Breakingviews

Jack Ma’s healthcare buyout is hard to stomach

June 9, 2016

The Alibaba boss’s buyout firm is bidding $1.4 bln-plus for U.S.-listed iKang. His minimum bid is 20 pct cheaper than an unfriendly approach from a rival, now dropped, which iKang’s CEO countered with a poison pill. Unless Ma pays more, outside investors will feel pretty icky.

UK deal veto would be big setback for Li Ka-shing

May 4, 2016

A $15 bln takeover of Telefonica’s O2 unit was key to making the Hong Kong tycoon’s costly bet on European telecoms pay off. If CK Hutchison cannot overturn a likely EU veto, his UK telco will either have to carry on as a disruptive fourth player, or find a fallback deal.

Li Ka-shing brings funding finesse to telco M&A

March 18, 2016

The tycoon may sell 20 pct of his UK mobile unit to outsiders. That could raise 1 bln pounds to help buy Telefonica’s O2, on top of the 3.1 bln pounds sovereign funds are already chipping in. That would let Li complete the 9 bln pound deal with no fresh investment.

UK Faustian pact with banks has a grim logic

February 15, 2016

HSBC’s unsurprising decision to stay domiciled in London rounds off nine months of the UK softening its approach to banks. There are reasons to find this new tone uncomfortable. But that is a moot point so long as the banking sector supplies 7 pct of UK income tax revenue.

HSBC’s choice for status quo risks pleasing nobody

February 15, 2016

After a 10-month flirtation, the lender is staying put in London. Britain has become more bank-friendly, and HSBC’s former Hong Kong home less certain. Moving its HQ would have been costly and complex. Yet the public rumination could leave both cities feeling short-changed.

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.