Asia News Bulletin - Mar 19


Hong Kong officials are considering incentives to energise the slow pick up in Covid-19 vaccinations, such as exemptions from certain travel restrictions and social-distancing rules. The city has announced a roadmap for the popularisation of electric vehicles, with the target of ending the sale of fuel-propelled private cars by 2035. Singapore is looking to collaborate with key trading partners, including Japan and Australia, to pursue digitalisation and connectivity to fuel economic growth.



MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA

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

  • Hong Kong ranked fourth in the latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) report published by London’s commercial think tank Z/Yen Group in partnership with Shenzhen-based research firm China Development Institute. New York maintained its top spot, followed by London and Shanghai. Singapore came in fifth and Beijing sixth. Tokyo dropped three places from fourth to seventh.

  • Japan’s central bank is poised to make monetary policy adjustments to increase flexibility. It will be looking at measures that would allow long-term interest rates to move in a slightly larger range, giving financial institutions a chance to increase revenue while maintaining low interest rates.

  • Singapore aims to build up digital connectivity with key trading partners like Japan, Australia and New Zealand as it strives to recover from the pandemic and seek future growth. Ministry of Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said Singapore can be the platform for global companies to leverage on the talent and markets for Southeast Asia.

  • A new survey by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups revealed that a quarter of the city’s university-educated under-35s were planning on leaving Hong Kong to work elsewhere in the next five years. The statistics came at a time when countries worldwide are offering new immigration pathways for Hong Kong people. Experts are warning of a looming labour shortage, especially in the IT sector.


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 Development Bank is set to sell US$3 billion of carbon-neutrality green bonds from next week, which proceeds will be used for wind power and photovoltaic projects. The new product is China’s first carbon neutrality bond acknowledged by the Climate Bonds Initiative.

HONG KONG

  • Chinese video streaming platform Bilibili has received a green light from the Hong Kong Stock Exchange for a proposed secondary listing. Bloomberg reported it could raise US$3 billion from the share sale.

  • Baidu has set its pricing for its secondary listing in Hong Kong next week, aiming to rake in US$3.08 billion. Baidu has put itself forward as an ‘artificial intelligence’ firm rather than a tech giant, making it the country’s first AI stock. The company had the largest number of AI patents and AI patent applications in China as of late October last year.


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 agricultural drone maker XAG has raised US$46 million in funding from GL Ventures, four months after a US$182 million round led by Baidu Capital and SoftBank Vision Fund II.

  • Guoquan, a Chinese hot pot ingredients supplier, has raised a US$300 million Series D round led by CMB International and Tiantu Capital.

  • Chinese mobile intelligent terminal solution provider Shanghai Longcheer Technology has raked in US$100 million in a Series B round of financing led by Chinese government-backed Shenzhen Capital Group and Shenzhen QianhaiWanrong Hongtu Investment Fund.

  • Temasek has led a Series C2 round in Chinese creative marketing content and solutions provider Tezign, bringing its total Series C funding to US$100 million.

  • Baidu said that its AI chip unit Kunlun has recently completed a round of fundraising led by CITIC Private Equity Funds Management, which brings the business value to about US$2 billion.

JAPAN AND KOREA

  • Ant Capital Partners has set a hard cap of US$461 million for its sixth Japan buyout fund, with a first close on as much as half that total provisionally scheduled for the end of April.

  • South Korea’s SK Telecom, retailer Shinsegae Group and PE firm MBK Partners were among those that entered non-binding, preliminary bids for the sale of eBay’s South Korean business.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

  • Singapore and UK-based marketing intelligence and analytics provider PatSnap has raised a US$300 million Series E round led by SoftBank Vision Fund II and Tencent Holdings.

  • Novo Tellus PE Fund 2, the largest shareholder in the Singapore-based IT company Procurri Corporation Ltd, has launched a partial offer to acquire an additional 27.91% of Procurri’s ordinary shares.


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 market regulator introduced this Monday a set of e-commerce laws pertaining to recent developments in the sector, including livestreamed sales, user data privacy and forced exclusivity. The rules will require social and livestream e-commerce to comply with online marketplaces responsibilities as described in the law, and prohibit misleading practices such as promoting favourable reviews over others.

  • China unveiled a new draft law governing its broadcast industry, replacing the current law that was first established 24 years ago when the nation’s internet was in its infancy. The new rules include an article limiting the broadcast of programs featuring entertainers who have committed illegal or immoral acts.

HONG KONG

  • Hong Kong’s Environment Bureau has announced a roadmap to promote the use of private and commercial electric vehicles, with the goal to ending the sale of conventional fuel-propelled private cars by 2035 and achieving zero carbon emission from vehicles by 2050. Supporting measures include expanding the charging network, setting up a public EV charger mapping app, increasing funding for green technologies R&D, and promoting the adoption of autonomous driving and smart mobility tech.


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


The past week has seen further announcements from companies planning to move manufacturing out of China, as costs rise and other countries in the region develop their infrastructures to compete, such as Vietnam and India. Foxconn, whose Shenzhen plant was for years a hub for the manufacture of iPhone parts, has recently announced plans to move some parts production to India for iPhones and potentially to the US for electric cars. Despite this, the “Made in China 2025” plan, finalised earlier this month is aimed at rapidly developing the country’s manufacturing capabilities critical to its fourth industrial revolution is already well underway. Recent figures showed that advanced manufacturing expanded by about 50% in Jan-Feb period. Chinese manufacturers are shifting their focus to high tech and the domestic economy, while regional players are targeting the industries which saw China become the “world’s workshop” during the past decade.



THE WEEK AHEAD

Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore are expected to release February inflation figures next week, while Thailand and Taiwan will reveal trade performance.



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