Jack Ma paper chase is test of newsprint’s appeal

November 26, 2015

The Alibaba founder is interested in buying Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. The 112-year old title’s earnings are under pressure, and the financial logic looks thin. But as fellow e-commerce boss Jeff Bezos showed with the Washington Post, newspapers still have trophy value.

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.

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.

Starboard’s Yahoo flip-flop misses the point

November 19, 2015

The pushy investor now wants the $31 bln tech company to offload its main business instead of its Alibaba holding. A switcheroo won’t erase a discount and residual tax liability on the stake. However it’s engineered, the real problems for Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer will remain.

Luxury overexpansion pads against country risk

November 17, 2015

Labels like Gucci and Hermes tend to suffer after incidents like the Paris shootings because they rely on confidence and tourism. But years of runaway growth may leave luxury better positioned than before. Companies are now less exposed to any single region.

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.

China catalyst could spark Syngenta chain reaction

November 13, 2015

The Swiss pesticides group has rejected a $42 bln bid approach from China National Chemical Corp, reports say. Interest from rival Monsanto was rebuffed earlier this year, and last month the Syngenta CEO stepped down. It looks vulnerable to a round of chemical re-engineering.

Investors in China haunted by “key man” clause

November 13, 2015

Creditors to mainland companies sometimes insist on repayment if a top executive leaves. The provision looks like prudent risk management but it can make a bad situation worse. Cement maker Shanshui, which faces liquidation amid a shareholder spat, is the latest to suffer.

Alibaba Singles’ Day frenzy confuses growth debate

November 12, 2015

The Chinese e-commerce group processed transactions worth a staggering $14.3 bln on Nov. 11, 60 pct more than last year. Yet the boost is unlikely to have much impact on annual volumes. One day of online discount shopping also provides few clues about Chinese consumption.