Breakingviews

New World’s new $2.8 bln buyout looks a lot safer

January 6, 2016

Hong Kong property tycoon Cheng Yu-tung is trying again to buy out his China unit. At up to $2.8 bln, the new offer is worth more than before. It also avoids the archaic rules that killed his 2014 bid. The city’s moguls appear ever-more determined to clean up their houses.

Hong Kong’s IPO prowess is weaker than it looks

December 4, 2015

Despite China’s boom and bust, the bourse has hosted $30 bln of floats this year - more than any other exchange. That should ease angst about HK’s future as a capital market. But quality is a problem – post-IPO performance is patchy and “cornerstone” backers play too big a role.

Bank of East Asia feels weight of its China drive

November 30, 2015

The Hong Kong lender has the second biggest branch network of any foreign bank in the People’s Republic. But fast expansion has come at a cost: BEA underperforms rivals. With activist Elliott still building its stake, it’s a good time to focus on improving profitability.

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.

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.

Richemont shows luxury doesn’t run like clockwork

November 6, 2015

The Cartier owner reported a disappointing 3 percent increase in first-half sales. Hong Kong watch sales slumped. It’s tempting to look for economic trends, but the best explanation might just be that after a decade of runaway growth, luxury is returning to its old, faddish ways.

HSBC’s slow road to China securities could pay off

November 3, 2015

The lender is setting up a mainland joint venture more than a decade after its first rivals. Foreign investment banks have struggled to make inroads in the People’s Republic. Unusually, however, HSBC will have majority control. That could more than make up for its slow start.

HSBC will probably stay put in London

October 23, 2015

Europe’s biggest bank is considering shifting its headquarters to the United States, a report says. That would be an odd move, given HSBC’s chequered past there and more viable Asian alternatives. As the backdrop improves in Britain, the likeliest outcome is no change at all.

Hong Kong IPOs leaning too heavily on cornerstones

October 15, 2015

The practice of pre-selling shares to supportive investors is out of control. Distressed debt manager Huarong, for example, has pledged two-thirds of its $2.5 bln offering to big Chinese buyers. The cosy arrangement distorts pricing and undermines the concept of public markets.

China’s campaign to stabilise yuan comes at a cost

October 9, 2015

After the shock of August’s mini-devaluation, some calm has returned to the currency. Yet restoring stability required hefty central bank intervention and a crackdown on capital outflows. China is still a long way from letting its exchange rate be set by market forces.