United Kingdom

Alec Macfarlane

Breakingviews - Citic and CLSA will survive boss departure

20 Mar 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - CLSA will survive the departure of its bosses. Jonathan Slone is quitting, shortly after its chairman left. The moves have led to whispers of a culture clash with China’s Citic Securities, which bought the Hong Kong brokerage for $1.3 billion in 2013. Bank mergers are always challenging. Still, it’s too early to write this one off.

Breakingviews - Crackdown on banks gives Hong Kong an IPO edge

15 Mar 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - It may have taken a while, but Hong Kong finally showcased an investor-protection edge. The financial regulator banned UBS from leading market debuts for a year, and the Swiss bank and three of its peers will pay $100 million in fines for shoddy due diligence on initial public offerings stretching back to 2009. As bourses battle to host the next wave of unproven startups, the city’s aegis provides a bit of extra comfort.

Breakingviews - Pinduoduo offers New York a Shanghai bargain

14 Mar 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Pinduoduo is giving New York investors a taste of Shanghai. The $29 billion e-commerce outfit, a mainland variation on coupon company Groupon, has all the ingredients of Chinese tech: promise, growth - and plenty of volatility. Shares fell more than 17 percent on Wednesday, after it spent far more than expected last year to lure and retain customers. The experience of rivals like Alibaba, though, suggests better times ahead.

Breakingviews - Meituan Dianping drives itself to distraction

12 Mar 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Meituan Dianping has driven, and pedalled, itself to distraction. The $42 billion Chinese super-app operator grew the top line by an impressive 89 percent in the fourth quarter, as its all-important food delivery business shows new signs of strength against Alibaba-owned Ele.me. Other ventures increasingly seem like costly diversions.

Breakingviews - Hong Kong exchange primed for some M&A trades

28 Feb 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing is primed for some M&A trades. The $43 billion bourse operator enjoyed a blowout 2018, but its three-year strategic plan unveiled on Thursday offers few bold ideas for reducing dependence on trading in local equities. Looming Chinese reforms pose a further threat. A trio of new blue-chip advisers may be able to help.

Breakingviews - TPG’s Asia fundraising is a sign of buyout times

14 Feb 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - TPG’s Asian fundraising is a sign of the times for buyout shops. The U.S. private equity firm co-led by Jim Coulter slightly exceeded a $4.5 billion target for its new fund despite poor returns in the region. New leadership in Australia and China provides some reassurance. Still, such success after relative failure is a telltale sign of a frothy market. 

Breakingviews - Big Brother startups offer white knuckle returns

24 Jan 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Big Brother startups offer white knuckle returns. China’s facial-recognition technology specialists SenseTime and Megvii are in fundraising mode. Video surveillance in China is tipped to be a $20 billion industry by 2022, according to Bernstein research, up from $8 billion in 2017. Sticky questions could result in volatile valuations, but Beijing’s resolve to watch its people closely will drive growth.

Breakingviews - AB InBev’s Asia sale needs breathalyser test

14 Jan 2019

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Anheuser-Busch InBev executives who hope for a $70 billion valuation for their Asia business deserve to have their breath tested. The Belgian brewer is considering an initial public offering of part of the unit, Reuters reported on Friday. The region is a fast-growing jewel in AB InBev’s crown, but it faces stiff competition in China, and has struggled in India and Southeast Asia. That makes the mooted price tag tough to swallow.

Breakingviews - ByteDance will take over B in China’s BAT

28 Dec 2018

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - ByteDance would add some oomph to China’s BAT. The fast-growing creator of news and video apps is already privately valued at $75 billion, putting it on par with web search outfit Baidu, whose public equity in early December was worth some $65 billion. A 2019 merger between the two will modify the constituent parts of the acronym shared with Alibaba and Tencent.

Breakingviews - L'Occitane buyout could be a fragrant option

28 Nov 2018

HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - L'Occitane could prove a fragrant option for private equity suitors. The Provence-inspired soap-and-skincare brand has struggled of late, in part because of a costly expansion. But a clean balance sheet, prospects in China and a resolutely unglamorous share price suggest an alluring makeover target.

World News

Israel, Hamas trade blows as Gaza tensions simmer

Gaza militants fired rockets into southern Israel and Israeli aircraft carried out strikes in the Hamas-ruled territory overnight Tuesday, though the level of violence appeared to abate after Palestinians said a ceasefire had been reached.