Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Ang moh cowboy bets against PRC

In China, Currencies on 06/10/2015 at 4:01 pm

A hedgie from Texas is betting big time against the yuan Dealbook reported:

BETTING ON FURTHER DEVALUATION OF RENMINBI Mark L. Hart III, a hedge fund investor based in Texas, has made high-risk, high-return wagers that the United States housing market would collapse and that Greece would go bankrupt. His most audacious gamble to date might be his bet on a 50 percent currency implosion in China, Landon Thomas Jr. reports in DealBook.

He predicts that the extreme drop will come when foreign investors pull their money out of China, propelling a broader rout in emerging market currencies and bringing on a sustained global slump.

And he is not the only one. An increasing number of investors think thetrillions of dollars that went into risky investment opportunitiesin countries like China, Brazil and Turkey are quickly leaving. They think the pace will pick up when the Federal Reserve eventually raises interest rates, leading to plunges in currencies, corporate defaults and a global slowdown.

John H. Burbank III, a longtime emerging-market investor at Passport Capital, a $4 billion hedge fund in San Francisco, has earned stellar returns this year betting on weak commodities, and imploding emerging markets and currencies.

At the root of these investment strategies is the belief that China’s 3 percent currency devaluation was not a one-time event.

These investors think China is experiencing a run on the bank, similar to what happened to Asian countries in 1997 when their semi-pegged currencies collapsed. They also think the country’s $3.5 trillion of foreign exchange reserves will not be enough to prevent a large-scale rout.

In the first quarter of this year, $109 billion left Chinese banks for overseas institutions, according to the Bank for International Settlements, a clearinghouse for global central banks.

China has been at the forefront of the so-called carry trade, in which corporations and countries tap dollar-based lenders and invest the proceeds in higher-yielding assets denominated in local currencies, like real estate, commodities and large-scale investments. As long as interest rates in the United States remain low and emerging-market currencies remain strong, these trades have been highly profitable.

Mr. Hart calculates that the size of the Chinese carry trade is around $2 trillion and as he sees it, the dollars that have flowed into China must flow out again.

China’s foreign currency reserve ratio – in effect its net cash available to defend against speculators – is just a bit over 20 percent, putting it in the neighborhood of countries known to be vulnerable to capital outflows, like Brazil, Turkey and South Africa.

“If there is a run on the currency, everyone will want to turn their yuan into dollars,” said Jurgen Odenius, the chief economist of Prudential Fixed Income. Yuan is a shorthand reference to China’s currency, the renminbi. “And on that basis, China’s foreign exchange reserves do not rank among the stronger countries.”

Still, it is not certain that Mr. Hart’s bet will pay off. The Federal Reserve’s reluctance to increase interest rates could weaken the dollar and take the pressure off China and other emerging-market currencies.

Glencore: Why up the creek without a plan C

In China, Commodities on 05/10/2015 at 10:13 am

NYT Dealbook

GLENCORE HAS YET TO CONVINCE INVESTORS The panicked sell-off may have stopped, but Glencore, the Swiss mining and trading company, still needs to convince investors and analysts that it is out of the danger zone, Stanley Reed reports in The New York Times.

The problems that have sent the stock reeling this summer remain, from its heavy debt load to the slowing Chinese demand for commodities. And, as Bloomberg News reports, investors are nervous that the 29 percent plunge in its share price could happen again.

Analysts doubt that Glencore is unable to pay its debt, but it will remain under pressure until it can address investors concerns about it.

The company has moved to cut its debt*, but this may not be enough. Commodity prices may have farther to fall and Glencore is dependent on forces that it cannot control.

Many have also struggled to explain exactly why the company’s stock should have plunged so suddenly on Monday. The fear that the drop caused reminded people of the moment that Lehman collapsed, a trader told Bloomberg News.

The company is trying to get back to business as usual, but damage has been done. Sellers of default insurance on Glencore bonds are demanding more compensation for the risk than a month ago.

A failure to deliver about three million pounds of cotton owed to Noble Agri, a rival commodities trader, has also intensified the spotlight on Glencore, The Financial Times reports.

That happened in May before the recent turmoil, but Glencore may have to pay a financial penalty and the failure to deliver comes at a delicate moment. Glencore is trying to sell a minority stake in its agricultural business, which includes cotton trading, to help pay its debt.


*It sold stock and cancelled its dividend and closed mines.

Noble House: More empty rooms

In Accounting, China, Commodities on 04/10/2015 at 2:15 pm

Oct 2 Noble Group’s global head of M&A has resigned from the company, marking a string of recent senior level departures at the commodities trader as it battles weak prices of resources, people familiar with the matter said on Friday …

On Thursday, Reuters quoted sources as saying that two senior U.S.-based energy executives had left Noble in the past week.

Noble hit the spotlight in February when blogger Iceberg Research questioned its accounting practices. Noble defended its financials, and board-appointed consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers found no wrongdoing in a report published in August.

Not a good day to be averaging down on Monday.

Wish HoHoHo had paid heed, not gone on sabbatical

In China, Temasek on 02/10/2015 at 12:37 pm

What with HoHOHO coming back from leave at the end of October, Temasek’s continuing to double down on China and all the carnage that worries about China are causing in global financial and commodity markets, I tot this NYT Dealbook piece from sometime back is timely.

A PRESCIENT WARNING ON CHINA Kenneth Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard University, accurately predicted the eurozone debt crisis and has long warned of a potential financial crisis in China. It’s starting to look like he’s right again, Andrew Ross Sorkin writes in the DealBook column.

Mr. Rogoff has made a career of studying financial crises and co-wrote “This Time Is Different,” a seminal book that examined eight centuries of financial crises. He and his co-author, Carmen M. Reinhart, contended that every financial crisis stems from the same problem: too much debt.

“China is the classic ‘This time is different’ story,” Mr. Rogoff said, rattling off all the different rationalizations for why the country convinced itself – and many others – that it could load up on debt but was somehow immune to the laws of economic gravity.

Mr. Rogoff is not the first to identify China as a risk. Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Treasury secretary and a Sinophile, and the hedge fund manager James Chanos have also been sounding the alarm on China.

The country’s debt load rose from $7 trillion in 2007 to $28 trillion by mid-2014, according to a report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, China. “At 282 percent of G.D.P., China’s debt as a share of G.D.P., while manageable, is larger than that of the United States or Germany,” the firm said in a report. “Several factors are worrisome: Half of loans are linked directly or indirectly to China’s real estate market, unregulated shadow banking accounts for nearly half of new lending, and the debt of many local governments is likely unsustainable.”

The question now is how interconnected China is with the rest of the world economy. And in spite of the tumultuous state of the market, Mr. Rogoff says he believes that the recent weeks have raised the prospects of a meaningful crisis. But with China’s trillions of dollars in reserves, he thinks the country may have sufficient tools to prevent a calamity that spreads across the globe – at least for now.

“If you had to bet,” Mr. Rogoff said, “you’d still bet they’d pull it out.”

As a S’porean, I hope his last remark turns out to be correct.

StanChart: Did you know?/ Glencore: Sinking fast

In Banks, China, Commodities, GIC, Temasek on 29/09/2015 at 1:06 pm

It was reported last week in the FT that Standard Chartered awarded Bill Winters, its CEO, shares worth more than 6 million pounds, or about $9 million, to compensate the bank’s new CEO for income he forfeited by leaving the hedge fund he founded. The upfront payment comes as the shares have hit new six-year lows.

Meanwhile GIC must be ruing not selling out of Glencore because on Monday in London

Shares in commodity giant Glencore plunged 30% after analysts raised fears about lower metal prices.

The company’s shares dropped to a new record low of 69p on Monday, helping push the FTSE 100 down 2%.

Analysts warned slumping metal prices could leave Glencore shares almost worthless because of its heavy debts.

Why did everything go wrong for Glencore? 

Whatever both StanChart and Glencore are suffering from China’s slowdown. And HoHOHO is still betting big on China (see previous story)?

Temasek, DBS buying into Chinese PosBank?

In Temasek, China, Banks on 29/09/2015 at 4:32 am

China’s Postal Savings Bank Said to Be Near $6.5 Billion Sale. Postal Savings Bank of China, which has the most outlets of any lender in the nation, is nearing an agreement to raise more than $6.5 billion from investors including UBS Group and Temasek Holdings ahead of a planned initial public offering, Bloomberg News reports, citing people familiar with the matter.

(NYT Dealbook last Thursday)

The story also says that DBS will buy a stake.

HohoHo still bullish on China it seems and doubling her bets down. The problem for us is that these stakes cannot be divested completely without upsetting the Chinese. The ang moh banks were able to divest their cornerstone stakes in Chinese banks. They like Temasek got their stakes at “special” prices, but unlike them Temasek is stuck with these stakes, only able to add or decrease at the margins.

Meanwhile rights issues are expected necause of expected bad loans.

China really tua kee

In China, Commodities, Emerging markets, Energy, Hong Kong on 26/09/2015 at 7:20 am

China's imports

Related post:


China Contrarians

In Banks, China, Private Equity, Property on 24/09/2015 at 3:20 pm

HSBC to Add 4,000 Jobs in 4 Years in China HSBC is planning a 30 percent increase from 13,000 employees in the Pearl River Delta in spite of the bank’s three-year plan to cut global headcount by 50,000 and reduce annual costs by up to $5 billion. (NYT Dealbook)

HSBC has been given permission to issue a Panda bond (a first foe a foreign bank). The greater ability  to access to local fundraising bodes well for the bank’s Pearl Delta plans.

What is most striking about George Osborne’s Chinese tour is he is doubling his political and economic bet on the world’s number two economy at a time when that economy is looking its most fragile for 30 years.

His calculation is that China’s economy will slow in a relatively contained way to a more sustainable rate – perhaps 4% or 5% a year compared with the official target of 7% – without a devastating crash that would damage a large number of client economies and engender social unrest in China itself (in employing the great Goldman bull of China Jim O’Neill as his commercial minister, Osborne could hardly wager otherwise).

The chancellor’s calculation is that the Chinese will remember who stuck by them when the going got tougher.

And he is also presuming that as the returns from investing in China itself diminish, Chinese institutions – many of them still loaded – will increasingly think owning a bit of Britain isn’t such a crazy idea after all.

Blackstone Hunts for Property Opportunities in China “Volatility can be your friend if you have a medium-to long-term perspective,” said Christopher Heady, head of the private equity firm’s Asia real-estate business.

(NYT Dealbook)

Fed is the real hegemon/ How Chinese problems impact the US

In China on 21/09/2015 at 1:07 pm

Officials in China and Indonesia criticised the Fed for keeping the world guessing about its next move after it delayed raising rates.

Fed juz showing China that it’s the world’s hegemon just before Xi visits the US:

NYT Dealbook reported that the Fed stressed that it needs a little more reassurance from the United States economy and “What we can’t know for sure is how much concerns about the global economic outlook are drivers of those developments,”

Janet L. Yellen, the Fed’s chairwoman, took care to point out that the Fed was not just responding to a few rough weeks for the stock market, Neil Irwin writes in The Upshot. It needs a little more reassurance from the United States economy. “What we can’t know for sure is how much concerns about the global economic outlook are drivers of those developments,” she said.

The challenge now is that 2015 may end without providing answers to the questions that the policy committee has. It can take many months for financial swings to ripple through the economy.

Stanley Fischer, the Fed vice chairman, said last month that if the Fed waits until it is absolutely certain it is time to raise rates, it will probably be too late. Fed officials will still have to make a decision based on their own forecasts, rather than hard evidence.

This is also from NYT Dealbook (some time) back explaining why problems in China affect the US.

FAULT LINES REACH THE U.S. ECONOMYAs investors scramble to make sense of these swings, financial experts said there have been signs of an equity crisis for more than a year now, Landon Thomas Jr. reports in DealBook. They argue that the United States would only be able to avoid for so long the deflationary forces that have taken root in China.

More and more analysts now see the problems in China and other markets as a real threat to the United States economy. The fears about the economy have some investors betting that the Federal Reserve will not raise rates this year, though that may well be premature, as Binyamin Appelbaum reports.

“The global G.D.P. pie is shrinking,” said Raoul Pal, who produces a monthly financial report catered to hedge funds and other sophisticated investors. The most crucial indicator, in his view, has been the surge of the dollar against emerging market currencies.

Historically, the party has ended when the dollar takes off against emerging market currencies, as it did in Latin American in the 1980s and Southeast Asia in the 1990s. Suddenly, loans in relatively cheap dollars that financed real estate and consumption booms were no longer available and theultimate result was always a growth slowdown.

Through the year ending on Aug. 19, some of the worst-performing investments in dollar terms were Brazilian equities, Russian bonds, Indonesian equities, and Turkish equities.

During the same period, United States equities returned 8.7 percent – the fourth best return delivered by any major class of assets. In effect,investors in the United States miscalculated, thinking that what happened in Russia, Turkey and Indonesia need not have any effect on stocks of companies based in the United States. The slowdown in China was driving weakness in these countries, as it bought less steel from Brazil, less mineral fuel and oil from Indonesia.

Albert Edwards, a strategist at Société Générale in London, said the government’s naked support of the stock market bubble was a clear sign for him. “One you encourage an equity bubble, it will collapse – and then you are really in trouble,” Mr. Edwards said. “This is utter madness.”

For Jeffrey Sherman, a portfolio manager at the bond investment firm DoubleLine, the correction in the high-yield corporate bond market was an alarm bell. In summer 2014, as stocks of United States companies continued to push upward, the yields on risky corporations started to spike. The fact that these bonds were entering their own bear market should have been seen by equity investors as a warning sign, Mr. Sherman said.

David A. Stockman, a former budget director under Ronald Reagan, has spent the last three years closely examining the excesses of the Chinese investment boom and warning of their consequences. He points out that in the late 1990s, China had the capacity to manufacture 100 million tons of steel. That figure today is 1.1 billion tons – almost twice the amount of annual demand for steel in China.

This steelmaking boom sent the price for iron ore shooting up. Like all commodity prices, it has fallen sharply, a correction that creates problems for iron ore-producing countries like Australia, which made huge investments to keep supplying these raw materials to China.

The bottom line though, is that investors in American stocks recognized too late in the game that a global contraction was sneaking up on them, Mr. Thomas writes.

HoHoHo: Temasek & GIC China plays

In Banks, China, Commodities, Emerging markets, GIC, Temasek on 14/09/2015 at 11:03 am

Reason for Glencore (GIC) and StanChart (HoHoHo back at work at Temasek soon) on the chart


Even small changes in demand from China’s vast economy can have a knock-on effect on prices.

As Glencore has found out to its cost.


FT reports that according to Nomura, half of StanChart’s Asian revenue in the first half of 2015. More

NYT Dealbook last Tuesday.

MORE SIGNS OF A SHARPER SLOWDOWN IN CHINA Once the world’s workshop, China’s exports are facing their most protracted declines since the global financial crisis, Neil Gough writes in The New York Times. China’s trade slump deepened in August – an indication of a sharper industrial slowdown at home and weaker demand from overseas. Exports fell 5.5 percent in August and 1.4 percent in dollar terms in the first eight months of the year.

The country’s manufacturing sector is losing competitiveness as labor costs rise and the renminbi remains relatively strong despite its devaluation, making Chinese goods more expensive for foreign buyers.

Imports are falling even more steeply. They fell for the 10th month in a row in August, recording a drop of 14 percent by value. Economists blame the rout in commodity prices, but imports have fallen in volume too. The falling imports of industrial raw materials point to weakening domestic demand, driven by a slump in manufacturing and new housing construction.

The weak trade data weighed on markets, with Japan’s main index, the Nikkei 225, closing 2.4 percent lower. In Shanghai, stocks initially fell when the trade figures were released, but heavy buying in the afternoon set off a rally. Shares closed 2.9 percent higher – a pattern seen often in recent weeks, as China’s government appears to continue its efforts to support the slumping stock markets.

China’s leadership made the surprise decision last month to devalue the currency by about 3 percent, the renminbi’s sharpest drop in two decades. But the central bank has since intervened in the markets on a massive scale, fighting pressure to weaken the currency further by selling dollars and buying renminbi.

As a result, China is burning through foreign exchange reserves at the fastest pace yet. Reserves fell by nearly $100 billion in August alone, though they are still huge at $3.56 trillion.

Still, analysts say that the recent devaluation was most likely too modest to give China’s exports much of a boost, and that the exchange rate is still stronger than China’s slowing economic growth would otherwise support.

HoHoHo: Two brokers’ views on StanChart

In China, Emerging markets, Temasek on 10/09/2015 at 12:48 pm

From today’s FT (apologies for lifting)

With StanChart shares down 40 per cent in a year, investors are pricing in a replay of the Asian financial crisis, said Sanford Bernstein. That looks too pessimistic, the broker said, arguing that, whereas the 1997 crisis arrived suddenly, StanChart has had three years’ warning to shrink its current loan book and protect capital.

A FTSE 100 rebound helped lift Standard Chartered away from its six-year low on Wednesday.

With StanChart shares down 40 per cent in a year, investors are pricing in a replay of the Asian financial crisis, said Sanford Bernstein. That looks too pessimistic, the broker said, arguing that, whereas the 1997 crisis arrived suddenly, StanChart has had three years’ warning to shrink its current loan book and protect capital.

“The faster you drive into a crisis, the more you will get hit,” Bernstein said. “The speed at which the bank is hitting turbulence is dramatically different between the last crisis and this one.”

Bernstein added that, while StanChart does not need to raise cash, new chief executive Bill Winters may want to top up capital buffers by $3bn-$4bn “to give it significant leverage when the cycle turns next year”.

StanChart rose 3.2 per cent to 744p as the wider market extended its rally into a third day.

Monday’s FT (Again apologies for lifting. Promise no more after this)

shares hit a six-year low on Monday as worries grew over the depth of restructuring required under new chief executive Bill Winters.

The Asia-focused lender slid 1.7 per cent to 701.4p on reports it may cut a quarter of senior banking roles as part of a new business plan expected within the next few months.

Funding a deep restructuring would put further pressure on StanChart’s cash flow and capital ratios, which already include $49bn of commodities exposure and a further $43bn of risky Chinese and Indian debt, said analysts.

StanChart might need to raise as much as $5bn to cover bad loans, in addition to between $3bn and $4bn to boost its capital buffer to peer levels, forecast Morgan Stanley.

While the broker did not assume StanChart will need to launch a cash call, it put a one-in-five chance on China causing an Asian slowdown economic equivalent to the 1997 crisis, under which it said the shares would be worth 410p.



China: Bull rides bear

In China on 02/09/2015 at 2:30 pm

Bull statue in Xiamen (25 Aug 2015)

A curious sculpture of a bull riding a bear in the southeastern port city of Xiamen has also struck a chord with Chinese netizens.

Bulls are considered the symbols of confident economy, the opposite totem – when the economy is retreating – being a bear.

Some have described the 3.4m-high (11ft), three-tonne statue, sitting outside an art museum, as an unofficial “symbol of hope”.

“Let’s hope this bull can bear the stock market pressure,” commented one Weibo user.

Another user said: “After all the turmoil, looking at it gives me strength.”

Visitors have also been flocking to Xiamen to catch a glimpse of the copper statue, with some even making offerings by placing joss sticks and food around its feet.

The owner of the statue also told Chinese state broadcaster CCTV News that it was indeed “related to the current stock market“.

BBC report

In S’pore the bull and the bear lie side by side (Re SGX sculptures). In the US 


The China Securities Regulatory Commission has asked 36 schools in one of the country’s richest provinces to teach upper primary school students “how to manage money and trade stocks”, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper. This will involve about 10,000 students in a pilot programme, beginning next month. If successful, the new curriculum will expand to the rest of the province, the paper says.

Sotong investors/ Some are moving on

In China, Emerging markets on 31/08/2015 at 1:43 pm

INVESTORS SEEK SIGNAL IN THE NOISE Asian markets continued to soar on Friday, on the back of a global rebound on Thursday. The fear was palpable just days ago, but by the end of Thursday, the gloom had dissipated, DealBook’s Peter Eavis reports. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index had climbed 6 percent from the low of Tuesday’s closeby the end of Thursday.

The positive trend continued during Asian trading on Friday. Stocks in Shanghai closed up 4.82 percent after another late-day surge, while the Nikkei 225 finished the day up about 3 percent.

Bystanders were left struggling to comprehend the gyrations. Even Wall Street pundits are seeing mixed messages.

At Tuesday’s low, a bear market – when stocks decline 20 percent or more – did not seem out of the question. But after Thursday’s performance, it seemed plausible that the six-year bull market that started in 2009 might resume.

There was, in fact, a string of positive economic data released this week. Spain’s economy is now growing at a rate of over 3 percent, while revised gross domestic product numbers showed that the United States economy grew at a 3.7 percent rate.

There are still plenty of problems that could drag down global growth. China’s leaders have intervened to shore up the stock market, promote bank lending and loosen monetary policy, but these moves could well stifle the role of market forces.

The pressure on emerging markets is unlikely to go away. Companies that have borrowed in dollars may find it harder to pay back debt as their currencies lose value against the dollar. The resulting slow growth in developing countries might squeeze demand for goods and services from the United States and Europe, dampening growth there too.

If this happened, central banks like the Federal Reserve could step in to stimulate economies. But their intervention can create uncertainty over the long term as investors wonder whether stock and bond prices are rising because of central bank stimulus and worry about what will happen once that support is pulled away. Analysts see problems in the underlying economy that they say central bank stimulus, or quantitative easing, cannot fix.

When nobody knows when the stimulus will end, markets move unpredictably, as investors find different ways to interpret pronouncements from central bankers.

The one reassurance is that in recent history, short-lived stock market corrections that have not turned into bear markets typically have not stopped businesses from investing and people from spending.


James B. Stewart: Top Money Managers Take Their Losses, and Move On Fund investors are looking for opportunities in global stock markets, where share prices have been battered in recent days.

Hedgies caught with their pants down

In China, Financial competency on 28/08/2015 at 1:03 pm

From NYT Dealbook

ROUGH AND TUMBLE FOR HEDGE FUNDS The fallout from the global sell-off has few limits. Many on Wall Street have been caught off guard and money managers at some of the biggest hedge funds in the United States have had their vacation plans interrupted, Alexandra Stevenson and Matthew Goldstein report in DealBook.

One adviser had to hop around on conference calls from his cabin in the woods. Another said investors had requested play-by-play commentary and performance figures. With the reason for the plunge so unclear, many have not been willing to stick their necks out and speak publicly.

It is clear, however, that August numbers are not looking good for them. Hedge funds went into the sell-off bullish, with $1.5 trillion in long positions – bets that stocks will rise in price – compared with $684 billion in short positions, bets that stocks will decline in price, according to an analysis of the industry by Goldman Sachs.

The 10 stocks that Goldman said were the most widely held by hedge funds – stocks like Apple, Citigroup, Facebook and Amazon – were down from 5 to 10 percent over the last three trading days.

Leon G. Cooperman, founder of the $9 billion hedge fund Omega Advisors and a longtime market bull, is emerging as a big loser in the chaos. As of Friday, his fund was said to have lost 11 percent this month, according to people briefed on the matter. The firm was hit hard by big declines in the share prices of Allergan, AerCap, Citigroup and the American International Group.

One hedge fund manager who invests mainly in United States stocks, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he would not be surprised if the average fund lost from 3 to 7 percent in August. He said the last week had been brutal and the losses had come far faster than most would have anticipated.

Even the world’s biggest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, led by Ray Dalio, was not spared. The $162 billion firm told investors on Friday that its Pure Alpha fund was down 4.7 percent for the month. Going into August, the Pure Alpha portfolio had been up 11.8 percent for the year.

After six years of a bull market run, few hedge fund managers have been brave enough to short stocks with much conviction. To take a short position, a trader sells borrowed stock in a company that he or she thinks is overvalued in anticipation of buying it back at a cheap price. Those that have taken short positions have not been hit as hard by the sell-off.

Hedge funds that scoop up distressed assets at bottomed-out prices also began to eye opportunities. “What I have told investors is the economy is fine but now is a great time to be buying some things when they get hit,” said Marc Lasry, a co-founder of the $13.9 billion hedge fund Avenue Capital Group. “Other people may be having issues,” Mr. Lasry said. “For us, that is an opportunity as opposed to a problem.”

HoHoHo: StanChart has another problem

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Temasek on 27/08/2015 at 1:42 pm

StanChart is expected to call for a rights issue by yr end. But mkt turmoil will make this difficult and expensive.

FT reports

“StanChart has been one of the hardest hit by the market turmoil. Shares in the bank, which is listed in London but specialises in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, have fallen a quarter this month and are down two-thirds in the past two years.

‘One investment banker said worries about slowing Asian growth and falling commodity prices risked creating “a perfect storm” for StanChart that would make it “much tougher to sell new shares” to investors.”

Note that FT reports that according to Nomura, half of StanChart’s Asian revenue in the first half of 2015 and less than 10% of HSBC’s came from China proper.

And that “from trading at more than double its tangible book value, its market value is now a third less than its assets, a discount even to big victims of the financial crisis, such as Royal Bank of Scotland.”


What to do in falling markets?/ Negative-eight

In China, Financial competency on 26/08/2015 at 1:30 pm

How Emotion Hurts Stock Returns People feel losses more sharply than gains. So watch ESPN or do anything to avoid looking at your sinking portfolio.

Two consecutive days of 8% losses (Mon and Tues), the Chinese stockmarket’s biggest two-day plunge in nearly two decades

China Markets new

HSBC shareholders juz got lucky/ China blues

In Banks, China on 25/08/2015 at 1:42 pm

Bozo Gulliver earlier this yr decided to pivot towards the Pearl Delta estuary, cutting fat from other places to build muscle here. The collapse in July in the Chinese stock markets had him back-pedalling about becoming big in China.

Now with China in retreat, he’d be a real Bozo to put money into China.

We shareholders had a narrow escape. Thanks to luck rather than good management.

But we will still suffer

FT reports that according to Nomura, less than 10 per cent of HSBC’s came from China proper.

… could be in for a rough ride if the swing in China’s currency is the start of a prolonged devaluation

The most obvious effect of a weaker currency is valuation losses on banks’ loans and trading assets in China, which many have used as a bridgehead in the world’s second-largest economy. A lower currency could also spell trouble for customers in China who have borrowed US dollars or euros but are earning renminbi — the “classic FX mismatch,” in the words of Keith Pogson, senior partner of EY’s Asia-Pacific financial services team.

Western banks also face risks from domestic Chinese counterparts which have borrowed dollars to lend to their own clients. “Asian banks are extremely used to borrowing cheap dollars through interbank markets and then relending it,” said one London-based banker. “In the next couple of years there could be bigger problems if China’s going to carry on devaluing.”

And let’s hope the cash from Brazil will not be squandered by Bozo.


Commentary at

China: No reason to panic/ Think Taiwan

In China on 24/08/2015 at 1:38 pm

Another day, another big fall in China.

The services sector supplanted manufacturing a couple of years ago as the biggest part of China’s economy, and that trend has only accelerated this year. The alarm on Friday stemmed from an unexpected fall in the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for manufacturing sponsored by Caixin, a respected Chinese financial magazine. That gauge has been lilting southward for a while. By contrast, Caixin’s PMI for the services sector jumped to an 11-month high in July.

Taiwan is a place that could be more resilient to the EM gloom says a Fidelty fund mgr. Think high tech exports to the US. Think Apple also.

How US hedgies playing China

In China on 21/08/2015 at 1:38 pm

From NYT Dealbook

CHINA KEEPS INVESTORS GUESSING China continues to enchant Wall Street, despite its tumultuous and uncertain nature, Alexandra Stevenson writes in DealBook. “You could be dead right in the thesis and you won’t make money,” said Troy Gayeski, a senior portfolio manager at SkyBridge Capital, an investment firm that has $9.4 billion invested in hedge funds.

Some of Wall Street’s best-known investors were singing China’s praises at the beginning of the year. As the market soared, many hedge funds rode the bull run, raking in profits and posting double-digit returns.

The markets took a sharp turn in late June, with stocks 30 percent off their highs at one point. By the end of July, the capital devoted to Asia-focused hedge funds had dropped by $10 billion as investors ran for the exits, according to the research firm HFR.

Investors got blindsided by some of the government’s measures to stop the slide, including a ban on “malicious short-selling.” Stuck in limbo, hedge fund managers said they were unsure how they fared in the chaos.

The devaluation of the currency last week raised even more concerns about the economy. Yet China remains attractive for some. And investors ultimately know they cannot ignore China, given its size and influence.

The billionaire hedge fund manager Julian H. Robertson announced last week that he was putting money into Yulan Capital Management, a firm that focuses on companies in the greater China region. CDIB Capital International Corporation, the private equity arm of China Development Financial, recently raised $405 million for a fund focused on private equity in China and other Asian markets.

Wall Street investors are also finding new ways to play the turmoil. Penso Advisors, a hedge fund adviser, scoped out currencies that were affected by the renminbi devaluation in an attempt to profit from the shock waves.

But Chinese markets remain enigmatic, even to those who have seen opportunities in it. “People want to play China, but it’s much harder to play China because you don’t know the rules and they change all the time,” said Ari Bergmann, founder of Penso Advisors, referring to capital controls there.

Ray Dalio, the founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund, the $160 billion Bridgewater Associates, recently tempered his enthusiasm for China. “Even those who haven’t lost money in stocks will be affected psychologically by events, and those effects will have a depressive effect on economic activity,” Bridgewater said in its July note to investors.

Chinese stocks continued their volatility on Wednesday, falling 3 percent in morning trading in Shanghai before finishing the day more than 1 percent higher. The session “made little sense other than to highlight that investors have almost no faith in a monthlong government effort to stabilize them,”according to Reuters.

HoHoHo StanChart goes on a wild sled ride

In Banks, China, Currencies, Temasek on 18/08/2015 at 1:31 pm

FT reports that according to Nomura, half of StanChart’s Asian revenue in the first half of 2015 and less than 10 per cent of HSBC’s came from China proper.

Both “could be in for a rough ride if the swing in China’s currency is the start of a prolonged devaluation

The most obvious effect of a weaker currency is valuation losses on banks’ loans and trading assets in China, which many have used as a bridgehead in the world’s second-largest economy. A lower currency could also spell trouble for customers in China who have borrowed US dollars or euros but are earning renminbi — the “classic FX mismatch,” in the words of Keith Pogson, senior partner of EY’s Asia-Pacific financial services team.”

Western banks also face risks from domestic Chinese counterparts which have borrowed dollars to lend to their own clients. “Asian banks are extremely used to borrowing cheap dollars through interbank markets and then relending it,” said one London-based banker. “In the next couple of years there could be bigger problems if China’s going to carry on devaluing.”

A NEW GLOBAL CURRENCY WAR?/ “Good” news for some

In China, Currencies, Property on 17/08/2015 at 1:10 pm

But the good news for those of us who own Reits and good paying yield stocks is that the Fed may not raises rates in September. Good for those mortgaged to their eyeballs too. But TRE ranters will be upset that the coming collapse S’pore property prices will be again delayed once more. They want their fellow S’poreans to die for supporting the PAP. Ah well hope springs eternal.

China held firm on the value of its money for years, as other countries tried to secure an economic advantage by letting the value of their currencies slide on international markets. Some analysts see its jump into the fray as a new phase in a long-raging global currency war, Peter Eavis writes in DealBook. The plunge paused on Friday, but the renminbi was still down 4.4 percent against the dollar this week, a huge drop for China and the steepest drop since the country’s modern exchange system was set up, Neil Gough reports in The New York Times. The move could leave the United States exposed and undermine efforts to pull the world economy out of the doldrums.

The yen, the euro and several other major currencies have fallen in recent years against the dollar as the Federal Reserve has cut back its stimulus, but the countries that don’t join the devaluations can end up suffering if they export less and import more. A steep drop in the value of the renminbi could also intensify some of the forces that have caused the American economy to underperform.

Analysts also fear the currency tensions could worsen entrenched problems in the global economy, like its reliance on the dollar as a so-called reserve currency. This dependence means that the Fed’s actions can change economic conditions in other countries, and not always for the better.

The Fed now faces a problem. It is considering raising interest ratesfor the first time in more than nine years. A rate increase could drive the dollar up even more aainst other currencies, creating an obstacle to the American economy. It could also make life even harder for countries in the developing world, which could experience capital outflows. Companies in emerging markets that borrowed in dollars would have to spend more of their local currency to pay back their debts.

China, too, would struggle if there was an uncontrolled plunge in the renminbi. Chinese entities have borrowed more than $1.6 trillion in foreign currencies. “A sharp devaluation is not in China’s interest,” said Li-Gang Liu, a China economist at ANZ Research. “That could make corporates very panicky.”

Prolonged turbulence and economic pain may then force world leaders to think hard about whether the international system can be changed, Mr. Eavis writes. The easy money pumped out by the Fed over the last decade helped stoke booms in other countries that became unsustainable. As the Fed has pulled back, the adjustment has been jarring for huge economies, like Brazil and China.

“The system is coming back to bite us in the rear,” said David Beckworth, an associate economics professor at Western Kentucky University. “Maybe this experience teaches us that we are more interconnected than we ever were.”

NYT Dealbook

Great Currency Movement

In China, Currencies on 14/08/2015 at 12:43 pm

From Guardian

Kipper Williams cartoon 13 August 2015

Everyone’s weaker against US$ after yesterday’s RMB devaluation

In China on 12/08/2015 at 1:28 pm

PwC’s less than Noble disclaimer

In Accounting, China, Commodities, Energy on 11/08/2015 at 1:29 pm

FT’s Alphaville drew attention to PwC’s disclaimer: PwC said Noble records profits on long-term sales and marketing deals in a manner consistent with industry practice

So if it turns out that “There may be a fundamental difference between a company following the rules and a company presenting a true picture of its financial position,” (Andrew Fastow, the infamous treasurer of the even more infamous Enron, to a FT conference), PwC is not liable.

No wonder PwC is a “professional services firm” where the oldest profession is prostitution.

Forgotten the issues, here’s Michael Dee’s letter to employees:

He was at the very least right right that their jobs were at stake.”Noble said it was targeting a 16 per cent reduction it its global workforce to just over 1,500 people by the end of the year.” reports the FT.

Noble House plays noble move

In China, Commodities on 05/08/2015 at 1:07 pm

It seemed like shooting fish in a barrel for hedgies. Short Noble during the period when it or senior executives could buy shares. Worked for a bit until the Noble House shafted them well and trul: shorts have to be covered as the price shoots up two days in a row.

Noble came out on Monday to say it
— had received proposals for “potential financings, and strategic and/or investment options”;
— has ample cash and liquidity to meet its obligations and operate its busines It can fund the US$735 million bond redemption due Aug 4, and will still have readily available cash of well over US$1 billion. It also said it has US$15 billion in bank lines.); and
— would bring forward the publication of its second-quarter results and the report by PwC on its accounting practices to Aug 10.

This super long holiday weekend will allow the hedgies to drown their sorrows.

S’pore’s casinos: 8th, 9th globally/ Sands S’pore beats Sands Macau

In Casinos, China, Malaysia on 01/08/2015 at 5:09 pm



Biggest Macau casinos don’t have US parents: they have strong local connections. 

HSBC and karma

In Banks, China on 31/07/2015 at 12:51 pm
When I read in FT “Corporate giants sound profits alarm over China slowdown”, I tot of Gulliver’s plans to expand in the Canton region

HSBC needs a new CEO.

But maybe after that glorious era of three great executive chairmen Sandberg, Purvis and Bond, we got to go thru Greens and Gulliver. That gut in between  the two G’s wasn’t too bad.

Which reminded me of this from NYT’s Dealbook:

WHY BARCLAYS C.E.O. WAS OUSTED In his three years as chief executive of Barclays, Antony Jenkins worked to change the bank’s culture to make it more risk-averse and to improve the bank’s capital, but that wasn’t enough for the bank’s directors, Chad Bray writes in DealBook. John McFarlane, the Barclays chairman, noted on Wednesday that the stock price was still around the same level it was six years ago and that the company’s dividend remained flat. Management’s plans to reward shareholders were “too far out in the future,” he said. Mr. Jenkins also differed with Thomas King, the head of the investment banking business, over the unit’s strategic direction, people with knowledge of the discussions told Mr. Bray.


Playing the market, the Chinese way

In China on 30/07/2015 at 1:06 pm

Shanghai stock board

Where Green is Red.

Green is bad news: prices are falling. Red means prices are rising

And thaz not all. Analysis by NYT Dealbook

CHINESE INVESTORS QUESTION THEIR MATERIAL WORLD Cheered on by relatives, co-workers and rapturous headlines in the state-run news media, ordinary investors in China have helped stoke a remarkable rally over the last year, Javier C. Hernández reports in DealBook. With easy access to loans for trading, individual investors opened more than 38 million stock accounts in the second quarter, compared with nine million in all of 2014.

China’s saving rate may be among the highest in the world, but many Chinese also believe passionately in the power of luck. The intense interest in the stock market partly grew out of widespread social gambling. Many investors entered the market with lofty dreams of an exotic vacation or a new home.

The recent volatility in stock markets has unsettled these investors as they grapple not just with the financial toll, but also the loss of the emotional rush, especially as some saw the stock market as a way to define their worth. It seems in some cases, the people doing well out of the wild market movements are counselors and doctors helping sufferers of gupiao jiaolü zheng, or “stock market anxiety syndrome,” Mr. Hernández and Vanessa Piao report in the Sinosphere blog.

One psychologist notes that counseling sessions for couples had turned remarkably civil as husbands and wives found a common enemy in the market.

HoHoHo, it was a good idea until June

In China, Temasek on 27/07/2015 at 1:52 pm

In mid June I wrote this

Temasek was part of a consortium that funded the delisting of Focus Media from the stock market in the US, and relist in China.

Focus Media Holding’s plan to float shares inside China suffered a setback in late June,

Zhu Dehong, the chairman of Jiangsu Hongda New Material, the shell company Focus Media plans to use for its backdoor listing in Shenzhen, resigned for “personal reasons,” the rubber maker said in a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange Tuesday.

Mr. Zhu’s resignation comes a week after Hongda said regulators wereinvestigating the company and Mr. Zhu for allegedly violating Chinese securities laws. Hongda gave no details on whether these investigations were linked Focus Media’s plan to return to its home turf through what is known as a reverse merger. WSJ

Then the collapse of the Chinese stock markets led the authorities to, among other things, suspend new issues of shares.

HoHoHo. There’s many a sliptwixt the cup and the lip.

Propping markets, the Chinese way

In China on 23/07/2015 at 1:19 pm

Chart: Beijing's battle to prop up the stock market

Would Sun Tzu approve?

Related post:

China crash: hedgies’ winners, losers

In China on 22/07/2015 at 2:11 pm

Asian hedge funds’ 13-month winning streak came to an end in June.

Some of the region’s savviest investors such as Pine River Capital Management’s Dan Li and former Highbridge Capital Management Asia head Carl Huttenlocher were hit as a correction in Chinese equities spread to Hong Kong. The Eurekahedge Asian Hedge Fund Index slipped 1.3 percent last month, the first loss since April 2014, with 62 percent of the funds having reported …

Among the minority that made money in June was Owl Creek Asset Management’s $600 million Asia fund, which gained 2.9 percent, helped by long-short China investments, said a person with knowledge of the matter. The fund focused on corporate events such as mergers and led by Jeff Altman, returned 16 percent in the first half.

Nine Masts Capital, a Hong Kong-based fund expected to have more than $750 million of assets at the beginning of August, returned 0.6 percent in June for an 11.2 percent gain in the first half, according to updates sent to investors and seen by Bloomberg News.

The fund, run by former Deustche Bank AG’s Saba proprietary traders Wang Bing and Ron Schachter with co-founder James Tu, seeks to profit from pricing gaps between different securities including equity and credit sold by the same companies. It added another estimated 2.6 percent this month through July 10.

China: Can cheong again? Bear mkt trap?

In China on 11/07/2015 at 4:43 am

Thursday’s and Fridays’ “rebound” in Chinese shares means nothing. Prohibiting selling, forcing buying, and halting more that half of counters from trading can work wonders: for a time.

Here’s some interesting stuff from Thurday’s NYT’s Dealbook

Chinese stock markets halted their slump on Thursday, with the main Shanghai index closing 5.8 percent higher and the Shenzhen market gaining 3.8 percent. “But even as shares rose, there were warnings that mainland markets have further to fall,” Paul Mozur writes in The New York Times, citing high valuations of small companies. Also, as David Barboza of The New York Times notes, at least a third of the companies listed on the major stock exchanges in China have had trading in their shares suspended as of Wednesday.

Though both major exchanges are down 30 percent to 40 percent in six weeks, they are still about 75 percent higher compared with a year earlier, Mr. Barboza writes. The Chinese government would do well to remember that “the stock market is not the economy, and the economy is not the stock market,” Neil Irwin writes in The Upshot. All of the government’s efforts to prop up the stock markets are misguided, Mr. Irwin contends, because officials are ignoring evidence that Chinese stocks wereovervalued at their mid-June levels, skyrocketing in the preceding year “without much fundamental improvement in earnings or growth in the Chinese economy to justify it.” He adds: “When a government intervenes to try to prevent markets from adjusting to sensible levels, it can meanpouring money down a sinkhole and merely delaying an inevitable correction.”

China’s mkt in revulsion stage?

In China, Financial competency on 09/07/2015 at 1:02 pm

Platers are so -sick that they sell despite whatever the CCP is ordering, doing?

THE great Charles Kindleberger described the pattern of how bubbles form and then burst in his book “Manias, Panics and Crashes”. His model, which was linked to the work of the economist Hyman Minsky, saw the process as having five stages: displacement, boom, over-trading, revulsion and tranquillity. China looks like it is following the model pretty closely, having reached stage four already. The Shanghai Composite rose 130% between September 2014 and June 12 this year and has fallen 31% since then, with another 6% decline today [yesterday].

Ewcovwewd a bit today


China: 4 weeks, 2 blunders

In China, Uncategorized on 08/07/2015 at 1:36 pm





Chart lifted from FT.

Peanuts: China’s US$19bn stabilisation fund

In China, Financial competency on 07/07/2015 at 12:56 pm

Reports said that about 25% of Chinese listed firms had requested to have their shares halted from trading on Tuesday.

The U$19 billion stabilisation fund looks tiny next to the US$3 trillion worth of freely tradeable shares, and the combined average daily trading in Shanghai and Shenzhen of over US$200 billion. Only 9% of the latter.

From NYT Dealbook

CHINESE MARKET PLUNGE POSES A DOUBLE THREAT In China, a stock market rout has racked up losses that make the Greek debt crisis look puny by comparison: $2.7 trillion in value has been wiped out since the Chinese stock market peaked on June 12, which is six times Greece’s entire foreign debt, or 11 years of Greece’s economic output, Keith Bradsher and Chris Buckley write in The New York Times. The steep drop in the mainland markets not only challenges the Chinese government’s efforts to cast itself as an all-powerful entity, they write, but it also poses a risk to the global economy, which can ill afford an economic shock in China.

Harry Harding, a specialist in Chinese politics who is a visiting professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the stock market plunge could produce three successive ripples, involving investment losses for households, slower economic growth and a political backlash against President Xi Jinping of China and his team, Mr. Bradsher and Mr. Buckley write.

Over the weekend, Mr. Xi’s administration made it clear it would do whatever it took to stem the stock market losses. On Saturday, 21 brokerage firms said they would set up a fund worth at least $19.4 billion to buy blue-chip stocks, and both of the country’s stock exchanges suspended all new initial public offerings. Then on Sunday, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said the central bank would inject capital into the state-controlled China Securities Finance Corporation, which lends to brokerage firms, and Central Huijin Investment, a company owned by the country’s sovereign wealth fund, said it had recently bought into investment funds traded on the stock exchanges. The measures appeared to have their desired effect on Monday. The Shanghai stock market jumped 7.8 percent at the start of trading, but it quickly erased much of its gains, closing 2.4 percent higher.

HSBC’s 1979 gift keeps paying for itself

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Uncategorized on 01/07/2015 at 1:33 pm

Li ka-shing accounted for 70% of HSBC’s global M&A advisory work in 2015 according to the FT.

HSBC sold him its stake in Hutchison Whampoa at a very special “For you only” price in 1979. This gave him face and showed that HSBC was aligning itself with the Chinese tycoons not the ang moh houses like Jardines. The then Oz CEO of Hutch said he could have gotten a better price for the stake. He was told by HSBC to mind his own business because he was an employee. HSBC had hired him to turn round Hutch which he.

Long term greed.

Shareholders need to find a new Sandberg and Purvis combination, with John Bond assisting. We know the damage (think sub-prime and Safra) that Bond can do when not supervised by adults. But I’m to harsh. During his tenure, HSBC had a one-for-one bonus and the ex-bonus share price almost reached the cum price. And there was a deeply discounted share issue to pay for the losses in the US.

But at the very least we need a  home-grown John Cryan*. Off with Gulliver’s head.

Gulliver sucks, like Anshu Jain and has to go. Capital markets investment bankers are not usually rational, cold and deep thinkers

As Lex rightly pointed out a few weeks ago, Hongkong Bank is trying to cut fat and grow muscle. Us sporty fatties know that this is real hard work and often fails. Taz why we are still fatties. Gulliver failed to trim fat and is lousy at PR (When Blatter said he couldn’t be expected to know everything at FIFA, I tot of Gulliver’s remarks on managing HSBC.). And now he wants to cut fat and grow muscle?

Failed in cutting costs and now wants to do something even hardEer? Pigs are likely to fly first. Or i’ll lose some serious fat and put some muscle.

He’d likely cut muscle and grow fat. Maybe expansion into the industrial heartland that is the Pearl Delta estuary isn’t the greatest idea? “Poll shows 25% of foreign businesses plan China job cuts,” is the top FT headline on my PC screen.


*And if there’s no-one homegrown do what the Germans did, go find someone and put the chap in charge of the board’s audit committee. Great hands-on experience and sreep learning curve.

I always believe that in most cases there is always someone inhouse in a company with a strong corporate culture who can do the CEO’s job: the problem is finding the guy and the board having the balls to appoint the “unknown”.

S’pore not part of Apple’s ecosystem

In China, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam on 29/06/2015 at 12:04 pm

Neither is M’sia or SE Asia. It’s Northern Asia. I blogged yonks ago that we are part of the Microsoft ecosystem.

Apple iPhone component suppliers

PRCs spend more here than in HK

In Casinos, China, Economy, Hong Kong, Tourism on 27/06/2015 at 4:30 am


Investing, the Chinese way

In China, Financial competency on 24/06/2015 at 2:18 pm

Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” is widely read as a manual of how to win victories without fighting*.

There is no equivalent of a Chinese “The Art of Investing”.

But here are two precepts that the FT has gleaned from throwing fortune sticks:

The motto of mainland investors has long been that he who does not believe in the greater fool theory is the greatest fool.

High valuations will make it easier and cheaper to recapitalise state-owned groups, hence a reason why the Chinese authorities seem pretty relaxed about stroking an equity bubble.

“We think it would be premature to call an end to this rally, given the importance of the stock market to helping China’s state-owned enterprises and key industries obtain much-needed financing, and the likelihood of more monetary easing,” HSBC also says.


*Edward Luttwak (he would have been a strategist during the period of the Three Kingdoms or the Warring States) wrote a book on Chinese strategy, and pointed out waz wrong with Sun Tzu’s precepts.

Coming in for criticism by name is Sun Tzu, whose writings of 2,500 years ago, including “The Art of War“, are the main source of what Mr Luttwak calls “the flawed principles of ancient unwisdom”. He grants that the cunning statecraft, stratagems for deception and diplomatic finesse advocated by Sun Tzu may have worked when used by one warring Chinese state against another. But he argues that these doctrines have served China poorly in fending off other adversaries.

With a quick pass through the history of China’s engagement with Jurchens, Khitans, Mongols, Manchus and other Asiatic nomads, he notes that China has been ruled by Hans, its ethnic majority, for only about a third of the past millennium. “While Han generals in charge of large armies were busy quoting Sun Tzu to each other, relatively small numbers of mounted warriors schooled in the rudely effective strategy and tactics of the steppe outmanoeuvred and defeated their forces,” he writes.

The bit about being thrashed regularly by the nomads is a fact, not a Hard Truth.

Yellow peril horde avoided

In China, Emerging markets, ETFs, Financial competency, Financial planning, Uncategorized on 18/06/2015 at 3:37 pm

These charts from FT tell in charts what the NYT Dealbook describes in words below:



CHINA MOVES CLOSER TO INCLUSION IN MSCI INDEX Though MSCI decided on Tuesday that it would hold off on adding Chinese domestic shares to its emerging market index, China is moving closer to joining the global benchmark, Neil Gough writes in DealBook. In its decision, the index company cited concerns over China’s cumbersome investment quotas, restrictions on money flows, and questions over the legal status of foreign shareholders. But MSCI said that in the coming months it would work with China’s main securities regulator to address the company’s concerns and that it may make a special decision to include Chinese stocks, also known as A-shares, in its benchmarks before the next scheduled annual review, which takes place a year from now. “It is clear from MSCI’s announcement today that it is only a matter of time before A-shares are added to global indexes,” Louis Lu, a portfolio manager at CSOP Asset Management, which invests in mainland shares, said in an email.

“The decision – and the waiting period – reflects the changing face of China’s financial system,” Mr. Gough writes. Over the last two years, the country has embarked on a series of overhauls to the financial system, but foreigners remain wary because they continue to face challenges in gaining access to the Chinese markets. Mr. Lu said that the delay by MSCI is likely to motivate the Chinese government to “accelerate the opening of its capital markets and provide greater accessibility to international investors in the near term to increase the chance of inclusion as soon as possible.” If China can assuage MSCI’s concerns, analysts estimate that the country is likely to see several billion dollars of new investment pour in initially, with that figure rising to more than $200 billion over time.

Ho got this one right

In China, Temasek on 15/06/2015 at 1:14 pm

It was reported earlet that one of the funders of the US delisting was Temasek.

CARLYLE-BACKED COMPANY REACHES $7.4 BILLION DEAL FOR CHINA LISTING Focus Media, a Shanghai advertising company that was delisted from the Nasdaq two years ago after being targeted by the short seller Muddy Waters, on Wednesday reached a $7.4 billion deal to list on the Shenzhen stock exchange, Neil Gough writes in DealBook. Focus is returning to the market through a so-called backdoor listing, in which its main assets are sold to a company already listed in Shenzhen in exchange for shares that represent a controlling stake in the listed company. On Wednesday, Jiangsu Hongda New Material, a Shenzhen-listed manufacturer of silicone rubber products, said it would pay 45.7 billion renminbi, or $7.4 billion, mostly by issuing new stock, to acquire control of Focus.

In 2011, Focus Media was still listed on the Nasdaq when Muddy Waters accused it of overstating the number of screens in its LCD advertising network by about 50 percent, allegations that Focus Media denied. In 2013, the company was acquired and taken private by its chairman and a group of Chinese and foreign private firms that included the Carlyle Group, at a valuation of $3.7 billion.

NYT Dealbook

Smartphone way of short-listing 300 from 33,000 job applicants

In China on 13/06/2015 at 5:14 am

An ang moh company wanted to recruit people from the less elite unis in China. This is what it did

This year, the 33,000 applicants for the 70 places on the company’s Chinese graduate recruitment scheme have been asked to save themselves the paper, the printer ink and the pain.

Instead, they were asked to answer three simple questions via their smartphones.

HSBC: Desperately seeking home-grown John Cryan

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Emerging markets, Hong Kong on 11/06/2015 at 10:19 am

As a long suffering Hongkong Bank shareholder (But to be fair, I was there when John Bond called a bonus issue and the share price post bonus issue almost reached the pre bonus share price and I was there when the bank called for a massive deeply discounted during the crisis rights issue), who is the inhouse John Cryan*?

John Cryan the incoming UBS boss is rational, cold, deep thinker and no show-off(NYT Dealbook).

Hongkong Bank needs a rational, cold, deep thinker who is not accident-prone.

Gulliver sucks, like Anshu Jain and has to go. Capital markets investment bankers are not usually rational, cold and deep thinkers

As Lex rightly points out, Hongkong Bank is trying to cut fat and grow muscle. Us sporty fatties know that this is real hard work and often fails. Taz why we are still fatties. Gulliver failed to trim fat and is lousy at PR (When Blatter said he couldn’t be expected to know everything at FIFA, I tot of Gulliver’s remarks on managing HSBC.). And now he wants to cut fat and grow muscle?

Failed in cutting costs and now wants to do something EVEN hardER? Pigs are likely to fly first.

He’d likely cut muscle and grow fat. Maybe expansion into the industrial heartland that is the Pearl Delta estuary isn’t the greatest idea? “Poll shows 25% of foreign businesses plan China job cuts,” is the top FT headline on my PC screen.


*And if there’s no-one homegrown do what the Germans did, go find someone and put the chap in charge of the board’s audit committee. Great hands-on experience and sreep learning curve.

I always believe that in most cases there is always someone inhouse in a company with a strong corporate culture who can do the CEO’s job: the problem is finding the guy and the board having the balls to appoint the “unknown”.

HSBC should return to its roots

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Hong Kong on 09/06/2015 at 1:28 pm

No not as a narco-bank for the modern day equvalent of the Jardines, Mathesons and Sassons who were the drug barons of the early 19th century smuggling opium into China

It should remember that the HS stands for Hongkong and Shanghai and that it was once known as Hongkong Bank (when it was kicked out of China)

HSBC should focus on its jewel in the East

Here’s a good idea that (almost certainly) will not be announced by HSBC at its big strategy day on Tuesday: split the bank in two, and let only the Asian business base itself in Hong Kong.

UBS analyst John-Paul Crutchley is the author of the inspired demerger idea, which starts by arguing that “taking the accumulated baggage of the last three decades home may not be the best course of action”.

Baggage may seem a harsh description of the non-Asian parts of HSBC, including its UK retail banking operation, but Crutchley reckons the Hong Kong Asia-Pacific bank accounts for 80% of HSBC’s market valuation while deploying less than half the equity. It is the jewel. Indeed, the analyst reckons HSBC’s share price could be twice the current 619p if the group had decided in the 1980s to stick with its Asian franchise and not pursue all the deals and acquisitions elsewhere.

That observation illustrates the fact that HSBC management’s head-scratching over where to base the bank is something of a sideshow. Dodging the full impact of the UK bank levy by redomiciling the whole shebang to Hong Kong might save $1bn a year. But, even if one assumes such a saving is worth $12bn in today’s money, that’s only the equivalent of 44p on the share price. The bigger question is: what’s the best way to manage this vast sprawling group?

A demerger is not a cure-all but it would deliver a few advantages. The Hong Kong end could concentrate on combating increased competition from Chinese banks. Rump HSBC could be more vigorous in allocating capital to the parts of the business generating better returns. And, since regulators are piling heavier capital and compliance costs on very big global banks, both bits might benefit from being part of smaller organisations.

It’s an idea HSBC is highly unlikely to adopt. But a dose of bold thinking is arguably exactly what it needs to awaken a slumbering share price. Flogging the Brazilian and Turkish operations – Tuesday’s likely highlights – probably won’t be enough to excite shareholders.

From Guardian

S’poreans hanna do NS for China: Ho Ho Ho

In Banks, China, Temasek on 18/05/2015 at 2:05 pm

We (or rather Temask but then even Ho Ching has said Temasek’s money is our money, something Roy and his fellow cybernuts pretend she never said) have a big bet on Chinese banks.

And recently I reported some bad news:

More bad news:

Chinese policymakers have ordered banks to keep lending to local government projects under construction, in a sign of concern that a crackdown on shadow financing has reduced municipalities’ spending and is hurting the economy.

Financial institutions which signed legally binding contracts before the end of 2014 to loan to money to construction projects backed by local government financing vehicles (LGFVs) must not stop lending or reduce the loan size, a document posted on the State Council website Friday said.

“It is necessary to support the financing needs of LGFV projects under construction and ensure an orderly continuation,” the regulators said in the document.

“This will help meet reasonable funding demand of the real economy, as well as effectively prevent and resolve fiscal and financial risk.”

Noble: Why I’m not tempted

In Accounting, China, Commodities, Corporate governance on 14/05/2015 at 1:31 pm

Many of Noble’s operations and investments are exposed to the slowdown in China.

And the Chinese economy is still slowing. And the engine of growth is no longer exports or infrastructure spending  or construction. It’s the service sector.

Maybe when I hear that Noble is starting to shipping Pinoy gals to China as wives for barren branches, will I buy the stock.

LKY: Hegemon’s pet?/ How China treats a really old friend?

In Banks, China on 13/05/2015 at 4:20 am

This is what his pal, Henry Kissinger (US Secretary of State, National Security Adviser) said in tribute to LKY: “His theme was the indispensable U.S. contribution to the defense and growth of a peaceful world.”

Doesn’t the Kissinger comment sound like a pat on the head for the US’s pet? Remember, even a “weak” president like Obama believes that the US is the world’s “indispensable power”.

And even LKY’s own words show that he can sound like a cheer leader for the US: that the US really won the Vietnam war. The Economist recently wrote:

After the [Vietnam] war, the region boomed. American intervention in Vietnam no longer looked such an unmitigated disaster. Lee Kuan Yew portrayed it almost as a triumph: without it, South-East Asia would probably have fallen to the communists. America bought the region time and, by 1975, its countries were “in better shape” to stand up to them. The prosperous emerging-market economies they have become “were nurtured during the Vietnam war years”.

No wonder the US delegation was led by an ex-US president while China sent an unranked portlibtro member, showing how important LKY was to China and the respect it accorded him

If you want to see how China treats ‘lau peng youu”, think about this.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority says that it “takes a positive attitude should HSBC consider relocating its headquarters back to Hong Kong”, where it is the largest bank. HK is willing to be lender-of-last-resort to HSBC a bank with US$2,6 trillion in assets, despite HSBC being almost 9 times bigger than HK’s GDP.(More background:

To do such a thing Peking must have given its chop.

This reminded me that many years ago I read “Wayfoong” (The Chinese name for Hongkong Bank and the title of a book on HSBC’s 100 yrs of existence: this yr it’s 150). A fair chunk of the book (which interesting I borrowed from a public library in Sydney) was devoted on how it was a good friend of China in the late 19th century and early 20th century: it raised foreign loans for building the railway system and stabilising the currency. I tot, “What a lot of bull. Hongkong Bank was an exploiter of China and the Chinese. It was founded to finance the opium trade.

Well we know that the CCP has a long memory and an even longer grievance lis: witness Japan.

At least to me now the book is more believable than what the PAP and LKY said about his ties with the Chinese leaders.



Temasek: If only chose Apple, not StanChart

In Banks, China, Temasek on 04/05/2015 at 1:48 pm

The big concentration on financials is to play the rising Asian middle class theme. A lot of the exposure goes into China banks (not looking good going forward) and StanChart.

Err should have juz bot Apple leh? Look at its price since 2005 when Jobs returned Ho Ching became CEO of Temasek in 2004, and Temasek started buying StanChart in 2006. She should have bot Apple.

Here’s why based on her thinking of riding the expansion of the Asian middle class (Not Italic bits below are my tots, snide comments).

What do two big American and European multinational corporations have in common? Not much on the surface when comparing consumer giant Apple to the FTSE-listed Standard Chartered bank.

However, both have been significantly affected by emerging markets in their first-quarter earnings. And how they’ve been affected is revealing of the way emerging economies have matured, particularly in Asia.

The emerging markets-focused bank, Standard Chartered, reported a big fall in pre-tax profits of more than one-fifth in the first quarter (22% to $1.47bn) as revenues fell by 4% and costs rose by 1%.

By contrast, Apple had a strong quarter where revenues rose by 27% to $58bn, driven by a 40% increase in sales of iPhones. More than 61 million were sold globally, and notably, the biggest market was China for the first time and no longer the US. [Demand from China’s middle classes, iPhone sales leapt 40% to 61.2m units.]

But iPad sales fell sharply by 29%, reflecting a weak spot in their figures. [Apple fixing this introducing new model for Jap aging market. If works in Jap, another big global winner.]

So, it’s a really tale of two emerging markets. [Ho, Ho, Ho]

One side of emerging economies is a concern over their slowdown in growth, which raises risks over loan repayments, not just in Asia but also commodity exporters in Africa and the Middle East.

These are Standard Chartered’s key markets. Indeed, Standard Chartered took a $476m charge on bad loans, which is 80% higher than the first quarter of last year, although loan impairments were lower than in the previous six months.

[Ho, Ho, Ho]

However, there’s also the consumer side of emerging markets to consider.

For Apple, China’s rapidly growing middle class generated an impressive 72% increase in sales of iPhones. And Greater China has even overtaken Europe to become Apple’s second largest market for the first time with revenues rising by 71% in that region to $16.8bn, which accounts for much of Apple’s strong performance. Net profit was a third higher at $13.6bn for the quarter.

So, as emerging markets, particularly in Asia, become middle income countries, companies that sell to those emerging consumers are well-positioned to benefit.

But the period of rapid economic growth, particularly via debt-heavy investment, of key emerging markets is seemingly over. And companies, particularly banks, are liable to struggle as those economies restructure toward being increasingly driven by consumption.

[Ho Ho Ho: so waz Temasek doing to get into the consumption plays? Olam? Asians eating more peanuts?]

My serious point that by focusing so much on financial services (30% of portfolio and not on consumer plays (outside of the Telecoms, Media & Technology sector: 24%), Temasek has for the last few years been betting on a three-legged horse. Other consumer plays are only a subset of Life Sciences, Consumer & Real Estate: 14%)

Temasek’s China banks: Strong headwinds

In Banks, China, Temasek on 03/05/2015 at 4:36 am

Temasek has stakes in three of the five major Chinese banks. See details here

An FT working for Reuters recently wrote

The biggest five banks reported a miserable sub-2 percent increase in earnings for the quarter, year on year. Two rate cuts have pressured their lending rates, and fees from other lines of business have slowed. A bigger drag is borrowers who can’t or won’t pay up. While bad debt levels are still low, charges for credit that hasn’t yet gone bad but might are leaping. These items increased by 73 percent year on year at China Minsheng Bank, and more than 50 percent at Agricultural Bank and Industrial Bank of China.

The valuations of big banks like ICBC, China Construction Bank and Bank of China are also burdened by the lenders’ role in big government schemes that are still not properly sketched out. Take the plan to reform local government finances by swapping some of the estimated 16 trillion yuan ($2.6 trillion) borrowed by regional authorities into new bonds. The new securities could leave banks holding the same credit risk in a different form, at deceptively low rates of interest.

China’s ambitions for global greatness also raises questions. Plans to roll out infrastructure under the clunkily named “one belt, one road” strategy are likely to involve hefty lending commitments. That may bring glory, but also pressure on banks to lend to projects that may take years to generate cash flows. In the meantime, if growth slows more at home, further rate cuts will add pressure to lenders’ margins.

Below is a Q&A from reported on Temasek’s website. It was asked, last yr,  at a media conference on Temasek’s 2014 Review

QUESTION: Can you confirm if the Chinese banks are the major drag on your relative underperformance last year and then what are your views and plans for them? Thanks.

WYB: The banking stock has been volatile. I would not say the Chinese banks are the major drag on our performance. They do fluctuate from time to time. Chinese economy – we remain very optimistic over the long term. The financial institutions we believe have ample capability to weather the current storm and be able to adjust to the risks they’re facing. So, we remain comfortable with our stakes and we will continue to invest in the financial institutions because they are good proxy for the long term growth for Chinese economy.

RS: If I could just add to that, as you would have seen in our presentation, we had mentioned that about half our portfolio consists of listed stocks in Singapore and stocks that are listed on the H-share in Hong Kong and you saw even the Straits Times Index over the last year had negative returns, so it was not any one set of stocks, it’s just that some of the areas that we had invested in had weak market performance. And again, you know, these are results as of a particular date, March 31st. You mentioned the Chinese banks. Since March 31st, they rebounded by 10 to 12% or even if you look at the Straits Times Index, that’s up about 4%. So, you know, we really look at long term returns and look at investments over the long term horizon and are fairly comfortable with short term market volatility.

Govt sees StanChart as risky?/ LKY’s 30-year investments revisited

In China, Hong Kong, Temasek on 28/04/2015 at 4:42 am

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority says that it “takes a positive attitude should HSBC consider relocating its headquarters back to Hong Kong”, where it is the largest bank.

HSBC WEIGHS MOVE FROM LONDON HSBC was established in Hong Kong 150 years ago and moved its headquarters to London in 1993. Now it is considering a return trip. Citing changes in regulation, HSBC says it will study whether to relocate its headquarters out of London, reports Chad Bray in DealBook.

A big part of the issue is Britain’s bank levy, which was instituted in 2010 to help pay for the government’s financial crisis bailouts. While all banks operating in Britain pay the tax, Mr. Bray writes that “The levy hits British-based banks particularly hard, however, as they are taxed on their global balance sheets.” HSBC’s announcement could become a political issue as Britain nears a general election on May 7.

(NYT’s Dealbook)

Hongkong Bank is a HK quitter. It moved to UK in 1993, juz before PRC regained HK in 1997. But all is forgiven.

Both HK have S’pore have similar sized economies (about US$300bn in GDP).

HK is willing to be lender-of-last-resort to HSBC a bank with US$2,6 trillion in assets, despite HSBC being almost 9 times bigger than HK’s GDP.

Yet the S’pore authorities, it’s clear from hints in the FT, are unwilling to have StanChart HQed here (only 1.1 trillion in assets), despite Temasek being the largest single shareholder (which will benefit from reduced tax: HSBC shares were up 6% in HK yesterday), and despite many of StanChart’s operations being run from here.

The PAP administration is afraid of another of Temasek’s investments blowing up? After all StanChart is not as safe as our local banks:

It also has weaker capital ratios than HSBC and the big US banks. So weak that the new CEO is expected to call for yet another massive rights issue.

Remember LKY and his bank investments that are forever? OK 30 yrs leh) Even longer than Buffett’s investments, he once said

In 2007/2008, our SWFs’ bot into UBS (GIC), Citi (GIC) and Merrill Lynch (Temasek) in a big way that ST characterised then as showing S’pore was a tua kee investor.

We lost serious money in two of the 30-yr investments by 2009.

— Estimate of Temasek’s realised losses on ML and Barclays:

— Estimate of GIC’s loss on UBS as at 2011:

(BTW, Temasek’s 2012 purchase of Credit Suisse mandatory bonds:




Temasek bidding for China’s POSB?

In Banks, China, Temasek on 27/04/2015 at 11:33 am

Bidders Seen for Stake in Postal Savings Bank of China UBS, BNP Paribas and Temasek of Singapore are said to be among the preliminary bidders seeking to buy 10 percent of Postal Savings Bank of China ahead of an expected initial public offering next year that could raise $25 billion.

NYT Dealbook

More CGT BS? Swiss Standard? What Swiss standard?

In China, India, Malaysia on 25/04/2015 at 5:19 am

Switzerland has been ranked the happiest country in world.

Singapore is ranked 24th But is tops in Asean and region. Thailand is placed at 34, Taiwan (38), Japan (46), South Korea (47), Malaysia (61), Hong Kong (72), Indonesia (74) and PinoyLand (90).  China and India are found lower down the scale at 84 and 117 respectively

Wanted: PRC princeling to be SGX’s CEO

In China, Hong Kong on 17/04/2015 at 12:39 pm

The Singapore Exchange (SGX), Bank of China (BOC) and BOC International (BOCI) are extending their collaboration on renminbi (RMB) initiatives and joint marketing initiatives. (CNA today)

And yesterday SGX denied “market rumours” in news reports that it will establish a stock trading link along the lines of the Shanghai-Hong Kong Stock Connect.

What this tells us is that SGX (and S’pore: Remember who PRC sent to LKY’s funeral: an unranked politburo member; this despite LKY’s and the PAP administration’s self-serving claims that he had great personal ties with the last two presidents. None of them turned up did they?) doesn’t have any serious China connections.

So SGX should make it a priority that its next CEO has the best possible China connections. As US banks are now wary of employing princelings (could run foul of US anti-corruption laws) with the right connections, SGX should have an easier time finding one with the right connections.

SGG has a lame duck ang mog FT  CEO, an Indian FT as president and Indon FT as head techie. (By the way all these are people where the “T” stands for “Trash”.) Why didn’t it even try to get a PRC FT? Taz how screwed up SGX is.

Why such a trading link is so impt:

A stock trading link with China will make it easier for Chinese investors to buy Singapore-listed shares.

The Hong Kong-Shanghai Stock Connect got off to a slow start when it was launched late last year. In recent weeks though, a surge of investments from mainland China has propelled Hong Kong stocks, including those of many smaller-cap firms, to multi-year highs. (CNA)


Ho Ching has a problem; so have our local banks

In Banks, China, Temasek on 09/04/2015 at 6:54 am

As readers will know Ho Ching has big markers on StanChart and Chinese banks.

Once regarded as a proxy for the growth of Asian markets in commodity-rich nations like Indonesia, StanChart has today become a victim of the reversal of fortune suffered by many emerging markets and their heavily indebted corporate borrowers …

Much of the lending to Asia outside of China assumed the region would grow on the back of insatiable demand from China. Much of the lending to China itself was based on that same expectation. That faulty thinking was then compounded by assuming that the value of the Chinese property used to back the loans would also continue to rise. But local banks in China, such as Agricultural Bank of China, are beginning to report that their bad loans have doubled — although officially they remain under 3 per cent. (Excerpt from recent FT article)

Ho Ho HO.

But it’s our problem too now that Tharman is now using projected long term returns from Temasek to spend our money on ourselves. Cybernuts might want to note that their heloo, Ong Teng Cheong, wanted to lock-up all the returns from the reserves (more LKY and Dr Goh). It was Ah Loong that fought him. Ah loong is the real people’s hero. if Ong had his way, we’d be pressing our noses on the iron bars guarding our reserves: Money, money everywhere/ Not a cent to spend/ Give thanks to Ong Teng Cheong

But the pix’s not that great for our local banks either: what with DBS’s exposure to Greater China and Indonesia, OCBC’s exposure to Greater China, and UOB’s and OCBC’s exposure to M’sia. Btw, OCBC has FTs as its Chairman and CEO, while DBS and UOB have true blue S’porans (Yes, I’m counting Gupta as a local. He’s a real talent.)

And if property prices tank here …

China evacuates S’poreans from Aden

In China on 04/04/2015 at 5:10 pm

Not seen any report on this from CNA etc.

China’s navy has evacuated 225 foreign nationals and almost 600 Chinese citizens from Yemen’s southern port of Aden, amid fierce fighting there.


Chinese naval frigates were carrying out anti-piracy patrols off the coast of Somalia when they were diverted to Yemen to evacuate people trapped by the fighting.

The evacuees were taken by naval frigates across the Red Sea to Djibouti, to take flights home.

The non-Chinese evacuees included 176 people from Pakistan, said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying. There were smaller numbers from other countries, including Ethiopia, Singapore, the UK, Italy and Germany.

Ms Hua said it was the first time China had helped evacuate foreign citizens – and only the second time that China has used warships to evacuate its own citizens from a conflict zone, says the BBC’s Martin Patience in Beijing.

Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli has sought Oman’s assistance, should it be necessary, to assist Singaporeans leaving Yemen. (CNA on Friday)

World class banks, “peanuts” salaries

In China, Corporate governance, Temasek on 03/04/2015 at 5:00 am

China banks’ CEOs are monkeys? Temasek has significant stakes in three of them.



Exhibits from FT


Lex chinese banks

A hint of China’s real view of LKY?

In China on 29/03/2015 at 5:09 am

One of the self-serving narratives of LKY and the PAP administration is that LKY had good, long-standing personal relations with Chinese leaders. They were “old friends”.

Well then, how come it seems that China’s leaders are not giving that much face to LKY (and S’pore) by only standing Vice-President Li Yuanchao?

True, he holds the second highest state post. But in the Chinese hierarchy of power, the CCP is more important than the state or government. It is even above the law. The standing committee of the politburo of the CCP is at the apex, with the secretary-general (and state president) Xi Jinping, right at the top.

Li Keqiang (also the PM) is the next highest ranking official on the standing committee. There are five other members.

The VP that is coming is not even in the standing committee of the politburo (as other VPs have been in the past) though he is somewhere in the 25 politburo (25 members).

If China wanted to give LKY (and S’pore face), it would surely would have sent the PM or any other less senior standing committee member. If Xi had come himself, it would be very serious face for LKY and S’pore, but even the ST in an article had conceded that his presence was unlikely.

As it is we only got the VP.

To be fair, I should point out that in a speech in China, the president praised LKY. A friend heard a broadcast of the speech yesterday.

What do you think. Was LKY that close to the Chinese leaders?

SGX’s FTs still think Singkies still stupid?

In China, Corporate governance on 09/03/2015 at 1:09 pm

Around the time of the Spring Festival celebrations began, the Foreign Trashes managing SGX (president and head rechie are FTs, CEO is leaving) boasted that SGX was planning to attract Chinese cos here. Remember that in Asean, the Thai exchange raises more money than this global financial centre.

Well looks like the FTs still running SGX are hoping that S ‘poreans have forgotten that they lost money in S-chips.

Here’s a reminder that the Cina have not cleaned up their act. During the Spring Feitval hols, London-based directors of Naibu Global revealed they had suspended shares in the Aim-quoted Chinese sportswear maker because executives in China had refused to update them on the co’s finances. Err maybe now that the Spring Festival is over, they’ll contact the London directors. Somehow I doubt it.

How AhLoong’s salary compares to that of ord S’porean

In China, Political governance on 21/01/2015 at 4:24 pm

Yesterday I blogged that despite President Xi getting a 62% pay rise his pay was peanuts when compared to our very own AhLoong  despite AhLoong taking a pay cut in 2012 (US$22,256 a year versus US$1.8m a yr).

Mr Xi’s monthly base income is roughly twice the average annual income of a registered Beijing city-dweller according to the FT relying on official Chinese data.

Using Mom data, for the monthly median salary of an  ordinary S’porean (employer CPF included), it seems PM’s monthly salary is 4 times that of an ordinary S’porean’s median annual income in 2013. In the late 60s , LKY’s monthly salary was about four times that of my dad’s monthly salary.

No need to wonder why there is a growing income gap between the rich and poor here, is there?*

Which reminds me: “If the annual salary of the Minister of Information, Communication and Arts is only $500,000, it may pose some problems when he discuss policies with media CEOs who earn millions of dollars because they need not listen to the minister’s ideas and proposals, hence a reasonable payout will help to maintain a bit of dignity.”

– Dr Lim Wee Kiat, PAP MP for Nee Soon GRC, 24 May 2011 in Lianhe Wanbao.

So when Ahloong meets Xi or the Obama, he will not respect them, their views or their countries despite the US being the hegemon and China a wannabe?

*Readers might like to know that the PAP’s bible has been going on recently about inequality: inequality and the travails of the middle-classes are America’s (and the West’s) biggest problem, has been gaining currency for some time now. So has the idea that one of the better fixes is to begin to overhaul America’s dysfunctional tax code. Indeed, one publication in particular has been saying precisely that for quite a while.


Xi gets 62% pay rise, but still paid “peanuts” by AhLoong’s standard

In China, Political governance on 21/01/2015 at 10:06 am

The Chinese president’s new base salary is equivalent to US$22,256 a year, despite a pay rise of 62%.

FT points out that he and Obama are outearned by Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, the world’s highest-paid prime minister, who took a pay cut to S$2.2m ($1.8m), beginning in 2012.

As the PAP likes to say that “Pay peanuts, get monkeys”, so the PAP thinks Obama, Xi and other leaders are monkeys? What do you think?

Relevant posts:

And from FT too

What countries pay their leaders (annually/$ excluding benefits)
Singapore 1.8m
Russia 1.76m
US 400,000
European Commission 372,000
Germany 290,000
South Africa 224,000
UK 215,000
France 208,000
Indonesia 64,000
Poland 64,00

LKY did it, Xi trying to follow him?

In China on 20/12/2014 at 6:07 am

President Xi “only mentions reform, not democracy,” Ms Gao told the BBC in an interview in March 2013.

“This is his political blueprint – to build a highly efficient and clean government, but whether this goal can be reached without democracy, constitution, multiple parties or press freedom is a question.”Gao Yu faces trial for leaking state secrets.

Sounds like LKY can soon boast Xi is following: again like what Deng did.

StanChart directors to push for chief’s succession plan

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Temasek on 01/11/2014 at 11:06 am

Above is FT’s headline for today.

Ho, Aberdeen, Blackrock and L&G baring their fangs? TRE ranters and other anti-PAP paper activists, pls note that Temasek has been pushing for a succession plan for some time.

Standard Chartered data

But they can rejoice ’cause  sharesclosed at £9.39 on Friday – down from £18 less than two years ago.

They will be celebrating.



StanChart gives Ho more problems

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Hong Kong, Temasek on 31/10/2014 at 10:12 am

Is StanChart a rogue bank?

Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) fell for a fourth consecutive day in London after U.S. prosecutors reopened investigations to determine whether the bank, which entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in 2012, withheld evidence of Iran sanctions violations.

The U.S. Justice Department, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, are all reopening their original inquiries into the London-based lender to determine whether it intentionally withheld information from regulators before the 2012 settlements, according to two people briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the probes are confidential.

Temasek wants clear succession plan at StanChart

Lousy set of results from StanChart

In Banks, China, Corporate governance, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Temasek on 29/10/2014 at 2:23 pm

Standard Chartered has announced a 16% fall in operating profit because of a restructuring of its South Korean business and an increase in bad loans.

The Asia-focused lender said pre-tax profits fell to $1.5bn (£930m) in the July-to-September quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

Standard Chartered also warned full-year earnings would fall because of weak trading activity.

FT reports that some of the major shareholders have been pressing for the CEO to be sacked if things don’t improve soon. It also reports that Temasek  is “pressing for a clear plan of succession”.

Standard Chartered data



PRC GLCs’ CEOs put our ministers to shame

In China, Humour, S'pore Inc on 14/10/2014 at 5:22 am

CEO pay

As the above shows, they are paid a pittance

Yet FT reports that as their pay is being cut by up to 60%, “The biggest difference between China and western countries is that we pursue the goal of getting rich together,” Fu Chengyu, head of the country’s largest refiner, told reporters. “If you want to earn big sums, you should not be an SOE executive.” (“SOE” is State Owned Enterprice i.e a GLC or TLC).

Need I say more?

[M]oney is by far the least [important factor]” when choosing where to work. At this level it can’t be painful, right? The job we’re doing is a vocation. All of us like to be paid whatever is deemed competitive in the market, but it’s not the main driver.”” said the CEO of Switzerland’s third largest bank who has had to cut his pay by 12% because shareholders were unhappy.

Roy’s & New Citizen H3 should go to HK

In China, Hong Kong, Political governance on 03/10/2014 at 4:35 am

And observe, research and analyse how the students and other protesters are doing things in such a way that caused a Mainland Chinese official visiting Hong Kong to say, “It’s so amazing they can organise such an orderly, peaceful and self-disciplined protest.” (FT).

As at the time of writing, these protestors have behaved in such a way no-one can reasonably fault their behaviour even though what they are doing is technically, illegal: they don’t have permission to protest.

A walk among the tens of thousands clustered around the Admiralty district in Hong Kong feels more like attending a music festival than a protest. The demographic of those calling for representative elections in 2017 is mostly twentysomething or younger – some are in school uniforms. Volunteers hand out snacks, drinks, and goggles to defend against pepper spray, though there has been no sign of any since the first day’s ruckus. Volunteers shepherd new arrivals away from overcrowded areas; others hand out home-made flyers on how to remain calm if provoked.

Anyone can be violent, but keeping protest this calm requires strategy. According to many non-violence theorists, the only way to confront a muscular government like China’s is to train, plan, stay calm and kill the enemy with kindness.

But somehow going by TOC’s video* showing at the very least showing Roy, H3 and friends shouting their slogans in front of special needs kids, I suspect that the lessons the HK protesters can teach S’poreans will be lost on them and their very vocal defender of their actions Goh Meng Seng (who is in HK). Too bad because

What’s most impressive is that the orderliness is basically self-generated. While some training had taken place beforehand, much of the co-ordination among the protesters has been ad hoc, with more experienced protesters conducting on-the-spot education, according to one organizer. Supplies are requested via social networks and Google Docs. Meanwhile, the crowds have the element of surprise on their side. Protests were still spreading to previously untouched areas today, including the high-end shopping district Tsim Sha Tsui, a magnet for mainland tourists.

Thankfully we have Cherian George there. He can perhaps observe, research and analyse, and then teach teach S’poreans how to ensure that social movements can be emotionally charged but peaceful, disruptive but harmonious.

If that happens, the govt and the administrators will rue the decisions that forced him to move on to HK. Cometh the our, cometh the man.


*Recommended viewing by H3 and Roy to support their view that they didn’t “heckle” the special needs kids. My view is that they are trying to be pedants. The usage of the word “heckle” has evolved to encompass their actions.

This is a neutral report of the scene: When Yahoo Singapore visited Hong Lim Park just before 5pm on Saturday, Ngerng and Han were leading about 100 protesters in circles around a large tented area where people attending the YMCA event were seated, waving large and small Singapore flags and chanting “Return our CPF!” and “PAP, vote them out!” through microphones connected to speakers placed on the outskirts of the YMCA event area.

At at least one point, Ngerng and Han led the group of protesters near the front of the permanent stage at Hong Lim Park, where performances by various youth groups, including one by special needs children, were taking place.

The performance of the special needs group appeared to be disrupted by the sound of the protesters’ chants, and the song the children were dancing to was stopped and restarted after the protesting group moved to a mound at the back of the lawn.


Ishandar investors screwed again: by PRCs this time

In China, Malaysia, Property on 01/10/2014 at 4:15 am

Bad news travels in pairs.

Last week, Reuters reported

Amid growing anxiety over a glut of high-rise residences in Malaysia’s Iskandar, a mega waterfront township project there appears to have hit a snag.

The Business Times understands that CapitaLand, South-east Asia’s largest real estate developer, recently sought a six-month extension on the launch of its 900-unit high rise condominium, which is the first phase of a S$3.2 billion ($2.52 billion) Danga Bay project, which spans some 28 hectares on a man-made island.

It seems that it had some problems with Johor state authorities. If  TLC can have such problems, what about yr ordinary, not connected S’porean property buyer?

Then BT on 30 September carried a story reported that thanks to PRC developers and buyers, S’poreans buying to rent in Iskandar are screwed.

A looming housing glut in Iskandar Malaysia may weigh down rental yields in the economic zone, with homes being left empty.

The warning this time came from Malaysia’s national organisation of developers, the Real Estate & Housing Developers Association (Rehda).

FD Iskandar, president of Rehda, noted that some 30,000 homes could be completed by 2016 or early 2017 in Iskandar.

If these are mainly sold to buyers outside Malaysia and Singapore, “then you will see that these units will be empty and once they are put up for rent and there are so many units available, that will put pressures on rental yields”, he said.

Malaysia’s federal government is “actually looking seriously” at this issue … But land administration in Malaysia lies within the authority of the state government.

In the past 12 to 18 months, the deluge of homes launched or in the pipeline by China developers, including Country Gardens and Guangzhou R&F Properties, has stoked concerns over a looming housing glut in the Iskandar region, which encompasses an area of more than 2,000 square kilometres in Johor.

“… developers from China launching a few thousand units at one go,” Mr Iskandar said, adding that Malaysian or Singaporean developers would typically have 400-600 units in one project.

Most of the buyers of these Chinese projects come from mainland China, he observed. “…concerns about these residential units being empty.”



Uniquely PRC, paving the streets with gold & voluntary compulsion

In China on 28/09/2014 at 5:33 am

NUS has set up China Business Centre to among other things deepen the understanding of China’s business environment.

I hope that lacing noodles with opium to attract repeat customers will be on the curriculum. This is after all a variation of what the Brits did in China in the 19th century, selling opium to the Chinese. Out of that trade grew Jardine Matheson, Swire, HSBC and StandChart.

Or this: The walk at the indoor precinct in Yichang, in Hubei province, consists of 606 shiny yellow bricks, worth $32m (£20m) in total, the website reports. The bricks weigh 1kg (2.2lb) each, and are covered with a glass pane. The lavish attraction was created to celebrate the shopping centre’s 18th anniversary – and to attract customers during the upcoming “Golden Week” national holiday, after which it’ll be dismantled. Shoppers have been eager to use the walkway, as it’s apparently believed in China that walking on gold brings luck, according to the Shanghaiist blog.

Or thisBaoji city in China is on a blood donation drive, and has caused a stir in social media by saying people should give blood if they want to go to college, learn to drive or even marry.

Background info on NUS’ China Business Centre:

The China Business Centre launched on Wednesday (Sep 24). The centre is helmed by the National University of Singapore’s Business School and is the first China business-centric outfit set up by a local university. 

It will serve as a resource and research platform to deepen the understanding of China’s business environment. The centre will also advance research in management challenges in China, as well as develop leaders with a China-focused business education.

Some of the centre’s upcoming projects include training programmes for business leaders and studies on management challenges and issues faced by businesses in China.

The centre will also organise research symposiums and workshops to promote understanding of China’s business landscape. It is expected to bring industry leaders from Singapore and China together for deeper dialogue. (CNA earlier this week)


Shumething gd (finally) from SGX for retail investors/ SGX thinks Chinese leopards can change spots

In China on 24/09/2014 at 6:47 am

(Or “Why hate Foreign Trashes to pieces”)

StockFacts allows investors to screen for stocks based on 20 different criteria, including market capitalisation and revenue. The product will also incorporate information from S&P Capital IQ like analysts’ consensus estimates and recommendations.

“Before StockFacts was launched, investors who wanted to do research on SGX-listed companies had to use various different sources of varying credibility to access the information,” said SGX head of retail investors Lynn Gaspar to BT on Monday. “This was a gap that we identified through retail investor feedback.”

Why took so long Foreign Trashies? CEO and COO are FTs but people pushing for StockFacts are locals. Taz why

So, SGX is now hoping S-Chips will start coming here. and that Sinkies will forget that they were fleeced in the past? To remind

In the case of FerroChina, which had a market value of more than S$2 billion in 2007, shareholders lost their entire investment when the steelmaker was forced to delist in March 2010. Other stocks that have been suspended include Sino Techfibre, which said a fire destroyed its financial records after reporting accounting flaws, and China Sun Bio-Chem Technology Group Co., which said a truck transporting its accounting records was stolen.

Here’s more fleecing (in Germany)

The chief executive of Chinese footwear firm Ultrasonic, who was reported missing last week along with most of the firm’s cash, has spoken to Chinese media and denied wrongdoing.

Last week, Ultrasonic said it had dismissed him from his post.

The firm said he and his son, who is chief operating officer, had vanished.

The firm, which is listed in Germany, said that both the men, Qingyong Wu and Minghong Wu, had “apparently left their homes and are not traceable”.

Earlier this year, another Germany-listed Chinese manufacturer, Youbisheng Green Paper, said its chief executive had gone missing without explanation. It later initiated insolvency proceedings.

Giants that will slay Jack (Ma)?

In Banks, China, Internet on 23/09/2014 at 4:25 am

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, is a hero. He slew eBay in China. Now he is going up against new giants by shaking up China’s state-dominated finance industry. His business, the Zhejiang Ant Small and Micro Financial Services Group, processes payments, sells insurance and runs one of the world’s largest money market funds, placing it in competition with banks controlled by the Chinese government. It is a precarious position.

PM talks cock about “private” sector

In China, Temasek on 14/09/2014 at 6:57 am

The private sector-led, Government backed Guangzhou Knowledge City (GKC)* is a good model for future Singapore-China projects, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Friday (Sep 12).

… Mr Lee said he was happy with the progress, six years after he first discussed the project with provincial leaders … the private sector-led GKC is a different model that Singapore is “trying out” after the Suzhou Industrial Park and Tianjin Eco-city, both government-to-government projects. (CNA on Friday)

Funnily the private sector leadership is provided by Temasek-owned company Singbridge who is in a j/v and the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.  Singbridge is 100% owned by Temasek, 100% owned by the Minister for Finance. Not even the fig-leaf of a SGX-listed TLC like Keppel or SIA.

And PM went to Catholic High and NJC? But then Yaacon was from RI (see tom)


*”The hurdle for government-to-government projects like Suzhou and Tianjin will be higher in future, so I think this (GKC) is a good model that we should explore going forward,”

“But there has to be a balance between private sector leadership and government support, and there has to be market demand for what’s being offered by the project” …

Located 35 kilometres from Guangzhou city centre, work is underway to turn the Guangzhou Knowledge City, currently a 123 square-kilometre site into a future magnet for industries like pharmaceuticals and info-comm technology, part of local authorities push for so-called high end industry.


Tourism potential of Indon, Vietnam & Burma

In China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam on 24/08/2014 at 4:58 am

Number of foreign visitors received in 2013

  • Thailand – 26.5 million
  • Malaysia – 25.7 million
  • Hong Kong – 25.6 million
  • South Korea – 12.1 million
  • Japan – 10.3 million
  • Indonesia – 8.8 million
  • Vietnam – 7.5 million
  • Myanmar – 2 million

I’m surprised that Indonesia has only 8.8m visitors given the popularity of Bali.

Still Mynamar is the place to invest in the tourism biz. Opportunities there from recent BBC article.

S’poreans: 11th in lying on hols experience

In China, Hong Kong, Humour on 16/08/2014 at 4:34 am

Chinese are number 1. lie to friends and family about the marvellous time they had,The survey didn’t give a reason for why the Chinese exaggerate the most about their holidays, but the status of being able to afford to go abroad, ensuring you keep one step ahead of the Wangses, may be a factor. Another explanation could be that the Chinese tourist is a relatively recent phenomenon who could learn a thing or two about complaining from travel-hardened European and American holiday-makers  Economist

Both reasons are likely to apply to the sheep Singaporeans too.

In Asean, Thais are ahead of us. Interestingly, Hongkies, who many locals think are BS artists don’t exaggerate that much. But then they have a reputation for being gd at complaining.


Qn for Swee Say: How cheap you want us to be?

In China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam on 14/08/2014 at 4:36 am

manufacturing wages

When I saw the above table, I tot of the Deaf Frog’s “Cheaper, Better, Faster”. There is always somewhere cheaper as above from FT article shows. And MNCs will move there: now moving from Jakarta and Vietnam to central Java. (Btw, $ + US$)

“Cheaper, Better, Faster’

The apologist version of what he meant by a website funded by a organisation headed by one Philip Yeo after being approached by one BG Yeo (taz the rumour). With credentials like these how not to believe meh?

In 2007, Lim coined the phrase to exhort Singaporean companies to increase their competitiveness.

Companies have to be cheaper and better than their competitors internationally, because those who used to be cheap (China) are now getting better, and those that used to be good (United States) are now getting cheaper as well. Hence, Singaporean companies have to be cheaper and better than them, and yet turnaround faster.

He obviously didn’t do an MBA: it’s accepted wisdom that one cannot have all three, only two. Attempts to have all three results in failure. This should cheer on TRE posters: Swee Say is urging a policy doomed to failure.


Problems at Temasek’s StanChart & DBS/ OCBC ovepaid for HK bank?

In Banks, China, Emerging markets, Hong Kong, Temasek on 30/06/2014 at 4:50 am

Standard Chartered has said first-half operating profits will be 20% lower than a year earlier, blaming a slump in income from its financial markets business.

The warning comes only three months after the Asia-focused lender reported its first fall in annual profits for a decade.

The UK bank had been expected to show a modest bounce-back this year.

But it said tougher regulations and low market volatility had hurt revenues.

Standard Chartered said its interest rate and foreign exchange trading had been particularly hit.

Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Bernsteinm said: “Cyclical headwinds are yet to arrive in full force in the bank’s two key markets – Hong Kong and Singapore. Not that Korea or India is out of the woods either.

“Pack that in with a challenging and uncertain capital regime that won’t be resolved until the end of the year and you have a great deal of uncertainty around the stock.”

StanChart shows the peril of investing in a stock listed overseas overseas that operates internationally. When profits were gd, sterling was weak against all major currencies. When sterling is strong, profits no gd. Note the value of sterling is irrelevant to the underlying profits or losses of  most of bank’s international operations.


ON AN afternoon in early summer a prospective customer walked into the gleaming new branch established in Shanghai’s free-trade zone by DBS, a Singaporean bank that, like many of its international rivals, has long touted China’s great promise for its business. The lobby was empty, save for a guard playing a video game. A log showed that the branch was attracting just two or three visitors a day. DBS remains optimistic about China and says that most of its free-trade-zone transactions are routed through other locations. But the torpid atmosphere at the branch points to foreign banks’ struggle to crack open the Chinese market.


To be fair to DBS its New Citizen CEO is not like the FT CEO of OCBC who may have blundered.

OCBC is offering to buy Wing Hang Bank’s shares for 125 Hong Kong dollars (US$16.12) each, in a big bet on China’s sustained economic growth. OCBC hopes the deal will springboard its growth into mainland China through the Hong Kong bank’s cross-border operations, and give it a foothold in Macau.

OCBC and Wing Hang Bank, one of Hong Kong’s last remaining family-owned lenders, began discussions on a possible deal late last year, and in January entered exclusive talks (after ANZ and UOB balked at the family’s asking price), which were extended twice as they argued over price.

The most recent comparable transaction (and bargaining benchmark for the family), the 2013 sale of Chong Hing Bank, went for 2.35 times book value including the value of a special dividend related to Chong Hing’s real estate. Accounting for the increase Wing Hang ascribes to the value of its property, the OCBC offer is closer to 2 times book value, a discount, compared to the Chong Hing deal, considering Wing Hang’s return on equity averaged 11.3% for the past three years, versus 7.8% for Chong Hing, according to Capital IQ.

Still OCBC shareholders were not that happy and its share price suffered.

What is unknown is the value of Wing Hang’s Hong Kong real estate, on some of the busiest shopping streets in the world. These could be worth even more than the bank says. A government index of Hong Kong retail properties has risen 400% over the past decade. Yet the company’s revaluation over the acquisition cost of the property is less than 100%.

If enough of Wing Hang’s minority shareholders refuse the price on offer, however, OCBC might prefer to raise it or offer* or bear the cost of maintaining the Wing Hang listing, and the cost of failing to fully integrate the bank.

Update at 6’00am: Here’s someone who thinks OCBC got sold a dog.

Wing Hang gives it greater opportunity to finance trade between China and other parts of Asia such as Malaysia and Indonesia, where it already has a foothold. Wing Hang’s strong funding base – loans were just 73 percent of deposits at the end of last year – is another advantage, as is its ability to capitalise on the yuan’s growing international popularity. About 17 percent of Wing Hang’s deposits are currently in the Chinese currency.

Nevertheless, the purchase brings risks to OCBC investors. China’s economic slowdown is creating credit wobbles, while Hong Kong’s property boom is bound to have led to some lending excesses. Meanwhile, rising interest rates in the United States could reverse the cheap deposits that have flowed into both Hong Kong and Singapore in recent years. Shareholders, who will probably be asked to help finance the purchase, may pay a high short-term price for OCBC’s long-term China ambition.


*OCBC has said the bid, a 50% premium to the then stock price, is generous.

Why Japs smarter than Singkies

In China, India, Japan, Vietnam on 21/06/2014 at 5:18 am

By 2050, elderly (65 and over) almost 40% of population

Next to Japan only. But no robots here, only FTs.

Japs smarter than us in avoiding the problems that FTs bring, like pushy Pinoys, wanting to change PM from Prime Minister to Pinoy Minister and SPF to S’pore Pinoy Force. But then they have friends like William wan, Kirsten Han, AWARE and Maruah. Their only public opposition is Gilbert Goh and Goh Meng Seng.

The govt should remember that when the Pinoys burnt our flag in the 1990s and it protested, the Pinoy govt gave the S’pore govt the finger, telling it nothing wrong with burning our flag.


Invest with the Hong Leong gp in contrarian play

In China, Property on 27/05/2014 at 4:49 am

First Sponsor Group Ltd, a real estate group whose controlling shareholders are Hong Leong Group S’pore and Tai Tak Group S’pore, is looking to raise up to $102.1 million, through an IPO and a sale of shares to cornerstone investors.

First Sponsor, whose focus is on residential and commercial properties in tier-two China cities, said it plans to make a share offer of 54.05 million shares at between $1.50 and $1.60 per share. This includes 49.05 million placement shares for institutional investors and high net worth investors, and a public offer of five million shares.

The data from China on property is gloomy. Example:

So the Hong Leong group offering investors to join it in investing in China property is intriguing. The group is a shrewd property investor and so may know something that the ang mohs don’t know. Hitch a ride with First Sponsor and find out?

Noble: Time to cheong?

In China, Commodities on 08/04/2014 at 4:25 am

Well depends on whether COFCO will run the joint venture as a commercial entity.

The structure allows Noble to reduce its exposure to an underperforming business while sharing in any recovery. The prospect of a deal had already fuelled a 25 percent rally in Noble’s shares in the past month, lifting its market value to around $6.5 billion. The proceeds could be reinvested in Noble’s better-performing energy and resources businesses. And because Noble will no longer have to include the venture’s $2.5 billion of net debt on its balance sheet, its headline borrowings will roughly halve, according to Eikon.

For Noble investors, the lingering worry is whether or not COFCO, which is already China’s main wheat importer, will run the joint venture as a commercial entity. The involvement of China-focused private-equity group HOPU in the Noble deal offers some comfort. So does China Investment Corporation’s 14 percent stake in Noble, which it has owned since 2009. If China does decide to squeeze Noble, it shouldn’t do so too hard.

At a recent conference, Yusuf Alireza, the chief executive of Noble, talked business models: “None of us should be arrogant to assume one model is right and one model is wrong . . . from a Noble perspective, our core competence is in the middle part of the supply chain . . . We are not miners, we are not farmers, we are not a bank.”

Why PAP should be afraid but not not too afraid

In China, Humour, Internet, Malaysia, Political governance, Vietnam on 10/03/2014 at 4:49 am

Paper warriors can cause serious problems for paper generals. Take heart Richard Wan, SgDaily, Terry Xu etc. And NSP should put more effort and time on online activities, rather than pounding the streets and climbing stairs, even though P Ravi of NSP gets great workouts: but Ravi, skip the teh tariks at the end. And the Chiams start an online presence.

Online activism can be an accurate indicator of where revolutions might take place next, according to University of Manchester research.

Argentina, Georgia, the Philippines and Brazil are claimed to be most at risk of upheaval, according to this measure.

The Revolution 2.0 Index* was developed last year and identified Ukraine as the most likely to see political upheaval.

This index sees revolution being forecast by computer experts rather than political analysts … It provides a different view of how regimes are put at risk by protest movements, looking at online factors rather than street demonstrations.

The index produces a risk factor based on the level of repression and the ability of people to organise protests online.


But Yaacob, MDA, and the ISD can still relax a little: The highest risk comes in countries where there are protests against perceived injustices – but where there is relative freedom online.

Err we knowthat S’poreans don’t like to sweat at Hong Lim: ask Gilbert Goh. (Alternative reason:

So get the people out in their tens of thousands to Hong Lim Green and keep up the online volume, then sure can effect regime change. But fortunately for the PAP, only the LGBTs can get out the crowd. Aand then only once in a pink moon.

Still if PM and the ministers want to make sure they get to keep their mega-salaries then they should start sending study teams to  Ethiopia, Iran, Cuba and China: At the lowest end of this 39-country index are countries such as Iran, Cuba and China because there is a lower level of risk of revolution in repressive countries with tight controls over the internet.

Actually, it juz might be easier to ban Facebook and other forms of social media on the grounds that users waste time on them during office hours (all those cat photos that a certain social activist posts during office hours). Users are subversives, undermining the govt’s productivity drive, the aim of which is to make S’poreans richer slaves.

Talking about the Ukraine, professor Richard Heeks from Manchester University, the creator the index, says: “But social media has been the core tool used to organise protests and maintain them by letting protesters know where they can get nearby food, shelter, medical attention, and so on.

“It has spread word about violence and has garnered support and assistance from overseas.”

BTW, S’pore, Cambodia and Laos are not on the index but the rest of Asean is

The Philippines (4th)

M’sia (14th)

Indonesia (26th)

Vietnam (29th)

Thailand (33rd: err data was up to 2012)

Burma (35th)


*The index combines Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net scores, the International Telecommunication Union’s information and communication technology development index, and the Economist’s Democracy Index (reversed into an “Outrage Index” so that higher scores mean more autocracy). The first measures the degree of Internet freedom in a country, the second shows how widely Internet technology is used, and the third provides the level of oppression.



Martial arts training in China

In China, Holidays and Festivals on 01/02/2014 at 6:27 pm

Something for Neigh Year hols viewing

Temasek’s right on ICBC, BoC & CCB

In Banks, China, Temasek on 07/11/2013 at 4:52 am

I’ve blogged before that Temasek loves China banks while ang mohs were running away.

Well since late June, Chinese bank shares have been on a roll, example  ICBC (where Temasek had been picking up shares this yr) is up more than 22%. Recent Chinese economic data has got investors buying the banks again, ang mohs included. So much so that some smaller Chinese banks are planning IPOs in HK.

Anyway,Jack, the usual suspects, and the readers of TRE, TOC and TRS needn’t yet bang their [ ] in frustration. Firstly, Temasek can never ever exit these investments given that S’pore wants to be China’s friend. Temasek got big chunks of BoC and CCB at a “special” price.. It can only play around the margins, reducing its cost of these investments.

Then are there two more reasons why we should be worried about Temasek’s punt:-

The biggest threat to Chinese banks’ cozy oligopoly … Online groups Alibaba and Tencent are making incursions into the country’s financial services market, providing an alternative to the capped deposit rates and sluggish service offered by the country’s big lenders. The disruptors are taking on risks, and savers should be glad.

Alibaba, the e-commerce group that just bought a 51 percent stake in asset manager Tianhong for $193 million, is the banks’ main foe. By July it had made over $16 billion in short-term loans to companies who sell goods on its sites. Its real-time records of borrowers’ cashflows and counterparties aid lending decisions.

Banks’ deposits are also under threat. WeChat, the mobile chat app that clocked up over 300 million users within two years of being launched by gaming group Tencent, is working on distributing wealth products via smartphones, and offering payment for fund managers, according to Chinese media. Alibaba lets users reinvest surplus balances in their online payment accounts into money market funds. That gives savers a better return than the 3 percent capped rate they get on bank deposits.

Tech companies’ desire to disrupt the financial services sector is understandable. China’s big banks make returns on equity in excess of 20 percent.

Add to that, an attempt to shake up the country’s slow-moving financial industry and create more investment opportunities for the private sector, Chinese regulators have invited companies from across the spectrum to apply for banking licences.
And here’s the latest on bad debt write-offs (something I had talked about)
So Jack, etc can relax. Time enough for their curses on Ho Ching to take effect. I hope they remember that returns from the reserves are used to make life more comfortable for ourselves.

M’sia: The only winners of GE 2013

In China, Malaysia, Vietnam on 12/10/2013 at 5:10 am

In the words of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS), a S’pore govt-funded think tank, in its Oct Asean Monitor

Barisan Nasional’s worst-ever general election performance in May has undermined Prime MinisterNajib Razak’s promise to reform the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) after he took overits leadership in 2009. Outside UMNO, liberal reforms are stridently opposed and resisted by extremist Malay-Muslim groups such as PERKASA and by UMNO-owned media, especially the Utusan Malaysianewspaper. Within UMNO, political momentum favours former Prime Minister Mahathir and his conservative allies, who support preserving the ketuanan Melayu (“Malay ownership”) status quo.

Recognizing that UMNO needs to be further strengthened after its failure to win a convincing majority of the Malay vote, many senior party leaders and veterans will not want the president and deputy president posts, held by Najib and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyddin Yassin, respectively, to be contested duringthe upcoming October party elections. However, the party’s three vice-presidential posts are likely tobe hotly fought over by the incumbents Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Shafie Apdal and Hishammuddin Husseinand by three challengers, namely Mohd Ali Rustam, Isa Samad and, potentially, Mukhriz Mahathir.

Recent developments have further pressured Najib to follow through with his general-election pledge totackle corruption and crime. The 2013 Global Corruption Barometer report confirms the perception thatthe level of corruption in Malaysia has increased despite the government’s claims to the contrary. Publicconfidence in the corruption-tainted police force received another huge blow from the recent spike inviolent crimes, including more than 30 murder attempts in the past five months.

Because of the country’s deteriorating public finances, a global ratings agency has downgraded Malaysia’ssovereign credit rating outlook from stable to negative. The Malaysian ringgit slid to three-yearlows against the US dollar and to 15-year lows against the Singapore dollar; these slides may generate inflationary pressures. The government announced 10.5 percent and 11 percent hikes respectively in the prices of subsidized 95 RON gasoline and diesel on 3 September, and it is likely that further measuresto strengthen the country’s fiscal position will be introduced.

Key points: The status quo will persist, with conservatives gaining control of the UMNO supremecouncil. Budget 2014 will see the introduction of a GST and the scaling back and rescheduling of publicly funded projects.

The Chinese have to live with the consequences of their vote for Anwar’s group. The Indian community (which marginally supported BN) must be sore with the Chinese.

Related articles:

Other Asean round-up news:

Vietnam R Sembcorp (belated)

UNDETERRED by the many challenges facing Vietnam’s economy, Sembcorp has once again upped its investment in the socialist republic – this time by building central Vietnam’s first large-scale industrial park worth US$337.8 million.

This latest of five Vietnam-Singapore Industrial Parks (VSIPs) is sited in Quang Ngai province, about 90 minutes’ flight south of Hanoi. It offers manufacturers a new and alternative investment locale that is away from Vietnam’s northern and southern regions, where labour markets are tighter and costs continue to rise.

VSIP Quang Ngai will take shape in the form of a 1,120ha industrial park and integrated township; the industrial park will take up 600ha, with the other 520ha slated for commercial and residential purposes. BT 14th August: PM was in Vietnam BTW.

Thailand is to hand over rice and rubber in part-payment for its new high-speed rail system, it’s reported.

The country’s transport minister is expected to formally agree the barter deal with Chinese premier Li Keqiang … The project to link Bangkok with Nong Khai, close to the Laos border, is part of a proposed 2m baht ($30bn, £19bn) infrastructure investment programme to part-financed with agricultural products. The railway is one day envisaged to link Thailand with the Southern Chinese province of Kunming, via the Laos capital Vientiane.

Where S’pore and other Asean countries most vulnerable to Fed tapering

In China, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Vietnam on 14/09/2013 at 5:36 am

This chart from Reuters shows the vulnerability of major Asian economies to Fed policy of tapering

S’pore is vulnerable

Slowing GDP: Most vulnerable

Growing Public Debt : Second most vulnerable

Uncompetitive Currency: Second most vulnerable

Growing Credit Intensity: Fourth most vulnerable. Another view: Banks with large property loan portfolios will face higher risks when interest rates start to rise — this as highly-leveraged households begin to have difficulty paying their mortgages.

Economists said this could lead to credit tightening by banks, and a hard landing for the property sector.

If that happens, DBS Bank said Singapore and Hong Kong will be hardest hit within Asia.

In other Asean round-up news

surpluses of Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia have narrowed even more since the second half of 2007. However, this is partly because Thailand and Malaysia have boosted domestic investment, which lifts imports.

Malaysian and Indonesian companies are grappling with a margin squeeze: The two commodity-producing economies have witnessed the biggest rise in their real cost of capital. The Philippines has the opposite problem: Falling inflation-adjusted returns for savers.

Rightly or wrongly, though, the sovereign debt issued by developed countries is perceived as safe. Malaysia is not in the same league, and it is pruning petrol and diesel subsidies to control its growing public debt problem.

Unlike in 1997, most Asian countries have relatively straightforward choices. Malaysia can introduce a goods and services tax to control the 14 percentage point increase in its sovereign-debt-to-GDP ratio since 2007. Indonesia can raise interest rates to tame 9 percent inflation. The main problem is India, with its cocktail of slumping growth, high inflation, a creaking banking system, reckless fiscal policies and political uncertainty. Other Asian nations can’t take rising U.S. interest rates lightly, but they are far from a crisis.

Indonesia’s central bank raised its benchmark interest rate 25 basis points Thursday afternoon in a move that defied market expectations and continued a swift phase of tightening efforts as the nation’s economic growth showed signs of stumbling.

The interest rate increased to 7.25 percent, the fourth hike in as many months, as Bank Indonesia moved to stabilize the increasingly volatile rupiah while controlling inflation and the widening trade deficit.

The danger of capital controls in Asean (Note this is new link and chart, not the one originally posted)

Asean trade with China (FT charts)

Our world class Chinese banks need US$50-500bn more in capital

In Banks, China, Temasek on 12/09/2013 at 4:56 am

This blog has been pointing out why ang mohs don’t like Chinese banks, while Temasek loves them.

This short video shows the strengths of Chinese banks in size and income from interest (Big 4 in global top 10). The latter must surely be a consideration in why Temasek invests in three of them.

Now back to the worrying analysis:

— With bad loans and competition rising, China’s largest banks face tougher times ahead. ChinaScope Financial, a research firm partly owned by Moody’s, a ratings agency, has analysed how declining net interest margins will affect China’s banks. It estimates that the sector will need an injection of $50 billion-100 billion over the next two years just to keep its capital ratios at today’s level. The managements of the Big Four realise this, and have won approval from their boards to raise over $40 billion in fresh capital over the next two years. But Andrew Sheng of the Fung Global Institute, a think-tank, reckons the sector will need to raise even more later: up to $300 billion over the next five years.

— China’s bad debts could blow a $500 billion hole in bank balance sheets. That’s roughly how much extra equity the eleven biggest lenders might need if 10 percent of their loans went sour, according to a Breakingviews calculator.

SingTel affected by rupiah, rupee collapse

In China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Telecoms, Vietnam on 31/08/2013 at 5:08 am

In its latest set of results announced a few weeks ago, the profit contribution from regional associates climbed 14% to S$552 million in the quarter on higher results from Indonesia, Thailand and India, the company said.

SingTel gets 12% of its profit before tax from India and 22% from Indonesia, with those earnings in future likely to take a hit when translated back into Singapore dollars. Remember too the weakish A$, Baht, and Filipino peso will affect its earnings.

Other Asean round-up news

At an emergency meeting on Aug. 29, the monetary authority raised its benchmark and overnight deposit rates. It’s a decision Bank Indonesia should have made at its last official gathering less than two weeks ago. An obsession with economic growth stayed its hand.

Politics is back on the streets in Thailand, after a relative lull of more than two years, with a protest over the weekend. It underlines the persistence of divisions in Thailand and raises the prospect of a return to the political turmoil that left more than 90 people dead in Bangkok in 2010.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in a vacant lot in Bangkok on Saturday, as speakers threatened to “overthrow” the government.

But unlike in previous years, this time the protesters were members of Thailand’s oldest political party, the Democrat Party, which has long had a reputation as the staid, well-mannered and intellectual voice of the Bangkok establishment and has been firmly dedicated to resolving differences inside Parliament, where the Democrats lead the opposition.

The acrimony between the Democrats and the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra centres on a number of legislative issues, chiefly an effort by the government to pass an amnesty law for those involved in the 2010 protests.

The Democrats oppose the Bill, saying it might also apply to those who insulted the monarchy or committed serious crimes.

But the broader conflict appears to stem from their feeling of powerlessness in the face of the resurgence of Thaksin Shinawatra, Ms Yingluck’s brother, who sets the broad policy lines for the government and the Pheu Thai Party despite living abroad since 2008 in self-imposed exile to escape corruption charges.

The weekend protests followed another peaceful one earlier this month involving some 2,500 supporters of the Democrat Party and royalist groups at Bangkok’s Lumpini Park, throwing fresh light on Thaksin’s divisive influence in Thailand.

(Extract from NYT)

Malaysia‘s government is exploring the possibility of hiking the real property gains tax to rein in rising housing prices and curb speculation in the market. Bernama quoted Housing Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan as saying that current property tax levels had failed to stabilise house prices with the house price index continuing to rise.

Malaysia’s GST will take 14 months to implement if announced in the budget in October, a ministry official said

The Philippines posted better-than-forecast economic growth, fuelled by its services sector and higher consumer and government spending. Its economy grew 7.5% in the April to June quarter, from a year earlier. It is the fourth quarter in a row its economy has expanded by more than 7% – defying a regional trend which has seen growth slow down in many countries. The Philippines’ 7.5% second-quarter growth matched that of China but is higher than Indonesia, Vietnam or Malaysia,

However, the country has been hurt in recent weeks by investors pulling out of the region’s emerging economies. This despite under emerging mkts, given the follow of remittances from workers overseas, it will not have to worry about investors’ outflows unlike other mkts.

Japan’s All Nippon Airways has said it will acquire a 49% stake in Asian Wings Airways, an airline based in Burma..

The Japanese airline will pay 2.5bn yen (US$25m) for the stake.mIt is the first time a foreign carrier has invested in a Burmese-based commercial airline. It currently operates domestic flights to all major tourist destinations in Myanmar.It t plans to “extend its wings to regional destinations through scheduled flights as well as chartered ones”.

SCCCI SME Survey proves LKY’s point?

In China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 17/08/2013 at 1:41 pm

Indonesia has overtaken China as a preferred investment destination for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), This was a key finding of the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCCI) SME Survey 2013, which polled 516 companies in June and July.

Of the 63% SMEs which are venturing into markets abroad, 39.9% favour investing in Malaysia and 28.1% Indonesia, a hair’s breadth more than the 27.2% looking towards China.

One reason given is that as the Chinese economy develops and wages rise, Indonesia could stand to position itself as an undertapped source of low-cost labour. As I blogged here, a few days back, LKY said that SMEs would flee S’pore if FTs were not allowed in by the cattle-truck load: they want cheap labour. The survey indicates that securing cheap labour is all that SMEs care about?

Other Asean-round up news:

Express link to KL

M’sia should talk to billionaire inventor Elon Musk. He wants to build a Hyperloop that would cut travel time between SF and LA to 35 minute. 12 minutes to KL based on the 35 minutes time


THe US Commerce Department declined to set duties on shrimp imports from Thailand and Indonesia. It has imposed duties on shrimp imports from five nations.

The ruling applies to about US$2bn of shrimp imports, from India, Ecuador, China, Malaysia and Vietnam. The Commerce Department found that those nations had been subsidising their shrimp producers.

Malaysia faces the highest duties of up to 54.5%, the lowest were set for Vietnam which faces duties of up to 7.8%.

A final approval is needed by another government body, the International Trade Commission (ITC), before the duties can take effect, The ITC will consider whether US producers have been threatened by the imports and make its decision in September.

Fighting inflation the Indon way

Bit like the way they fight the haze: wayang all the way.

Indonesia’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate on Thursday and took steps to contain loan expansion to battle inflation without taking any more steam out of slowing economic growth.

Many economists do expect another rate hike later this year but the central bank faces a tricky combination of surging prices, a falling rupiah, a stubborn current account deficit and slowing economic growth.

Time to worry about Temasek’s strategy on Chinese banks

In Banks, China, Temasek on 02/07/2013 at 5:07 am

Temasek owns big chunks in three out of four China’s major banks

— 2% of Bank of China

— 8% of China Construction Bank

8% of Industrial & Commercial Bank of China,

Temasek has accumulated more than [US]$17 billion of holdings in Beijing-based ICBC, China Construction Bank Corp. (939) and Bank of China Ltd. over the past two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Global firms including Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp. have divested holdings as new capital rules known as Basel III make it more expensive to hold minority stakes in banks. (Bloomberg few days ago)

S’poreans have to keep a beady eye on developments in the Chinese economy particularly in the financial sector.

Well things don’t look that rosy:

There is of course a second and much more disturbing possible implication of spiking lending rates in China – which is that the slowdown in credit creation will lead to tumbling asset prices, widespread bankruptcies and the crippling of the banking and wider financial system …

According to a recent and influential report by Fitch, outstanding loans by Chinese banks and shadow financial institutions were equivalent to 200% of GDP at the end of 2012, up from around 125% of GDP in 2008.

 As quantum, domestic business and household debt at two times GDP is high – pretty similar, for example, to a debt burden on the UK private sector which has hobbled our [UK] economy.

 But it is the stunning and unsustainably rapid rate of growth in Chinese credit creation, and who has borrowed the money, that are the main sources of concern.

 Unless China is re-writing financial history, much of that money will have been lent without due care to businesses and individuals, and many of them will never be able to repay much of it.

 As and when that is too conspicuous to ignore, banks and financial institutions will go bust – unless bailed out by central bank and government.*

Well in the case of the UK, two major banks were effectively nationalised, and the existing shareholders were left with “peanuts”. And UBS and Citi received injections of cash from their central banks in exchange for securities, exchanges that diluted their other shareholders, including GIC.

In 2007/2008, our SWFs’ bot into UBS (GIC), Citi (GIC) and Merrill Lynch (Temasek) in a big way that ST characterised then as showing S’pore was a tua kee investor.

We lost serious money in two of the 30-yr investments by 2009.

— Estimate of Temasek’s losses on ML and Barclays:

— Estimate of GIC’s loss on UBS:

(BTW, Temasek’s 2012 purchase of Credit Suisse mandatory bonds:

Hopefully Superwoman Lina Chiam will raise the issue of Temasek’s strategy doubling up on Chinese banks in parly so that the finance minister’s rebuttal of her concern, will be a matter of public record,  come the next GE.

*And not only ang mohs are worried about China and its financial system:

China will eat & eat

In China on 20/06/2013 at 5:03 am

Or it’s all about pigs. Fishmeal is used to feed the pigs. Chart from Economist.

Asean round-up

In China, Malaysia on 15/06/2013 at 6:59 am

1997/ 1998 all over again?

Asian manufacturers got no pricing power

Producer prices are sliding across the region – falling 8.5 percent even in the Philippines, where GDP grew 7.8 percent in the first quarter. Cheaper commodities are partly to blame, but the main culprit is sluggish demand from the United States. If companies can’t make up the difference, they may struggle to repay growing debts … On average, factory-gate prices in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines fell 3.5 percent in April, the eighth straight month of declines.

Failed at Olam, now trying luck at StanChart

In Banks, China, Temasek on 14/05/2013 at 6:55 pm


Carson Block Is Shorting Debt of Standard Chartered



Carson Block, the short-seller who runs Muddy Waters LLC, said he’s betting against the debt of Standard Chartered Plc (STAN) (STAN) because of “deteriorating” loan quality, triggering a 13.5 percent jump in the cost of insuring against losses on the debt of the British lender.

Somehow I don’t expect StanChart to go berserk like Olam, “Carson Block is outside of the bank and does not have access to the bank’s loan files,” said Jim Antos, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. “He has very little ammunition in his gun to shoot at Standard Chartered at this point. He’s got one example of a large loan that appears to be something that possibly would not have been prudent to book.”

China in charts: FT

In China on 16/04/2013 at 6:30 am

Chinese financial sector: there be storms and shaols

In Banks, China, Temasek on 31/03/2013 at 7:06 am

(Backgrounder: Temasek has biggish stakes in three out of the four major  Chinese banks: doesn’t have shares in Agricultural Bank and CapLand is big and bullish on China).

Credit issues in Pearl Estuary region:

And New rules will force mainstream lenders to cap their exposure to some of the riskier off-balance sheet products they have sold to customers – in particular, those that are effectively repackaged corporate debt. That limits a big source of risk for banks, but creates a new one for the Chinese economy.

The junk bond market in China took off this year. Although the deals still account for a small share of the global total, Chinese companies have sold $8 billion of high-yield bonds to overseas investors since January. That’s up from $2.3 billion during the same period a year earlier, according to figures from Dealogic … the Chinese market has its own set of potential problems, and some analysts worry that investors aren’t being properly compensated for the added layer of risks.

he bulk of the high-yield bonds in Asia this year — roughly half — come from Chinese real estate companies. The fear is that the housing market, which has been booming, is a bubble that will eventually burst.

Mainland China’s domestic bond market remains largely off limits to foreign buyers. So most investors buy offshore Chinese bonds, which are issued through holding companies headquartered in places like the Cayman Islands.

The bonds tend not to be backed by the actual businesses and underlying assets in mainland China. That means foreign bondholders may have little legal recourse if a company defaults on its debt, especially if local banks or other Chinese creditors make claims.

Bondholders are now facing such difficulties with the bankruptcy of Suntech Power.

Why S-Chips no hew our laws

In China, Corporate governance on 26/03/2013 at 5:46 am

Chinese no hue US laws.

Ned L. Sherwood won a proxy contest with the ChinaCast Education Corporation, an education company based in China that is incorporated in the United States, but the ousted executives subsequently transferred all the company’s valuable Asian assets, leaving Mr. Sherwood and the US public shareholders with nothing but a lawsuit in China. The deal highlighted the risks of investing in Chinese companies.


Now some distressed debt investors get to find out what exactly it is you buy when you buy American-issued debt in a company incorporated in the Cayman Islands and doing business in China. I suspect the answer will be “not much.”

But investors still buying these bonds.

Asean round-up

In China, Indonesia, Vietnam on 12/01/2013 at 5:08 pm

Gd news for SE Asia. China has reported better-than-expected trade data, adding to optimism that growth in the world’s second-largest economy may be rebounding.Exports, a key driver of expansion, rose 14.1% in December from a year earlier. Most analysts had forecast a figure closer to 4%.Imports also rose, climbing 6% and indicating stronger domestic demand.

The US has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against Indonesia’s restrictions on imports of horticultural and animal products. BBC report. Other agricultural exporters like Australia and Thailand have been unhappy about Indonesia’s restrictions too.

Thailand is considering measures to help companies cope with the country’s rise in the minimum wage (35% up from level of last year), but has rejected business warnings of job losses, factory closures and a shift by some manufacturers to neighbouring countries

Thailand’s central bank left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 2.75% on Wednesday, as expected, saying the global economy continued to recover while growth this year could be higher than thought and inflation was stable.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that a credit boom in Cambodia poses a threat to economic growth. Banks have been cutting interest rates to win customers and private sector credit has increased by almost a third in the past 12 months, the fund said.

A $US200m deal with Masan Group by KKR is the largest by a private equity firm so far in Vietnam. It comes in addition to an earlier $159 million investment by KKR. Masan is Vietnam’s leading fish, soya and chilli sauce producer. As well as sauces Masan makes instant foods such as noodles, cereals and coffees. The firm estimates that 90% of local households use its products.

Japan was in talks with the Philippines on Thursday to enhance maritime co-operation amid their separate territorial rows with China.

“We talked about the challenges that we appear to be facing in view of the assertions being made by China,” Philippine Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario told reporters after meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, in Manila.

Part of the co-operation may include 10 new patrol vessels from Japan to boost the Philippine coast guard, as well as communication equipment, Mr Del Rosario said.

Noble Gp: “Cheong all the way” Maybank

In China, Commodities on 11/01/2013 at 5:39 am

But if China doesn’t perform, you’re in trouble.

S’pore Biz Review

It was annced yesterday that China’s commodities imports accelerated in 2012 in volume terms in spite of slowing growth in the overall economy, with crude oil, iron ore and copper reporting record high imports for 2012.

This guy is awesome!

In China, Internet on 18/09/2012 at 7:18 am

That is what Mr Moncayo did when, at the tender age of 23, he devised a grand plan to forge a whole new trading relationship between Latin America and China

Despite knowing very little about manufacturing and unable to speak a Chinese language, he decided to build a career negotiating and supervising deals between firms in his native Latin America and Chinese suppliers. It was an obvious gap in the market.

“We were the first ones to really connect these two regions,” he says.

Just eight years later, Mr Moncayo is the chief executive of Asiam Business Group, handling orders from Asia worth $35m (£22m) per year, mainly on behalf of Latin American fashion houses.

Long term investor while trading a stock

In China, Financial competency, Temasek on 04/09/2012 at 7:00 am

Jim Cramer’s “trading round a position”. Got to try it. Locks in profits.

Maybe Temasek is trading round its position in the Chinese banks it holds, given that China will not be pleased if it sells out of them.

Even Chinese manufacturers are moving to Vietnam & Bangladesh

In China, Vietnam on 16/08/2012 at 5:24 am

Earlier this week FT reported that an online Chinese retailer was trying out manufacturing in Vietnam. At about the same time, CNN reported that  Chris Devonshire-Ellis, founding partner of Dezan Shira & Associates in Beijing, which advises firms on foreign direct investment (FDI), as saying,”Companies are starting to think twice before building in China.”

He said the cost of running a factory in Dongguan, China with 300 workers would be about US$2.3 m. The same factory in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam would be US$650,000, and a similar factory in Chennai, India would cost about US$346,000.

“About 50 per cent of our work in Vietnam is setting up factories for companies which have relocated from South China because they want to add more (manufacturing) capacity (in the region), but they don’t want to have Chinese costs. Vietnam and Bangladesh are becoming subsidiary manufacturing nations to make goods for sale in China.”

Earlier this month, the Economist wrote, “Another manufacturing firm [making flags]moved its operations to Vietnam in 2004. “We have to migrate, like herdsmen chasing water and pastures””. Love the way moving to a cheaper place is described.

What the MSM doesn’t tell you abt Shenzhen

In China on 07/07/2012 at 6:10 am

The number of listed companies has almost trebled from about 500 before the SME board started eight years ago, and the market value of listed companies soared to US$1.2 trillion at end-May … double the size of Singapore’s exchange.

And no FTs in mgt!

FYI, NYSE is at US$12.5 trillion.

Europe: Temasek has competition

In China, Temasek on 03/07/2012 at 7:42 am

(Updated on 5 July 2012 : forgot to mention ex-UBSer appt)

Sometime back, the new CIO said that Temasek is looking for investment opportunities in Europe.  He said turmoil in Europe may result in a market slump rivaling the 2008 global financial crisis creating opportunities for Temasek to make deals. Earlier this year, Temasek hired former UBS Chief Financial Officer John Cryan to oversee its strategy for Europe, whereit has limited exposure. The hiring of Cryan had raised speculation that Temasek is eyeing distressed assets in the euro zone, shumething that the CIO has confirmed.

It had better hurry.

The total value of mergers and acquisitions in Europe by foreign companies has reached US$101 billion, well ahead of the combined US$73 billion spent in the United States by international acquirers, according to the data provider Dealogic

The Chinese even have a fund to co-invest with Chinese cos wanting to buy European coms for their technology or brands. Not juz but investment returns or financial egineering, unlike Temasek. Maybe our leaders should “sit down and shut up” when it comes to advising China to follow them? And observe what the Chinese are doing?

Hopefully, Temasek will remember that it bot Barclays and Merrill Lynch, and GIC bot UBS and Citi a bit too early in the 2008 cycle, to be precise in 2007. Temasek sold its dogs in 2009, juz went markets were recovering, losing billions. Given the losses, Temasek will hopefully be more cautious, even if it means losing some great bargains. Catching a falling knife will not amuse S’poreans, the “owners of Temasek” (Ho Ching once called us).

As to why it needs to do deals: investment returns are likely to have without some good deal

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