China’s e-commerce secret weapon: the delivery guy

August 11, 2014

Fast, cheap delivery has fuelled online shopping, and the growth of companies like Alibaba and Thank a plentiful workforce of low-cost couriers that U.S. rivals can only dream of. While that can last for a few more years, unhelpful demographic change is in the post.

Malaysia throws airline investors a parachute

August 8, 2014

The state investment fund is paying $436 million to buy out the remaining shares of Malaysia Airlines. The offer gives investors a price they last saw in February, before the already-troubled carrier was struck by two disasters. Taxpayers and employees may not be so fortunate.

Euro zone’s biggest problem is debt, not slow growth

August 7, 2014

Growth is stumbling in Italy, Germany and elsewhere. That in itself would not be a huge problem – except that the sovereign debt mountain has kept growing even in “austere” years. This means states cannot spend their way out of trouble, and another crisis remains a real risk.

Dollar set to take pound’s strong currency title

August 6, 2014

Sterling became the FX market strongman during the past year as investors started to believe the UK would be the first big economy to raise rates. They may be right. Even so, shifting market expectations of when U.S. rates will be hiked now look set to boost the dollar.

SoftBank’s U.S. mobile retreat is least bad option

August 6, 2014

The Japanese group has bowed to hostile regulators and scrapped its Sprint unit’s $32 bln takeover of T-Mobile US. Withdrawing avoids months of antitrust limbo and leaves open the option of a future deal. For now, SoftBank’s ambitions in American mobile will be more modest.

Microsoft’s China dream sorely strains credibility

August 5, 2014

After 22 years, it’s hard to believe how little the U.S. tech giant has achieved in China. The country looks to account for just 2 percent of Microsoft’s revenue. Cloud services and Xbox sales may multiply that. But an antitrust probe raises the cost of business - possibly too high.

Treasury Wine resistance withers under KKR assault

August 4, 2014

The Australian wine maker has agreed to open its books after the buyout group raised its cash offer to $3.15 billion. The bid could yet turn sour, or other suitors may come forward. But Treasury’s spell as a listed company looks like it will soon be coming to an end.

U.S.-backed China tech shows investment curb folly

August 1, 2014

Foreign funds sank $5 bln into venture capital the first half of 2014 – three times what local funds raised. That the country’s next Alibaba will probably be funded by Silicon Valley investors may jar with national pride and official rules. But China’s economy is the undeniable beneficiary.

Line’s $13 bln valuation shows chat app exuberance

July 31, 2014

The Japanese chat app reported a 26 pct jump in revenue from the previous quarter, pushing up valuation expectations ahead of its planned IPO. Yet Line’s valuation hangs on an assumption that new overseas users will spend like those back home. That seems like wishful thinking.

China’s political purges call for financial sequel

July 30, 2014

Investigating ex-security chief Zhou Yongkang shows China’s president is firmly in charge. That may help sustain faith in the Party. But other institutions need a scrub too. Exposing the money trail, and those who help the rich and mighty bypass the rules, is a logical next step.