The emergence of mutant strain COVID-19 cases in Hong Kong has prompted the city’s health authorities to take a cautious approach and extend social distancing measures for two weeks. Korea is eyeing travel bubbles with Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. China policy is high on the agenda at the G7 meetings this weekend, while US President Joe Biden has announced the withdrawal of Trump-era executive orders that sought to ban Chinese apps, signalling a more optimistic outlook in the bilateral relationship.
MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA
This section tracks major political, economic and business news from the key economies in Asia.
US President Joe Biden on Wednesday withdrew a series of Trump-era executive orders that sought to ban new downloads of WeChat and TikTok, and ordered a Commerce Department review of security concerns posed by those apps and others. The commerce ministers from China and the US have also agreed to push forward trade and investment links. – Reuters, Bloomberg
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced that a working group has started to explore the issuance of a retail digital currency and will provide initial findings within the next 12 months as it ramps up efforts to research a central bank digital currency for everyday use. – South China Morning Post
The number of newly registered chip-related companies in China more than tripled in the first five months of the year from the same period in 2020, in a fresh sign that China is sparing no effort in its pursuit of self-sufficiency in semiconductors. – South China Morning Post
The Philippines central bank has awarded digital banking licenses to Sequoia-backed Tonik Digital Bank and Singapore-based UNObank, as Southeast Asia steps up its foray into fintech. Other Asian regions are making moves as Malaysia plans to hand out digital banking licenses next year, while Singapore has already awarded four and Hong Kong has granted eight virtual banking licenses. – Nikkei Asia
South Korea is considering plans to vaccinate workers at key businesses including chip and electronics firms to minimise disruptions to production, the government said, amid global efforts to boost supply of scarce computer chips. – Reuters
South Korea said it will accelerate travel bubble talks with Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand to allow quarantine-free package tours for those who are fully vaccinated from as early as July. – The Korea Herald
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.
It is reported that as many as 40 financial institutions will be in the first batch of participants in the new southbound investment leg of China’s Bond Connect program, an investment scheme linking the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong bond markets. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said it is working with the People’s Bank of China on finalising the amount of investment and investment bond scope. – Yicai Global
China Three Gorges Renewables Group Co. surged 44%, the daily limit, in its trading debut on the Shanghai stock exchange as investors sought to gain from the country’s push toward cleaner energy. – Bloomberg
New Hong Kong listings are tracking at their slowest pace since the aftermath of the global financial crisis, as weaker markets and China’s clampdown on its biggest tech firms chill sentiment. Just seven companies have gone public in the second quarter so far – on track for the fewest since 2009. – Bloomberg
Chinese fruit tea chain, Nayuki, has been given the greenlight to proceed with an IPO on the Hong Kong stock exchange, which will make it the first teahouse to go public in Hong Kong. – China Daily
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
Baoyun Group, a distributor of wines and whiskies in China, has raised US$94 million in a Series A round of financing led by Country Garden Venture Capital. – DealStreetAsia
Genhouse Pharmaceutical, a small molecule drug maker, has secured over US$31 million in a Series A round of financing led by Shenzhen Capital Group. – DealStreetAsia
SimCere Diagnostics has raised US$94 million in a Series B round led by CITIC Securities and CITIC Medical & Health Fund. – AVCJ
Chubby Bear, a Shanghai-based B2B platform that matches buyers with suppliers of renovation materials, has raised US$400 million across two tranches of Series C funding. – AVCJ
Orchid Asia has reached a first close of US$1.1 billion on its eighth fund, five months after launching the vehicle with a full target of US$1.6 billion. – AVCJ
Ringle, a South Korea-based edtech firm focused on helping adults learn English, has raised US$18 million in a series A funding round led by Must Asset Management. – Tech in Asia
Japanese enterprise software supplier SmartHR has confirmed a US$142.5 million Series D round led by US-based Light Street Capital, valuing the company at about US$1.6 billion. – AVCJ
BondEvalue, a Singapore-based fintech startup that operates a digital exchange for trading fractionalized bonds, has raised US$6 million in a Series A funding round led by MassMutual Ventures Southeast Asia and Citigroup. – DealStreetAsia
Float Foods, a Singapore-based foodtech startup, has raised US$1.7 million in its seed round led by Insignia Ventures Partners and DSG Consumer Partners. – Tech in Asia
Singapore-based food tech VC, Good Startup, has reached a first close of US$25 million on its debut fund, which will invest exclusively in alternative protein start-ups. – AVCJ
This section highlights the major regulations, policy changes and political developments in China and Hong Kong that have implications for the business environment.
To protect consumers’ interests and ensure financial stability of the society at large, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission has widened a requirement for institutions (link in Chinese) to devise their own recovery and contingency plans beyond just its biggest banks and financial companies. – South China Morning Post
Search results for a number of virtual currency exchanges are turning up blank on China’s main search engines, indicating that the country’s clamp down on cryptocurrencies is gaining steam. When searching for Binance, Huobi and OKEx, Baidu responded that “no related items were found” and Weibo said the search results cannot be displayed due to certain laws. – Yicai Global
G7 nations recently reached a landmark deal to overhaul global corporate tax on tech firms. While its impact to China is expected to be relatively limited, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan said it might affect some of the tax concessions the government offers to various industries, which could potentially pose a challenge to Hong Kong’s competitiveness as an investment destination. –The Wall Street Journal, South China Morning Post
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
“Large shifts in Asia’s consumption patterns are in prospect,” says McKinsey Global Institute in its new discussion paper on Asia’s consumer behaviour. Several shifts that are already emerging could become more prominent factors in the region’s consumption, including the development of a more responsible consumption mindset, the rise of Asian brands, digital leapfrogging, the phenomenon of super-apps, changing forms of ownership, as well as the increasing demand for personalisation. Read the full paper here.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Asian Development Bank brings the ADB Asia Clean Energy Forum 2021 virtual conference on June 14-18, with the theme “Accelerating the Low-Carbon Transition in Asia and the Pacific”. The event gathers energy leaders, senior officials and managers in the field of clean energy, water sustainability and climate finance to discuss Asia Pacific’s fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement.
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