Archive for the ‘China’ Category

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

Related post:

If China slows down, ASEAN beneficiaries

In China, Commodities, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam on 26/06/2012 at 6:22 am

(Or “What stocks, ETFs to buy”)

A  China slowdown need not be bad for everyone. Mr Frederic Neumann, Regional Economist at HSBC, distinguishes between hard and soft commodities. A Chinese rebalancing could actually be good for soft commodities*, such as wheat and soybeans*, if household spending were to rise.

Brazil’s loss, in other words, could be Argentina’s gain. Other commodities, such as palm oil**, used in processed foods, may also do better.

That could benefit countries such as Malaysia, which has ramped up palm oil*** production in recent years, and Indonesia**** – although the latter also produces hard commodities including coal.

On the other side of the ledger, some big oil importers***** could benefit from the weaker prices that a Chinese slowdown might produce.

*Think Olam, Wilmar, Golden Agri, Bumitama Agri, Kencana Agri and First Resources

**Think Wilmar and the other SGX plantation stocks.

***Think Felda, Sime Darby, United Plantations, IOI, Genting Plt, KL Kepong, TSH, Oriental.

****Think Astra Agro and London Sumatra Indonesia. Any other Indon listed plantations cos to think about? Do remember that the SGX-listed planters are mainly Indonesian planters and many of them are relatively new, giving them an advantage over the older Malaysian plantation players. Malaysian planters have also bought land in Indonesia partly because land in Malaysia is getting too expensive even in East Malaysia.

*****Think ETFs on Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

“China has risen”: Mao will be proud

In China on 16/06/2012 at 6:57 am

More people are saying that China is world’s leading economic power

This guy is shorting China & emerging markets

In China, Emerging markets on 14/06/2012 at 7:11 am

And a bull on US retailers.

And he has outperformed his peers!

Why our local banks shld stop wasting resources on China proper

In Banks, China, Investment banking, Temasek on 07/06/2012 at 5:14 am

(Or “Why Temasek’s big bet on Chinese banks makes sense“)

DBS is the 6th largest foreign bank in China proper. It has a strategy of expansion into China. So have UOB and OCBC.

Well, its a tough biz to be in. Non-Chinese banks have only 2% market share. Even HSBC, StanChart and Citi have problems

DBS, OCBC and UOB shld juz not bother abt China.

Test needed to ask questions at co. meetings

In China, Corporate governance, Financial competency, Humour, Property on 04/06/2012 at 5:01 am

(Or “Shume really stupid shareholders” or “Why SGX shld pay Mano Sabnani to conduct courses on asking sensible qns at AGMs and EGMs”)  

Sometime back, the media reported that some daft shareholders (same people as those who complained at DBS AGM that DBS paid 50% premium over Bank Danamon’s share price to get controlling stake? I mean these people never ever heard of a premium needed to secure a controlling block?) abt CapitaLand’s China exposure and share price since 2008 or 2007 at its AGM.

Don’t they read the int’l media?

Example from BBC Online:”China has, thus far, avoided the much-feared hard landing,” said IHS Global’s Ren Xianfeng.

“Expect no major property meltdown or construction bust. Expect no deflationary spiral or banking crunch.”

Analysts said that given the steadiness of the property market, policymakers were likely to continue to ease their policies to boost growth.

Ting Liu of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch forecast that China’s economy was likely to grow at an annual rate on 8.5% in the second quarter, up from 8.1% in the first three months of the year.

And on the share price: don’t they realise that equity markets have had a choppy ride since 2008. And that China-related stocks have been the target of bear raids and that CapitaLand is an obvious target to short given that the stock is liquid and shares can be easily borrowed

In case anyone doesn’t understand the reference to Mano, he asks vv intelligent questions at AGMs and EGMs. Only one I can bitch abt is at K-Reit EGM when he queried the price paid for Ocean Towers from its parent. Shumething like Ocean Towers seldom gets sold at mkt price, except perhaps in distressed sale. Kanna pay premium.

More bad news for Noble, Olam and Wilmar

In China, Commodities, Logistics on 21/05/2012 at 5:48 am

The FT reports that Chinese importers are requesting trading houses to defer shipments of commodities. Sometimes they have broken agreements by refusing to accept deliveries.

Commodities specifically mentioned are iron ore and thermal coal (Noble’s specialities), cotton (Olam speciality) and soyabeans (Wilmar is world’s boiggest crusher). No wonder the price of these stocks keep weakening.

BTW, until I read below, I didn’t realise Noble is a big player in coffee and cocoa (but revenue is “peanuts” compared to iron ore and energy).

MIIF & FCT: Useful updates

In China, Property, Reits on 17/05/2012 at 6:51 am

Never summed up the courage to buy MIIF because although it is a China infrastructure play, yirld is super, and MIIF is net cash, its underlying investments are up to their eyebrows in debt: could affect MIIF’s payouts, NAV and price. But chk out for yrself

For the working stiffs who got cashflow from day jobs. Not for retiree who gambled his cashflow.

 CIMB likes Frasers Commercial Trust I own shume.

Update: DBSV likes FCT too

Philippines not safe for PRC nationals warns China

In Casinos, China on 12/05/2012 at 6:26 am

China told its citizens on Thurday  they were not safe in the Philippines and its state media warned of war, as a month-long row over rival claims in the South China Sea continued.

Chinese travel agencies announced they had suspended tours to the Philippines, under government orders, and the embassy in Manila advised its nationals already in the country to stay indoors ahead of protests on Friday. Five hundred protested outside the Chinese embassy, in the event.

And the Philippines wants Chinese gamblers to visit Manila, and the Chinese to invest in the country. What a joke!  Want Chinese money but intent on upsetting China. Filipinos are not realists.

Temasek: Rebalancing its Chinese bank portfolio

In Banks, China, Temasek on 03/05/2012 at 6:04 pm

Last month, Temasek bought US$2.3bn worth of shares in Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), taking its overall stake in the bank to 1.3%. I commented that it was increasing its bet on the big Chinese banks (it owned big stakes in three of them) when the mood on them was getting bearish.

Well it is now sell US$2.4bn worth of its shares in Bank of China and China Construction Bank.

So overall, it is reducing its stakes in BoC and CCB (locking in some profits: it got into these at very attractive prices as a cornerstone pre-IPO investor) while adding a stake in ICBC to the mix at a slight discount to the market.

Update on 4 May 2012 at 3.10pm: More details

Temasek’s Chinese banks have an unending appetite for capital

In Banks, China, Temasek on 27/04/2012 at 6:54 pm

Regular readers will know that Temasek’s investments in Bank of China and China Construction Bank are great investments. It came in as a pre-IPO cornerstone investor and unlike the Western banks that had similar status had not sold out. Gd friend of China. It trades out and in of these stocks to make realised profits. But these trading profits are peanuts as the trading positions are peanuts in relation to its holdings in these banks

And that it recently bot Goldman Sach’s remaining stake in ICBC, at a slight discount to its mkt price. 

As this article explains these banks have an unending appetite for capital because they are “squeezed for capital”. So Temasek has to be willing to cough up more of our money if it wants to avoid being diluted when rights issues are called.

S-Chips are not the only Chinese junk exports, ask the US and HK

In China, Hong Kong on 23/04/2012 at 6:44 pm

The 180 Chinese companies that went public around the world since the beginning of 2010 are trading at an average of 21%  below their IPO prices, Bloomberg News reports.

In Singapore, the third-biggest market for such listings after Hong Kong and New York, eight Chinese companies that went public in 2010 have declined an average of 47 percent from their offer prices, the data show. That compares with a drop of 15 percent for the 23 non-Chinese firms that had IPOs in 2010.

And trading volumes are shrinking. In the last 12 months, trading volumes in S-Chips have halved. [Update on 24 April 2012 at 7.20pm]

But HK and the US are doing something. Regulators in Hong Kong are set to propose rules that would make banks liable for faulty IPO documents, Reuters reports. And earlier today, Hong Kong’s securities regulator fined a brokerage firm and revoked its corporate finance licence. Mega Capital (Asia) has been fined HK$42m (US$5.4mfor “inadequate and sub-standard” diligence work and “failure to act independently”. The firm was the sole adviser to Hontex International, which had raised HK$1bn via a share sale in 2009. BBC Online

In the US, the SEC and FBI have been investigating people allegedly involved in fraud in China-based companies listed on US exchanges. Latest [25 April 2012] SEC investigations and analysis of the complicated structure that overseas listed Chinese cos (including S-Chips) have to adopt to list overseas which makes malpractice easier..

Err waz happening here? We are told by an SGX non-executive director that SGX is “a private club” despite it regulatory role. He said this recently when representing SGX in court as SGX’s lawyer in a case involving a S–Chip. Article 14 analyses the case.

When will this happen to a S-Chip?

In China, Corporate governance on 22/04/2012 at 7:20 pm

It may be a tiny Chinese educational company worth a little over $200 million. But the ChinaCast Education Corporation has found itself embroiled in a battle worthy of a John Grisham novel.

Its ousted chief executive, Ron Chan, has been accused of aiding in the disappearance of ChinaCast’s chops — ornate corporate seals that are needed to approve everything from paychecks to contracts.

And recently more than a dozen men claiming an association with Mr. Chan burst into the company’s Shanghai office twice, violently carting off several computers from the finance department, according to a United States regulatory filing.

No wonder S-chips are finding it difficult to get people to be non-executive or independent directors.  And the row between China Sky’s former independent director Yeap Wai Kong and SGX doesn’t help. He took SGX to court in an attempt to quash its public reprimand issued against him in December 2011. The court is hearing the case.

ANZ Bank attractive to Chinese strategic buyer?

In Banks, China on 20/04/2012 at 7:24 pm

An Australian who recently retired as head of Standard Chartered’s business in China believes there’s a strong chance of a major Chinese lender picking up a cornerstone stake in one of Oz’s big four banks within a few years. The Age carried an interview with Mike Pratt, , who says it’s “highly possible” that a major Chinese player will take a stake of up to 15%  in a major Australian bank this decade”.

ANZ Bank would make the most sense, given its super-regional bank strategy. Commonwealth Bank is increasing its presence in Asia but is nowhere as regional as ANZ Bank.

Westpac (a portmanteau of “Western-Pacific”) despite its name, and National Australia Bank both focus on Oz after misadventures abroad.

Analysing Temasek’s investment in another Chinese bank

In Banks, China, Financial competency, Temasek on 16/04/2012 at 7:06 pm

Temasek has agreed to buy Goldman Sachs’s shares in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank. It will buy US$2.3bn worth of ICBC shares, taking its stake to 1.3% in the bank.

In an interview with Reuters at the end of March, Ho Ching’s presumed successor-in-training, Temasek’s head of portfolio management,acknowledged the heavy allocation to financials, but noted that it holds four very good banks: Bank of China, China Construction Bank, DBS Group and Standard Chartered. Well it has added ICBC to this list, and at a price close to the market price, unlike the stakes in the other two Chinese banks where it got a “special” price as a pre-IPO cornerstone investor.

But is it a wise move?

True, since the lows last October of the Chinese and HK stock markets, the shares of the four leading Chinese banks (including Bank of China, China Construction Bank and ICBC) have gone up by more than half, easily outperforming the broader market.

But since March, prices have been off (but masked by general market falls) because of concerns abt China’s growth, bad loans and comments by the  Chinese PM, Wen Jiabao, who hinted  of breaking the monopoly state-owned lenders have enjoyed in China’s banking sector. (The sector is dominated by four big state-owned banks and Temasek now has significant stakes in three of them.)

Mr Wen said that their monopoly was hurting businesses in the country, as they had few options to raise capital.

“Frankly, our banks make profits far too easily. Why? Because a small number of major banks occupy a monopoly position, meaning one can only go to them for loans and capital,” he was quoted as saying by China National Radio. “That’s why right now, as we’re dealing with the issue of getting private capital into the finance sector, essentially, that means we have to break up their monopoly.”

The lack of easy availability of capital has often been cited as threat to growth of small and medium-sized businesses in China. There have been fears that some of these businesses, seen as key to China’s growth, may turn to unofficial sectors for capital, increasing their borrowing costs substantially

But Temasek could be betting on, “Wen has one year left [in his term].” This was said by an unnamed Chinese state banker quoted by Reuters. “This is a task for the next generation of leaders. It cannot be accomplished within one year.”

But the banker could be wrong, Wen could be telling us what has been agreed upon between his generation and the next generation of leaders.

Remember, It took a beating on its finance industry holdings after the 2008 crisis, losing about $5 billion in stakes held in Barclays and Merrill Lynch, now part of Bank of America. It has since trimmed its financial holdings by 4 percentage points to 36 percent of the portfolio. Last month, it sold a 1.4 percent stake in India’s No.2 lender ICICI Bank. From said Reuters reported.

And of the remaining two “very good banks” where Temasek has significant stakes, DBS has juz decided to buy Temasek’s stake in Bank Danamon. Management will now be preoccupied with getting the deal approved by the Indonesian authorities, then integrating the bank into DBS. Before this deal, management had finally got to grips with DBS’s operational problems. The danger is that the focus on the Danamon deal may lead to backsliding in the area of operatons.

The genuine jewel is StanChart, but by global standards, it is “peanuts”.

Another day, another sucker

In China, Corporate governance on 21/03/2012 at 8:53 am

First it was SGX, then US exchanges, now London’s AIM the target for Chinese IPO scammers?

A Gamble Too Far? Pinoys gamble on China

In Casinos, China on 15/03/2012 at 9:45 am

The Philippines is not just ahead of other new casino markets [like South Korea, Japan and Taiwan]; it also has several key benefits over the more established ones, according to Gustino De Marco, vice-president at the Hong Kong-based brokerage BTIG and a specialist in this area.

Firstly, it has a strong domestic demand and the type of games Filipinos like to play are the high risk-high reward games such as slot machines, which give better returns to the casino operator than card tables.

Another attraction is geography, with the Philippines only a few hours flight from China, Japan and South Korea, where most high-rolling Asian gamers come from.

And while it is near China, it is not under any kind of Chinese jurisdiction. So, unlike Macau, which in recent years has had to ramp up its gambling tax and impose certain visa restrictions on Chinese gamers, the Philippines is free to offer all the incentives it can.

But is it realistic for the Filipinos to expect the Chinese authorities* and patriotic Chinese to co-operate when the Filipino government is the most hawkish of all the ASEAN nations when it comes to territotial disputes with China? The Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (a S’pore government statutory board thhin-tank) says in its inaugral ASEAN Monitor dated February 2012: Despite the weakness of its armed forces, the Philippines has assumed the role as the most outspoken of four Southeast Asian claimants against China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea. President Benigno Aquino has taken the lead in trying to rally ASEAN behind a common policy on the South China Sea, mainly to present a united front in negotiations with Beijing over acode of conduct. Defying threats from official Chinese media, Manila has encouraged the US to increase its military presence in the Philippines and supply the country with additional resources to patrol its waters … Will the Philippinegovernment maintain its hard line over the South China Sea, or prove as susceptible to China’s entreaties as some of its predecessors?


*They could make travelling to the Philippines inconvenient.

Wilmar: Beneficiary of China slow-down?

In China, Economy on 13/03/2012 at 6:47 am

One reason why Wilmar had such a bad set of results was because it’s Jing Long YU (China’s biigest cooking oil brand) could not raise prices because of administrative measures imposed by the government to control inflation. Pre-tax margins in this segment more than halved.

Now that Chinese inflation has fallen to a 20-month low in February, Wilmar should be able to raise prices for this brand?

Due diligence: a cautionary tale

In China on 29/02/2012 at 6:42 am

The fraud at Puda Coal, a Chinese company traded in the United States, was spelled out in documents that were publicly available months before the company raised $100 million from investors, but it appears no one bothered to look, writes Floyd Norris of The New York Times.

More chillingly is that the the Chinese authorities are making it more difficult to inspect publicly-filed documents, often informing the filers who are asking for filings.

So play, play in China at yr own risk. Like having unprotected sex.

China Sky shows how impotent SGX is when it comes to China stocks. Can only reprimand directors. I tot it damned funny that the CEO (and a major shareholder) could juz resign like that,

Don’t underestimate the US

In China on 22/02/2012 at 6:04 am

This is another of an occassional series on why Chinese chauvinists and Cina Tua Kee lovers should be careful about crowing of the coming hegemony of China, and the fall of the US.

A US company is a major beneficiary of the Chinese love of eating fried chicken.

The US-based company that owns the KFC fast food chain has again reported solid growth figures fuelled by demand in China despite increasing food and labour costs in China. Revenue from Yum’s restaurants in China fell 2.4% to 19.7% in the last quarter from the year before, due to wage inflation of 20% and an 8% rise in commodity prices. The company says the Chinese market is crucial to its success.

“We opened a record 656 new restaurants and delivered extraordinary same-store sales growth of 19%,” said David C. Novak, chairman and CEO of Yum! Brands.

“Clearly our KFC and Pizza Hut brands in China continued to strengthen their category-leading positions.”

Yum! Brands has reported better-than-expected profits for the fourth quarter of 2011, jumping 30% from the same period last year. Net income for the three months ending in December was US$356m.

FBI in US, SIAS, SGX here

In China, Corporate governance on 02/02/2012 at 8:49 am

FBI investigating adviser on Chinese reverse mergers following a spate of problems with these listcos. No such luck here for investors here in S-Chips, despite the well documented problems. Investors only got SIAS and SGX.

I mean even HK securities authority seems to be more active in taking action against Chinese listcos (see bit towards end of article).

Metro: Share price of 0.695 includes 0.36 of net cash

In China, Property on 30/01/2012 at 5:40 am

DMG & Partners Securities on 27 December 2011, issued a “Buy” call on Metro Holdings. As the price remains unchanged at 0.695 (despite a strong market); and given that less the net cash, the stock is only trading at 0.335;  and a yield of almost 3% (historical), it’s something worth exploring despite it being a China play, and a property one at that.

(Background: Metro was founded in 1957 as a department store operator and became a household name. It diversified into property development in the 1990s and was one of the early investors in China’s real estate market, thereby missing the bullet of being a retailer here.)

It has since built up a portfolio of prime commercial properties in Tier-1 cities in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou, as well as several property projects and joint ventures in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. Key properties that the group owns include Metro City and EC Mall in Beijing, Metro City and Metro Tower in Shanghai and GIE Tower in Guangzhou.

Leveraging on the group’s retail experience, Metro has chalked up an impressive track record as a mall operator and investor in China. To date, all its property ventures have been profitable, with past divestments making gains of 5-25 per cent premium over book value.

Over the past five years, shareholders’ equity compounded at a CAGR of 9 per cent. This was achieved without the use of excessive leverage given management’s conservative style. Its strong balance sheet (net cash of 36 cents) allows it to deploy capital opportunistically. The ability to recycle capital and profits into new projects has been a hallmark of Metro’s management.

The company is in the midst of selling its 50 per cent stake in Metro City Beijing for 1.25 billion yuan (S$247.5 million), a 50 per cent premium over its latest valuation. Should the deal go through, Metro will be able to book a pretax profit of $87.4 million. We estimate this will lift book NAV by nine cents/share.

On our estimates, the stock has an RNAV of $1.02 billion, or $1.23/share, after netting out liabilities. At current price, the stock is trading at a steep discount of 45 per cent to RNAV. Our target price for the stock is $0.86, based on a 30 per cent discount to RNAV.

Shan Gao Huang-di Yuan (“The mountains are high and the emperor is far away”)

In China, Corporate governance on 16/01/2012 at 6:01 am

It was SGX managers that were keen on China listings in the late 1990s and early noughties. They got their mult—million bonuses, but minority shareholders in many S-Chips got the worms. Now SGX has all kind of rules to try to ensure good corporate governance. But as this shows, the mgt of a Chinese co listed on NASDAQ, doesn’t care a damned abt US laws, confirming the experience of investors here on the attitude of the management of S-Chips to S’pore laws and SGX’s rules.

If ChinaCast again loses in the Delaware courts, the question is, what will it do afterward? The Chinese company could simply refuse to honor the court’s order. It has no assets in the United States, so it could easily ignore any monetary fine. However, it is listed in the United States and is subject to S.E.C. supervision; such an act is likely to crater its stock price. The likelihood of such a response is low, but it appears that ChinaCast’s current management is going to fight this coup to the bitter end. Expect more maneuvering by all parties involved.

There is a wider lesson here. It is hard to know the real facts in this case given the murky nature and distance of the events, but whatever the truth is, investing in companies based in a foreign country is risky not only because the rule of law is weaker, but also because of cultural differences.

Foreign companies are not as familiar with United States practices and laws governing domestic corporations. They are sometimes more willing to push the envelope, either out of cultural inexperience or simple ignorance. ChinaCast itself appears to have been a bit behind the ball in getting good advice.

 Sigh. Taz the scandal, not PM and ministers earning millions. But SGX listing cos that are difficult for S’pore-based investors to monitor, and police.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DBS bullish on China infrastructure play MIIF

In China, Infrastructure on 29/11/2011 at 6:19 am

In a note dated 25 November 2011, DBS is bullish on MIIF. Interesting as there is current net cash of about S$115 m and  prospective yield of about 10.5% assuming mgt is correct. My previous post in January this year reflects my concerns about this stock. But it could be I’m wrong, and DBS is correct. Anyway, nearly a year has passed.

International Infrastructure Fund (MIIF) is now leaner, fitter and wholly Asia-focused … MIIF has divested its non-Asian assets, and repaid corporate level loans with the sale proceeds … a cleaner balance sheet with current net cash of about $115 million.

The sale of stakes in other funds also eliminated the black-box problem (assets with limited financial visibility) and the fund now focuses purely on key Asian infrastructure assets.

MIIF’s three key investments

Taiwan Broadband Communications (TBC), the third largest cable TV network in Taiwan;

— Hua Nan Expressway (HNE), a 31 km urban toll road in Guangzhou, China; and

— Changshu Xinghua Port (CXP), a multipurpose port in the Yangtze River Delta region of China.

We visited these …  impressed by the management and operations … fairly confident of steady organic dividend growth from CXP and TBC, though traffic growth at HNE could face some near-term roadblocks. MIIF [has] used its surplus cash (from the sale of prior investments) to increase its stake in TBC from 20 per cent to 47.5 per cent …  higher dividend receipts from TBC.

MIIF paid out a three-cent dividend for FY2010. After restructuring its portfolio, MIIF is now guiding for a dividend per share of 5.5 cents for FY2011, based on expected cash flow generation plus existing cash reserves (2.75 cents already declared for H1 2011). We expect this is achievable and given the healthy implied yield of close to 10.5 per cent at current prices, we are reinstating coverage with a ‘buy’ call and TP of S$0.64, based on a discounted cash flow valuation of underlying assets. The share buyback programme … provides further support …

Temasek: Where things can go wrong.

In China, Temasek on 19/10/2011 at 6:44 am

Credit Suisse analyst Sanjay Jain said in a report last week that he thinks that up to 12%  of all of China’s outstanding loans may go bad and non-performing loans may likely account for all of the banks’ equity. Current NPL ratios hover at around 1% or the top Chinese banks.

Ops a daisy. As Temasek has major (and so far very profitable) stakes in two of China’s top four bank, Bank of China (4%) and Construction Bank of China (7%), predictions such as this (and Credit Suisse is not alone, just the latest and most pessimistic) should worry S’poreans.

As Temasek got the initial substantial stakes at bargain prices (courtesy of the Chinese government), selling part or all these stakes requires Chinese approval. At a time when the Chinese government is supporting the shares of the major four banks, such approval is unlikely.

Not another debacle like Shin, ABC Learning, Merrill Lynch or Barclays in the making?

Temasek the hedge fund?

In Banks, China, Temasek on 01/09/2011 at 8:29 am

A consortium that includes Temasek and its wholly owned hedge fund Seatown Holdings has acquired a 5% stake in China Construction Bank it was reported on 30 August 2011

It had unloaded a portion of its own stake in the Chinese lender about a month ago, when, by my calculations, the price of CCB shares was  abt 10% higher. And given that it bought the latest batch of shares at a discount, Temask could have made 20% on the sale and repurchase.

Gd trade.

Description of trades

China: Not immune to Western slowdown?

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

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

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

When China plays fail in US

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

The shareholders of dud China plays are increasingly filing class-action lawsuits against the companies, auditors and even the investment banks. The auditors and banks have deep pockets.

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

A problem S’pore & China share

In China, Economy on 12/07/2011 at 7:08 am

In an image entitled Live At The High Place, the photographer and performance artist Li Wei stands at the base of an inverted human pyramid in front of the Sanlitun Village shopping centre in Beijing. On his shoulders are balanced four people; on theirs, six more. The human sculpture portrays the impact of China’s one-child policy – as a generation of only children, now adults, contemplate looking after increasing numbers of older relatives. BBC report

In S’pore it was a two-child policy and “babies are for graduate mums only” (OK I exaggerate on the latter, but you know what I mean) but the effect is still the same.

To solve this goof-up, the government then introduced the FT policy, except that FTs turned out in many cases to be Foreign Trash (they are veerry cheap) rather than the Foreign Talents. Now we are waiting to see how this FT balls-up will be solved. What with Tharman supervising the manpower ministry, I am reasonably optimistic something will be done that will satisfy the people. Especially since at least 40% of the  voters are angry with the FT policy in its present form.

China play: when due diligence is not enough

In China, Corporate governance on 27/06/2011 at 9:54 am

The hedgie who made a fortune shorting subprime mortgages, and who made money buying BoA when one Temasek was selling, recently lost US$100m over a China play despite doing serious due diligence.

If such an investor with all his resources and acumen, can still get snookered, what makes the ordinary retail investor here think he can do better?

Ignore S-Chips? They can ruin yr finances.

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

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

Some see serious trouble ahead, some see the troubles as to be expected in a rapidly expanding economy, and are notb that serious.

And do remember Temasek has big bets on China.

So does GIC.

S-Chips: Sumething SIAS could do

In China, Corporate governance on 11/06/2011 at 4:45 pm

SIAS is, as usual, calling for more measures to safeguard investors’ interesting following yet another S-Chip fiasco.

SIAS has a research department. Why can’t it do what Muddy Waters Research is doing? This US firm has issued damning reports on five Chinese cos listed in the US. He approaches each case like an investigation, sifting through corporate registration documents and even hiring private investigators to pose as potential business partners.

Perennial Retail Trust: the case against

In China, Property, Reits on 03/06/2011 at 10:36 am

In today’s ST, Perennial China Retail Trust took out a full-page ad in colour in ST to extol the IPO’s merits.

Two pages away, ST carried a story headlined ” CapitaLand’s share dip linked to China”. In juz slightly smaller type face, the headline went on, “Poor showing due to concerns over firm’s greater exposure, vulnerability to policy changes”.

If I were Perennial, I’d ask ST for a refund. This headline sums up the thesis why this is an IPO to avoid.

DBS bullish on Hutch Port at US$0.95

In China, Infrastructure on 02/06/2011 at 6:29 am

Find it difficult to poke holes in DBS’ analysis. But note DBS was one of the IPO mgr and that HPH is trading below its IPO price of US$1.01. DBS says:

Firm prospects over the short and medium term. We like HPH Trust for its stable and growing earnings profile, which we believe will be driven by continued rising trade volumes into and out of the Pearl River Delta region, translating into an annual growth of 10 per cent in distributions to unit-holders for the next few years.

HPH Trust is due to report its interim results by mid-August, and we are expecting a distribution per unit (DPU) of about 1.8 US cents to be declared.

Maintain ‘buy’ and US$1.15 TP. Given that HPH Trust seems to be well on its way to meeting our projections in FY2011 and FY2012, current FY2011 and FY2012 yields look very attractive at 6.6 per cent and 7.2 per cent, respectively; expect DPU compound annual growth rate of 10 per cent up to 2013.

Our target price implies a total return potential in excess of 30 per cent at current prices. Among Singapore-listed Reits, business trusts and high yield plays, HPH Trust offers one of the highest combinations of yield and DPU growth.

Yet another reason to avoid S-Chips

In China on 16/05/2011 at 10:07 am

This story tells how Yahoo may have been taken for a ride in China: Yahoo is upset with its Chinese partner Alibaba over the latter’s transfer of a major internet asset to its chief executive.

If a major MNC, with its legions of lawyers, accountants and executives, can end up in this type of situation, wouldn’t it be better for retail investors to avoid S-Chips as a matter of principle?

Stop worrying, start buying

In China, Investments on 15/05/2011 at 9:45 am

Jim O’Neill, chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said investors should shed their pessimism and stop hoarding cash amid prospects for a global stock rally that could start in China.

Bloomberg story. Note Goldman is setting up a yuan-denominated fund to invest in China.

Another US China bull

In China on 01/05/2011 at 6:30 am

A private equity boss prefers China to US.

Remember Warren Buffett is bullish on China but remains committed to investing in the US.

Gd reasons to continue avoiding S-Chips

In China, Corporate governance, Uncategorized on 18/04/2011 at 12:07 pm

SGX has mandated that S-Chips introduce new measures that could give them more control over their mainland-based legal representative or top executives.

But “constructive”, “nation-building” Today reports that there practical problems.

“If you don’t have the cooperation of the legal rep, then you might not be able to go through the whole procedure and then to effect the removal of the legal rep because you can foresee that the legal rep will not give full cooperation in helping you to remove himself,” said Mr Lin Song, co-head of international China practice group at law firm KhattarWong.

The lawyer was referring to the paperwork involved in effecting the removal of the Chinese-backed legal representative. Company transactions become binding only when they bear the firm’s corporate seal and the power to affix this seal is vested only in the legal representative.

“The issue is more on the execution level even though you might have in the articles of association all these provisions when you really need to remove the legal rep … you may face difficulty,” Mr Lin said.

“For example, the listed company might be required to present the local authority a stamp registration form and other documents which might require the legal rep to sign,” he added.

Mr Robson Lee, partner at Shook Lin & Bok LLP, echoed the same sentiment that the SGX ruling might not be enough to clip the wings of Chinese-backed executives.

Mr Lee, who also sits as a director for S-chip firm Youcan Food International, said there are practical enforcement difficulties to ensure compliance by the executive management that are based in China.

“It would be better to put in place the necessary legal provisions in the articles of association to give the board of the listed company the legal right to intervene when things go wrong,” he said.


Will MAS ever say this?

In China on 31/03/2011 at 6:39 am

Martin Wheatley, the outgoing head of Hong Kong’s securities market regulator, said today that sponsors’ due diligence of initial public offerings has been “inadequate” at times.

“In many cases, sponsors are spread too thinly in terms of the number of deals they’re bringing to the market at any one time”.

Hong Kong’s regulator may make sponsors of IPOs in the city liable for statements in their clients’ prospectuses to prevent fraud of locally listed Chinese companies.

Bloomberg story

Never ever heard any MAS official say there was anything wrong with sponsors’ due diligence despite some new listcos coming out with profit warnings shortly after being listed.

I’ve been told that MAS does not inspect sponsors to ensure that they are following “best practices”.  It is left to SGX. A few years ago, a then prominent IPO sponsor was “suspended” from bringing new listings to market.

The HK proposal to make sponsors of IPOs in the city liable for statements in their clients’ prospectuses is a gd one, and should be adopted to prevent fraud in listing S-Chips.

How can independent director of troubled S-Chip resign?

In China, Corporate governance on 28/03/2011 at 1:35 pm

Hongwei’s independent director Ji Yicheng has resigned saying,”personal reasons, heavy workload”.  If the director of a troubled listco can quit when the listco gets into trouble,  then what is corporate governance all abt? Such an action is making a mockery of the responsibilities of being an independent director

The SGX must do something to prevent an independent director of a troubled S-Chip, indeed any troubled listco, from resigning. Such a resignation must have the approval of SGX.

The directores at the time the company got into into trouble must sort out the mess.  They cannot be allowed to “move on”.


CapitaLand: The peril of being a China play?

In China, Property on 25/03/2011 at 7:17 am

CapitaLand is trading below its FY2010 NAV per share of S$3.32. This has not been seen since September 2009 to May 2010. CapitaLand is currently in a position of balance sheet strength (FY2010: S$7.2 billion cash, 0.18 net gearing), and has balanced exposure to diversified property segments across different geographical regions. DBS Sec

Moreover, the market has assigned no value to any accretion from an expected S$6 billion in capital deployment this year. We update assumptions and maintain a ‘buy’ rating with a fair value of S$4.05 at parity to RNAV.

Me: Nothing to do with balance sheet strength or profitability. Investors are concerned with its large China exposure. And I hear hedgies are shorting it as a proxy bet against Chinese property.

Go buy an island

In China on 03/03/2011 at 8:32 am

What with the uncertainty in Libya and the coming GE, time to take a break from trying to find gd investments, here and overseas.

Go do sumething more productive? Like fishing? Or buy a Chinese island?

Two more reasons to avoid S-Chips

In China on 01/03/2011 at 7:04 am

Two S-Chips have been suspended because of audit problems.

What more dangers lurk in the S-Chip swamp? Whatever the case, those Ozzies who don’t want ASX to be taken over by SGX have two more reasons.

China Water Play: and its not an S-Chip

In China, Infrastructure on 08/02/2011 at 9:44 am

United Envirotech is owned by local blue chip UEL

OCBC likes the stock despite revising its value downwards by 5% to 0.65. When report was issued on 2 February, the stock had closed at 0.455. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t enter the dragon

In China, Corporate governance on 27/01/2011 at 5:20 am

To avoid being shafted.

I was reading these Shanghai Asia related letters to the press a couple of weeks was and preening myself myself for giving Shanghai Asia a miss several yrs ago. What attracted me then was that the company was making foil paper for cigarette manufacturers. And the Chinese were (and are) smoking all the way to hell.

But fast forward to today and this business is being sold at an unattractive price. Minority shareholders are rightly upset but can’t do anything because the controlling shareholder supports the deal.

I gave it a miss because S-Chips were then in the Wild, Wild West when it came to corporate governance. They still are it seems, notwithstanding the efforts of SGX and the SIAS, the shareholders’ champ, to assure us that S-Chips are well regulated.

Even Chinese companies listed in the US are considered dodgy by this widely followed writer on all things investments.

So let’s give S-Chips that have everything in China except a few independepent directors here a miss, shall we?

China: Not selling US treasuries

In China on 23/01/2011 at 6:47 am

Juz buying via London

If S’pore is as close to China as MM, PM, SM and other ministers, and our “constructive, nation building” media say they are, surprised that the Chinese do not do it via S’pore.

China: Link between weak currency and inflation

In China, Economy on 22/01/2011 at 6:06 am

A gd explanation from a biased economist. He wants to use tariffs to “fix” China.

[I]nflation is the market’s way of undoing currency manipulation. China has been using a weak currency to keep its wages and prices low in dollar terms; market forces have responded by pushing those wages and prices up, eroding that artificial competitive advantage. Some estimates I’ve heard suggest that at current rates of inflation, Chinese undervaluation could be gone in two or three years — not soon enough, but sooner than many expected. Read the rest of this entry »

China: What we don’t hear from our MSM

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

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


Backgrounder: S’pore Inc has big bets on China

The iPAD is Chinese

In China on 18/01/2011 at 5:36 am

According to a report by a pair of economists out of the Asian Development Bank Institute, the success of Apple’s iPhone plays a major role in contributing to the USA’s trade deficit with China. The Wall Street Journal (login required) explains that while sales of the iPhone show around a billion trade surplus with China on paper as of 2009, the actual figure is a lot less because the iPhone is only assembled in China, not designed there. While the wholesale price of an iPhone is 8.96, the value of the only truly “Chinese” part is assembly, valued at .50 per unit. But because the iPhone ships from inside China, the entire value gets added into the trade figures, thus showing the billion trade surplus. If the numbers actually accounted for the true value coming out of China, the surplus for 2009 would have been about million instead — meaning in reality there is an almost billion trade deficit just from the iPhone alone.

The iPHONE is Japanese

Suzhou IPO: Missing from media reports

In China, Infrastructure, Media on 14/01/2011 at 5:49 am

The local media reported that the company managing Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP) could be slated for an initial public offering (IPO) of at least 4.5 billion yuan ($883.3 million), going by conservative estimates.

The project started off with Singapore taking a dominant 65 per cent stake and the Chinese taking the minority interest of 35 per cent. But its shareholding reform in 2001 saw this structure reversed with China taking the majority 65 per cent. Singapore’s interest has since been pared down to 28 per cent following capital injection by new investors.

MM in 2004 listed out four success indicators for the SIP. They are attracting businesses and investments; urban planning and development; ‘software’ transfer; and finally, a public listing. (Extracts from BT, but others too covered story)

Funny none of them reminds us that S’pore Inc invested US$147m in the park as of 2000, and that the losses then were US$90m. Sumething ST reported years ago.

Could it be because the 28% S’pore Inc owns could be worth US$153m (after dilution)? Financially S’pore Inc could have made some money (US$6m), not taking into account its share of the US$90m accumulated loss. If the loss is taken into account, it would have lost US$52m.

Either way a marginal gain or loss (I’m assuming S’pore Inc didn’t invest more), taking into account, if true, the goodwill that our teaching “tai kor” would have generated among the Chinese, something our ministers and our media constantly like to remind us of.

And S’porean self-haters (many on the internet) would be banging their balls in frustration that S’pore Inc didn’t lose big time. Though they would be consoled a lot of ministers and senior civil servants spent plenty of time on this project.

So it’s very strange that our “constructive, nation building” media did not report this triumph of S’pore Inc? Or am I missing sumething?

But then our media is not first world class, only fourth world class. Everything must be “betterest”. Another example

The economy did 14.7%, highest in Asia. This was trumpeted by our MSM last week.

If our stock market was tops (or near) in Asia, there would be the usually trumpets.

But our mkt as measured by STI only did 10.1%. Read the rest of this entry »

MIIF: Unnoticed China play

In China, Infrastructure on 11/01/2011 at 5:45 am

Macquarie Int’l Infrastructure Fund has transformed itself into a China play with infrastructure assets in China and Taiwan. In 2010, it sold all kinds of investments like nursing homes in Canada.

It promises to be a Asian infrastructure play.

It’s latest presentation (Nov 2010) says it has 37cents in cash, RNAV of 80 cents a share, and no borrowings at MIIF level. But if it’s share of its investments borrowings are included gearing is 57%. Taz the catch.

Got to find out how its investments are valued and its plans for its cash.

Let you know. Wary as MIIF has been a dog with fleas. And if one annualises its Sept dividend payment, it yields abt 5%. Bit low for trust that was promising gd payouts at IPO time.

MIIF prior to the restructuring showed the problems of the model that Temasek and CitySpring mgt aped. Macquarie group was a pioneer of the model of using lots of debt to buy boring utility assets, and then spinning the assets off into trusts. Investors got income, Macquarie got fees at every level. Then the economic crisis struck and all lost out.

Poor China: screwed again

In China, Economy on 09/01/2011 at 5:38 am

China is being shafted again.

China lends money to the US so that Americans can buy Chinese gds. It’s the biggest holder of US govmin bonds, losing billions yearly.

Now it’s lending to EU countries so that EU can buy Chinese. Article China’s support appears aimed at curbing losses on its growing financial investments in Europe, as well as helping to thwart a deeper downturn in an economic bloc that has overtaken the United States as China’s largest trading partner.

All this lending doesn’t reflect that china is the financial hegemon

Lord Keynes said, “If you owe your bank manager a thousand pounds, you are at his mercy. If you owe him a million pounds, he is at your mercy.” The quotation means that if someone owes a large amount of money, the borrower too is at risk.

GLP: Third time lucky

In China, Corporate governance, Logistics on 20/12/2010 at 5:26 am

If you can’t get yr excuses right first time, try and try again.

Finally Global Logistic Properties (GLP) got it right. As I blogged earlier it got its nickers in a twist when explaining why  its prospectus did not disclose a non-compete agreement

Last Wednesday BT reported,”[it] did not specifically disclose information about a non-compete arrangement with ProLogis because it didn’t see the US-based firm as a real threat to its business, sources close to GLP told the media yesterday … GLP had looked into whether ProLogis was likely to re-enter the Chinese market when the non-compete clause expires next February, and felt that the chance was ‘remote’ … it would be hard for ProLogis to restart its mainland China business, as it had sold all its assets and brand name in the country to GLP … They may still have a large operation elsewhere in the world. They may still have a large market cap. But they have no presence in Asia – that’s it,’ said the source on why the non-compete information was not material.

This reasoning I can buy. And it would seem, so does the market. On Friday it was +0.14 to 2.26. It was trading at 2.18 the day before BT had an article abt its non-disclosure. It then fell.

Why did it take so long to come up with a decent explanation  It wrote twice to the media spouting gibberish. Hope it Read the rest of this entry »

HSBC: Returning to its Chinese roots

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

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

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

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

GLP: Foreign brokers love it

In China, Logistics on 30/11/2010 at 5:21 am

Global Logistic Properties (GLP), got  ‘buy’ calls from 4  brokers (3 foreign) last week. It is a “buy” because it is leading provider of logistics facilities in China.

It owns logistics facilities in China and Japan – Asia’s two largest economies – and may expand into other economies (GLP says it is ‘building the leading distribution facility platform in Asia) in the region, stands to benefit from Asia’s strong economic growth. In particular, rise of consumer spending in China will boost profits.

Citi has a target price of $2.78 for GLP. It noted that yields from the sector are typically higher than those from the retail and prime office property segments in fast-developing China, and that the logistics space does not face the high policy risks that GLP’s residential peers are exposed to.

Nomura has a $2.58 price target for the stock. UBS, has a $2.65 price target for the stock.

In addition to these points, DBS says: We derive an RNAV of $2.76 using a sum-of-the-parts analysis that captures the value of its underlying assets as well as potential re-investment opportunities from balance sheet deployment. Our TP of $2.76 is pegged at parity to RNAV. Key risks to investment stem from regulatory and policy as well as global economic conditions.

BTW GIC is its single-largest shareholder.

The touch of Midas

In China on 29/11/2010 at 5:45 am

I mentioned Midas Holdings earlier in the year. Then DMG & Parners and Kim Eng were recommending it, if I recall correctly. Looks like it is an S-Chip that proved sceptics wrong.

A CIMB Research dated  Nov 24 has rated it an “Outperform”.

MIDAS plans to expand its aluminium extrusion capacity further to 70,000 tonnes (+40 per cent) by H1 FY12 after its recent capacity expansion. Coupled with strong results from its metro train maker associated company, we see better earnings growth ahead. As a result, we raise our net profit forecasts for FY10-12 by 1-11 per cent. Our TP rises accordingly from $1.14 to $1.26, still based on 15 times CY12 PE, in line with peers. We see stock catalysts from sizeable contract wins in FY11 from Chinese train makers. Maintain ‘outperform’.

Midas has announced plans to add 20,000 tonnes of capacity by H1 FY12 that would bring its total extrusion capacity to 70,000 tonnes. It may locate the new production lines outside its current plant for strategic reasons, and we see southern Chinese cities as possible locations. In view of its expansion plans, we lift our FY12 average production capacity assumption to 60,000 tonnes.

I hear Kim Eng, DMG & Partners, UOB KH are also recommending the stock.

Chinese officials to people: Don’t panic

In China on 24/11/2010 at 7:06 am

China’s main economic planning agency has moved to reassure people who fear inflation is getting out of control.

But the Shanghai stock market was down on Monday and Tuesday on fears of more measures to control  inflation  especially that of food. The market fell almost 2% on Tuesday.

The BBC Online article continued: The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement that the country had “the capacity” to keep prices in check.

There is particular concern about food price inflation, amid suggestions that some people are hoarding commodities.

But the NDRC said the government had adequate reserves of foodstuffs like poultry, eggs and grain to meet needs.

Food prices jumped 10.1% in October from a year earlier, increasing the overall inflation rate to 4.4%, well above the government’s 3% target.

An oil bull still?

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

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

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

Bloomberg story

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

Global food prices: not time to panic yet!

In China, Commodities on 21/11/2010 at 6:07 am

Still lower than 1980 levels as this chart shows

But big macs are getting more expensive in China. The US policy of QE2 is forcing up the real value of the yuan (via the price of gds, services and food). The more the Chinese defend the exchange rate to prevent the Yuan from appreciating in norminal terms, the more the real value of yuan rises.

The US is still the hegemon.

HSBC’s view of emerging mkts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China plays on S&P 500

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

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

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

China plays: Impact of interest rate rise

In China on 25/10/2010 at 5:25 am

China  announced an unexpected increase of its key interest rates by 0.25 percentage point last week.

Local stockbroker DMG says

Some of the corporates we follow will be positively impacted by the interest rate hike:

There should be a net positive impact on China Essence Group (unrated) with higher borrowing costs likely to be more than offset by savings from US dollar- and Hong Kong dollar-denominated debts. China Essence is a potato starch manufacturer and derives most of its revenue from China’s domestic market. Interest-rate and foreign-exchange risks pertain mainly to its 690 million yuan (S$135 million) in outstanding debts, consisting of a US$50 million short-term bank loan; 90 million yuan in working capital loans; and HK$250 million (S$42 million) in zero-coupon convertible bonds due in December 2011 (with repayable amount at HK$378 million). With a significantly smaller yuan-denominated debt, we see net positive foreign exchange impact on weaker USD and HKD.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Chinese see value in Africa

In Africa, China on 19/10/2010 at 5:19 am

The Chinese (people and state-owned enterprises (SOEs)) are flocking to Angola in darkest Africa. The latter are there for the natural resources that China needs, the former because they see the personal opportunities that they see the SOEs drive into China will bring them. Smart people, the Chinese.

So shouldn’t S’porean entrepreneurs and companies (TLCs, GLCs, and SWFs included) head for Africa? Rather than head for China, or Asia as the govmin keeps encouraging us to do? True Asia esp China waz the place to do in the 80s and 90s and early noughties, but if the Jews of Asia are moving on out of their country into Africa, shouldn’t we?

And admiral Cheng Ho was there in the 15th century.

Are our ministers on auto-pilot mode, or is there something they dislike abt Africans?

BTW when I was a student in London in the late 1970s, I got a lot of stick from African students. They tot one LKY was a racist. I argued that he was simply stating facts. This stance cost me dear: I wasn’t invited to partake of raw stakes of lion, zebra or antelope meat. I love steak tartar.

China: Great Morgan Stanley chartbook

In China on 04/10/2010 at 12:22 pm


Thanks guys.

Whither the price of oil?

In China, Energy on 28/09/2010 at 5:50 am

A stupid question. Upwards and onwards. Juz look at the small cap stocks in S’pore’s offshore marine industry.

But consider this fact reported in “The Squeeze”, Tom Bowyer’s book on the recent history of the oil industry.  China requires three times more oil and gas to manufacture the same item than US or Europe. The equivalent of 16m barrels of oil are wasted every day.

All this means is that if China can get more energy efficient, it can increase output, using less oil.

I’m an energy bull, but this statistic has me wondering if I shld be less bullish.

China Black Swan risks quantified

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

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

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

Risk Category A: Macroeconomic

Risk Event 1: Massive NPLs

Risk Event 2: Local Governments Default

Risk Event 3: Economic Hard Landing

Risk Category B: Policy and Regulatory Changes

Risk Event 4: Rapid Wage Increase

Risk Event 5: Introduction of Property Tax

Risk Event 6: Resource Tax Reform

Risk Category C: Financial Market Shocks

Risk Event 7: Property Bubble Burst

Risk Event 8: Commodity Prices Spike

Risk Category D: External Shocks

Risk Event 9: European Sovereign Debt Crisis Redux

Risk Event 10: Trade Protectionism

A visual summary

S’poreans, Temasek may have a problem

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

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

This makes clear why the Chinese authorities had earlier asked the banks to use a 60% haircut in estimating residential property  losses.

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

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

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


Dogs? Temasek’s Chinese bank investments

In Banks, China, Temasek on 26/08/2010 at 5:15 am

Might sound dumb to ask given that the Chinese banks that Temasek invests in are some of the largest in the world, and given that China’s economy is growing like the bean stalk in the story Jack and the Bean Stalk.  But then Shin, Merrill Lynch and ABC Learning were “no brainers”.

State agency Central Huijin Investments did something strange recently. It has controlling stakes in nearly all of China’s largest banks, including China Construction Bank (6% owned by Temasek), Agricultural Bank of China (StanChart is a cornerstone investor with abt 1% paying US$500m for this privilege) and Bank of China (4% by Temasek) . Temasek owns 18% of StanChart.

Huijin just raised Rmb40bn (US$5.9bn) as part of  a Rmb187.5bn fund raisng. The aim of raising the Rmb187.5bn is to recapitalise  Chinese banks it controlled.

Sounds prudent given the explosive loan growth rates of the banks brought about by Chinese attempts to stimulate the economy.

But this is the weird bit: the state-controlled banks were estimated to have bought more than 80% of Huijin’s first bond issue, on orders from their shareholder. If this is repeated, this means the Chinese banks are lending money to their controlling shareholder so that the shareholder can buy shares in them.  No new cash is invested by the controlling shareholder.

Sounds something that only Wall Street cowboys would dream of doing.

Except that the Wall Street cowboys would be in jail for pulling off this stunt, unless of course, if a Texan is president.

China: Rerun of US Sub Prime? Part II

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

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

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

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

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

We live in interesting times.

China: Rerun of US Sub Prime? Part I

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

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

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

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

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

We shall see if the results are the same.

Temasek, CapLand: What abt these Chinese property charts?

In China, Property, Temasek on 11/08/2010 at 5:15 am

Courtesy of this blog. And look at the money supply charts too.

No wonder China’s banking regulator told lenders last month to conduct a new round of stress tests to gauge the impact of residential property prices falling as much as 6o% in the hardest-hit markets. Banks were instructed to include worst-case scenarios of prices dropping 50- 60% in cities where they have risen excessively. Previous stress tests carried out in the past year assumed home-price declines of as much as 30%.

Expectations seem to be for a sharp decline in Chinese property prices over the next two years, with some, and perhaps significant, impact on Chinese banks.

Some time back it was reported that Temasek had emerged as one of the top 10 acquirers in the Greater China region,

after doing six deals worth US$1.47 billion since 2005. According to a market M&A report commissioned by Deloitte, Temasek is ranked No 9 – after Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, which are No 7 and No 8 respectively. The report Read the rest of this entry »

Temasek: China banks’ loans

In Banks, China, Temasek on 31/07/2010 at 7:14 am

Chinese banks may struggle to recoup about 23%  of the Rmb7,700bn (US$1,100bn) they’ve lent to finance local government infrastructure projects . reports Bloomberg quoting “a person with knowledge of data collected by the nation’s regulator”.

The estimate implies US$261bn of debt will go bad, almost five times the US$53.5bn the nation’s five largest banks are raising to replenish capital. Remember Temasek owns 4% of Bank of China and 6% of China Construction Bank, both of which have raised more capital from shareholders.  And 18% -owned StanChart  invested $500 million in Agricultural Bank of China’s recent IPO.

If the estimate proves even a bit correct, Temasek will be having to invest more in the next few years  to avoid dilution.

Related post

China: No premium for A shares

In China on 30/07/2010 at 5:36 am

Mainland Chinese investors traditionally had to pay a huge premium for shares listed domestically over what those same shares trade for in Hong Kong. The premium has disappeared. Why?

Prices in Shanghai and Shenzhen have fallen by 22% and 15% respectively this year, making the mainland one of the world’s worst-performing markets. In Hong Kong prices of shares in the same companies have fallen far less. Outsiders appear more willing to believe China’s growth story than the Chinese.

Investors no longer have funds. .Of the US$19bn raised recently by Agricultural Bank of China, more than half came from other Chinese state-owned organisations. Every other big bank is raising more capital. Chinese companies raised $54 billion in equity in the first half of this year (before the AgBank listing) and another $80 billion in debt, according to Dealogic.

The moves to liberalise the yuan could play a part.

But Chinese companies are still trying to list.

Singapore’s Economy — Clouds a’plenty

In China, Economy on 16/07/2010 at 5:48 am

Strange tot in light of broker upgrades as reported in BT

But the boss of Rio Tinto (one of the three cos that supplies China with iron ore)  is  concerned that the global economy is very volatile). He is concerned about a slow down in China. But if Intel’s more optimistic view is correct, let the gd times roll on.  Article on the contrasting view of both companies.

And if the economy is so strong,why the slowdown in house sales in June and the slight dip in retail sales? Article reporting this news.

GE: Opportunities beyond China

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

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

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

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

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

Temasek Gp are big in China

Mentality of China bulls

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

China: a problem S’pore doesn’t have

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

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

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

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

Midas: Here be value?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Frontier Markets: Do they offer value?

In China, Emerging markets on 18/05/2010 at 5:52 am

Where is the dividing line between frontier and emerging markets? “It’s not very clear,” said emerging markets specialist Mark Mobius of Templeton. “Generally speaking, frontier markets are those that are relatively small and illiquid and have been pretty much ignored up to now.

‘Cambodia or Sri Lanka would be examples, along with Vietnam and Pakistan. But then you have other markets, like those in the Middle East which have not traditionally been part of emerging markets, such as Kuwait, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.”

By his definition, we have three around us: Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Interested in Cambodia and Laos?

Frontier Investment and Development Partners says that investment in China’s neighbours has become an option for those interested in China itself, reports the FT. FIDP claims to be a private equity investor.

FIDP, which has offices in Singapore, Cambodia and Mongolia, has launched its Cambodia and Laos fund, and is due to start investing its first $50m (£32m, €37m) by July. The fund is “an extended China play”, designed to profit from exports to China as well as the shift of investor interest from west to east. It will focus largely on agriculture and infrastructure, seeking to benefit from China’s continued demand for raw materials and its desire for food security and the need to improve transportation links for trade

Both Cambodia and Laos boast swathes of undeveloped land and untapped reserves of resources. The discovery of oil reserves off the south-west coast of Cambodia has yet to be quantified and the potential for Laos to become a major source of hydropower using the Mekong river has also not yet been utilised. But … these countries are primed for rapid growth.

And as roads are built and an unbroken rail network is created across the region, the proximity to China of countries such as Cambodia and Laos will provide them with an additional advantage over commodity exporters further afield.

China has provided large sums towards developing infrastructure and transportation links in both countries. In March, a Chinese delegation to Cambodia pledged to expand commercial ties between the two countries, including an agreement between telecommunication companies Chinese Huawei Technologies and Cambodia’s CamGSM.

Sino-E: Expectations raised then dashed in three weeks

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

It was less than a month ago that Sino-Environment annced that S$14 million had been “secured”. and implied that things were looking up

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

Were the independent directors doing the right thing earlier this year?

Or were they intent on making sure they could not be sued?

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

AIA deal: Why big Pru shareholders upset

In China, Insurance on 14/05/2010 at 5:16 am

“You sell billions of cheap stuff to buy billions of expensive stuff,” James Clunie, manager of the 1.5 billion- pound Scottish Widows fund, said in an interview in Edinburgh on May 7. “It’s a bad deal. It doesn’t look sensible,” reported the FT.

He was referring to fact that Pru is trading at around 1 x Embedded Value* and in return Pru is buying AIA for 1.69 X EV, when AIA’s two major markets S’pore and HK are not inmature insurance markets .  The Pru is paying in their view for blue skies in China, where AIA has a presence but nothing to shout about unlike the big Chinese insurers who are trading at 2 X EV.

He is not the only one upset. The largest single shareholder with 12%, Capital Mgt is upset. One of its fund mgrs has set up a site advocating that someone pls bid for Pru and split it up.

Warren Buffett if he had been a Pru shareholder would agree with them.  “You simply can’t exchange an undervalued stock for a fully-valued one without hurting your shareholders,” he recently said. And he had earlier criticised Kraft for placing out its shares at lower prices than it had earlier bot back shares, in order to finance the Cadbury takeover, illustrating the problem companies face when buying back in what in retrospect is a bear market.

*“Embedded value” (the sum of net assets plus the current value of future profits from existing policies) assumes that an insurer will write no more new business, nor make any gains on its investments. That is why most recent deals in mature markets have been completed at about 1.2 times – a small premium for control, for cost synergies, and for growth potential. The 1.69 times that the UK insurer is proposing to pay seems bullish, given that AIA’s two biggest markets by gross written premiums are Hong Kong and Singapore, already overrun by agents. FT

Temasek: Update on its China bank investments

In Banks, China, Temasek on 05/05/2010 at 5:49 am

As readers will be aware Temasek has strategic stakes in Bank of China (4%) and China Construction Bank (6%), two of the four biggest Chinese banks.

These investments have done well, but need cash because of the loans they were directed to make last year, when China wanted domestic demand to make up for weak exports.

China Construction Bank has announced a plan to boost a balance sheet that has been eroded by a year-long lending binge. The world’s second-largest lender by market value, plans to raise up to Rmb75 billion (US$11 billion) from a rights issue which, if successful, will be the largest offering of its kind in Asia.

CCB will offer 0.7 rights share for every 10 existing A- and H-shares. The price will be no more than Rmb4.50 per rights share, according to a stock exchange filing on Thursday night last week.

Under the plan, approximately 16.36 billion new shares will be issued, of which 15.7 billion will be Hong Kong-listed H-shares directed to overseas investors. Only 630 million are Shanghai-listed A-shares earmarked for mainland investors. The proposal is pending shareholder and regulatory approvals.

Bank of China  announced plans to sell U$5.8 billion worth of convertible bonds sometime back and we shall see if it needs more cash*.

AND Chinese banks, flush from record profits that were bolstered by a yearlong lending binge, are expected to face a business slowdown as Beijing tries to slow lending to keep the economy from overheating.

Full article from NYT.


Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank by market value, and Bank of China, the country’s third largest lender by assets, are reconsidering previously announced plans to sell convertible bonds and new shares in Shanghai and Hong Kong, according to analysts and Chinese media reports. The banks might be under pressure from to sell shares through a rights issue to existing large shareholders and by selling more shares in Hong Kong than in Shanghai, as a means of stabilising the Shanghai market.

Just when you tot it was safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

China: Command & Control

In China, Economy, Property, Temasek on 23/04/2010 at 5:15 am

As the loan officers for a regional branch of a major Chinese bank were preparing to issue more loans their computer screens froze. It was not a system failure due to Vista problems, rather the bank’s intranet network had been deliberately shut down to stop new loans being made. Full article

The purpose of the above is to illustrate that if the authorities feel the need to control the property market, they can be ruthless.

China must tackle its property bubble for the sake of economic health and social stability, even if the market feels some short-term pain in the process, an official financial newspaper said on Thursday.

Monetary tightening, along with steps to control housing demand and expand supply, are the right policy choices for the government, the China Securities Journal said.

The front-page commentary adds to the impression that officials are determined to make a success of their latest crackdown on property speculation. Previous attempts to cool prices have been tempered by a fear of over-tightening because the property sector is a pillar of the economy. Reuters/ NYT report

So investors in S’pore property counters with big exposures in China, be warned.

I’m sure Temasek and its group cos are aware of how brutal the Chinese authorities can be.

But based on the Merrill Lynch/ BoA fiascos, who knows?

“We are short entities that are selling into China”

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

Temask: Profitable holdings require more $

In Banks, China, Temasek on 14/04/2010 at 8:13 am

Err the SDP and its new media allies will spin this as: “Profitable investments — requires more money. Waz happening Temasek?”

As you will be aware Temasek has stakes in two Chinese banks; 4% in Bank of China, and 6% of  China Construction Bank Corporation. These stakes are profitable.

But Temasek would need to invest more if it wants to maintain the size of its stake because they need a lot more capital.

China’s four biggest publicly traded banks (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of Communications , Bank of China, China Construction Bank ) could face a combined capital shortfall of at least Rmb480bn (US$70bn) over the next five years, according to the president of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, reports the FT.

All these banks have announced plans in the past month to raise fresh capital after orders to lend liberally last year. But the total amounts they plan to raise fall far short of the five-year estimate of Yang Kaisheng, ICBC president.

Poor Temasek: nothing satisfies critics gunning for you.

Sino-E: Could this happen?

In China, Corporate governance on 14/04/2010 at 6:04 am

If this can happen to a UK listco, which is part of the Hong Leong Gp, could happen to Sino-E or any other S-Chip that has or had management or corporate governance problems.  SIAS and SGX should ask listcos what steps they have taken to prevent sumething similar happening to them in China? FT reports

Millennium & Copthorne, the hotel group, underscored the challenges for western companies operating in China on Monday after it revealed that a former employee at one of its joint ventures there had allegedly sold $48m (£31m) of the venture’s assets without M&C’s permission.

The company said the employee, Cheung Ping Kwong, sold the assets – which included a hotel and development land – in spite of a Chinese newspaper advertisement issued by the joint venture warning that he had been removed from his position at the group and was not authorised to sell the holdings.

Sino-E: More $ down the drain?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Great excuse for telco to buy bank stake

In China, Investments, Telecoms, Temasek on 10/04/2010 at 5:07 am

Some time back, China Mobile agreed to buy 20%  of Shanghai Pudong Development Bank for 39.8 billion renminbi (US$5.8 billion) to expand its electronic payment business.

The reason for the telco to buy such a big stake in a bank:  China Mobile and Pudong Bank will form a strategic alliance to offer wireless finance services including mobile bank cards and payment services, according to a statement  filed with the HKSx.

Wonder if  the corporate communications departments of TLCs, M1, SingTel and Starhub have filed away this excuse. Their company might need to adapt it if it ever has to buy a stake in a bank in the Temasek stable.


In late March according to a Reuters report, Bank of China, China’s fourth largest bank, said it was in talks with Temasek, to set up a rural business bank in China. The bank under discussion would have 40-60 branches, President Li Lihui told reporters at a media briefing to discuss Bank of China’s 2009 results

Now wouldn’t such a bank need wireless expertise and don’t StarHub and SingTel love to do dumb things? Fooie fans still don’t know if we will get World Cup coverage.

DBS: What the new chairman should be looking at II

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previous post on topic

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


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