Oct 25, 2013 05:38 UTC

HK anti-foreigner property tax hits wrong target

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By Peter Thal Larsen

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

Hong Kong’s assault on foreign property speculators has hit the wrong target. It’s a year since the territory took aim at non-resident apartment buyers by forcing them to pay an extra 15 percent stamp duty. The drastic move has cooled demand for luxury flats and prompted investors from mainland China to look elsewhere. But the smaller flats that Hong Kong citizens care about most are still getting more expensive.

Oct 24, 2013 08:14 UTC

China bank IPO shows rewards of financial alchemy

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By John Foley 

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

Financial innovation is paying off for Bank of Chongqing, a small Chinese lender preparing for a $2 billion stock market listing in Hong Kong. What sets the bank apart isn’t its enviable 32 percent return on equity, but its copious use of what might be China’s most baffling securities.

Oct 23, 2013 14:33 UTC

ECB’s bank review balances pragmatism and pain

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By George Hay and Neil Unmack

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The European Central Bank has struck a balance between pragmatism and pain. The euro zone’s central bank has lifted the veil on its balance sheet review of 124 banks it will supervise from the end of next year. It has slightly pulled its punches, but in ways that might be justified.

Oct 23, 2013 04:13 UTC

Li Ka-shing still has what investors want

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By Una Galani

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

Li Ka-shing may be an octogenarian but he still knows when to buy and sell. An analysis of 16 listed parts of the Hong Kong tycoon’s telecoms-to-energy empire, with a combined market capitalization of more than $170 billion, shows a mixed record of delivering shareholder returns. Yet Li’s flagship holding companies have matched or beaten the market over the past two and five years. For investors, it pays to invest as close as possible to the man himself.

Oct 22, 2013 18:13 UTC

Blueprint for new BoE could start with rebrand

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By Dominic Elliott and Christopher Hughes
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are his own.


Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has hired McKinsey and Deloitte to advise on strategy. Breakingviews imagines what the consultancies might recommend.

Oct 22, 2013 14:07 UTC

At last, central bank candour on property bubbles

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By Chris Hughes

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

At last, central bankers are speaking plainly on property bubbles. The Bundesbank said on Oct. 21 that apartment prices in some German cities could be 20 pct overvalued. Policymakers usually avoid such strident views on asset prices, especially housing, saying that values are not their problem per se; what counts is whether markets are fuelled by excessive borrowing. It would be better if central banks just said exactly what they thought.

Oct 22, 2013 04:07 UTC

Alibaba creative governance should come at a cost

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By John Foley

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

New York and Hong Kong differ on shareholder democracy. Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company, has received approval from U.S. stock exchanges to let a partnership of senior executives nominate most of its directors. Hong Kong rebuffed the idea on principle. Investors in a future initial public offering must now decide what that principle is worth.

Oct 21, 2013 21:38 UTC

Obamacare mess is opportunity for Valley hackfest

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

The Obamacare mess is an opportunity for a Silicon Valley hackfest. The launch of the new U.S. healthcare law has been plagued by technological glitches. That gives West Coast tech whizzes a chance to muck in.

Oct 21, 2013 14:19 UTC

UK’s nuclear rebirth comes at a fair price

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By Pierre Briançon

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

David Cameron really is rolling out the red carpet for French investors – and no matter that they are state-backed. The first power plant of the UK’s nuclear reset will be built in the county of Somerset by a consortium led by EDF, the French government-controlled utility. UK taxpayers will guarantee the price paid for energy it produces from 2023. And EDF says it will meet its target of a 10 percent return on investment, in spite of making concessions during negotiations. The investor consortium – which includes two Chinese nuclear power groups, CGN and CNNC – will take on any extra cost and fund the plant’s decommissioning programme. This deal strikes the right balance, assuming energy markets do not suffer major turmoil.

Oct 21, 2013 07:56 UTC

Li Ka-shing still has options after ParknShop flop

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By Una Galani

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

Li Ka-shing’s sale of ParknShop has flopped, but he still has other options. The tycoon’s holding company, Hutchison Whampoa, shelved a potential sale of the Hong Kong supermarket chain, after targeting an ambitious valuation of over $3 billion. But there are other ways to raise funds. ParknShop might be more palatable if Li can bundle it up with more attractive assets from his group.