until it hurts?

Remember the story about the Chinese emperor who sighed when told things were very, very good. He said things can only get worse after they reached their zenith. Remember the view that markets are priced for perfection i.e. nothing will go wrong?

We know markets have a way of confounding conventional wisdom, don’t we? And the whis-kids, scholars, and ex-SAF generals.

Remember that Temasek exited BOA juz as mkts were turning, cutting its losses at the wrong time. Just at the time, John Paulson, the man who bet big against sub-prime mortgages, was buying BOA and other banks.

Why my “obsession” with TLCs in China

In China, Investments, Temasek on 09/02/2010 at 5:12 am

No, I’m not a member or covert supporter of Dr Chee’s SDP, always looking to run-down S’pore.

I try to be a “special situations” investor: looking for situations where the conventional wisdom is wrong. At present, the conventional wisdom on China is “Short-term bear, long-term bull”. So CapitaLand is punished by the market for their US$2.2 billion deal while, the seller, OOIL’s share price is stable in a weak market.

But CapitaLand and DBS already big in China, want to be bigger: and KepLand are rumoured to be thinking of doing a big( S$186 million) property deal. Temasek have big direct investments too. They are big investors in several private equity funds and have big holdings in two Chinese banks: 4% of Bank of China and 6% of China Construction Bank*.

They are going against the consensus view that the least one can do is to be cautious in China.

If the listed TLCs get China right, they could be 20-baggers.  Hence my interest in whether they are right. As for Temasek getting it right, Temasek, as its CEO says, belongs to us S’poreans.

——————————————————

Additional tots — 15 Feb 2010

But what are the odds of them getting it right?

Adam Smith (the economist. not the great US financial commentator of the 80s) wrote, “the chance of gain is by every man more or less overvalued”.

This more or less explains why great investors (defined here to include traders) like Buffett, Soros, Paul Johnson, Jim Rogers, Peter Lynch, Anthony Bolton and the old Kuwait Investment Office are so rare. They are better at judging the odds of getting things right.

And why the smart people in Temasek and GIC make mistakes. They are just like the other ordinary smart people managing money in SWFs, endowments, collective funds, pension funds, insurance companies and other institutional investors.

And why the smart people in CapLand and KepLand could be wrong. They could be like the smart managers in Time Warner that decided to merge Time Warner with AOL, or the managers at Sembcorp when they decided to go into property and Delifrance.

———————————————

Incidentally, a BBC Online article examines what is driving the  Chinese property market:

Demand for housing

Louis Kuijs, an economist at the World Bank in Beijing, says China still needed more houses, despite several years of fast-paced building, “In a rapidly growing country like China that still has a low stock of housing, there is a fundamental demand for new homes.”

Developers looking for sites

“In Beijing the search is still on for new sites for development.”

People still buying hses as an investment

One man  says he has accepted an offer to relocate. He already has two apartments in Beijing and he is going to use the compensation to buy a third.

Full BBC online article

CapLand (and KeplLand?) could be right abt China.

*’We work really closely with Sasac, the state-owned enterprise regulator in China, and there are literally trillions and trillions of renminbi of frankly defaulting loans already in China that no one is doing anything about,’

Neil McDonald, a Hong Kong-based business restructuring and insolvency partner with Lovells LLP, said at an Asia-Pacific Loan Market Association conference last week. ‘At some point, there’s going to be a reckoning for that.’ — quote from BT.


CapLand: What price the mega China deal?

In China, Property, Temasek on 03/02/2010 at 6:19 am

The ace, veteran journalist from MediaCorp’s freesheet praises CapitaLand for the US$2.2 billion ($3.09 billion)  purchase of Orient Overseas Development Ltd’s (OODL’s)  assets comprising  seven sites totalling 1.48 million square metres in Shanghai, Kunshan and Tianjin. OODL is the Chinese property arm of  HK-listed OOIL, controlled by the family of former Hong Kong chief executive Tung Chee Hwa.

We are told of why it is a gd deal despite the subsequent curbs on property speculation by Chinese authorities (“a blessing in disguise”)  and how CapLand’s CEO won a high stakes poker game by refusing to bid higher.

Gee wiz, the CEO sounds like some super hero in action.

The problem with this analysis  is the share price of CapLand, down 13% from its high when the deal was announced and close to its  October lows in last year.  Meanwhile OODL’s parent is trading a lot higher than its October 2009 price, and the fall in HK, has affected it slightly.

Conclusion: mkt thinks CapLand got its timing wrong http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/01/21/capland-but-is-he-lucky/

And trumpets pls http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/capland-getting-it-very-right-or-very-wrong/

On a more serious note, the ace journalist had to concede that ” despite CapitaLand’s connections in China, it doesn’t wield the same clout as the Tung family in that country … The Orient land bank was acquired over some time, noted a China property source. He pointed out that on its own, CapitaLand wouldn’t probably have been able to accumulate this prime parcel on its own.”

Waz this? I tot we had MM Lee, the adviser to Chinese leaders? And didn’t S’pore Inc pay a treasure in Suzchou etc to be an “old friend of China”?  Or is all these nothing but spin from our MSM? Or the fantasy of the S’pore government?

Sino-E: Waz up Doc? Again

In China, Corporate governance on 29/01/2010 at 5:45 am

Since http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/sino-e-where-are-the-managers-doc/ there is no news on appointment of on-the-ground managers, or reassurance that the assets and business are being looked after properly by China-based managers.

Board, if you are helpless, say so leh? No shame telling shareholders that with you in S’pore and assets and business in a far away province in distant China. Even the Chinese emperors admitted that there were parts of China where they could do bugger-all.

Temasek and China’s Bad Loans

In China, Economy, Temasek on 24/01/2010 at 5:16 am

Temasek has big holdings in two Chinese banks: 4% of Bank of China and 6% of China Construction Bank.

So this is worrying: “For the banks themselves, the lending splurge threatens to undo significant progress made in recent years in reducing ratios of problem loans to total lending.” Part of of an IHT article.

It goes on:

“A decade ago, Chinese banks staggered under a load of bad debt, reported by the Bank of China at nearly 40 percent of their total lending in 1999. In 2000, the nonperforming loan rate for the major commercial banks in China stood at 29 percent, according to official statistics and in the view of many Western analysts who questioned Chinese accounting standards, it was probably far higher. Nonperforming loans are defined as those on which repayments are more than three months in arrears.

‘The government vowed to bring the rate down to 15 percent by 2005, and by the end of 2007 it had dropped below 7 percent. One factor behind this reduction was the need for Chinese banks to attract investment from private and foreign sources.

‘This steep decline to single-digit levels would seem to tell a heroic tale of a banking system that solved its problems, but not all analysts take it at face value. Skeptics say the cleanup was largely based on sleight of hand, involving specially established asset management companies, speculative bonds and fuzzy government guarantees that together did little more than kick the problem down the road.

‘Even the least cynical analysts acknowledged that lower ratios partially reflected the dilution of bad loans in a vast sea of new lending, some of which would go bad but was still too recent to register as nonperforming.

‘Yet such doubts and qualifications notwithstanding, few deny that some degree of bad debt reduction was genuine and that overall loan quality among Chinese banks has improved from the worst of times.

‘Now, however, new concerns are emerging over the state of Chinese banks and their balance sheets. Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, spoke publicly of such worries in early January, and hinted at a lending slowdown.

‘Large credit flows, “will not only go against the objective of economic structural adjustment, but will also pose bank lending quality risks,” Mr. Zhou said in a magazine interview.”

Note that the Bank of China said on Friday that it plans to sell up to Rmb40bn ($5.86bn) of convertible bonds toto boost its capital base and allow it to meet stricter regulatory and capital requirements following.In 2009,  Chinese banks lent a total of Rmb9,600bn, more than double the volume of new loans made in 2008.

Note also that the announcement came just after the authorities acted to check  surging loan growth by ordering some banks, including Bank of China, to temporarily suspend the granting of new loans.

As you will be aware, Beijing is worried about rising inflationary pressures and the  quality of new loans, the by-products of its expansionist economic policies.

Update 25/1/09

BOC  told analysts it may raise additional capital by selling new shares in Hong Kong, in addition to the U$5.9bn Chinese convertible bond sale.
.

CapLand: “But is he lucky”?

In China, Property, Temasek on 21/01/2010 at 6:50 am

Napoleon had many good officers. So when he was appointing generals, he asked, “But is he lucky?”. He knew the importance of chance in his success and at his last battle, Waterloo, his luck ran out. But as one of the generals who defeated him said, “It was a near-run thing”.

The question buyers of CapLand on Tuesday should be asking is whether the mgt of CapitaLand are lucky? Two days after anncing a US$2.2bn China property deal, http://atans1.wordpress.com/2010/01/19/capland-getting-it-very-right-or-very-wrong/the Chinese authorities ordered a serious of credit tightening measures including ordering some commercial banks to stop lending for the rest of January. Global equity markets fell.

CapLand mgt could be lucky. Markets have a habit of shrugging off China fears. Remember the recent falls and recoveries?

But for the moment the seller’s mgt must be considered “lucky”.

Global diversification via one blue chip

In China, India, Investments on 20/01/2010 at 6:14 am

Tony Tan, deputy chairman of GIC is optimistic about Asia’s prospects and expects it to enter a ‘Golden Age’ in the next decade.

So if you believe him (remember MM Lee, GIC’s chairman, talked of something similar just before the global credit crunch and subsequent global recession), what to buy leh?

Just as CapitaLand is a “no-brainer” China play, maybe  this is “no brainer” for dummies to get global exposure?

“[W]ill continue to outgrow America over the coming years. Already 60% of its sales are overseas, and its bridgehead into China and India looks more robust than most.”

Of course you could buy an ETF that invests in a global index.

CapLand: Getting it very right or very wrong

In China, Economy, Property, Temasek on 19/01/2010 at 7:15 am

CapitaLand is obviously not a bear on China.

CapitaLand has done a deal in China spending more than the  S$2.7bn (US$1.9bn)  it raised in November through an IPO of CapitaMalls Asia, its shopping centres subsidiary. (I had tot then lowering China exposure was the unstatedreason for the IPO.)

It bought for US$2.2bn seven sites located in Shanghai, Kunshan and Tianjin, taking the group’s Chinese portfolio to 36% of assets from 28%. It wants to increase its China exposure from 28% of assets to 45%. Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas International  shipping group was the seller.

Funnily, this at a time when even the Chinese government is talking of a property bubble in China what with residential prices in the 70 main cities accelerated in November to the fastest pace in 18 months.

“Qi Ji, China’s vice-minister of housing and urban-rural development, has told the Financial Times that house prices have reached levels that were “obviously too high”, particularly in large coastal cities,” reports the FT.

Yes, yes:  I know CapitaLand is into commercial space, offices and malls (Apartments are tagged on on the top). But recent US experience shows that the damage in the residential sector can affect the commercial sector.

Note that China super bull, Jim Rogers, is avoiding recommending property to investors: in 2008 he was negative about Chinese property.

Hedgies, make a bet that CapitaLand is wrong?

Why mkts recovered so quickly

In China, Economy on 16/01/2010 at 5:25 am

The reason why China’s action was a two-day wonder at most (except for penny stock punters — Catalyst index was down 6% on Friday): the tightening was “peanuts”. So markets decided to resume the “drugs, sex and rock-and-roll” partying; all aided by alcohol: “Kum pei, Bottoms up, Mud in yr eye”? Shades of Charles Prince’s infamous July 2007 quote? “As long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.” the then CEO of Citi told the FT. The response at the time.

And yes, I know the Western markets took a fall on Friday. But let’s see what China does on Monday, not the decadent bourgeois West.

A week is a long time

In China, Investments on 14/01/2010 at 5:41 am

The “future’s bright” buying we saw  in the S’pore mkt in the first week of 2010 has turned to “no future” selling, since Tuesday. Looks like the penny-stock syndicates may have got their timing wrong.  Watch out for forced selling as punters ignore margin calls.

Blame the Chinese government for spooking global mkts.

To recap:

– China increased the amount banks must set aside as reserves in the clearest sign yet that the central bank is trying to tighten monetary conditions amid mounting concerns of overheating and inflation as a result of the credit boom.

– The central bank also raised interest rates modestly in the inter-bank market on Tuesday for the second time in less than a week.

Trumpets pls for my 2010 strategy: ” Look for strong balance sheets and dividends that will compensate if brokers’ optimism turn to be wrong.” http://atans1.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/investment-strategy-for-2010/

We could be going back to the future. In 1993, America discovered emerging Asian mkts. Come Jan 1994, these mkts were expected to continue flying. Then Greenspan started raising US rates.

Funds started selling and mkts went down and quiet. This time it could the emerging hegemon that causes investors and brokers to  reassess their bullishness.

New reason to be a China bear?

In China on 13/01/2010 at 6:30 am

Came across this scary tot. What can happen as a consequence of 30 million Chinese males having problems finding wimmin.

Sino-E — Where are the managers, Doc?

In China, Corporate governance on 10/01/2010 at 11:01 am

If I were a small shareholder, I’d need some more information on what is happening.

Following last Sunday’s announcement that the three executive directors (EDs) had resigned, the independent directors (IDs), by then the only remaining directors, said mid-week they had made three new board appointments and re-appointed the former financial controller.  Two were IDs and one was a non-executive.

But till time of this post, nothing has been heard about who is managing the company in the absence of the CEO or any ED in China. And if no one is managing, who will manage it and when? Waz the point of all these directors based here? Everything of value is in China.

The IDs should be telling shareholders what they are doing to ensure that the assets of the company are not plundered or the business is not misrun in the absence of the EDs. If there are already gd managers on the ground, shareholders should be told. If there are none, why were there no plans for managers to replace the EDs? After all the IDs were seeking to remove the then  EDs.  And when will the new managers are expected to be in place? Shareholders need this information.

Surprised

  • SIAS not publicly commented on this;
  • SGX not publicly querying company; or
  • none of the usual corporate governance pundits are even raising this issue.

But who knows, maybe behind the scenes? Somehow I doubt it.

Is all this corporate governance activity by the two IDs and talk by others, Wayang or shadow puppetry in its most sophisticated form?

A small shareholder might very well think that. I couldn’t possibly comment

Sino-E: Even IDs are in the dark

In China, Corporate governance on 05/01/2010 at 6:20 am

After the Chinese police refused to proceed against the chairman as requested by the independent directors, the three executive directors  resigned, leaving no-one to run the company. This mass resignations seems to be taunting the IDs as they are resigning after a favourable police decision. They had refused to resign for months and the IDs had to get a court order to call for an EGM to remove the EDs.

Adding insult to injury, the company said IDs “will continue to keep shareholders updated of all material developments”.

Err … But when BT asked the IDs for comments, they said that they are seeking to clarify the situation before issuing any response. As at the time of this posting, no annc has been made by the IDs.

They must be confused and worried because with the EDs resignation, no-one is managing the company. And some workers are threatening to strike over the IDs actions. And they could be sued by the chairman and shareholders.

Great way to start 2010.

They have the responsibilities and powers of directors but are powerless in reality. The co’s assets are in a far away province of a far away China. Taz the reality.

Sini-E: The plot thickens

In China, Corporate governance on 03/01/2010 at 5:29 am

Recently I had pointed out that the independent directors, despite getting a court order, had done nothing to call the EGM to sack the executive directors. I speculated that maybe they had found out that the EDs had the votes   http://atans1.wordpress.com/2009/12/31/sino-enviro-waz-up-doc/ .

Well there is now an annc on company’s site saying that that the chairman had been cleared by the Chinese police of allegations made against him by the IDs.

Ouch! This is not good news for the IDs. It undermines the allegations that they are making against the EDs. As the Chinese docs are dated 25 Dec, maybe they knew about it and hence did not call EGM.

If I were an ID, I’d be concerned about the chairman suing, whether I have the appropriate insurance policy, and whether PwC can be sued. I”m sure PwC are consulting their lawyers and checking their insurance policies.

Wonder what SIAS will now say? They have been supportive of the IDs actions.

All goes to show: Taking an IDship in a company listed in one country, domiciled in another with assets in a third where there are problems with the rule of law is not to be taken lightly. It, like investing, in such a company can be the stuff of nightmares.

Sino-Enviro: Waz up Doc?

In China, Corporate governance on 31/12/2009 at 4:05 pm

When is the EGM to remove the executive directors going to be called?

On 17 December 2009, the independent directors announced, inter alia :”At the conclusion of the hearing on Thursday, 17 December 2009, Chong JC granted, amongst others, the following orders:

a. That pursuant to section 182 of the Companies Act (Chapter 50), an

Extra-Ordinary General Meeting of the members of the Company (the

“Meeting”) be called and conducted within 21 days from the date of

i. To remove the Executive Directors from the Company’s Board of Directors”.

It’s now 31 Dec, and there is no EGM annc.  Why not?

One wonders if the IDs have found out that the EDs have the votes to prevent them from being removed? http://atans1.wordpress.com/2009/12/26/spare-a-tot-or-more-on-sino-environment/

Juz speculating, Watson.

But having gone to court, this silence from the IDs is deafening, and should worry the punters (sorry investors) in this stock. But then it seems the retail shareholders of this company are extremely passive. It took the IDs to get an order of court to hold an EGM, while the efforts of some shareholders (I salute them) to organise an EGM came to nothing.

They should realise passivity has its price. Ask those investors in minibonds, and HN5, Jubilee and Pinnacle notes.

Spare a Tot or more on Sino-Environment

In China, Corporate governance on 26/12/2009 at 10:22 am

It’s party time, but spare a tot for the independent directors of Sino-Environment.

They are not having a good time. They have gone to court to get orders to hold an EGM to remove the executive directors, and to restrict the EDs’ actions.

If at the EGM the EDs are not removed, the two IDs could find themselves personally  liable for a lot of  legal bills, including the cost of getting the court orders. And looking really dumb. But if they didn’t do anything, they might be sued by some investors or troubled by the authorities.

Already the EDs have complained, “The Independent Directors have apart from legal advice rendered to them by the solicitors to the Company, sought and obtained separate legal advice for themselves in their personal capacities, at the expense of the Company. We have informed them that they should do the right thing by not using Company’s funds to pay their own legal fees.”

“The fees charged by WP to the Company for acting for the IDs from April to date amount to the sum of S$268,946.00.”

And “The IDs had appointed PwC to carry out the “special audit” before they informed the EDs about the appointment … The EDs have never agreed to any fee structure or fee of PwC as alleged …The EDs strongly object to the unjustifiable fees that PwC charged to the Company to date, amounting to the sum of S$952,874.00. “

Come the start of the Lunar new year in February, will the nightmare continue for the IDs? It could, as it is difficult to think the EDs would take what is happening lying down. They said, “The EDs’ reasons and explanation as to why they have not acceded to the IDs’ calls to step down have already been fully explained.”

They wouldn’t say this would they, if they didn’t think they have the votes? IDs could find that despite an open share register (Remember, SIAS said that the share register of Sino-Environment is open, with no controlling shareholder), the EDs have the votes.

What price the IDship of a S-Chip? You could find yourself liable to shareholder suits or suits from the company. And the authorities may ask you questions.  And there is the reputational damage. Based on the last available annual report, the then IDs each got $250,000 or less. How much exactly was not disclosed (perfectly legal this).


Bull in a China Shop — but will he find value in S-Chips?

In China, Investments on 08/12/2009 at 4:32 pm

Anthony Bolton is not as well-known here as Warren Buffett or Jim Rogers

But one thousand pounds invested in his Fidelity Special Situations Fund at launch would have grown in value to £146,700 in 28 yrs.

He is relocating to HK (from London). Writing in FT.com he said, ‘that a recent tour of China had rekindled his desire to manage money. “The [investment] opportunity is simply too great to pass up. My retirement can wait a little while yet.”’

Brushing aside growing concerns that Chinese-related equities were overvalued, “The bargain stage for Chinese stocks is over but it is too early to talk about real bubbles just one year after the crisis”.

His forte is stock-picking, and it will be interesting to see if he finds value in S-Chips.

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