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from Breakingviews:

Democracy snub leaves Hong Kong only bad choices

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Hong Kong’s narrowing options over future leadership elections could have broad repercussions. Voters in the former colony face only bad choices after Beijing proposed a tightly controlled system for choosing its chief executive. The decision escalates the risk of a showdown with protestors. It also suggests China’s leaders care ever less about the rest of the world’s opinion.

The electoral framework handed down by China’s National People’s Congress on Aug. 31 leaves little room for genuine choice. Starting from 2017, Hong Kong chief executive candidates will be vetted by a group of 1,200 people likely to be dominated by Beijing loyalists. Only those who secure the support of more than half the nominating committee will be allowed to face the electorate. Under this approach, universal suffrage in Hong Kong would amount to choosing between two or three pre-selected stooges. The “winner” will  hardly be able to claim a popular mandate.

Even this limited system may never see the light of day. Before it can be implemented, the framework must be approved by two-thirds of Hong Kong’s parliament. The handful of pro-democracy legislators who are needed to get the proposal passed may now withhold their support. If the framework is rejected, Hong Kong will stick with its current system, where the chief executive is picked by an unrepresentative committee. The plan to introduce universal suffrage will be shelved.

from Breakingviews:

Alibaba deal spree turns from romance to thriller

By John Foley 

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

Alibaba’s investment story has turned from romance to thriller. Its Hong Kong movie-making affiliate has uncovered “possibly non-compliant” accounting just four months after the Chinese e-commerce giant bought a 60 percent stake. It’s not clear whether Alibaba’s controls were flawed – but it certainly raises questions about the value of the company’s recent investment binge.

from Breakingviews:

Asia’s solid exterior hides internal weakness

By Andy Mukherjee 

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

Asian economies are becoming more resilient externally, but sputtering economic growth is weakening them from within.

from Breakingviews:

WH Group’s revived IPO shows one lesson learnt

By Una Galani

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

WH Group’s revived initial public offering shows it has learnt at least one lesson. After an attempt to sell shares two months ago ended in disaster, the Chinese pork producer has returned, cheaper and with fewer banks working on the deal. But it’s not clear why it is rushing back to market at all.

from Breakingviews:

Hong Kong democracy debate puts business on spot

By Peter Thal Larsen 

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

Hong Kong’s democracy debate has put Western businesses on the spot. Hundreds of thousands of citizens are engaged in a public showdown over a new system for conducting elections in the former UK colony. The standoff has prompted questions about Hong Kong’s future as an efficient and well-ordered financial centre. But warnings of potential disruption miss the point.

from Breakingviews:

Private equity’s bad habit: Asian minority stakes

By Una Galani

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

Private equity firms have developed a bad habit in Asia. They are investing record amounts in minority stakes in listed companies. Investors dislike such deals because they can buy the shares themselves. History also suggests that giving up control is fraught with risks.

from Breakingviews:

China’s Hong Kong experiment faces biggest trial

By Peter Thal Larsen

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

China’s experiment with Hong Kong is facing its biggest trial. The former British colony has mostly thrived in the 17 years since it was handed back to the People’s Republic. But a planned “Occupy Central” democracy protest is about to test Hong Kong’s openness – and China’s patience.

from Photographers' Blog:

The bun myth

Cheung Chau, Hong Kong
By Bobby Yip

A baker poses with a bun with the Chinese characters "Ping An", meaning peaceful and safe, inside a bakery at Hong Kong's Cheung Chau island April 30, 2014, six days before the Bun Festival. Each bun is sold for HK$8 (US$1.02). The annual festival celebrates the islanders' deliverance from famine many centuries ago and is meant to placate ghosts and restless spirits.  REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Cheung Chau, or “Long Island”, with a population of around 30,000, is famous not only for its seafood and snacks, and as a small resort for local tourists, but most of all for its buns.

A couple walks along a beach at Hong Kong's Cheung Chau, or "Long Island", where the annual Bun Festival is held, April 28, 2014. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

The Bun Festival is the annual highlight of this former fishing village. Tens of thousands of visitors flock to attend the ritual, jamming the narrow streets of this quiet island.

from Breakingviews:

WH Group flop shows pitfalls of crowded IPOs

By Una Galani

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

WH Group’s flop shows the pitfalls of overcrowded initial public offerings. The Chinese pork producer hired a record 29 banks but still failed to sell its $1.3 billion listing to investors. That undermines the standard wisdom that more advisers mean less risk for issuers. For banks, it’s a reminder that they can share embarrassment as well as sought-after league table credit.

from Breakingviews:

WH Group’s chopped IPO still looks unappetising

By Una Galani

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

WH Group’s chopped initial public offering still looks unappetising. The Chinese pork producer is slashing the size of its Hong Kong fundraising to as little as $1.3 billion, down from a previous target of at least $3 billion. But WH Group’s reluctance to accept a lower price means the IPO remains a tough sell.

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