Samsung IPO offers ringside seat for restructuring

November 26, 2014

The South Korean conglomerate’s de facto holding company is an odd mix. Cheil Industries operates theme parks but most of its value is in a stake in an insurer. For those seeking exposure to Samsung’s wider shake-up, the $1.4 bln IPO is a way to get close to its heir apparent.

China has two bad role models on dealing with debt

October 6, 2014

Japan’s government shouldered the pain of corporate deleveraging, and the economy became comatose. South Korea crammed its debt onto households with only marginally better results. Now it’s China that has a problem with high leverage. The race is on to find a different strategy.

Asia’s top-down corporate reforms vary in promise

August 25, 2014

Newish leaders across the region are pushing to change the way companies work. Although the mechanisms and targets vary between countries, increasing efficiency appears to be a common theme. But investors eyeing improved returns will find not all reforms are equal.

Line’s $13 bln valuation shows chat app exuberance

July 31, 2014

The Japanese chat app reported a 26 pct jump in revenue from the previous quarter, pushing up valuation expectations ahead of its planned IPO. Yet Line’s valuation hangs on an assumption that new overseas users will spend like those back home. That seems like wishful thinking.

Samsung software bet rests on future beyond phones

June 16, 2014

The Korean group has launched a smartphone running its own operating system instead of Google’s Android. Samsung is unlikely to challenge the search giant’s lead in handsets. But it may have more success with software that can control televisions, appliances - and even cars.

Korean chat app sends mixed valuation messages

May 28, 2014

Kakao is going public in a $3.3 bln reverse takeover. That’s just one sixth of what Facebook paid for WhatsApp. The Korean app rules its home market and is profitable, but its metrics offer few clues for valuing rivals. Putting a price on mobile chat is still anybody’s guess.

Dear Leader’s death may prize open hermit state

December 19, 2011

Will North Korea shut down or open up? Muddle on or fail completely? It's anyone's guess, although the influence of China, which has opened trade zones on the North Korean border and has little interest in seeing a failed nuclear state, suggests more openness.

China could be North Korea’s ally of last resort

December 29, 2011

Conventional thinking has it that South Korea will one day absorb its impoverished cousin. But if the North collapses, Beijing may have more interest in propping it back up. Like bailing out a bank, doing so would require liquidity, capital and more accountable management.

Korean spending spree sets right tone

January 4, 2012

Seoul plans to blow most of its budget in the first half and is likely to end the year in deficit. It might seem an election-year stunt. But promoting domestic jobs instead of using a weak currency to boost exports is a path the rest of Asia should follow.

Samsung moves on from Japan to nibble at Apple

April 30, 2012

The Korean company learned by pulling apart Japanese electronics, then reverse-engineering the business model. Having taken the lessons, it has built a commanding position in TVs and smartphones. As Apple tackles emerging markets, Samsung is showing it is still hungry.