Asia News Bulletin - May 21


Taiwan is ramping up COVID-19 virus testing as the number of domestic cases continues to rise. The long-awaited Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble has been put on hold for the second time due to the surge in cases in the city-state. The Hong Kong stock exchange lifts the bar for listing for the first time in nearly three decades, while China has imposed fresh curbs on cryptocurrencies.


MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA

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

  • The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly to halt any consideration of an investment deal with China until Beijing lifts the sanctions on EU politicians, think-tanks and diplomatic bodies imposed in March. – Reuters

  • Having been held up as an example of how to stop the virus in its tracks, Taiwan has over the past two weeks reported a spiralling number of infections in the community, with 1,572 cases, after several weeks of zero infections. The country is now battling very low vaccination rates and a lack of vaccine supplies. – RTHK

  • The long-awaited travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong has been put on hold indefinitely for a second time amid a sharp resurgence in untraceable Covid-19 cases in Singapore, while Hong Kong has recorded only one local untraceable case for the whole of May. – SCMP

  • Singapore is set to launch Climate Impact X, a global exchange for high-quality carbon credits to provide price transparency and verifiability to incentivise emissions cuts. The project is a team effort by DBS Bank, the Singapore Exchange, Standard Chartered and Temasek Holdings, which will be launched by the end of the year. – The Business Times

  • International short-sellers are charging back into South Korea after the country lifted a 14-month ban on betting against blue-chip stocks, piling pressure on shares favoured by retail investors. Investors have sold short South Korean stocks worth Won7.1tn (US$6.3bn) since the ban was partially lifted on May 3. – Financial Times

  • Nearly 70% of Japanese firms want the Tokyo Olympics either cancelled or postponed, Reuters’ Corporate Survey found, underscoring concerns that the Games will increase COVID-19 infections at a time when the medical system is under heavy strain. – Reuters


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

  • China is close to kicking off its long-awaited public REITs market, allowing them to be traded on stock exchanges, as regulators approved the first batch of nine real estate investment trusts that will raise an estimated 30 billion yuen (US$4.7 billion) for infrastructure projects. – Reuters

  • Chinese stocks connected with electric vehicle charging surged after the government unveiled plans to speed up the construction and installation of charging facilities in residential areas. – Yicai Global

HONG KONG

  • The Hong Kong stock exchange will lift its listing qualifications for the first time in nearly three decades. Companies seeking to raise funds on the main board of in the Hong Kong capital market must have earned at least HK$80 million (US$10.3 million) in combined profits in the three years before listing, a 60% increase from the current requirement. – South China Morning Post

  • Huitongda Network Co., a Chinese e-commerce platform serving the country’s rural areas, is weighing a Hong Kong IPO that could raise as much as US$1 billion. – Bloomberg

  • Neusoft Medical Systems Co. is considering an IPO in Hong Kong after retracting its listing application to Shanghai’s STAR board last year. – Bloomberg

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 innovative biopharmaceutical firm Duality Biologics has raked US$90 million in a Series B round of financing led by global biomedical venture capital firm Lilly Asia Ventures. – DealStreetAsia

  • Dishangtie Car Rental, a Shenzhen-based electric vehicle rental service, has raised a US$100 million Series C led by Ingka Holdings, a holding company for most of Ikea’s stores. – AVCJ

  • DCL Investments, one of China’s first PE firms to focus on distressed assets, is looking to raise RMB3 billion (US$466 million) for its latest renminbi-denominated fund. – AVCJ

  • Shenzhen-headquartered Chinese food delivery robot maker PuduTech has closed its Series C round of financing at 500 million yuan (US$78 million). – DealStreetAsia

JAPAN AND KOREA

  • Japanese microsatellite developer Axelspace has raised JPY2.6 billion (US$24 million) in Series C funding from a group of domestic VCs including Sparx Group. – AVCJ

  • Japanese middle-market PE firm NSSK has agreed to acquire the power transmission components division of Fujikura, a listed Japanese electrical equipment manufacturer, while the size of the transaction was not disclosed. – AVCJ

SOUTHEAST ASIA

  • Hummingbird Bioscience, a Singapore-based company focused on antibody discovery, pharmacology, and clinical development, has raised US$125 million in its latest round of funding led by Novo Holdings. – TechinAsia

  • Indonesia’s ride-hailing giant Gojek has agreed to combine with e-commerce pioneer Tokopedia to create the largest internet company in the country, encompassing businesses from car-sharing and fintech to online shopping and delivery. – Bloomberg


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

  • The National Internet Finance Association of China, the China Banking Association, as well as the Payment and Clearing Association of China have jointly issued a warning (link in Chinese) which states that any activity related to the exchange of fiat money for cryptocurrencies, providing intermediary services to facilitate trading, or conducting token-based derivatives trading, could be charged as a criminal offence in China. – South China Morning Post

HONG KONG

  • Hong Kong and China has agreed on a cross-border insolvency framework, where relevant Intermediate People’s Courts and Hong Kong courts will be allowed to mutually recognise and assist in bankruptcy, insolvency and restructuring procedures. A practical guide from the Hong Kong government have been issued to provide guidance on the procedures used for handling applications seeking mutual recognition and assistance in bankruptcy/insolvency proceedings. – Regulation Asia


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 crypto market had a punishing week. But despite Bitcoin losing more than US$100 billion worth of value on Wednesday amid regulation fears, it bounced back a day later recovering some of the losses from the major sell-off. JPMorgan suggested that institutional investors are going back to gold, while analysts look to the banks to work out the fate of crypto-investing. – CoinTelegraph, Barron’s, The Economist


THE WEEK AHEAD

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she is hopeful that the government’s proposed scheme to allow travelers from Guangdong to enter the city could be launched by the end of May.



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