HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - UBS has set a troublesome precedent in China. The Swiss bank put a senior economist on leave after misconstrued comments triggered outrage in the mainland. The episode hints at new pressures for outsiders working in China; excessive subservience, however, creates bigger headaches.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - The territory's government, under pressure from Beijing, is trying to ram through a rule change that would allow suspects to be transferred to mainland courts. Foreign executives have cause to be worried. Plus: Steve Bannon wants to ban Chinese IPOs from New York.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Three dropped calls sends a bad message. Swedish buyout firm EQT Infrastructure has ditched its toppy $2.3 billion offer for Vocus Group barely a week after getting access to the Australian telecoms operator's books. The news prompted a 20% fall in the company’s share price on Wednesday. It’s the third financial buyer to walk away in quick succession, and casts doubt on the target’s efforts to integrate multiple acquisitions. New boss Kevin Russell must now find a way to dial up confidence.
HONG KONG (Reuters Breakingviews) - Japan Display’s rescue is an embarrassing necessity for Tokyo. An investor group is buying two thirds of the company for up to 80 billion yen ($714 million), a lowball price for the former national champion. It will fall into foreign hands, some of them Chinese, which could raise red flags. Yet managers have little choice but to pray the deal closes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.