Breakingviews

Investors need help to stop cheap Chinese buyouts

April 21, 2016

Minority shareholders are upset about a wave of stingy take-private offers from Chinese groups with U.S. listings. But they can’t do much because the firms are domiciled in offshore centres with fewer protections. Investors could find a sympathetic ear in a China-weary Congress.

China web finance craze sows confusion and risk

February 19, 2016

Web giants, insurance groups and even China’s top taxi app are piling into online finance. Fast-growing services like payments and wealth management are attracting big valuations. But competition is fierce, and investors have little way to judge which business models are viable.

HNA’s $6 bln Ingram bid has weird Chinese logic

February 18, 2016

There’s no clear rationale for the conglomerate to buy a U.S. electronics distributor and leave its management and business untouched. But like other recent outbound Chinese deals, the acquisition gives HNA diversification, political capital, and a hedge against the sliding yuan.

China’s new M&A players haunted by past failures

February 17, 2016

Most of the country’s large foreign takeovers have fared poorly. Bets on oil, mining and finance were victims of bad timing. More recent deals like ChemChina’s $44 bln takeover of Syngenta look less cyclical. But integration, management and debt still pose big challenges.

Chinese banks start new year with old bad habits

February 16, 2016

Lenders dished out $385 bln in new loans in January as the authorities pumped cash into the slowing economy. Fresh credit can stimulate spending and help companies repay overseas borrowings. But adding to the overall debt pile only makes the eventual cleanup even more painful.

HSBC’s choice for status quo risks pleasing nobody

February 15, 2016

After a 10-month flirtation, the lender is staying put in London. Britain has become more bank-friendly, and HSBC’s former Hong Kong home less certain. Moving its HQ would have been costly and complex. Yet the public rumination could leave both cities feeling short-changed.

Unruly markets could derail Abenomics

February 12, 2016

A weak yen and buoyant stocks were key to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s fight against deflation. A flight from risk has reversed those gains and overwhelmed the Bank of Japan’s surprise shift to negative interest rates. The turmoil threatens Abe’s whole economic project.

Aussie port and rail battle defies market gravity

January 28, 2016

Takeover interest has kept Asciano’s stock afloat in falling markets. Now that local rival Qube has formalised its $6.3 bln breakup bid, original suitor Brookfield is under pressure to respond or lose the backing of Asciano’s board. The recent selloff raises the stakes further.

StanChart faces years of pain for humdrum gain

November 3, 2015

New CEO Bill Winters is dumping risky loans, cutting costs, and raising $5.1 bln in capital. He thinks the loss-making lender can rebound by serving affluent consumers in emerging markets. But even if all goes to plan, a modest 10 pct return on equity is still five years away.

Alibaba delivery arm is a financial blind spot

October 2, 2015

The Chinese e-commerce group is a minority investor in the business that arranges delivery of billions of its packages. Yet Alibaba has spent over $6.3 bln on logistics-related deals in the past three years. Even if the investments make strategic sense, shareholders are in the dark.