China’s big banks enjoy calm before the storm

August 26, 2016

Net profits at CCB and BoCom are stable, as are bad-loan ratios: a pleasant surprise given the wider backdrop. This partly reflects a growing gulf in asset quality between large banks and their smaller peers. The giants are probably also putting off recognising bad debts.

Britain’s haul: 27 gold medals and a wooden spoon

August 22, 2016

China underwhelmed in the Olympic medals table, while the tiny UK excelled. That’s a poor guide to more important competitions. Though Britain still has soft power, its value as a role model is on the wane. China no longer needs gold medals to secure its place on the podium.

Rajan reforms can thrive with India’s new RBI boss

August 22, 2016

Urjit Patel is a safe choice to lead the central bank. The deputy governor was a key architect of reforms introduced by outgoing head Raghuram Rajan. To earn the same level of acclaim, Patel must see these through and ratchet up the fight against bad debts. 

Mongolia’s hangover needs more than IMF medicine

August 19, 2016

The nomad state hiked interest rates to 15 pct to defend a plunging currency. An IMF rescue seems likely, and the new government has shown it is willing to take the pain needed. Longer-term, the real cure for its economic ills will be to woo nervous foreign investors back.

BHP Billiton reaches earnings nadir

August 16, 2016

A ray of light is appearing for the mining giant. Weak global demand and a Brazilian dam disaster were partly to blame for a record $6.4 bln full-year net loss but the worst has passed. As long as prices stabilise, cost-cutting will allow BHP to return more cash to shareholders.

China’s Netflix-to-Tesla is spread painfully thin

August 16, 2016

Jia Yueting's LeEco is pushing into TVs, mobile handsets, electric vehicles and video-streaming. That poses huge financial and strategic challenges for his mostly private group. These are fast-moving, capital-intensive industries with very well-resourced competitors.

China Film’s opening week follows bad IPO script

August 15, 2016

Shares in China's biggest film distributor have more than doubled in their first week of trading. Never mind that ticket sales are falling across China. Artificially low prices and curbs on new issues mean that post-IPO performance is often divorced from fundamentals.

Indian tycoon’s $9 bln tidy-up is too clever

August 15, 2016

Kumar Mangalam Birla is merging two holding companies. That helps streamline his Aditya Birla conglomerate. But the overly complex deal gives investors on both sides reasons to grumble. One side is forced to share a healthy balance sheet and the other a promising financial arm.

Rio Tinto’s best is not yet good enough

August 3, 2016

The Anglo-Australian miner has slashed debt but can't take its eye off the ball after posting its worst earnings in 12 years. No wonder Rio is trading at a discount to peers. New boss Jean-Sebastien Jacques is paying out dividends, but has his work cut out to win over investors.

Regions will shore up China’s smaller banks

August 2, 2016

Risk is mounting at midsized lenders, and capital buffers are eroding. Beijing wants to rein the upstarts in, but provinces need regional financial champions to keep lending. As Industrial Bank raises nearly $4bln from backers in Fujian, expect others to follow suit.