Asia News Bulletin - Feb 11

Hong Kong sees its sharpest decline in retail sales since the government began compiling the data 40 years ago, while the HKEX has appointed a top JPMorgan banker to head the city’s stock market operator. Singapore outlines policies to make electric vehicles mainstream by 2030 as part of its Singapore Green Plan. China’s Tianwen 1 spacecraft has reached Mars’s orbit and Chinese regulators have released a final draft of new antitrust legislation aimed at internet companies.


This section tracks major political, economic and business news from the key economies in Asia.

  • Hong Kong posted its steepest decline in retail sales since records began in 1981 as visitor numbers to the city collapsed and local residents tightened their belts amid the coronavirus pandemic.Total retail sales in 2020 fell 25.5% in volume terms. By value, sales fell 24.3% to US$42.1 billion after an 11.1% drop in 2019.

  • As part of the inter-ministerial Singapore Green Plan 2030 announced this week, the city-state will revise its vehicle tax structure to make it easier for people to buy and own EVs. The Government said all new cars registered from 2030 onwards will have to be "cleaner-energy models".

  • China’s producer price index rose for the first time in a year due to a rise in demand as the economic recovery continued and as factories passed on rising input prices. The index, which reflects the prices that factories charge wholesalers for their products, rose to 0.3% in January from a year earlier, compared with minus 0.4% in December.

  • Although Myanmar’s recent military coup has likely slowed its economic recovery, the nation still expects GDP growth in FY2021/22 at 4%. The economic impact of fresh United States sanctions could be limited due to Myanmar's growing reliance on regional trade, analysts predict.

  • South Korea's exports of information and communication technology (ICT) products shot up a whopping 21.7% on-year in January on the back of strong overseas demands for chips. Outbound shipments of ICT goods came to US$16.3 billion in January, which marked the second-largest amount ever for any January.


This section highlights the biggest ECM and DCM developments in China and Hong Kong which are moving markets and grabbing headlines.


  • Acting as lead underwriter and bookrunner, Bank of China helped three state-owned power companies complete the issuance of three carbon-neutral bonds totaling US$558 million on Tuesday, as part of China’s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.


  • Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited has appointed JPMorgan’s Nicolas Aguzin as its chief executive, sending a convenient message: that Hong Kong remains a place of opportunity for international business executives, amid a news agenda dominated by stories of residents fleeing the national security law. The role takes effect from May 24 for a term of three years.


This section tracks the fundraising, deals and other activities conducted by the PE/VC funds in Asia.


  • Beijing Yuanxin Technology, operator of China-based online healthcare services platform Miaoshou Doctor, has raised US$466 million in Series E funding led by Sequoia Capital China and Tencent Holdings.

  • Fenbi, a China-based vocational education platform, has raised US$390 million in a Series A round led by IDG Capital and Trustbridge Partners. Hony Capital also participated.

  • Chinese logistics-focused PE firm Eastern Bell Capital has set a target of US$600 million for its second US dollar-denominated fund. LPs include sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, insurance companies, fund-of-funds, family offices, and corporates.

  • Blackstone Group is committing US$150 million in start-up capital to Hong Kong-based new hedge fund ApaH Capital run by Anand Balakrishna Madduri, a former senior executive at Lone Star Funds.


  • Hyperconnect, a Korean social media platform backed by Altos Ventures and SoftBank Ventures Korea, has agreed to an acquisition by online dating giant Match Group for US$1.73 billion in cash and stock.


  • SCB 10X, the VC arm of Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank, has set up a new US$50 million fund to invest in blockchain, decentralized finance, and digital assets.

  • Indonesian insurtech PasarPolis has secured US$5 million in equity investment from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.


This section highlights the major regulations, policy changes and political developments in China and Hong Kong that have implications for the business environment.


  • China issued the final version of the country’s new antitrust guidelines targeting internet platforms after making dozens of changes to an early draft. The rules, which came into effect on Sunday, create an important tool for Beijing to crack down on monopolistic practices such as forcing merchants to choose only one online channel or charging different prices for clients.


  • Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam confirmed that the city will strictly enforce policy of not recognising dual nationality. Residents of Chinese descent born in city or on the mainland will be ‘regarded as Chinese nationals’ no matter what other passports they hold. London has warned that Chinese-British nationals might not get consular assistance if they entered the city on their British passports.


Each week we will select one or two articles which have caught our attention – long reads, institutional outlooks, analysis or interesting viewpoints

This week, probes from China and the UAE have entered Mars’s orbit, with a US mission due to reach the red planet next week. Both China and the US’s missions aim to land on Mars and release rovers to explore the planet’s surface. The three missions were launched in July 2020, taking advantage of the same short window of time when Mars passes close to Earth in the planets' orbits around the sun. China’s mission, the Tianwen 1, has strategic implications for Chinese leadership. Coming in the 100th year anniversary of the foundation of the CCP, it is seen as a standard bearer of the 2035 ‘Socialist Modernisation Programme’ and a highlight of Xi Jinping’s 2025 ‘Made in China’ campaign.


While China takes its Spring Break, we are expecting Japan’s trade figures and Thailand’s GDP performance next Tuesday, as well as Australia’s employment data on Wednesday.

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