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.

Samsung woes strengthen case for cash handout

January 7, 2014

The South Korean giant’s fourth-quarter operating profit disappointed after it paid a one-off bonus to employees. The strong currency and competition from arch-rival Apple are concerns. But with net cash of $40 billion, Samsung can afford to show investors some generosity too.

Private equity taps happy hour at Oriental Brewery

December 11, 2013

AB InBev could pay $4.1 billion to buy back the subsidiary it sold to KKR in 2009. On a back-of-the-beermat calculation OB’s private equity backers could see a 34 percent annualized return. Even if the Belgium brewer abstains, local markets may support a similar valuation.

One idea Samsung could safely copy from Apple

October 28, 2013

The Korean giant’s $40 bln cash pile is almost as big relative to its market cap as that of its U.S. arch-rival. The hoard allows Samsung to keep investing when others can’t. But with almost two years of capex in reserve, it can afford to mimic Apple and give more to investors.

Ailing South Korea needs monetary remedy

May 3, 2013

A weak Japanese yen is hurting Korean firms’ earnings, while anaemic global demand crimps export volumes. Debt-laden households hold out little hope for the economy. The central bank’s reluctance to cut interest rates and head off deflation risk may turn out to be a blunder.