Playground weaklings give Li Ka-shing bloody nose

November 25, 2015

Hong Kong shareholders rejected the tycoon’s $12.4 bln bid to merge his listed energy and infrastructure units. It’s another sign institutions in the Chinese territory are increasingly willing to exercise their limited powers. Companies can no longer take support for granted.

Alibaba throws a wrench in web fundraising wars

November 24, 2015

The e-commerce giant is offloading its stake in Meituan Dianping at the same time as the Chinese startup raises up to $3 bln in new funds. The parallel sales will test investor demand for “online-to-offline” services. Alibaba’s exit will offer a clearer picture of valuations too.

Malaysia remains fragile despite China power deal

November 24, 2015

Troubled sovereign fund 1MDB will sell power assets to China’s CGN for $2.3 bln. To resolve its debt woes, the investor still needs to execute a larger bailout deal with Abu Dhabi. Even then, graft probes will keep up the pressure on Malaysia’s prime minister and the currency.

Betting against copper is a dangerous game

November 23, 2015

Shares of Anglo American, BHP Billiton and Glencore fell on Nov. 23 as copper dropped below $4,500 a tonne. Once tipped as the metal of the future, copper is now a symbol of global miners’ past misjudgments. The red metal price seems destined to sink further.

Asian online giveaways echo past internet follies

November 23, 2015

The drug firms are shrugging off Uncle Sam’s latest attempt to prevent mergers predicated on relocating to low-tax jurisdictions. The largest-ever inversion, at some $150 bln, ought to raise pressure on lawmakers to find more comprehensive fixes to the great M&A tax dodge.

Japan’s investor revolution is delayed, not dead

November 20, 2015

Shareholders are souring on the hope that Japan Inc. can become better-run and more profitable. That’s too gloomy. Last year’s returns on equity were humdrum and there have been big disappointments. But real change is underway and the pressure for more is huge.

Coal India offers cheap and dirty play on reform

November 19, 2015

A sale of another 10 pct of the lumbering state monopoly could raise $3 bln. It’s an appealing bet on Prime Minister Modi’s reform drive, since shaking up the power sector should lift coal demand. At current prices, a decent valuation and a fat dividend would help too.

Record fine is least of Toshiba’s problems

November 18, 2015

The scandal-hit Japanese group faces a record regulatory fine, a newspaper says. A $60 mln levy would be embarrassing but easy to bear. That leaves Toshiba free to face its real challenges: regaining investor confidence and restructuring laggard businesses as fast as possible.

Bankruptcy overhaul could tame India’s tycoons

November 18, 2015

A proposed insolvency code aims to tackle troubled firms swiftly, stop large shareholders from stripping assets, and limit the role of the stagnant courts. While India will need to build institutions to implement the overhaul, the days of moguls trampling creditors are numbered.

China margin finance squeeze is partial solution

November 17, 2015

Regulators have halved the amount punters can borrow to buy stocks on China’s A-share market. That’s a step towards preventing another speculative bubble. But greater transparency and acceptance of short-selling are also necessary to put equity markets on a more stable footing.