Asia News Bulletin - June 18


The G7 and NATO summits showed growing convergence among international leaders on China policies, with Beijing accused of posing “systemic challenges” to the West. As Hong Kong’s COVID-19 situation stays under control, the EU is expected to update travel rules to potentially allow leisure and business travellers to visit without restrictions. Japan is set to ease emergency coronavirus curbs ahead of the Olympics next month, amid locals’ fears over possible spread of infections.



MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA

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

  • Hong Kong’s national security police have arrested the editor-in-chief and four directors while five hundred officers sifted through reporters' computers and notebooks at pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily, a local paper founded by 73-year-old Jimmy Lai who has been sentenced to 20 months in prison for protest-related offences and is awaiting trial on national security charges. In the first case which authorities have cited media articles as potentially violating the national security law, the raid drew international condemnation over the city’s diminishing freedom of press. – Reuters, BBC, Asia Times

  • G7 leaders in a joint statement chided China over human rights issues in Xinjiang, called for Hong Kong to keep a high degree of autonomy, and demanded a full investigation of the origins of the coronavirus in China. The White House said the leaders rallied around the need to counter and compete with China on challenges ranging from safeguarding democracy to the technology race, and that there has been a growing convergence among the seven on China policies. – South China Morning Post, Reuters

  • The European Union and the United States launched a trade and technology council that seeks to “write the rules of the road” on the global economy, in the face of growing competition from China. A joint EU-US statement says the council would focus on removing trade barriers, setting global standards and promoting joint innovation in key technologies. – South China Morning Post

  • Japan said it would ease emergency coronavirus curbs in nine prefectures including Tokyo, amid fears that next month's Olympics could trigger a surge in infections. Polls have shown most Japanese people remain wary about the possibility that the Games will spread infections, particularly as vaccination rates are still lower than in other wealthy countries. – Nikkei Asia

  • Thailand plans to fully reopen to visitors within 120 days after more than a year of coronavirus travel restrictions, a calculated risk required to support the economy, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said. – Associated Press

  • Major cryptocurrency exchanges in Korea have been focusing on delisting some of their digital coins following the government's announcement that the Financial Services Commission will take charge of cryptocurrency-related policies and management. The move is seen as an attempt by the exchanges to distance themselves from risky virtual assets ahead of a mandatory registration process set to be in place by the end of September. – The Korea Times

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.

CHINA

  • The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission on Thursday published draft rules (link in Chinese) to regulate behaviour of major shareholders of banks and insurers, in a bid to improve corporate governance and protect the interest of other stakeholders. Major shareholders must be transparent regarding their ownership structure, and are barred from “cross-shareholding” with banks or insurers, the rules said. – Reuters

HONG KONG

  • Dalian Wanda Group’s commercial property management unit, Wanda Light Asset Commercial Management Co., has started preparations with banks for its Hong Kong IPO which could raise about US$3 billion. – Bloomberg

  • Hong Kong stocks rose from a three-week low as gains in carmakers and semiconductor producers boosted sentiment, reversing earlier losses stoked by concerns about higher US interest rates. – South China Morning Post


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

  • Chinese second-hand luxury commodity services platform Panghu Luxury has raised US$50 million in a Series C round of financing co-led by Focustar Capital and ATM Capital. – DealStreetAsia

  • Chinese biotech firm Yeasen Biotechnology has closed its Series B round of financing at US$39 million led by Legend Capital. – DealStreetAsia

  • China-based blockchain infrastructure startup Rangers Protocol, rebranded from Rocket Protocol, has raised a funding round that values the company at US$63 million. – DealStreetAsia

  • Blackstone Group is nearing a deal to buy office developer Soho China, which could value the developer at about US$3 billion. – Bloomberg

  • Beijing-based artificial intelligence solutions consultancy AInnovation has completed a Series D fundraising of undisclosed size led by SoftBank Vision Fund II. – AVCJ

JAPAN AND KOREA

  • Korean delivery platform Barogo has raised US$72 million in Series C funding featuring several local private equity investors, including LB Investment and STIC Ventures. – AVCJ

SOUTHEAST ASIA

  • Singapore-based fund manager Venturi Partners has secured the first close of its India- and Southeast Asia-focused consumer fund at US$100 million. – DealStreetAsia

  • Carro is said to have become Southeast Asia’s first automotive marketplace unicorn with the completion of a US$360 million Series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. – AVCJ


REGULATORY UPDATES

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

CHINA

  • China’s Data Security Law (link in Chinese) was formally issued and will become effective in September. The law enhances the government’s authority and promises hefty punishments for any transgressions as Beijing continues to rein in Big Tech and impose its sovereignty over data produced in the country. Companies that transfer the state’s “core data” overseas without approval from Beijing will face a penalty of up to 10 million yuan (US$1.56 million) and could be forced to shut down. – National Law Review, South China Morning Post

HONG KONG

  • The Hong Kong government has enacted new guidelines that allow authorities to censor films on the basis of safeguarding national security – banning “any content of a film which is objectively and reasonably capable of being perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, such act or activity", a move that might lead to investors being deterred from funding independent films and documentaries in the city. – RTHK, The Guardian

  • The Hong Kong government announced exemptions for bankers and lawyers to access the city’s company registry for work-related purposes following criticism against plans to tighten data access. – Reuters


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


China has launched three astronauts into orbit for a three-month mission to bring the country's new space station, the 22.5-tonne Tianhe module, into service and test a series of new technologies. It will be China's longest crewed space mission to date and the first in nearly five years. Read more about China’s space ambitions here – BBC, South China Morning Post.



THE WEEK AHEAD

The Asia Securities Industry & Financial Markets Association is hosting its annual Tech & Ops Week on June 21-25 virtually, where the industry, including sell-side, buy-side, regulators, law firms, consultants and media, come together to discuss and help solve technology and operations related challenges.




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