Reuters blog archive

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba hints at overseas push with SingPost stake

By Ethan Bilby

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Alibaba hasn’t even completed its U.S. initial public offering, but already it is striking out overseas. A $249 million stake in logistics group Singapore Post targets one area where the Chinese e-commerce group may be able to apply its talent. But the concrete benefits of the deal are unclear – besides focusing investors’ attention on the potential value of growth outside the People’s Republic.

Alibaba doesn’t deliver the 11.3 billion orders that go through its sites, instead working with a network of 14 of the mainland’s biggest express shippers. Alibaba gives them information on everything from order volumes to warnings on bad weather to help parcels reach buyers more efficiently. It’s self-serving, since without timely delivery, shoppers might not come back to its Taobao and Tmall sites. But the model could win friends in other developing markets with fragmented shipping like Brazil.

SingPost doesn’t obviously need such help, but for Alibaba, forging friendships in southeast Asia still makes sense. Local Chinese-speaking communities can already use existing websites, and the group wants to create local Taobao marketplaces in Singapore and Malaysia. The latter has a young population, two-thirds of which already has broadband access according to the National IT Council. Just 2 percent of Alibaba’s consumer retail revenue in the nine months ending December last year came from outside China.

from The Great Debate:

Eyewitness Views: From hope to horror in Tiananmen Square

Eyewitness View: From hope to horror in Tiananmen Square On Changan Avenue, a small crowd confronts the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Tiananmen Square after the army stormed the square and the surrounding area the night before. This is near the location a day later where "Tank Man" confronted and momentarily halted a column of the army's tanks leaving the square. (Alan Chin)June 4, 1989. In Chinese the reference is usually made with just the numbers “Six Four,” like in English, “9/11.” As the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen ...

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from Breakingviews:

U.S. firms get caught in China spying crossfire

By Ethan Bilby

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

It’s almost a year since U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping held a cordial “shirt-sleeves summit”. When it comes to the two countries’ internet rivalry, however, bare knuckles have replaced bare forearms. Last week’s indictment by the United States of five Chinese army officers as alleged cyber spies has prompted a backlash against American companies. China’s weapon is shutting them out from future growth.

from Anatole Kaletsky:

China-Russia is a match made in heaven, and that’s scary



As Russian President Vladimir Putin signed Russia’s historic $400 billion gas-supply agreement with China, he must have felt the satisfaction of a chess grandmaster revealing the inexorable outcome of a complicated endgame.

In theory, the next phase of the chess match between Russia and the West in Ukraine will only begin with the Ukrainian presidential election on Sunday. But Putin’s positioning of the pieces means the outcome is pre-ordained, no matter who emerges as the next president in Kiev.

from MacroScope:

PMIs next signpost for ECB

Following a mixed bag of euro zone GDP data last week which showed Germany charging on and Spain holding its own but France stagnating and Italy, Portugal and the Netherlands slipping back into contraction, flash PMI surveys for the euro zone, Germany and France certainly have the power to jolt the markets today.

As things stand, there seems little to dissuade the European Central Bank from loosening policy next month. Five senior sources told us it was  preparing a package of policy options for its early June meeting, including cuts in all its interest rates and targeted measures aimed at boosting lending to small- and mid-sized firms.

from Breakingviews: wins rich price despite poor governance

By Robyn Mak 

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own. has achieved a rich price despite poor governance. China’s second largest e-commerce group priced its shares above the expected range on May 21, raising $1.8 billion. Investors in the initial public offering seem unfazed that the company just disclosed a 5.3 billion yuan ($849 million) loss in the first quarter of 2014, caused by a gift of stock to the company’s chief executive officer. Such a large and unexplained act of generosity should raise red flags.

from Breakingviews:

Russia puts gas-hungry China in a bear hug

By Ethan Bilby
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Russia has signed a long-awaited gas pipeline deal with China, and it leaves the People’s Republic in a bear hug. Russia gets a new market outside the increasingly frosty European Union. Oil major PetroChina gets to balance out some losses from low regulated prices at home. But the optics of the deal shred Beijing’s pretensions to political neutrality.

from MacroScope:

Elusive China gas deal

Vladimir Putin is well into his second and final day of a trip to China during which he was hoping to sign a long-sought gas deal with Beijing. There’s no sign of white smoke so far and if the Russian president leaves empty handed it would be a serious blow.

Gazprom has repeatedly said negotiations are in their final stages but it seems there has been no agreement yet on price and Moscow may have to lower its sights given the prospect of it losing business in Europe, which has been spooked into considering how to secure its energy needs elsewhere in future, has rather strengthened Beijing’s negotiating hand.

from Global Investing:

Discovering Pyongyang’s view with a North Korean diplomat

Last week I went to a very unique session on North Korea which featured a rare appearance of a North Korean diplomat, at London-based policy institute Chatham House.

A wide range of topics -- from North-South relations, human rights, a potential nuclear test to a new generation of young diplomats -- were discussed, but  under the so-called Chatham House rules (meaning I cannot reveal who said what).

from Breakingviews:

Chinese real estate is in real trouble

By John Foley

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

China’s property market is built on a vicious triangle. There are three ways the pressures building in the real estate industry could show: shrinking investment, disappearing funding for developers, and lower prices. Though they’re all related, the effects and remedies are different.