Reuters Investigates

Insight and investigations from our expert reporters

Intrigue in China’s U.S. Treasury buying

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A Reuters exclusive today describes a method China used recently to hide some of its U.S. Treasury purchases – “US caught China buying more Treasuries than disclosed.”

Treasury officials said they were simply modernizing outdated procedures two years ago when they revamped the rules for participating in government bond auctions.

The real reason for the change, a Reuters investigation has found, was more serious: The Treasury concluded that China was buying much more in U.S. debt than was being disclosed, potentially in violation of auction rules, and it wanted to bring those purchases into the open – all without ruffling feathers in Beijing.

Stephen Culp, Reuters graphics editor, came up with a handy visual explanation for the practice that allowed China to mask billions of dollars worth of U.S. debt purchases at auctions. China placed its bids informally through primary dealers, who then placed their bids at Treasury auctions without naming China as a customer. The Treasury outlawed the practice in June, 2009, but kept the reason for the rule-change under wraps.

Do you want the NSA to be the cyber-police?

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Today’s special report looks at what the U.S. government is and is not doing to fight cyber attacks. Read it in multimedia PDF format here.

It seems every day brings news of another data breach, from defense firms to banks and even the U.S. Senate.

With Chinese small caps, it’s buyer beware

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Today’s special report “Chinese stock scams are the latest U.S. import” shows again that when it comes to a bargain, it’s buyer beware. In this case, when a small-cap Chinese stock seems to promise outlandish growth, it might be worth finding out more before you buy.

Some of the questionable companies made their way onto U.S. exchanges via reverse mergers — a private company buys enough shares of a public firm to essentially become publicly traded.

The big chill in U.S.-China M+A

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Today’s special report looks at U.S.-China M&A activity – or rather the lack of it. Drawing on previously unpublished State Department cables, the report examines how the failed Unocal bid and other high profile aborted transactions made it difficult for companies in China and the United States to do deals with one another.

Last year, U.S. companies in China struck dozens of small deals but they were collectively worth just $3.2 billion, while Chinese companies spent only $3 billion on U.S. acquisitions, Thomson Reuters data shows. That is a remarkably trivial amount given the two nation’s deepening economic relations: China is one of America’s top creditors and the U.S. is by far China’s largest export market. 

from MediaFile:

Tencent, De Wolfe among interested buyers for Myspace

De Wolfe and Murdoch in happier times (Photo: Reuters)

De Wolfe and Murdoch in happier times (Photo: Reuters)

Chinese Internet holding company Tencent, Myspace founder Chris De Wolfe and Myspace's current management team are among the 20 odd names kicking the tires at the once might social network to see whether it's worth buying outright or partnering in some sort of spin-out with current owner News Corp.

Tencent has previously said it is interested in possible US acquisitions.

The names come up in Reuters' Special Report on 'How News Corp got lost in Myspace',  a behind the scenes tale on how the focused Facebook beat the partying Myspace. (We have the story in a handy PDF format here)

The Macau Connection

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We teamed up with Matt Isaacs and the Investigative Reporting Program at U.C. Berkeley for a special report last week on the murky world of Macau casinos.

The Macau Connection” focused on Las Vegas Sands, which is being sued by the former CEO of its China division.

Have you driven an F3 lately?

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By Ben Berkowitz

Diplomats, consultants and analysts have plenty of questions about Chinese car maker BYD and its growth tactics, but there’s one thing no one can question: BYD shares have made a lot of people a lot of money in recent years.

Since Warren Buffett invested in the company at the depths of the financial crisis in September 2008, BYD shares are up nearly 300 percent. (And that’s after a sharp decline over the last 16 months, as the company delayed its American debut and experienced sliding sales domestically). Compare that with Ford, up about 170 percent over the same period – and Toyota, which has lost more than a fifth of its value. At one point, BYD shares were so strong that its chairman, Wang Chuanfu, was China’s richest man.

China’s U.S. debt holdings make it a powerful negotiator

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Worrying about the power China has over the U.S. as America’s largest foreign creditor has become a national pastime. It’s a bipartisan issue in Congress and a favorite subject among pundits lamenting the decline in U.S. influence around the world. But could China really use its Treasury purchases to shape U.S. policy? Diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks and obtained by Reuters suggest that has already happened.

Emily Flitter’s special report outlines a diplomatic flare-up between the two superpowers following the U.S. financial crisis. Chinese officials said they were worried about the safety of their U.S. investments. U.S. diplomats worked hard to ease the tensions, but the conflict ultimately led to the request of a personal favor by a top Chinese money manager in a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Vietnam’s Capitalist Roaders

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A woman dressed in the traditional Vietnamese “ao dai”costume serves tea to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung (front R) during the opening ceremony of the 11th Party Congress in Hanoi January 12, 2011

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Vietnam’s ruling communists  opened an eight-day party congress on Wednesday with a candid  admission the fast-growing economy had become unstable, as  delegates began the process of reshuffling leaders and  charting new policies. 
   As leaders sang the national anthem to begin the  five-yearly event, streets in the chilly capital Hanoi were  festooned with red and yellow banners, some bearing the iconic  hammer and sickle. Propaganda posters bore the smiling  likeness of revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh or of proud,  uniformed workers. 
   The economic backdrop is less festive. Inflation surged to  a 22-month high in December, the government is struggling to  bring down a hefty fiscal deficit, the currency has been  depreciating for three years and the trade deficit remains  stubbornly high.  

Solar energy vs wildlife

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Sarah McBride reports on brewing battles between environmentalists in her special report: “With solar power, it’s Green vs. Green.”

It turns out the perfect place to build a big solar plant is often also the perfect place for a tortoise or a fox to live. This means developers of large-scale solar plants are running into legal challenges from people who one would expect to be natural allies of alternative energy providers.