China Business Briefs 23/4/14

Economy Finance Auto Infrastructure Energy Telecoms Property Travel Tech Agriculture Healthcare

Economy

Reform of China’s state-owned sector gains momentum | South China Morning Post **Cross river by feeling the stones, etc** Far from the spotlight, in secretive high-level meetings and company boardrooms, Beijing is drawing up one of the country’s thorniest reforms: an overhaul of China’s hugely inefficient state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

It shapes up as an eclectic mix of pilot projects and initiatives rather than a single blueprint, which makes it hard to judge their progress.

Yet, taken together, they probably mark the beginning of the biggest revamp of China’s state sector since the late 1990s, when Beijing set out to shore up industry before joining the World Trade Organisation.

South China’s Balancing Act Between Raising Wages & Keeping Investors | China Briefing News In South China for example, minimum wages were last increased in Dongguan, Foshan, Zhuhai and Zhongshan on a mandatory basis on May 1st of last year. This year, no announcement has been made, although rumors are the increase is being deferred a few months to August.

There are signals that local governments are now having to strike a balancing act between making companies happy (with no further labor cost raises) and workers demanding higher salaries – which will attract more workers and increase local consumption. In terms of social insurance, although this is compulsory, some local companies have been late in paying their obligations in full.

Chinese Bad-Loan Ratio Rises ‘Significantly,’ Huarong Says (1) – Businessweek China’s bad-loan ratio rose “significantly” in the first quarter, increasing risks for the nation’s banking industry, according to the nation’s largest manager of soured debt.

The business environment this year has been “grim and complicated” as lenders face pressures on asset quality, liquidity and lending margins, China Huarong Asset Management Co. Chairman Lai Xiaomin said during an internal meeting on April 15, according to a statement today on the website of the Beijing-based company.

Chinese Shoemakers Are on Strike for Benefits — But Who Will Foot the Bill? – China Real Time Report – WSJ The workers said the Hong Kong-listed company has been making social insurance contributions based on basic wages rather than total actual pay as required by law.

According  to an estimate by a not-for-profit labor support organization, Yue Yuen’s back payments could total more than 100 million-200 million yuan ($16 million-$32 million) depending on how many of the workers are owed for long years of service.

Slower growth poses challenges: AmCham[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn “With slower growth, we see more challenges,” AmCham China Chairman Gregory Gilligan told reporters in Beijing. “That is the reason some American companies are scaling back their investment plans.”

Finance

China Warns of Rising Risks From ‘P2P’ Lending – WSJ.com **Again** “Currently, P2P lending has been growing rapidly. The number of new P2P lending websites and the total of loans they have issued have been rising rapidly,” said Liu Zhangjun, director general of the Office of the Interagency Anti-illegal Fundraising Taskforce, a group that includes bank regulators, police and court officials.

Closer Look: Regulator Takes Hard Look at Jack Ma-Hundsun Deal – **Is Ma starting to overreach?** The securities regulator has been consulting large securities firms and fund companies regarding the proposed acquisition of a leading financial software provider by Jack Ma, the founder and chairman of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Banks to issue preferred shares this year – Headlines, features, photo and videos from ecns.cn The first batch of Chinese commercial banks may issue preferred shares this year, and investors will ask for a higher dividend rate while putting up with more uncertainties, experts said.

Preferred shares pay fixed dividends and enjoy priority over common stock in the event of bankruptcy. They typically do not trade on the open market, carry no voting rights and do not dilute net profits attributable to shareholders.

“The pace of Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China is faster, and they probably will issue preferred shares this year,” said an insider at one of the four major State-owned commercial banks.

China may let banks default when deposit insurance begins – SFGate Authorities may tolerate failures of smaller banks once depositor safeguards are in place, Kwong Li, Chief Executive Officer of China Lianhe Credit Rating Co. said. Among lender bonds rated at or below AA, the extra yield investors demand to hold the 2022 securities of China Bohai Bank Co. in the northern city of Tianjin surged to an 11-month high of 245 basis points on Thursday. The premium on the notes due 2019 of Harbin Bank Co., a lender near China’s border with Russia, has jumped 51 basis points in the past year to 225.

DZHNews.com- Breaking China Biz News, Financial Updates, Corporate News Wang Yongli, vice president of Bank of China Ltd. (BOC, 601988.SH) quitted his job last week, following reports that he was under investigation by the Communist Party of China’s (CPC) discipline department.

Wang’s resignation came after he had reportedly been investigated by the CPC’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

Forex controls and VIEs | China Accounting Blog | Paul Gillis Chukong Holdings Limited filed on last Friday with the SEC for a U.S. IPO. Chukong is an online game company so it uses the variable interest entity (VIE) structure despite a specific MIIT prohibition against using VIEs for game companies. The company also faces a lawsuit alleging they ripped off their game Fishing Joy from an arcade game, report that they have not been paying required employee benefits, never bothered to register their stock option plan, and have an auditor facing suspension by the SEC, but based on past history investors ignore such matters.

Beijing mulls bond sales by local gov’ts|Finance|Business|WantChinaTimes.com Money raised by the bond sales could be used to partly finance construction projects that have been included in the provincial-level governments’ general public budget plans, it said.

No other forms of debt raising by local governments and their subordinate organs would be allowed under the draft revision. Furthermore, local governments and their subordinate departments should not provide debt guarantees for any institutions or individuals, under the proposals.

WH Group Said to Mull Cutting $5.3 Billion IPO in Half on Demand – Bloomberg The company may sell new shares equivalent to 10 percent of its enlarged market capital, about half of what it previously planned, the people said yesterday, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Existing investors including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) may also refrain from selling stock as part of the IPO, the people said.

At $5.3 billion, the WH Group IPO would have been Hong Kong’s biggest since October 2010, when AIA Group (1299) Ltd. raised $20 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The company struggled to attract investors even after hiring 28 underwriters, the most ever for an IPO in the city.

Wanda Cinema Line Plans CNY2 Billion IPO in Shenzhen — Update – WSJ.com China’s biggest cinema operator in terms of box office revenue plans to sell up to 60 million yuan-denominated A shares to fund the opening of new cinemas and to supplement working capital, according to a preliminary prospectus posted late Monday by the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

The planned listing comes as China pushes to generate economic growth more through domestic spending and less through state-backed investment. The film industry, part of the so-called “cultural industry” that Beijing wants to build up, has in recent years grown rapidly with box office revenue rising by about 30% a year.

Huarong Q1 profits up by 75% – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn Huarong, one of four asset management companies the government set up in 1999 to absorb toxic assets held by China’s four biggest banks, said total assets and net assets were 432.9 billion yuan and 56.7 billion yuan, respectively, at the end of March.

Profits nose dive for Chinese rare earth miner|Markets|Business|WantChinaTimes.com The company made 1.6 million yuan (US$261,300) in net profits from the start of January to the end of March, diving by 94.1% year on year, according to a financial report released on Monday.

The miner’s business revenue also declined by 98.5% to reach 3.3 million yuan (US$529,100) in the first three months. The financial results came after a 20.5% decline in net profits and a 57.6% drop in business revenue in 2013.

Auto

GM to battle VW in China with $12 billion investment and new plants | Reuters GM expects its China sales to expand 8-10 percent this year, in line with the overall growth of the Chinese market, where foreign firms, such as Volkswagen AG, and domestic players like SAIC Motor Corp vie for more market share.

“We are investing wisely and accelerating our vehicle development and manufacturing to keep pace with market demand. In total we are investing $12 billion between 2014 and 2017,” Matt Tsien, president of GM China, said at the Auto China show in Beijing.

Chinese Nissan Leaf goes on sale in September as Venucia e30 The upcoming Chinese version of the Nissan Leaf, the Venucia e30, was not the highlight of the Dongfeng Nissan stand at this year’s Beijing Motor Show. That honor goes to the R30, a compact car with “segment-competitive fuel economy” and a starting price of under RMB 50,000 ($8,033 US). But that doesn’t mean Dongfeng didn’t make some news about the debut of the world’s most popular electric vehicle in the world’s most populous country.

Infrastructure

China Province to Spend $3.35 Billion on Water Projects – Bloomberg A northeastern Chinese province is planning to invest 20.9 billion yuan ($3.35 billion) this year on water-conservation projects as the world’s most-populous nation tries to ensure residential and industrial supplies.

The works in Heilongjiang province, which borders Russia, will highlight agricultural irrigation and drainage, improved flood protection and preserving water resources, the official Xinhua News Agency reported today, citing a provincial government work meeting.

Sany digs deep to lay foundation in Africa[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn However, Xiao Jiang, general manager of subsidiary Sany Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd, said that while Africa has tantalizing potential as a market, any Chinese company contemplating taking advantage of that potential needs to take a long-term view.

“If all you do is scramble for market share by offering the lowest price and don’t care about related services, it’s only a matter of time before your operations fold,” Xiao said.

Energy

CNOOC Limited Announces Key Operational Statistics of Q1 | The Jakarta Post – PR Newswire In the first quarter, the Company achieved a total net production of 108.1 million barrels of oil equivalent (“BOE”), representing 15.5% increase year over year (YoY).

In the first quarter, the unaudited oil and gas sales revenue of the Company reached approximately RMB59.15 billion, representing an increase of 6.9% YoY, mainly due to the increase of oil and gas production. During the period, the Company’s average realized gas price was US$6.33 per thousand cubic feet, representing an increase of 9.3% YoY while the Company’s average realized oil price was US$104.63 per barrel.

PetroChina hikes 2015 shale gas output target to 2.6 bil cu m: report – Natural Gas | Platts News Article & Story State-owned PetroChina has hiked its shale gas production target significantly and now expects to produce 2.6 billion cubic meters/year next year, a senior executive was reported as saying Monday.

This is an increase from an earlier target of 1.5 billion cu m/year made in August last year.

China Petroleum and Chemical’s Underperform Rating Reaffirmed at Zacks (SNP) – Mideast Time Zacks’ analyst wrote, “We are maintaining our recommendation on Sinopec at Underperform, ahead of first quarter results. During 2013, the company witnessed a sharp drop in crude oil prices, which dragged down the Exploration and Production (E&P) segment’s operating profit by 21.8% year over year. However, increases in the price of international crude oil amid government caps on fuel prices prevented the company from fully passing on the spiraling costs to consumers. We believe that Sinopec’s matured domestic oil fields and associated rising costs will continue to be an overhang on its operations as natural declines become pricier to counterbalance. In view of these factors, we see no positive catalyst in the near term.”

Exclusive – Nigeria favours local firms in $40 billion oil contract awards – Yahoo Singapore Finance A number of other former winners were also absent from the 2014/2015 list, which will take effect from June. China’s Unipec, the trading arm of top Asian refiner Sinopec Corp , as well as Azeri state oil company Socar, were former contract holders and did not feature on the new list.

China Hydroelectric Corporation Announces Results for the Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2013: PR Newswire Business News – MSN Money China Hydroelectric Corporation (NYSE: CHC, CHCWS) (“China Hydroelectric” or “the Company”), an owner, developer, and operator of small hydroelectric power projects in the People’s Republic of China, today announced its unaudited financial results for the fourth quarter and twelve months ended December 31, 2013.

For the fourth quarter of 2013, revenues from continuing operations (net of value-added tax) declined by 18.5% year over year to $10.1 million, due to a 16.6% decline in electricity sold. We recorded a net loss attributable to China Hydroelectric shareholders from continuing operations of $5.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2013, compared to a $9.2 million loss for the same period of 2012. This improvement is partially attributable to a $2.9 million decrease in general and administrative expenses.

Telecoms

China Mobile Profit Declines as Costs Rise With IPhone Release – Bloomberg China Mobile Ltd. (941), the world’s largest phone company by users, posted its third straight drop in quarterly profit as expenses for subsidizing Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone and building networks increased.

Net income fell 9.4 percent to about 25.24 billion yuan ($4 billion) in the first quarter, the Beijing-based company reported yesterday. Profit was expected to be 27 billion yuan, based on the median of five analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.

China Unicom Q1 Earnings Soar on 3G Adoption – April 22, 2014 – Zacks.com China Unicom Hong Kong Limited, China’s second largest mobile operator, announced results for first-quarter 2014 with adjusted net income of RMB 3.302 billion ($539.5 million) that surged 73.8% year over year on strong revenue growth and higher adoption of the 3G plan. Earnings per share soared 75% year over year to RMB 0.14 (2 cents).

Total revenue (excluding deferred fixed-line upfront connection fee) climbed 8.3% year over year to RMB 76.5 billion ($12.5 billion) in the first quarter. Telecommunication service revenues, comprising roughly 81% of total revenue, were RMB 63.80 billion ($10.4 billion), up 11.8% year over year.

Property

Xi’s Squeeze Leaves China’s Heartland Missing Boom – Bloomberg “Cities in China are facing some serious real estate bubbles, and the bubbles in third-, fourth-tier cities have the risks of total collapse,” said Tao Ran, director of the China Center for Public Economics and Governance at Renmin University in Beijing, in a phone interview on March 31. “The central government and banks tightened credit in the property market because they realized the risks.”

Liu said three years ago he could get loans from China Construction Bank Corp. (939) and Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. for half the value of the land at about 6 percent to 7 percent interest. Now he’s forced to rely on “friends with connections” and pay rates of about 20 percent.

Closer Look: Why Gov’t Is Eager to Renovate Shantytowns – Premier Li Keqiang said in a recent work report that the government plans to start building 7 million low-income housing units this year, 340,000 more than the number built last year. But the number to be completed is 4.8 million, 640,000 units less than in 2013.

A rough estimate based on the data from Li’s report shows investment in affordable housing for this year will be around 1.2 trillion yuan, similar to last year’s level. In 2013, 1.12 trillion yuan was spent to build affordable housing, equivalent to 13 percent of the year’s total real estate investment, and 2 percent of GDP.

Travel

Shandong Airlines orders 50 Boeing aircraft for US$4.6 billion | South China Morning Post The company signed a deal to purchase 16 Boeing 737-800s and 34 Boeing 737 MAX planes, a statement said, in a drive to grow its fleet for business expansion in the future.

China’s commercial airline industry is dominated by the “Big Three” – flag carrier Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines – but a move towards greater competition has seen the growth of smaller players in the market.

Tech

China Money Network − Baidu Likely To Report Better-Than-Expected Earnings Baidu, Inc. will report first quarter results on April 24th after the market close. We believe its results are highly likely to come in better than consensus expectations, mainly driven by its mobile business and other non-traditional search businesses such as online video.

In the mobile area, the number of downloads for both Baidu app stores and Baidu’s apps showed significant growth based on our proprietary data.

Ban on Video Game Consoles Tentatively Lifted in the Shanghai FTZ | China Briefing News **Nuts, when you think about it** On Monday this week, details were announced regarding the lifting of China’s 14-year ban on video game consoles, set to begin as a pilot program in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (FTZ). The lifting of the ban is poised to fundamentally alter China’s lucrative video gaming market, which is currently dominated by PC and mobile games, as the giants of console gaming compete over the world’s 3rd largest video game market in terms of revenue (valued at 123 billion yuan).

Qingguo Jizhang, WeChat-based Daily Expenses Tracking App | TechNode Qingguo Jizhang is one of those expense tracking apps that hopes to make your life easier through their outstanding value proposition – using audio recording function to track your expenses.

By tapping on the WeChat platform and its audio message capability, Qingguo Jizhang wants to make expense tracking easily accessible, hassle-free and most importantly, cultivate a habit of managing your finances on a daily basis.

Alibaba’s chat app has turned its focus away from messaging **”Me too! Me too!”** How is the new Laiwang different from the old app? For starters, let’s take a look at the design. A screenshot of the original Laiwang ought to show up as a picture under the Chinese-English dictionary entry for the word “uninspired.” Its app icon featured a speech bubble enclosed in a kelly green backdrop. Look familiar? Laiwang’s user interface, meanwhile, closely mimicked that of the original WeChat interface, before Tencent placed public accounts on separate pages from ordinary contacts pages.

Now, the updated Laiwang is drenched in sour-candy yellow as it sports a new lemon theme. It even has a new mascot of sorts – anthropomorphic lemons.

Days after promising to go legit, police in China raid offices of notorious video piracy app Police in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen performed a raid this morning on the offices of one of China’s most notorious video piracy apps. The raid on Kuaibo, makers of the QVOD app for streaming films and TV shows, comes less than a week after the company promised to remove pirated content – which can be streamed or downloaded – from QVOD.

Late last year, QVOD (pictured below) and a mobile app made by search engine Baidu were the targets of a $50 million legal challenge by legitimate video streaming sites in China.

China Money Network − China Everbright Supports Management Buyout Of iSoftStone Beijing-based Chinese IT services provider iSoftStone Holdings Limited says it has entered into a definitive agreement, in which its chairman and CEO Liu Tianwen, together with China Everbright Investment Management Limited, will take the company private, according to a company announcement.

Agriculture

Millions of China’s Farmers Now Buy Climate-Change Insurance – Scientific American Li is one of hundreds of millions of Chinese farmers who are now using insurance as a tool to hedge against the risks of climate change. China is the world’s second-largest agricultural insurance market after the United States by premium income, and it is scrambling to spread the use of climate-related insurance into other sectors.

Chinese policymakers in recent years have already persuaded hundreds of millions of farmers there to buy agricultural insurance, forming a capability of covering losses worth 1.4 trillion yuan ($225 billion) in 2013. Climate risks are known as the biggest danger for losses in agriculture.

Healthcare

Fosun-TPG Group Agrees to Buy Chindex With Sweetened Bid – Bloomberg **Wonder how this will affect expat media – United Family Hospitals are one of their biggest advertisers** Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. (2196) and its partners agreed to acquire hospital operator Chindex International Inc. (CHDX) for about $433 million, after raising their offer to counter another bidder.

The group comprising Fosun Pharma, TPG Capital and Roberta Lipson, Chindex’s chief executive officer, boosted its offer for the hospital operator to $24 a share from $19.50, the Chinese drugmaker said yesterday. Chindex, based in Bethesda, Maryland, signed an amended agreement with the group after another bidder, who earlier offered $23 a share, declined to bid further, Chindex said in a separate statement

Posted from Diigo.

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