BioNTech vaccinations resumed this week in Hong Kong, although the government remains cautious and has indicated it has no intention for a major rollback of social-distancing rules in the near term. Vietnam is proposing new regulations to exercise greater control over tech giants, while the Hong Kong privacy watchdog is after Facebook for a follow-up on its data leak which affected 3 million in the city.
MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA
This section tracks major political, economic and business news from the key economies in Asia.
A new ING survey of corporate and investment leaders, ‘Now or never: A new bar for sustainability’, found that companies have accelerated their green transformation plans, and investors are demanding harder environmental targets. Over 50% of companies in the Asia-Pacific are expected to issue a social bond in the next 12 months, while employee wellbeing has also become a top ESG priority for investors, behind only climate and sustainable supply chains.
Singapore will allow passengers traveling to the island state to share pre-departure Covid-19 test results with airlines and immigration staff upon arrival using IATA’s Travel Pass from next month as the Southeast Asian nation takes steps to reopen its borders. The nation is also exploring mutual recognition of vaccination certificates with several countries and regions, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Hong Kong’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data has twice demanded Facebook to notify its 3 million users in the city, among the more than 500 million worldwide, that their personal data has been leaked online. However the social media giant did not respond to either request. The privacy watchdog is also seeking clarifications from LinkedIn over residents’ possible leak of data after CyberNews first reported that information on roughly 500 million LinkedIn users was being offered for sale on a hacking forum.
The Vietnamese government is proposing a pair of new regulations on global tech players in a move to increase oversight in the nation’s fast-growing digital market. One proposal would give state inspectors access to an e-commerce site's internal data and record on third-party merchants, while the second would introduce a tax collection regime.
China’s services sector activity expanded at the fastest pace so far this year in March, extending gains into an 11th consecutive month as optimism among firms reached a 10-year high and service providers are confident about their prospects. The Caixin Services PMI jumped 2.8 points to 54.3 last month from a month earlier, a mark above 50 that indicates expansion.
EQUITY AND DEBT CAPITAL MARKETS
This section highlights the biggest ECM and DCM developments in China and Hong Kong which are moving markets and grabbing headlines.
The Shenzhen Stock Exchange officially kicked off the merger of its main board and small and medium enterprises board on April 6, as their business scopes had overlapped since the opening of the Nasdaq-style ChiNext in Shenzhen and Star Market in Shanghai. The bigger, combined board will aim to support the financing of relatively mature companies and will keep the same IPO rules.
Chinese online travel platform Trip.com Group has filed for a secondary share sale in Hong Kong, following other big names like Alibaba and Baidu, to raise money in the financial hub. Trip.com has priced its shares at HK$333 (US$42.95) each as it aims to raise US$1.4 billion.
Tencent-backed Anjuke Group, which provides data and technology to the real estate industry, has filed an application for an IPO in Hong Kong. The offer size and the timing of the IPO are not yet disclosed.
PE/VC DEAL ACTIVITY
This section tracks the fundraising, deals and other activities conducted by the PE/VC funds in Asia.
CHINA AND HONG KONG
DST Global and Coatue Management have led a US$700 million Series D for China-based online fresh produce delivery business Dingdong Maicai. The fundraising followed a previous funding round in April 2020 when Dingdong raised US$62 million and was valued at US$1.5 billion.
Shanghai-headquartered Long Hill Capital has closed its third US dollar-denominated fund at US$300 million with a remit to pursue healthcare and longevity-related opportunities, which includes start-ups focused on wellness and services aimed at aging consumers.
Qiming Venture Partners has led a US$30 million Series B round for China-based imToken, a decentralised digital wallet used by about 12 million crypto investors globally. The round brings imToken’s total funding to at least US$40 million.
Qingsong Fund, a Chinese venture capital firm formed by Xiaosong Liu, an angel investor and co-founder of Tencent Holdings, has closed its fourth renminbi-denominated fund with US$153 million. LPs include the Shenzhen government guidance fund, Shanghai-listed Time Publishing & Media, and Qianhai Technology Venture Capital Holdings.
JAPAN AND KOREA
Toshiba Corporation has confirmed that it has received a buyout offer from CVC Capital Partners. Based on Nikkei’s reported valuation of US$20 billion, it would be the largest acquisition by a private equity firm in Asia.
L Catterton has invested US$182 million in PHC Holdings Corporation, a Japanese healthcare business – formerly known as Panasonic Healthcare – backed by KKR.
Trax, a Singapore-headquartered start-up that uses computer vision technology to help retailers link sales to in-store and on-shelf positioning, has secured US$640 million in Series E funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and BlackRock.
Singapore’s gaming-focused venture capital firm Play Ventures has raised US$135 million for its second fund to invest in global game makers and entrepreneurs. Since its US$40 million debut fund in 2019, Play Ventures has US$175 million in total assets under management across both funds.
Vietnam-based private equity firm Mekong Capital’s latest US$246 million fund has closed its first investment — an undisclosed amount in local chocolate maker Marou Chocolate Company.
This section highlights the major regulations, policy changes and political developments in China and Hong Kong that have implications for the business environment.
China’s financial regulators are raising standards for the top brass at companies that do a significant part of their business in finance as it continues efforts to bring its once freewheeling fintech giants into line. In the new regulations (link in Chinese), the People’s Bank of China specified detailed qualifications for directors and supervisors, as well as senior executives who have significant impact on the operational management, risk control and decision-making at financial holding firms. The regulations, which will take effect on May 1, aim to standardise operations and prevent operational risks at financial holding companies.
The Hong Kong government proposed new regulations to restrict the public from viewing some data in the Companies Registry, preventing access to personal particulars of company directors. The proposal was blasted by multinational businesses - the International Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong urged the government to reconsider the proposal, while ICC-HK Chairman JP Lee said that the measures will have adverse consequences for Hong Kong's business environment and its status “as an attractive city for investment and trade.”
ONE FOR THE WEEKEND
Each week we will select one or two articles which have caught our attention – long reads, institutional outlooks, analysis or interesting viewpoints
Violence is escalating in Myanmar, following the military coup on February 1st, with fears that the country could descend into civil war. The military has continued its brutal crackdown, while extending its reach to those backing the protests, including the country’s ambassador to the UK. The UN has issued a call to the security council for ‘significant action’ to prevent further violence.
THE WEEK AHEAD
China and Singapore will be the first Asian countries to release their 1Q21 GDP reports, while Korea, Singapore and New Zealand will be reviewing their current monetary policy in light of the latest economic performance.
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