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.

Li Ka-shing concession gives investors power boost

October 8, 2015

The tycoon’s Cheung Kong Infrastructure unit has slightly sweetened its $12.4 bln offer for affiliate Power Assets. The move is designed to pre-empt a public showdown with minority shareholders. But it risks emboldening them to hold out for even more - and resist future deals.

Overseas investors fire warning at China Inc

October 5, 2015

Hong Kong shareholders rejected China Merchants Bank’s employee share scheme after the lender gave them too little information. It’s a small sign big investors are turning less tolerant of shoddy governance. Chinese companies used to silent acquiescence may be in for a surprise.

China criticism makes even Li Ka-shing defensive

September 30, 2015

The Hong Kong tycoon has rejected accusations that he is turning his back on the mainland. Yet the fact he felt the need to issue a defence shows the hostile terrain now facing business leaders in China. Shrill allegations of treachery will only make them less willing to invest.