China Life Insurance

China Business Briefs 18/4/14

Good to be back in Beijing.

Economy Finance Auto Energy Telecoms Property Tech Agriculture Retail

Economy

Closer Look: Signs China’s Economy Transforming Linger behind Latest GDP Figure – What is worth more attention than the growth rate is a change in the economy that other NBS data reflect. In 2013, the tertiary sector’s contribution to total economic output exceeded that of secondary sector for the first time in modern Chinese history.

The latest results showed that services pulled ahead of production and construction even more, with the former accounting for 49 percent of total economic output in the first quarter. Last year tertiary sector’s share of GDP was 46.1 percent.

Many Chinese firms looking overseas: Poll[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn Approximately 60 percent of leading Chinese companies plan to move research and development centers and/or production overseas in the next five years, a study by Strategy& (formerly Booz &Co) and the World Economic Forum said on Wednesday.

That figure roughly doubles the number of Chinese companies that are currently sending these functions abroad, according to the study.

Anti-Dumping The U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”) announced last week that China, in a follow-up to its December 3, 2013 request for World Trade Organization (“WTO”) consultations, has asked for a dispute settlement panel concerning certain U.S antidumping methodologies. The USTR requests public comments on the issues identified by China in its panel request.

Beijing must stay the course despite the slowdown | China Economic Review If expectations are low, beating them doesn’t mean much. China’s GDP grew by 7.4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2014, a notch above the market consensus of 7.3%.

But after three months of mainly gloomy economic data, analysts weren’t betting on a powerful punch in overall growth figures. The stats from March alone give reason to believe that China has yet to rebound from a tough start to the year. As for giving the economy a gentle fiscal nudge, Beijing has likely said all it intends to on that matter with some targeted measures in recent weeks. China Economic Review thinks that’s just fine as long as economic reform keeps abreast.

Internationalizing Your China WFOE | China Briefing News In the rush to get into China over the past decade, many foreign investors established WFOEs – either as trading and services companies, or as manufacturing entities in their own right. For many, this is a policy that has worked very well – the legal and regulatory structures are well defined and understood. Today though, as foreign investors start to eye other markets in Asia, the China WFOE is starting to prove awkward as a base from which to launch into Asia. There are a number of reasons for this:

China Resources Chairman Song Lin Faces Probe After Media Charge – Bloomberg Song Lin, whose company is the parent of five Hong Kong-listed units, is being probed for “suspected disciplinary violations,” the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a statement yesterday on its website using language that signals a corruption probe.

His company controls China Resources Power Holdings Co., which was accused last year of paying too much for three coal mines in Shanxi province in 2010. The probe is a signal that the Communist Party is intensifying a campaign to root out the corruption that President Xi Jinping has said threatens its six-decade hold on power. Party leaders have promised to target both “tigers and flies,” or cadres up and down the power ladder, over graft.

Bet the Farm, Or Settle for Table Scraps? In this intriguing essay, Shanghai-based consultant Kaiser suggests that for foreign companies, the glory days are over, and the only two strategies left are to either fight for one of the top two positions in your industry (against what might be brutal competition) or accept that your market in China will be modest, picking up what others cannot.

I really enjoyed the essay, because I like contrarian thinking on business in China. But I have a couple of problems right out of the gate.

McKinsey Greater China – Even Chinese SOEs Are Getting Media Savvy **Their websites still suck though** I recall state-owned insurance company announcements as being completely dire in the past. A large semi-lit room, partly filled. Executives sitting at a desk reading a script they didn’t care about to an audience who didn’t really want to be there other than for the drinks available at the end. And always running late.

The new version involved floor to ceiling LCD screens, which projected what was on the screen of the sales agent’s iPad on the stage as she demonstrated an actual sale in real time during the event. The speeches were concise, on time, and delivered with enthusiasm. The back of the room had further iPads so that the journalists could try (and film themselves doing so) the apps.

Disillusioned office workers: China’s losers | The Economist But Mr Zhu considers himself a loser, not a winner. He earns 4,000 yuan ($650) a month after tax and says he feels like a faceless drone at work. He eats at the office canteen and goes home at night to a rented, 20-square-metre (215-square-foot) room in a shared flat, where he plays online games. He does not have a girlfriend or any prospect of finding one. “Lack of confidence”, he explains when asked why not. Like millions of others, he mockingly calls himself, in evocative modern street slang, a diaosi, the term for a loser that literally translates as “male pubic hair”. Figuratively it is a declaration of powerlessness in an economy where it is getting harder for the regular guy to succeed. Calling himself by this derisive nickname is a way of crying out, “like Gandhi”, says Mr Zhu, only partly in jest. “It is a quiet form of protest.”

Finance

How liquidity evaporates from China | South China Morning Post The difficulty of accurately calculating the mainland’s liquidity results from the unknown size of the shadow banking system in which non-banks borrow, lend and invest like a real bank but at market rates and outside the official regulated system. This market is calculated variously as 70 per cent of the mainland’s GDP, or 20 per cent of all credit.

But in reality, no one knows – except that it is significant. This black market has developed to allow market-based funding of smaller enterprises and individuals. It appears strange to have such a tightly regulated banking environment on the mainland when you can game the system so readily.

HEARD ON THE STREET: China’s Citic and the State Share Shuffle – WSJ.com Citic Group, a sprawling state conglomerate, laid out a more ambitious plan last month, with more details unveiled this week. The company will inject its entire $36 billion of assets—including businesses in finance, steel, publishing and more—into Citic Pacific, a Hong Kong-listed unit.

The listed company will pay mainly by issuing shares to the parent, but at a 6.5% premium to where they were trading before the announcement. The new assets will boost return on equity to 13% from 9%, partly because the old listed unit was weighed down by a struggling Australian iron-ore mine.

China eases M&A rules for insurers | Reuters China’s decision to partially relax mergers and acquisition rules in the insurance industry could see global insurance firms expand their footprint in the $288 billion market.

Beijing would allow insurers, including Chinese-based units of foreign insurance firms, to buy stakes in more than one peer that competes in the same market segment, according to a statement on the China Insurance Regulatory Commission’s (CIRC) website and dated last Friday.

RPT-Fitch Affirms Noble Group’s Guaranteed Bonds at ‘AAA(tha)’ | Reuters Fitch Ratings (Thailand) Limited has  affirmed Noble Group Limited’s (Noble; BBB-/Stable) THB2.85bn guaranteed bonds  due 2016 at National Long-Term ‘AAA(tha)’. The bonds, which are guaranteed by  Credit Guarantee and Investment Facility (CGIF), have a Stable Outlook.

Chinese banks are passing the buck | Business Spectator Outstanding non-performing loans soared 19.5 per cent in 2013 from 390 billion yuan ($67 billion) to 467 billion yuan, according to data disclosed by 12 major listed Chinese banks. During the same period, these 12 Chinese banks either transferred or wrote off 102 billion yuan worth of loans, an increase of 206 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to Caixin.

The outstanding non-performing loans of the big five major Chinese banks — the Industrial and Commercial bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and the Construction Bank of China and Communication Bank of China — increased 16.1 per cent in 2013.

RPT-Fitch Affirms China Life at IFS ‘A+’; Outlook Stable | Reuters Fitch Ratings has affirmed China Life Insurance Company Limited’s (China Life) Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) Rating at ‘A+’.  The Outlook is Stable.

China to Cut Reserve Ratio for Some Rural Banks -Caijing Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Wednesday said reserve requirements would be relaxed for qualifying rural banks in a sign that more loosening policies are likely on the way.

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) sets different reserve requirements for banks, depending in part on the size of their loan business. The ratio stands at 20 percent for China’s biggest banks, around 16 percent for smaller, rural banks.

Auto

Jaguar Land Rover to recall vehicles in China – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Trading (Shanghai) will recall 1,923 vehicles mainly due to problems with their warning lights, China’s quality watchdog announced on Thursday.

The recall, from April 17, covers 1,909 imported 2014-edition Range Rover vehicles in the Chinese mainland, which were produced from May 7 to Oct. 10, 2013, said the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

5.12 Million China Commercial Vehicle Industry Growth in 2017 Forecasts a Research Report | SYS-CON MEDIA According to China Commercial Vehicle Industry Report, 2014-2017 sales volume of China’s commercial vehicles is estimated to register a CAGR of 6% in 2014-2017, and will reach 5.12 million in 2017. The development of the commercial vehicle industry is closely related to the macro economy. In 2013, the growth rate of China’s GDP fell to 7.7%, while commercial vehicle market experienced slow growth at the same time, with output and sales volume increasing by 7.6% and 6.4%, respectively.

Chinese auto brands limp into Beijing show – SFGate **This is not in the Five-Year Plan!** Facing intense competition from General Motors, Volkswagen and other global rivals, local brands such as Chery, Geely and SUV maker Great Wall have suffered shrinking sales and market share this year while China’s overall auto market has grown. That is a blow to Chinese leaders who have made it a national priority to catch up with neighboring Japan and South Korea by creating globally competitive automakers.

Ford to Start Selling Luxury Lincoln Cars in China Lincoln is a late comer to China’s luxury car market, but Robert Parker, president of Lincoln China, said the brand is being introduced here after thorough research.

At Lincoln dealerships, Chinese customers will be greeted with a waterfall, considered auspicious, and their new Lincoln car will have a custom fragrance pleasing to Chinese noses, Parker said.

Energy

China Shenhua Energy Company Limited (HKG:1088) More Than a Coal Company Morningstar analyst Zhao Hu says investors would be wise not to look at China Shenhua Energy Company Limited (HKG:1088) as only a coal story. Even if coal continues to underperform, Hu says China Shenhua’s other businesses will offset the negative impact.

China Shenhua is a little bit different than the other pure-play coal companies we cover primarily because of its vertical integration strategy,” Hu says. “The company recognized the coal sector’s volatility and was able to expand upward and downward into different sectors that include railway transportation, power generation as well as some shipping and port operations.”

CNOOC Limited Filed 2013 Annual Report on Form 20-F – Yahoo Finance CNOOC Limited (the “Company”, NYSE: CEO, SEHK: 00883, TSX: CNU) announced today it has filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) its 2013 annual report on Form 20-F (“annual report”) that included audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2013.

The annual report is available on the Company’s website at www.cnoocltd.com as well as SEC′s website at www.sec.gov.

Sinopec Wins Dismissal Of $5B False Imprisonment Suit – Law360 A California federal judge on Tuesday tossed a Chinese foreign national’s $5.17 billion suit alleging China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., known as Sinopec Corp., colluded with the Chinese government to falsely imprison him, ruling the court did not have jurisdiction over the claims.
U.S. District Judge Beverley Reid O’Connell granted Sinopec’s motion to dismiss the July suit, which accused Sinopec officials of interrogating, threatening and ultimately having Tiangang Sun imprisoned for five years after he sued the company in China for breaching a pipeline contract

Your Industry News – Three International wind power exhibitions to take place in Shanghai in July 2014 **Would hope there is a major Scottish presence at these events. Wind power getting important there as oil declines** The Offshore Wind China Conference & Exhibition, the Wind Farm O&M China Conference & Exhibition and Distributed Generation China will take place concurrently at Shanghai Mart in Shanghai on 2-4 July 2014.

China Money Network − Yingli, Shanghai Sailing To Jointly Launch $160M Renewable Energy Fund New York Stock Exchange-listed Chinese solar panel producer Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Ltd. says that it has signed an agreement with Shanghai Sailing Capital Management to jointly form a renewable energy fund in Shanghai to invest in downstream solar energy projects in China, according to a company announcement.

The joint fund will have an initial size of approximately RMB1 billion ($160 million). Yingli China will commit around 51% of the total capital in several installments through its wholly owned affiliate in China.

PetroChina to Expand Installation of Honeywell Technologies to 30 Plants | Control Engineering Asia PetroChina Company Limited will expand its use of Honeywell advanced information management and process modeling software tools to 17 additional refining and petrochemical sites across China, to help meet the country’s growing demand for chemicals and transportation fuels. PetroChina currently uses Honeywell’s information solutions at 13 locations.

Telecoms

Alibaba unit to offer mobile phone service in China from June – Livemint The service will include voice and third-generation data packages on network capacity leased from all three state-owned carriers, according to Alizila, a website run by Alibaba. The packages will be sold through Alibaba’s Taobao and Tmall sites and can be paid for with Alipay, the company’s e-payment affiliate.

Alibaba, Tencent take rivalry to mobile network services | South China Morning Post Alibaba, the mainland’s biggest e-commerce service provider, said yesterday that it would launch 3G data and voice services in June through subsidiary HiChina, one of 19 companies licensed to operate as a mobile virtual network operator in the country.

The announcement, made through the Alizila website of Hangzhou-based Alibaba, followed reports earlier this month that online retail platform operator JD.com in which Tencent is a major shareholder, would launch its own mobile virtual network operator service next month.

ZTE Q1 profit grows – BUSINESS – Globaltimes.cn ZTE Corp, China’s second-biggest telecommunications equipment maker, said first-quarter profit matched its estimate after benefiting from the country’s introduction of 4G networks.

Net profit rose 204 percent to 622.2 million yuan ($100.01 million) from January to March, compared with an estimated range of 425 million yuan to 637 million yuan, the Shenzhen-based company said on Thursday.

China Unicom profits rise – BUSINESS – Globaltimes.cn China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd, the country’s second-biggest mobile carrier by subscribers, posted a 74 percent rise in first quarter net profits, beating estimates, as an increase in data usage offset a slowdown in subscriber growth.
China Unicom said on Thursday net profit from January to March was 3.3 billion yuan, higher than the 1.9 billion yuan in the same period one year ago.

Yahoo Still Set to Get Value From Alibaba After IPO – Bloomberg That’s because Yahoo, which owns about 24 percent of Alibaba, will still have a sizable chunk of the Chinese e-commerce company after it goes public as soon as this year. The Web portal is set to sell about 40 percent of its Alibaba stake in the initial public offering, leaving it with the majority of its holding. Yahoo can hang onto that piece indefinitely if it chooses.

Investors who had bought into Yahoo as a proxy for privately held Alibaba thus may not be tempted to dump the Web company’s shares — at least not right away. For Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer, who has relied on Yahoo’s Alibaba stake to boost the company’s share price, that may buy just enough time to accelerate a nascent sales rebound.

Xiaomi looks to steal thunder from OnePlus with launch of mysterious new gadget on same day, April 23 The mysterious device is set to launch on the same day as the OnePlus One, the new brand’s first ever phone. We doubt Xiaomi’s timing is unintentional as the OnePlus One phone is designed to compete with Xiaomi’s flagship phone, the Mi3.

Coolpad obtains fresh funds for 4G smartphone expansion | South China Morning Post Coolpad Group, the third-biggest smartphone supplier on the mainland, is poised to boost its 4G mobile phone development plans and global expansion with new financing worth as much as US$175 million.

Shenzhen-based Coolpad, formerly known as China Wireless Technologies, obtained yesterday a US$107 million, three-year loan facility through a syndicate of mostly Taiwanese banks, according to the firm’s filing with the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Property

Towers where no lights burn at heart of China’s puzzle – FT.com The main reason for the slowdown is a slump in fixed asset investment, the biggest driver of the Chinese economy.

The slide was largely owing to declining real estate investment, which also experienced its weakest growth in more than a decade. The situation is certain to get worse in the coming months as new housing floor space under construction contracted 27.2 per cent in the first quarter.

Why China Needs to Let More Companies Go Bankrupt – China Real Time Report – WSJ China needs to let more companies go bust.

That was the message from several executives at a real-estate conference in Shanghai on Thursday, as the latest string of loan defaults among real-estate developers and a small construction firm have some people talking about bankruptcy more freely.

Tech

China Money Network − Sina’s Weibo Downsized IPO By 21% To $286M Chinese social networking platform Weibo Corporation has raised $286 million by offering 16.8 million American Depository Shares (ADR) at $17 per share. The size of its IPO is 21% smaller than its initial target of of $380 million, according to an announcement.

Weibo gains 5% in Nasdaq trading debut – MarketWatch **I wouldn’t put money on Weibo** Shares in Weibo Corp were last up 5% on Thursday in their trading debut on the Nasdaq after initially dropping. Late Wednesday, the Chinese social-media company raised $286 million by offering 16.8 million U.S.-listed shares at $17, according to Renaissance Capital. That $17 price was at the low end of an expected range of $17 to $19.

As Weibo launches IPO, here are all the facts and stats you need to know In less than an hour, China’s top Twitter-esque social network, Sina Weibo (NASDAQ:WB), will launch its long-awaited IPO. As that happens, let’s look at all the facts and stats you need to know about Weibo.

Chinese graduates deepen hi-tech inroads | South China Morning Post The Chinese for more than a decade have been potent rivals to American and European manufacturers. Now, China is giving Westerners something new to worry about: a generation of workers able to compete in higher-technology endeavours. The aim is to develop service industries and shift from producing simple exports – often assembled from parts made elsewhere – to making a larger share of more sophisticated products.

Agriculture

China Says Nearly One-Fifth of Its Arable Land Is Polluted – WSJ.com **But doesn’t say what constitutes “polluted” or “highly polluted”** Nearly one-fifth of China’s arable land is polluted, China’s environmental ministry said. The new report confirms the worst fears of environmentalists and researchers about the effects of decades of rapid industrialization on the country’s soil.

The release of the report Wednesday shed unexpected light on the scale of China’s environmental problem. Environmental authorities had previously declined to disclose national soil pollution data, calling it a “state secret.”

Retail

China backs away from price controls on basic drugs | Reuters **Healthcare in China is FUBAR** China has backtracked on its policy of capping retail prices on medicines and will allow pharmaceutical companies to set prices for some drugs, after criticism that controls had caused a drug drought that derailed treatment for millions of patients.

Beijing has been struggling with rising healthcare costs, violent conflicts between patients and doctors and medicine safety issues, and President Xi Jinping has said providing affordable, accessible healthcare is a government priority.

Gap sees China sales tripling to $1b in three years – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn The push comes as Gap Inc tries to become less reliant on North America, where it generates 84 percent of its sales. North American sales have cooled of late at Gap Inc’s three major brands, which also include Banana Republic.

 

Posted from Diigo.

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China Business Briefs 16/4/14

There won’t be a posting of the business briefs tomorrow, as I am flying to Beijing (in about three hours) for a two week visit. I will try to keep on posting once there, but visits and reunions may take precedence.

I am looking forward to seeing Iain Shaw and co, former staff of the Beijinger (and former colleagues of mine) who are starting up The Cleaver Quarterly, a magazine on Chinese food around the world. Check out their kickstarter thing here if you’re interested.

Economy Finance Auto Infrastructure Energy Telecoms Property Travel Tech Agriculture Retail Healthcare

Economy

China’s first quarter GDP grows 7.4% – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn China’s economy grew 7.4 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2014, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) revealed on Wednesday.

The NBS said that preliminary data showed the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) reached 12.8213 trillion yuan ($2.08 trillion) in the first quarter.

The figures suggest growth in the world’s second-largest economy in the beginning of year 2014 was stable and that the economy was generally in good health, as Chinese authorities promoted reforms, innovation, restructuring and improvement of people’s well-being, according to the NBS.

Chinese incomes continue surging in Q1 – BUSINESS – Globaltimes.cn The average per capita disposable income rose 11.1 percent year on year to 5,562 yuan (908.82 US dollars) in the first quarter. Deducting inflation, the actual growth was 8.6 percent, according to the NBS.

The income gap between urban and rural residents narrowed with the actual income growth in rural China 2.9 percentage points higher than that in its urban areas in the first quarter, according to the NBS.

China’s Economic Growth Slows to Six-Quarter Low After Credit Reined In – Businessweek China’s expansion moderated to the weakest pace in six quarters and property construction plunged, testing leaders’ commitment to keep reining in credit as risks mount of a deeper slowdown.

Gross domestic product rose 7.4 percent in the January-to-March period from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said today in Beijing, compared with the 7.3 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. Industrial production and fixed-asset investment trailed projections.

China’s expansion slows as property construction falls | Money | The Malay Mail Online Gross domestic product rose 7.4 per cent in the January-to- March period from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said today in Beijing, compared with the 7.3 per cent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of analysts. Industrial production and fixed-asset investment trailed projections.

The weakest first-quarter property-investment growth since 2009 signals credit is tight and demand is faltering, adding to economic and default dangers as Premier Li Keqiang grapples with risks from shadow banking and local-government debt. A deeper slowdown would put pressure on leaders to expand stimulus or limit the pace of changes intended to give market forces a bigger role in the world’s second-largest economy.

Chinese Police Confront Trust Investors Demanding Repayment – Bloomberg Chinese investors demanding their money back from a troubled 973 million-yuan ($156 million) high-yield product in Shanxi province were confronted by police in front of a China Construction Bank Corp. (939) branch.

People wearing white masks with the words “despicable bank” and “pay back our money” were among at least 30 investors facing special-forces officers in dark uniforms in Taiyuan city, about 521 kilometers (324 miles) southwest of Beijing. The nation’s second-largest bank is the custodian of the Songhuajiang River No. 77 trust, which missed six payments as of last month, according to the Economic Observer.

Electricity, Steel Hint at Economic Uptick in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ Official data shows China’s economy in the first quarter grew at its slowest pace in 18 months, but two proxies point to some resilience.

Electricity output—an indicator favored by Premier Li Keqiang over gross domestic product—and crude steel production grew faster in March than in the preceding two months. In addition, steel output in March hit a record high, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

China’s slowing growth potential minefield for leaders – The Globe and Mail Slowing growth presents a potential minefield for Chinese leadership, whose chief concern is maintaining a rising standard of living for its own people. To that end, officials have sought to discount the value of GDP as a measure of well-being, instead deliberately underscoring other statistics. “Maybe a more important thing to look at is employment and income,” said Mr. Sheng. And those numbers still look good. The first quarter saw 3.74-million urban jobs created, slightly more than the year before. Rural income is up 10.1 per cent, while urban salaries swelled 7.2 per cent. At the same time, consumer price index growth of 2.3 per cent has allowed many of those gains to flow in to consumer pockets, rather than back into groceries.

Slowdown curbs Q1 lending activity – Headlines, features, photo and videos from ecns.cn Money supply growth decelerated further in March amid a reform-induced economic slowdown, according to figures released on Tuesday by the People’s Bank of China.

The central bank said that the expansion of M2, a broad measure of money supply, slowed to 12.1 percent year-on-year from 13.3 percent in February. The market consensus was for an increase of 13 percent.

Slower deposit growth, which limits banks’ ability to lend, was a factor. Yuan deposit growth fell to 11.4 percent year-on-year in March from 12.5 percent in February.

Higher-value exporters survive turmoil in market[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn Higher-value Chinese exporters are more immune than low-cost manufacturers in the face of market turmoil from such things as weak demand, exchange-rate fluctuations and rising costs, said exhibitors at the Canton Fair that opened on Tuesday.

China not Currency Manipulator: US Treasury-Caijing “China’s currency yuan, or renminbi (RMB) appreciated on a trade-weighted basis in 2013 but not as fast or by as much as is needed,” the US Treasury said  in the latest semi-annual Report to Congress on International Economic and  Exchange Rate Policies.

According to the report, the yuan appreciated by 2.9 percent against the US  dollar in 2013, and China’s current account surplus declined to 2.1 percent of  gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, down from 2.3 percent of GDP in 2012 and  from a peak of over 10 percent in 2007.

Yangtze River Delta becomes epicentre for China credit risk | South China Morning Post Suzhou, an ancient city in Jiangsu province 100 kilometres west of Shanghai, lives in legend as one of China’s most beautiful, famous for its elegant gardens and charming canals.

More recently, it became an industrial powerhouse, sitting at the heart of the Yangtze River Delta region that, along with the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong, drove the mainland’s economic boom.

Now it is ground zero for a painful corporate deleveraging that has tacit government approval. A third of all loan delinquencies come from the region, and credit is getting harder to come by.

Finance

Citic Pacific to Pay $36B for Parent’s China Assets – Bloomberg The steelmaker and property developer will pay 49.9 billion yuan in cash and issue almost 16.6 billion shares at HK$13.48 each, according to a Hong Kong exchange filing today. Citic Group Corp. will hold 75 percent of Citic Pacific following the transaction and a share sale by the Hong Kong company, it said.

The transaction comes as Chinese President Xi Jinping advocates the most sweeping changes since Deng Xiaoping’s liberalization in 1978, including loosening yuan trading and allowing more private investments in state businesses. The deal gives Citic Pacific a stake in China’s largest brokerage, as well as banking, energy and infrastructure assets.

China Money Network − S&P Downgrades Fosun International’s Credit Rating Shanghai-headquartered Chinese privately owned conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. has been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services because of the company’s increasing leverage level as a result of its acquisitions, according to a notice issued by S&P.

Fosun’s long-term corporate credit rating is downgraded to BB from BB+ with stable outlook.

BRIEF-Ping An Insurance’s Jan-Mar premium income totalled 108 bln yuan | Reuters Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd

* Says January-March premium income totalled 108 billion yuan ($17.37 billion)

Source text in Chinese: link.reuters.com/tan58v

BRIEF-China Life Insurance’s Jan-Mar premium income totalled about 132.2 bln yuan | Reuters China Life Insurance Co Ltd

* Says January-March premium income totalled about 132.2 billion yuan ($21.25 billion)

Source text in Chinese: link.reuters.com/tet58v

Auto

Volvo likely to become China’s next official car brand: report|Companies|Business|WantChinaTimes.com **I wonder what % of Audi’s revenues come from China** China’s president Xi Jinping, who visited the Chinese-owned Volvo car plant in Ghent, Belgium on April 1 during his European trip, seems to have become the best spokesman for the automobile brand after a photo of him and the Volvo XC60 model was published. Volvo could likely become the new choice for official cars in China, according to the Guangzhou-based Time Weekly.

Infrastructure

SOE accounting puzzle blurs frugality drive – Headlines, features, photo and videos from ecns.cn **Article repeated from Xinhua – evidently CRCC’s arse is being kicked** Many Chinese state-owned enterprises(SOEs) that were under fire last year for exorbitant “reception” fees hid the item in their latest financial results, renewing public concerns over their sincerity to cut extravagance.

China Railway Construction Corporation Ltd. (CRCC), one of the country’s largest construction companies, spent 837.5 million yuan (135.1 million U.S. dollars) on receptions in 2012. The company was punished following public outrage over the alleged abuse of state assets.

In its 2013 financial report released in late March, CRCC canceled the item called “receptions” in its accounting statement. Meanwhile, the item named “management fees,” which included the sub-item “receptions” in the 2012 report, surged by nearly 2.2 billion yuan last year.

World’s longest plateau rail tunnel completed – People’s Daily Online The Xinguanjiao Tunnel, the world’s longest plateau rail tunnel on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, was completed on Tuesday, local authorities said.

Spanning 32.645 km, the tunnel was finished on Tuesday afternoon, making it the longest rail tunnel in China, according to Zhi Changying, an official with the China Railway Tunnel Co. Ltd. (CRTC), a partner in the project.

Sierra Leone Sports: Bo stadium handed over to Salone « Awoko Newspaper Renowned Chinese company, Xinjiang Beixin construction and Engineering Group Company Limited on Friday April 11th handed over the four thousand seater stadium to government through the Ministry of Sports.

Before the handing over ceremony, one of the Engineers Tai Xie who also doubles as interpreter told Newday that they started the construction of the Stadium on the 25th of December 2008 and they finished the project on 25th December 2013 spanning over a five year period.

Energy

China Natural Gas Output Rises in March to Highest in Two Years – BloombergNatural gas output in the world’s largest energy consumer rose 7.6 percent to 11 billion cubic meters last month, data from the National Bureau of Statistics in Beijing show today. That’s the highest since March 2012. NBS didn’t release output figures for January 2013 because the data was distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Chinese government sees expanding gas supply as a way to curb air pollution that has frequently exceeded limits recommended by the World Health Organization. The National Energy Administration said in its work plan in January that gas output is forecast to rise 12 percent from a year earlier to 131 billion cubic meters this year.

China State Grid Considers Dollar Issue Amid State-Giant Sales – Bloomberg State Grid Corp. of China, the nation’s largest power distributor, is considering a dollar-denominated bond offering following sales from other government-backed giants.

The company will meet investors in the U.S. and Asia from April 21, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the details are private. China Petrochemical Corp., known as Sinopec Group and parent of Asia’s largest oil refiner, raised $5 billion selling securities April 2 in Asia’s biggest dollar bond offering in a decade.

China builds up nuclear power grid – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn “China will install another 800 gigawatts of capacity for nuclear power, about 70 percent of which will use our technology for steam turbines and other key components,” Chen Chaoming, vice-president of Nuclear China-Alstom Thermal, told reporters in Beijing during the 13th edition of Nuclear Industry China, organized by the Chinese Nuclear Society.

“Despite the post-Fukushima delays,” he said, referring to the Japanese disaster of three years ago, “China’s nuclear market has a huge potential for growth. Basically, it is because China’s nuclear industry is still at a nascent stage. Power generated by nuclear plants accounts for less than 2 percent,” he said.

PetroChina Company Ltd.: Notice of Annual General Meeting for the year 2013 NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that an annual general meeting of PetroChina Company Limited (the “Company”) for the year 2013 (the “Annual General Meeting”) will be held at 9 a.m. on 22 May 2014 at Beijing Oriental Bay International Hotel, 26 Anwai Xibinhe Road, Dongcheng District, Beijing.

PLN teams up with Chinese firms on marine project | The Jakarta Post State owned electricity company PT PLN has teamed up with three Chinese companies — Technology Intern Shijiazhuang Enric Gas Equipment Co. Ltd, Ocean Engineering Design & Research Institute of CIMC and PT Enviromate Technology International Cui Li — to develop marine transportation of compressed natural gas (CNG) in Indonesia.

The marine CNG transportation project, which will transport CNG from Gresik, East Java to Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara, via a CNG vessel, is the first project of its kind in the world.

Telecoms

Huawei world’s top communications equipment supplier in 2013|Companies|Business|WantChinaTimes.com Drawing from China’s huge mobile communications market, Huawei became the world’s largest communications equipment supplier in 2013, overtaking Ericsson, according to the Chinese-language CBN Weekly.

The company raked in net profits of US$3.47 billion on sales of US$39.5 billion in 2013, compared with US$1.9 billion and US$35.3 billion for Ericsson. Cisco was third.

Property

China First-Quarter Home Sales Post Decline on Tight Credit – Bloomberg The value of homes sold fell 7.7 percent to 1.1 trillion yuan ($177 billion) in the three months to March from the same period a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics said today. The last time home value sales dropped in the first quarter was in 2012. New property construction declined to 291 million square meters (3.1 billion square feet) in the quarter.

Is glut developing in retail building sector?[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn Despite a rapid growth in retail sales, less-experienced developers could soon be learning a hard lesson from a market with a supply glut, says a retail property trend report released by Cushman & Wakefield, the world’s largest privately held real estate services company.

The report forecast that the new supply of commercial properties in 30 cities that it monitors will total 75 million square meters, and a peak of new supply with more than 20 million sq m will flood the market this year.

Hoping for Price Rises? Here’s the Harsh Reality, CCTV Tells Home Buyers – China Real Time Report – WSJ China’s latest message about the property market is simple and aimed at the man on the street: The home you’ve bought isn’t a one-way bet. Deal with it.

That message has been pumped out through China’s state broadcaster as part of Beijing’s efforts to curb people’s enthusiasm for homes as an investment tool. Such appetite for property has driven economic growth, but also led to imbalances in the country’s economy and social tension.

Hebei Hopes to Turn Cities into Satellites by Pushing Them into Beijing’s Orbit – The housing market in Baoding heated up after media reports that provincial officials in Hebei want to develop some cities into satellites of Beijing, and Baoding might host some central government offices.

A Hebei official has said the idea is still just that, and that the central government has not approved anything.

However, the plan shows the province is enthusiastic about developing its economy, and has identified problems in the capital – overcrowding, heavy traffic and terrible air pollution – as problems it could use to its advantage.

Travel

WeChat Adds Air Ticket Booking Service | TechNode WeChat’s m-commerce offerings has added flight booking service that is provided by LV.com (formerly 17u.cn), a Chinese online travel service Tencent has a stake in. Payments, of course, are supported by WeChat Payment.

Firms decline to comment on merger rumors – BUSINESS – Globaltimes.cn Ctrip.com International and Qunar.com Inc, two Chinese NASDAQ-listed online travel service providers, both declined to comment Tuesday on market rumors that they will merge in a deal that would create an online travel service giant with a market capitalization of over $10 billion.

The rumors, as reported by China Business Journal over the weekend, claimed that search engine giant Baidu Inc, the majority shareholder in Qunar, will swap its shares in Qunar for Ctrip shares, resulting in Baidu taking a controlling stake in Ctrip.

Sikorsky Helicopter Receives Chinese Nod – Analyst Blog – NASDAQ.com **UK political buffs may remember Sikorsky from the Westland affair** Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., a unit of  United Technologies Corp. (UTX), declared that its S-76D aircraft has received China’s  certification, jumpstarting its delivery to Chinese customers.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a validation type certificate for the helicopters, which will  support expansion of Sikorsky’s operations in a potentially  profitable market and strengthen its foothold in the Chinese market.

Tech

Alibaba Plans Hong Kong-Style Fee as Carrot for IPO Banks – Businessweek Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is planning to award about one-third of the fees for its initial public offering in the form of incentive bonuses to coax better performance from underwriters, people with knowledge of the matter said.

China’s largest e-commerce company plans to pay at least 1.1 percent of the total IPO proceeds in fees, two people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information. Estimates of Alibaba’s valuation suggest the company could raise as much as $18 billion in the sale, making the potential fee pool almost $200 million. While the e-commerce giant is preparing for an IPO in New York, performance incentives are common in Hong Kong and have been used by companies including Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.

China’s Alibaba sees profit double ahead of long-awaited IPO As the tech world awaits Alibaba’s US IPO, here are some new financial figures to chew on. The Chinese ecommerce juggernaut pulled in US$3.06 billion in revenue in Q4 2014, which is up 66 percent on the same period a year before. Alibaba’s Q4 net income hit $1.36 billion in net income in Q4, which has more than doubled (up 110 percent) from the previous year.

Alibaba’s Q4 numbers were boosted by the popularity of China’s equivalent of Cyber Monday, which happens every November 11. On that day, Alibaba’s Tmall and Taobao marketplaces saw $5.7 billion spent by shoppers in just 24 hours.

Baidu enters China’s mobile payments war with Baidu Wallet Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), the Chinese tech giant best known for its search engine, announced yesterday it will roll out a new mobile wallet app called Baidu Wallet (baidu qianbao), reports Jinghua.cn (via Techweb).

Like its main rivals from Alibaba (Alipay) and Tencent (Tenpay and WeChat Payments), Baidu Wallet serves as a Swiss army knife for the average Chinese consumer’s finance needs. By binding bank cards to the app, users can transfer money to friends’ accounts, top up their SIM cards, pay for virtual goods in video games, purchase movie tickets, and buy goods from any vendor that accepts Baifubao, Baidu’s third-party payment solution.

Agriculture

Noble Group to sell stake in agriculture unit for US$1.5b – Channel NewsAsia China’s largest grain trader COFCO Corp will buy a 51 per cent stake in Singapore-listed Noble Group Ltd’s agriculture business unit for US$1.5 billion, Noble said on Wednesday.

The two companies plan to form a partnership that will link COFCO’s grain processing and distribution business with Noble Agri’s agricultural unit.

Noble Group Limited – Did it sell the agriculture business at right price – which of the brokers is right? – Yahoo Singapore Finance After failing to spin off its agriculture business in 2011 it has now again plans for an IPO after divesting majority stake to COFCO. The question still remains whether this segment deserves better valuations.

Retail

An Overview of China’s Retail Industry | China Briefing News Underpinned by the steady rise of household income, China’s retail market has become one of the most lucrative and rapidly growing in the world. China is currently the world’s second largest retail market, and Asia’s largest. It is expected to surpass the U.S. to become the world’s largest retail market by 2016. After years of accelerated growth and annual expansion rates of 10 percent or more, China’s growth in 2013 slowed down to 7.7 percent – level with the figure for 2012. This slowdown in growth is consistent with China’s effort to carry out a major overhaul aimed at weaning its economy off its decades-long reliance on heavy industry, export-oriented manufacturing, state-driven investment, as well as investment in infrastructure. Meanwhile, to rebalance the nation’s economy, policymakers are attempting to shift towards a more consumption- and service-driven model, hoping to foster and sustain more productive growth over the next decade and beyond.

Reaching for the red | China Economic Review This is a characteristic trait seen in previous emerging markets like Japan that eventually opened up their palates to other varieties, notes Guilllame Delglise, CEO of Vinexpo, a global wines and spirits exhibition, but it will take time for the same to happen in China.

In an interview during a recent visit to Shanghai, Delglise, who was previously Asia Pacific director for Laurent-Perrier, also told China Economic Review that officials in Beijing are not inclined to serve champagne to their guests, and explained why that might be good for marketers of bubbly as they chase affluent urban youngsters at fancy nightclubs.

Healthcare

China Money Network − TPG, Fosun’s Privatization Target Chindex Receives Higher Takeover Proposal NASDAQ-listed Chindex International, Inc., the operator of high-end United Family hospitals in China, says the company has received a superior take-private proposal from an unspecified financial bidder, according to a company release.

The new bidder is willing to pay $23 per share for all outstanding American Depository Shares (ADS), valuing the company at around $414 million.

Posted from Diigo.

China Business Briefs 28/1/14

Sorry about the lack of posts yesterday. Beijing seems to hit my immune system with frequent minor ailments. All a bit wearisome.

ECONOMY

China Credit Trust Says It Reached Pact on Troubled Product – Bloomberg China Credit Trust Co. said it reached an agreement to restructure a high-yield product that sparked concern over the health of the nation’s $1.67 trillion trust industry and contributed to a global selloff in emerging-market assets.

The agreement includes a potential investment in the 3 billion-yuan ($496 million) product, Beijing-based China Credit Trust said on its website today, four days before payment is due. The two-line statement didn’t identify the source of funds, or say whether investors would get their money back.

China shadow bank says reached pact to avoid default – Yahoo Singapore Finance In a notification to investors, obtained by Reuters, the trust firm declared that an accord had been reached and advised investors to contact client managers, but the document, did not say how or when investors would be repaid.

Citing an unnamed investor in the trust product, Caixin, a respected financial magazine, reported on Monday that the agreement allows investors to recover their invested principal, but not the final interest payment originally promised.

China Trust Default Avoided…What Comes Next? – Forbes A default of the “Credit Equals Gold #1” trust product has been avoided. What happens in the coming months will either push China closer towards a financial crisis or help it gradually step back from the edge.

Heard on the Street: China’s Default That Wasn’t – WSJ.com Like clockwork, a mysterious third party has sprung to the rescue, allowing China Credit Trust to repay the principal on high-yield investment products tied to a struggling coal miner. Savers will miss some interest payments and get a lower effective yield, but otherwise escape unharmed. So does the reputation of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country’s largest commercial lender, which sold the trust products to clients.

The hand of the state seems to be at work. Officials in the miner’s home province were actively involved in coming up with a solution, The Wall Street Journal reported. The bailout involves the third-party investor taking an equity stake in the coal company, which came only after the company suddenly gained approval to restart a closed mine.

China’s top diplomat wants free-trade deal with Europe | Reuters Beijing’s top diplomat called on Monday for China and the European Union to consider a multi-billion-dollar free-trade deal, a once unthinkable step that shows a big improvement in relations between two of the world’s largest markets.

“There are bright prospects for China-EU business cooperation,” Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi told reporters after meeting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton ahead a visit to Brussels by President Xi Jinping in March.

China Trade Puzzle Revived as Hong Kong Data Diverge – Bloomberg China’s trade numbers, distorted by fake exports (HKETEXPC) last year, are set to come under renewed scrutiny after a discrepancy between Hong Kong and Chinese figures for bilateral trade widened to the largest in eight months.

Hong Kong’s December imports from China fell 1.9 percent from a year earlier to HK$176 billion ($22.7 billion), the city’s statistics department said yesterday. That compares with $38.5 billion in exports to Hong Kong reported earlier this month by China’s customs administration, up 2.3 percent, based on data compiled by Bloomberg.

China Property New Loans Hit $380Bln in 2013, Accounting 1/3 of Total-Caijing China’’s property sector attracted 2.34 trillion yuan (about $384 billion) of new loans in the past year, representing nearly a third of the total from the banking institutions, a central bank report showed.

Outstanding yuan-denominated lending to the property sector from both Chinese and foreign financial institutions to the property sector rose 19.1 percent year-on-year to 14.61 trillion yuan by the end of 2013, the People’s Bank of China said.

Total loans outstanding at commercial banks amounted to 71.9 trillion yuan at the end of December, up 14.1 percent year-on-year and compared with a growth rate of 15.0 percent in the previous year.

Currencies and banks: the two big questions about China | The A-List But in the financial world the Chinese remain a little more hesitant. Two big issues kept recurring, one international, the other domestic:

-will the renminbi soon rival the dollar as a global reserve currency?

-is the rapid growth of shadow banking an accident waiting to happen?

China’s debt-fuelled boom is in danger of turning to bust – FT.com Debate rages over how this tale will end. Most analysts believe that the Chinese economy will once again expand by more than 7 per cent this year, despite ballooning private sector debts. But the pessimistic minority has history on its side. Only five developing countries have had a credit boom nearly as big as China’s. All of them went on to suffer a credit crisis and a major economic slowdown.

Banks see slower growth in assets – Frontpage – BUSINESS – Globaltimes.cn Assets of the banking industry ­totaled 148 trillion yuan ($24 trillion) by the end of 2013, up 12.8 percent from a year earlier, according to data released Sunday by the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC). The growth rate was the lowest since 2003, when the CBRC first started revealing such data.

Banking assets mainly refer to ­financial institutions’ lending assets. Meanwhile, total liabilities reached 137.9 trillion yuan.

Beijing says US should stop new dumping probe on solar cells | South China Morning Post China’s commerce ministry called on the United States on Sunday to stop anti-dumping investigations into imports of solar power products from China, expressing “serious concern” and vowing to defend its producers.

“The Chinese side expresses serious concern,” the commerce ministry said in a statement on its website. “China urges the United States again to carefully handle the current … investigations, be prudent in taking measures and terminate the investigation proceedings.”

Life Insurance in China, Key Trends and Opportunities to 2017 – PR Newswire – The Sacramento Bee The report provides in depth market analysis, information and insights into the Chinese life insurance segment, including: • Benchmarking analysis of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries • The Chinese life insurance segment’s growth prospects by life insurance categories and customer segments • The various distribution channels in the Chinese life insurance segment • The competitive landscape in the Chinese life insurance segment • A description of the life reinsurance segment in China • Detailed analysis of the regulatory framework in China

Oil Companies Using New Logic in Their Overseas Acquisitions – Among mergers and acquisitions of global upstream oil and gas assets over the past few years, one trend has seen European and American companies selling while national oil companies in China and Russia have been buying.

“In 2013, global M&A transactions of upstream oil and gas assets were the lowest since 2008,” said a January report by IHS, an energy consultancy. The report said that from 2010 to 2012, global M&A transactions of upstream assets totaled US$ 600 billion, with 2012 the highest in a decade, at US$ 250 billion. But this fell to US$ 136 billion in 2013.

Capital’s Expensive Plan to Fight Air Pollution Misguided, Expert Says – However, Tao Guangyuan, executive director of the Sino-German Renewable Energy Cooperation Center, said that while the sum shows determination, the government’s approach might be unnecessarily costly. (The center is supported by the governments of China and Germany.)

Much of the 760 billion yuan will go toward converting coal-burning power plants into ones that burn natural gas. Tao says the government will need to invest heavily in equipment and production facilities, but doing this will also create a long-term financial burden because gas is more expensive than coal.

Selling products and Services into China The big issue today is not so much how to make product in China, but how to sell product and services to China, be that within China or from outside China. Needless to say, the “within China” part is where the complicated legal regulations and hence the tensions can arise.

China’s guarantee companies face survival problems amid slowing economy|WantChinaTimes.com Since the second half of 2011, the government’s four trillion stimulus policy began to ebb, followed with a tightening monetary policy and the implementation of macro-economic control. Bad debt from soft government funds exploded from small and medium-sized enterprises, leading to rising pressure on guarantee companies.

Reforms to fuel Shanghai’s growth in 2014 – Xinhua | English.news.cn Economists believe the city’s financial sector is going to grow even more this year, while Shanghai Mayor Yang Xiong estimates the city economy will grow by 7.5 percent. A series of reforms in the landmark Shanghai Free Trade Zone, including changes to capital accounts and interest rates, are expected to add new sources of growth to the financial sector.

Talent returns to China, but progress slow – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn A report on returned overseas talent compiled by Wang found that more than 270,000 people came back in 2012, an increase of 46 percent over 2011, adding that rapid economic development in China is one of the major attractions.

Of those who returned, more than 30 percent took jobs or started a business in areas such as new materials, energy, biotechnology and electronic information.

8.8% salary hikes expected for 2014 – Chinadaily.com.cn Salary increases are expected to hit 8.8 percent in 2014, a slight rise on the 8.6 percent for 2013, according to a survey issued by 51job.com, a human resources service provider.

It found that the highest salary increases occurred in the financial sector, reaching 10.4 percent, followed by real estate (10.1 percent), high tech (9.9 percent) and bio-pharmaceuticals (9.2 percent).

Li reaffirms commitment to social welfare system[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn During his visit, the premier highlighted the importance of social relief work and urged the governments to do a better job in providing basic welfare to disadvantaged people.

“The government has to tighten up the network of social security. A welfare system must be in place for the poor to fall back on if they encounter difficulties,” he said. “Otherwise, these disadvantaged people can easily impact the bottom line of society.”

Hong Kong export growth misses forecast | South China Morning Post The growth, which lagged economists’ forecasts of a rise of 4 to 5 per cent, underscored a weak economic recovery in the United States and disappointing demand in Europe in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, they said.

However, some economists expected better prospects this year on the back of recent strength in the US recovery while Europe’s turmoil hit its bottom.

China probes death of official who liquored up at lavish banquet | Reuters **”negative social impact” is my new favourite euphemism** The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is investigating Chen Ruixi, deputy mayor of the small city of Sanming in coastal Fujian province, who attended the banquet, as well as his colleagues.

One official died suddenly after the feast, held at the canteen of a private company, the agency said, adding that the event had made a “negative social impact”.

COMPANIES

Citic’s bad loan writeoff a sign of strain in China’s mid-sized banks | South China Morning Post China Citic Bank’s shareholders have agreed for the bank to more than double bad-loan writeoffs for last year, the latest sign of how much China’s economic slowdown is costing the country’s mid-sized banks.

At a meeting in Beijing yesterday, shareholders signed off as expected on management’s plan to write off 5.2 billion yuan (HK$6.6 billion) in non-performing assets, Citic said in a Hong Kong stock exchange filing. The bank originally budgeted for two billion yuan in writeoffs.

Lenovo expands into internet service marketWantChinaTimes.com The Lenovo Group, one of the world’s largest PC suppliers, is placing putting more emphasis on catering to internet services in a bid to become more competitive, reports Shanghai-based First Financial Daily.

Instead of focusing on only hardware production, the company is shifting towards an operational style that will also values software capabilities and offering customized internet services.

Mobile Tourism Service Yikuaiqu Nets Millions of Dollars in Series A Financing Yikuaiqu, a tourism app, announced that it has raised millions of dollars in Series A financing led by Shenzhen Hight-tech Investment and followed by Shenzhen Capital Group, etc. The company has secured millions of yuan of angel investment in 2012. The capital will be used in research and development of its travel applications for scenic spots, said Liang Jiankun, CTO of the company.

Suning Commerce Fully Acquires Group-purchasing Site Manzuo with Nearly 10 Million Dollars Suning Commerce (SZ:002024) announced that it fully acquired group-buying site Manzuo for nearly $10 million (source in Chinese), continuing its expansion into Internet industry after becoming the largest shareholder of peer-to-peer video streaming service PPTV last year.

In addition to maintaining independent operation, Manzuo will also take over the group-buying and travelling businesses under Suning. Feng Xiaohai, founder of Manzuo, will be named as the head of Suning’s local life sector. The acquisition procedure will be completed by the end of this March.

Alibaba unveils its three games for Laiwang and Taobao The games are available on two of Alibaba’s mobile apps. Users who update Laiwang, Alibaba’s social messaging app, to the new 4.5 version, will notice a new tab under the “Explore” page with a castle icon. Pressing the tab takes users to the app’s new game center, which currently features two titles.

Not unexpectedly, all three titles fit firmly in the “casual” genre, which have proven to be popular among game developers looking to reach broad audiences, and social networks looking to keep up user retention. Of the games on Laiwang, “Pa Pa Pa” bears a resemblence to Line’s Bubble Pop, while “Po Po Po” recalls Simon. Taobao’s “Crazy Toy,” meanwhile, has many of the trappings of King’s Candy Crush Saga.

China Mobile Ltd. (ADR) (CHL): China Mobile Shakes Up Fixed-Line Broadband – Seeking Alpha A welcome development looks set to shake up China’s fixed-line broadband sector this year, with word that leading wireless carrier China Mobile (HKEx: 941; NYSE: CHL) is offering aggressive pricing after receiving a license to offer fixed-line service late last year.

After-school Tutoring Service TAL Education Injects 150 Million Yuan in Childcare Portal Babytree TAL Education (NYSE:XRS), a K-12 after-school tutoring services provider formerly known as Xueersi, announced today it will inject 150 million yuan ($24.79 million) of strategic investment in childcare portal Babytree. Babytree has secured a combined $20 million of investments in previous rounds.

The acquisition of Babytree will help TAL to include pre-school children into its target customers. TAL has acquired education site Kaoyan.com for 50 million yuan last year.

Flying the flag for Chinese cars – Xinhua | English.news.cn Chinese carmaker Hong Qi, or Red Flag, is pressing to have its brand move into the mainstream here in China after years of supplying vehicles to the Chinese government.

Six months ago, Red Flag opened this showroom in Beijing’s exclusive Jinbaojie Street, which makes them almost neighbours with other top name carmakers such as Ferrari and Maserati. So what makes Red Flag Sales Manager Wang Rui Chao believe customers will come to his showroom and not theirs?

Drilling services provider COSL expects deep-water revenue boost | South China Morning Post China Oilfield Services (COSL), the mainland’s dominant provider of offshore drilling services, expects more work and a greater contribution from more capital-intensive deep-water jobs will lift revenues this year.

However, the company warned that the subdued outlook for oil prices will constrain the upside for drilling rates.

China’s Tencent WeChat App Targets U.S. Users – China Real Time Report – WSJ The fast-growing smartphone messaging application is now trying to expand in the U.S. market with a newly launched promotional campaign.

According to WeChat’s Chinese website, here’s how the new promotion works: Tencent is asking people who hold Google accounts to connect their accounts with WeChat, so they can invite their Google contacts to join WeChat. People can win a $25 Restaurant.com gift card from Tencent by getting five of their Google contacts to join WeChat.

Tencent Fully Acquires Map Service Linktech Navi with 60 Million Yuan Chinese Internet giant Tencent continues its acquisition spree this year by pouring 60 million yuan ($9.92 million) of funding in Beijing-based mapping service Linktech Navi for a 100% stake in the company (source in Chinese).

Founded in 2001, Linktech Navi is accredited with the state Grade-A qualification on surveying and mapping. The company’s main businesses are digital maps, navigation system, GPS vehicle monitoring solution, LBS application solution, etc. Linktech Navi’s customers include automobile manufacturers, like Chery, Shac, and Hawtai Motor, navigation services, telecos, among others.

Closer Look: Developers Build Banking Ties with Stake Purchases – Hong Kong-listed Evergrande Real Estate Group expanded into banking by acquiring a 4.5 percent stake in Beijing-based Huaxia Bank for 3.3 billion yuan last week.

A source close to the property developer said the purchase is a strategic investment. Huaxia has a strong balance sheet that can improve Evergrande’s financials. It may help Evergrande finance at a lower cost, he said.

BRIEF-China Life Insurance expects 2013 net profit up 120 pct on investment gains | Reuters China Life Insurance Co Ltd

* Says expects 2013 net profit up 120 percent y/y versus net profit of 11.1 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) previous year

Source text in Chinese: link.reuters.com/wac46v

BRIEF-Ping An Insurance 2013 premium income totalled 268.7 bln yuan | Reuters Ping An Insurance Group Co of China Ltd

* Says 2013 premium income totalled 268.7 billion yuan ($44.4 billion)

Source text in Chinese: link.reuters.com/seb95v

allAfrica.com: Ethiopia: Halfway Point Reached in Inner-City Rail Project (Page 1 of 2) While China Railway Group Limited (CREG) won the contract for the construction of the lines, it was the Metal & Engineering Corporation (MetEC) that was charged with supplying the tracks and the trains to transport passengers. Once complete, the tracks will be of standard size (1.435m wide) double track for the whole route.

LNG import: SSGC, ECC likely to award $1.4b contract today – The Express Tribune EVTL had submitted the offer for LNG services in partnership with China Harbour Engineering Company, a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company, which has been blacklisted by the World Bank until January 2017.

However, the government cleared the company, saying that the project was not being funded by the World Bank, therefore, EVTL could not be disqualified. However, “a question arises why such clause was made part of the tender when it could not be implemented,” an official asked.

SKAI Holdings secures AED737.6m (USD201m) of financing from China’s ICBC for its Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah projectReal Estate – Zawya SKAI Holdings, the Dubai-based real estate investment company, today announced it has secured AED737.6m (US$201m) of financing for its AED3.75bn Viceroy Dubai Palm Jumeirah, ensuring the project is fully funded.

The financing agreement, which further reaffirms SKAI Holdings commitment to the UAE’s hospitality sector, was arranged by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China’s largest bank, marking its first project financing deal for a hospitality project in the Middle East.

BRIEF-China’s Jiugui Liquor says police investigating theft, financial impact uncertain | Reuters China’s Jiugui Liquor Co Ltd

* Says police investigating 100 million yuan ($16.53 million)stolen from its account with Agricultural Bank of China’s Hangzhou Branch, financial impact of the theft still uncertain

Chinese Pork Supplier WH Group Said to Apply for $6b IPO – Bloomberg WH Group Ltd., the Chinese company that bought the world’s biggest pork supplier last year, applied to the Hong Kong stock exchange for an initial public offering, said two people with knowledge of the matter.

The company plans to seek as much as $6 billion from the offering in the first half, the people said yesterday, asking not to be identified as the information is private. WH Group changed its name from Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. this month.

The WSJ Weekend Interview with Erik Prince: Out of Blackwater and Into China – WSJ.com Now, sitting in a boardroom above Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, he explains his newest title, acquired this month: chairman of Frontier Services Group, an Africa-focused security and logistics company with intimate ties to China’s largest state-owned conglomerate, Citic Group. Beijing has titanic ambitions to tap Africa’s resources—including $1 trillion in planned spending on roads, railways and airports by 2025—and Mr. Prince wants in.

Nicaragua canal fast-tracked with Chinese boost The Chinese company, HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd., is working with the Nicaraguan government on a massive canal project experts say could take 11 years to finish, cost $40 billion and require digging about 130 miles (200 kilometers) of waterway.

Just as the Panama Canal was a projection of growing U.S. power at the start of the 20th century, the Nicaragua project already reflects China’s influence and financial clout around the world. Another Hong Kong-based company has been operating port facilities on both ends of the Panama Canal.

ICBC Chief: China’s Shadow Banking Overblown – TheStreet Viewers of China’s state-run television Saturday heard the head of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China say shadow-banking problems in the country have been overblown and “distorted.”

ICBC Chairman Jiang Jianqing, interviewed by CCTV television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said “society has over-exaggerated and completely distorted the severity of shadow banking” in China.

I did not disown rail deal – AG | The Star Githu further discounted claims that his office’s endorsement of the commercial agreement signed between Kenya Railways and the China Road Corporation was also an approval of the tendering process. He said the SGR the logic of the financing agreement had “the making of a closed tender”.

Posted from Diigo.

China Stock Watch 20/1/14

Lots of economic data in today, with the quarterly GDP figure the biggest of them all. The 7.7% annualised rate sounds hunky-dory, especially from a Western perspective (the UK economy, for example, has still not approached its 2008 peak – it has had negative growth over the past six years), but the merest closer look provides a lot of worrying trends and fears of systemic failures. The whole basis for Chinese economic development over the past thirty years looks like it has come to a pretty juddering halt. (Though the tremors have been discernible for some time). The main players in the current setup are now hurting badly, as can be seen by their share performance. The state-owned banks (in several cases trading around net asset value, and which are trading around their 52-week low), both provide early portents of financial stress and are some of the main causes of the economic malaise. I am not usually so bearish, but recent trends seem to be adding up to a very worrying picture. Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang have a real job on their hands.

Fourteen of the major stocks (it’s hard to call them “blue chip”) fell on the day, while only three rose and two were flat. China Life Insurance showed the biggest decline, down 2.53% to RMB14.23, while Dongfeng Motor came next, going down 1.87% to HK$11.56. Only Agricultural Bank, CNOOC and China Construction Engineering came out of the day ahead, with CNOOC doing the best with a rise of 0.72% to HK$13.96.

The Shanghai Composite finally breached the 2000 level, closing down 13.70 points (-0.68%) to finish at 1,991.25. My prediction of sufficient share buy-backs to prop up the market were evidently wrong. It may be down to lack of ready cash on the part of the SOEs, but who can tell?

Name Price Change Mkt cap 52wk high 52wk low EPS P/E
Sinopec 4.6 -0.06 (-1.29%) 536,200.43M 7.03 4.05 CN¥0.62 7.48
PetroChina 7.63 -0.12 (-1.55%) 1.40B 9.5 7.08 CN¥0.68 11.29
ICBC 3.39 -0.02 (-0.59%) 1.19B 4.53 3.38 CN¥0.74 4.61
China Construction Bank 3.9 -0.03 (-0.76%) 975,042.84M 5.19 3.8 CN¥0.85 4.61
Agricultural Bank 2.37 +0.01 (0.42%) 769,762.02M 3.28 2.35 CN¥0.50 4.72
Bank of China 2.46 -0.02 (-0.81%) 687,236.81M 3.26 2.45 CN¥0.53 4.63
China Mobile 76.75* -1.10 (-1.41%) 1.54B 89.2 74.9 HK$8.19 9.37
Noble Group 1.01 -0.01 (-0.98%) 6,726.49M 1.27 0.785 SGD0.04 27.92
China State Construction 2.97 -0.01 (-0.34%) 89,100.00M 4.18 2.9 CN¥0.62 4.82
CNOOC 13.96* +0.10 (0.72%) 623,278.49M 16.52 12.04 HK$1.89 7.38
China Railway Construction 4.11 0.00 (0.00%) 50,707.30M 6.26 3.95 CN¥0.84 4.88
China Railway Group 2.38 0.00 (0.00%) 50,693.76M 3.36 2.3 CN¥0.44 5.43
SAIC Motor 12.48 -0.15 (-1.19%) 137,599.07M 19 11.83 CN¥2.05 6.08
China Life Insurance 14.23 -0.37 (-2.53%) 402,206.74M 22 12.88 CN¥0.97 14.72
Dongfeng Motor 11.56* -0.22 (-1.87%) 99,602.35M 13.28 9.48 HK$1.38 8.4
China Shenhua 14.09 -0.14 (-0.98%) 280,244.76M 25.28 13.97 CN¥2.25 6.26
Ping An Insurance 40.75 -0.11 (-0.27%) 322,582.79M 53.27 31.69 CN¥3.45 11.81
China Telecom 3.62* -0.04 (-1.09%) 292,975.16M 4.42 3.48 HK$0.26 14.02
China Communications Construction 3.8 +0.01 (0.26%) 61,463.99M 5.79 3.74 CN¥0.81 4.7
Bank of Communications 3.72 0.00 (0.00%) 276,257.35M 5.68 3.65 CN¥0.84 4.42

China Stock Watch 13/1/14

A decent day for the major Chinese stocks, for the first since the post-Third Plenum euphoria wore off, it seems. Fourteen of the twenty gained on the day, with Dongfeng Motor by far the best performer, gaining 3.2% to close to HK$11.62. Sinopec, oddly enough, was the second best, up 1.36% to close at RMB4.48. This seems odd given the cost of the Qingdao refinery explosion and the loss of executives, but Chinese SOE executives are always disposable, and regularly rotated by the party machinery. One supposes it could have been worse. The Piper Alpha disaster cost 167 lives and £1.7 billion. Hopefully this will get safety regulations on Chinese oil and gas producers enforced with far greater stringency. The safety record in the mining industry does not inspire confidence elsewhere.

Only four stocks fell, with China State Construction doing worst, going down 1.01% to RMB2.95. SAIC Motor, China Life Insurance and Ping An Insurance all fell by less than 1%.

Nonetheless, the Shanghai Composite fell 3.73 (-0.19%) to close at 2,009.56. That barrier is awfully close.

Name Price Change Mkt cap 52wk high 52wk low EPS P/E
Sinopec 4.48 +0.06 (1.36%) 522,212.61M 7.03 4.05 CN¥0.62 7.28
PetroChina 7.56 +0.03 (0.40%) 1.38B 9.5 7.08 CN¥0.68 11.19
ICBC 3.54 +0.01 (0.28%) 1.24B 4.53 3.4 CN¥0.74 4.81
China Construction Bank 4.01 +0.05 (1.26%) 1.00B 5.19 3.8 CN¥0.85 4.74
Agricultural Bank 2.41 0.00 (0.00%) 782,753.85M 3.28 2.38 CN¥0.50 4.8
Bank of China 2.52 +0.03 (1.20%) 703,998.67M 3.26 2.48 CN¥0.53 4.75
China Mobile 77.85* +0.05 (0.06%) 1.56B 91.1 74.9 HK$8.20 9.5
Noble Group 1.04 0.00 (0.48%) 6,892.16M 1.27 0.785 SGD0.04 28.63
China State Construction 2.95 -0.03 (-1.01%) 88,500.00M 4.18 2.9 CN¥0.62 4.79
CNOOC 13.88* +0.12 (0.87%) 619,706.69M 16.62 12.04 HK$1.89 7.33
China Railway Construction 4.14 +0.02 (0.49%) 51,077.42M 6.46 3.95 CN¥0.84 4.92
China Railway Group 2.38 0.00 (0.00%) 50,693.76M 3.41 2.3 CN¥0.44 5.43
SAIC Motor 13.01 -0.05 (-0.38%) 143,442.62M 19 11.83 CN¥2.05 6.34
China Life Insurance 14.18 -0.12 (-0.84%) 400,793.53M 22 12.88 CN¥0.97 14.67
Dongfeng Motor 11.62* +0.36 (3.20%) 100,119.31M 13.28 9.48 HK$1.38 8.44
China Shenhua 14.57 +0.08 (0.55%) 289,791.76M 25.28 14.4 CN¥2.25 6.47
Ping An Insurance 39.5 -0.07 (-0.18%) 312,687.61M 53.27 31.69 CN¥3.45 11.45
China Telecom 3.73* +0.03 (0.81%) 301,877.74M 4.42 3.48 HK$0.26 14.44
China Communications Construction 3.85 +0.01 (0.26%) 62,272.73M 5.79 3.8 CN¥0.81 4.76
Bank of Communications 3.82 +0.02 (0.53%) 283,683.61M 5.68 3.65 CN¥0.84 4.53

China Business Briefs 13/1/14

ECONOMY

Yuan Reaches 1993-High on Record Fixing as Taper Concern Eases – Bloomberg The currency advanced by the most in a month as the People’s Bank of China strengthened the daily fixing by 0.1 percent today to 6.0950 per dollar, the highest since a peg to the greenback was scrapped in July 2005. U.S. employers added 74,000 workers in December, the least since January 2011, the Labor Department said on Jan. 10. China had a trade surplus of $25.6 billion in December, according to official figures released Jan. 10.

China Moving Closer to Bank Failure: Xinhua-Caijing China is moving closer to allowing its banks actually fail, the official Xinhua reported, citing Yan Qingmin, deputy chairman of China Banking Regulatory Commission.

The market will have the final say in future, Yan told the forum, which means banks would have to stay out of the market if they end up insolvent. Such a remark from the regulator has signaled the state’s exit from its support to deposits in commercial banks and the government will for the first time allow its banks to go bankrupt, Xinhua said.

China’s 2013 exports rise 7.9%, imports up 7.3% – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn China’s exports rose 7.9 percent year on year to $2.21 trillion in 2013, while imports increased 7.3 percent to $1.95 trillion, customs data revealed on Friday.

The foreign trade surplus widened to $259.75 billion in 2013, an increase of 12.8 percent from a year earlier, said Zheng Yuesheng, spokesman for the General Administration of Customs.

Nation’s salary growth strong: Report – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn According to the 2014 Hays Asia Salary Guide, which was released on Thursday and polled about 2,600 employers across the region, 67 percent of the surveyed Chinese employers said they will increase employees’ salaries above 6 percent, compared with 66 percent last year.

US scrutinises Chinese investments most over national security: law firm | South China Morning Post The Committee of Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) reviewed 23 transactions proposed by Chinese companies in 2012, followed by 17 for Britain, traditionally top of the list for scrutiny, and 13 for Canada, US law firm Kaye Scholer said in a report.

Investors still not sold on rail sector – BUSINESS – Globaltimes.cn Some see these losses as a sign that China’s rail assets are undervalued, despite a recent industry overhaul. In actuality though, investors have good reason to be bearish on the rail sector.

Chinese Developers Set to Increase Investment In Foreign Real Estate – Forbes Chinese developers have been purchasing big real estate projects in the world’s most important cities in the past year. They will continue the shopping spree this year, with other Chinese groups to follow the trend soon, according to real estate analysts.

New property bureau to be set up – BUSINESS – Globaltimes.cn China will establish a new bureau specifically designed for property registration this year in a push to facilitate property management reform, the Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR), the country’s top land regulator, said over the weekend, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

On top of the establishment of the new bureau, relevant regulations that will lay the ground for a unified regi­stration system will be released this year, Xu Deming, vice minister of land and resources, said Saturday at a two-day annual work conference.

China Believes that it Can Duplicate Our Success Given our recent success in producing oil and natural gas, it shouldn’t shock anyone that other countries believe they can follow suit. China now has hopes of doubling its oil production by 2030. Because it will be relying heavily on unconventional production methods, the help of current experts in these areas will be needed. Equipment & service providers Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) and Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) have already begun successfully setting up shop in China. They will be helping producers like CNOOC (NYSE: CEO) and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A  ) tap these vast resources. For more, tune in to the clip below.

Why China Wants to Kill Off Bitcoin The press releases may seem mundane, but the reality is, China has a big incentive to keep Bitcoin out of the hands of its citizens. China maintains very tight capital controls, limiting the amount of cash citizens can move outside the country.

Bitcoin effectively circumvents any and all capital controls. Prior to a widespread ban, Chinese citizens could buy Bitcoin to sell for another currency, or even buy homes in foreign lands. Yes, homes. Several homes have been listed with prices in Bitcoin.

COLUMN-Record China crude oil imports flatter to deceive: Clyde Russell | Reuters Taken together, net crude and fuel imports last year were 5.83 million bpd, up about 160,000 bpd, or 2.8 percent, from 2012’s 5.67 million bpd.

This figure is a truer reflection of the overall state of Chinese import demand.

Closer Look: Same Game, Different Names – The end of a listing freeze on mainland stock exchanges has reinvigorated investor appetites for new shares. This comes along with the intention of many company founders to cash out of newly-listed companies. When such demands intersect, sparks are bound to fly.

RMB appreciation unappreciated as inflation dampens affordability|WantChinaTimes.com The 35.7% appreciation in the value of the yuan during this eight-year period has been a positive development for Chinese exchange students studying overseas, but locals who have remained in the country are complaining that their money is becoming less valuable given that the consumer price index, the main measure of inflation, has averaged around 3.1% per year.

Milk, Games and Movies: China Stocks to Watch in 2014 – China Real Time Report – WSJ One area to watch: dairy products. The government’s relaxation of its one-child policy and antitrust measures targeting international competitors are both good news for the domestic milk industry, Bank of Communications Schroder Fund Management Co. said in a recent research report. Retail prices of China’s dairy products rose 5.7% in 2013 on-year, up from an increase of 3.2% in 2012, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed—faster than inflation, which clocked in for the year at 2.6%.

China can avoid Japan-style property bubble: official | Reuters China’s policy fine-tuning and ongoing urbanization can help it to avoid a Japan-style property bubble, a senior housing official said, amid fears a housing market crash could lead to a hard landing for the world’s second-largest economy.

Beijing has allowed local governments to take differentiated property tightening measures, rather than a one-size-fits-all bid to cool the market, Vice Housing Minister Qiu Baoxing said in remarks published in the Southern Metropolis Daily.

Luxury cars drive UK exports to China – Telegraph British exports to China are rising at a blistering pace and are poised to overtake those of France for the first time in the modern era, driven by sales of Range Rovers and other luxury cars to the country’s new rich.

Fresh data released by China’s authorities show that imports from Britain rose 14pc to $19.1bn (£11.6bn) last year, with more than 40pc of total sales coming from vehicles and transport goods.

Closer Look: Why Overpriced IPOs are not a Reason for Intervention – All of them have one thing in common: the price-to-earnings (PE) ratio of their proposed offering price was much higher than the average PE ratio of comparable companies in the secondary market.

Five companies scheduled to start their online road shows for an initial public offering on January 13 postponed their issuance on the previous day, putting the number of companies to halt their stock issuance last minute at six.

China ‘equity return’ is a misnomer – Craig Stephen’s This Week in China – MarketWatch The lack of correlation between China’s growth and stock-market performance has frustrated money managers for years and spawned a variety of theories to try to explain this misnomer. Some look more useful than others, but they are worth reviewing as new explanations arrive.

Little consensus on renminbi appreciation this year | China Economic Review The bank’s Deputy Governor Yi Gang went a bit further last week, saying that China’s currency was close to equilibrium and would not require more intervention.

If that’s true, and China intends to stop buying US treasuries on a regular basis, the value of the yuan should appreciate considerably this year and in the years to come as China’s trade surplus is set to rise too. The IMF says the country’s current accounts surplus will double between 2013 and 2017.

COMPANIES

Death blast hits Sinopec for $963m – The Standard China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (0386) announced yesterday it had suffered a direct loss of 751.72 million yuan (HK$963.69 million) from a deadly accident in Qingdao last November for which chairman Fu Chengyu has received disciplinary penalties.

Fu was given a demerit on administration, while vice chairman Wang Tianpu, president Li Chunguang, chief safety officer Wang Yongjian and supervisor and director of general production Yu Renming were given “serous demerit on administration,” the firm said.

Chinese app store Wandoujia seals $120 million in funding Wandoujia, one of China’s top Android app stores, has secured a massive $120 million in funding, the Beijing-based startup revealed today.

The investment is led by SoftBank (TYO:9984), the Japanese mobile telco, with some funds also coming from DCM and Kaifu Lee’s Innovation Works Development Fund (IWDF). It’s the second major cash boost for Wandoujia, coming long after its $8 million in series A funding in 2011, which was led by DCM and Innovation Works.

Billionaire Li’s PCCW, Pacific Century Premium Suspend Trading – Bloomberg PCCW Ltd. (8), controlled by billionaire Richard Li, and its property unit Pacific Century Premium Developments Ltd. (432) halted their shares from trading in Hong Kong.

Pacific Century Premium plans to release a statement relating to “inside information and unusual price and trading volume movements,” the company said in a filing today. Shares of the Hong Kong-based property developer surged 15 percent to HK$3.07 before the trading halt.

WeChat brings in over 100,000 taxi rides in 9 days It’s been about a week and a half since WeChat, the messaging app that’s dominating smartphones in China, added taxi booking and payments to its range of services. The maker of WeChat, Chinese web giant Tencent, added support for the Didi Dache service after investing nearly $100 million into it. Today the fine folks at 36kr say that the total number of completed transactions – meaning taxis hailed and paid for inside of WeChat – have surpassed 100,000.

KFC Crisis in China Tests Ingenuity of Brand Builder – WSJ.com More than a year into the crisis, Yum is still struggling. Now Mr. Su and Chief Executive David Novak say the Louisville, Ky., company can turn things around in 2014, vowing that new menu items and digital-media initiatives will revive the brand in China. “I fully expect a strong comeback year,” Mr. Su said in a rare interview last month.

Some investors are getting restless. Yum’s shares—which had been propelled for years by its China growth—are up only 12% since late November 2012, when Chinese state media started reporting on food-safety concerns surrounding KFC suppliers. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 26% in that period.

President Death Leaves Heir Overdue Rail Payments: China Credit – Bloomberg Shares in China’s second-biggest builder of railways have fallen 4.9 percent in Hong Kong since the company said Jan. 5 that President Bai Zhongren had died in an accident and that Chairman Li Changjin will take over his job before a successor is chosen. The yield on 2023 dollar-denominated debt of a company unit reached an eight-week high of 5.03 percent on Jan. 9, up from 3.88 percent when they were sold last January.

The Beijing-based company had 531.6 billion yuan ($87.9 billion) of liabilities on Sept. 30, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Its long-term debt to equity ratio of 129 percent would put it in the worst 3 percent on the Hang Seng Index, while its ability to cover interest payments with earnings would be in the worst 1 percent.

Li & Fung to Launch Factory-Safety Business – WSJ.com Li & Fung Ltd. , the buying agent for retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp., said it is setting up the unit to provide factories with consulting services on safety, compliance and efficiency, as well as access to financing and insurance.

Dogfight on the cards | South China Morning Post A dogfight is looming in the horizon as more budget carriers come on stream, bringing them head-to-head with the likes of Cathay Pacific Airways, China Southern Airlines and Air China.

There are about 60 budget airlines operating nearly 1,000 aircraft in the Asia-Pacific but only four in Greater China – encompassing the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan – deploying fewer than 80 aircraft.

OCBC Said in Talks for All-Debt Financing for Wing Hang Deal – Bloomberg Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. (OCBC) is in talks with lenders including Bank of America Corp. and HSBC Holdings Plc about an all-debt financing for its acquisition of Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank Ltd. (302), according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Singapore-based OCBC plans to sell stock later to help repay the short-term loan, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private. Talks between the companies are centering around a valuation of almost 1.9 times Wing Hang’s book value, though no terms have been finalized, one person said.

Service firms pay 67% of tax revenue – Xinhua | English.news.cn The service industry paid nearly two-thirds of Shanghai’s tax revenue last year and financial firms took the lead as they made up 40 percent of the 100 top service taxpayers, underlining the city’s goal to be a global financial center.

The Bank of Communications Ltd was the top service taxpayer with 16.2 billion yuan, followed by Shanghai Pudong Development Bank with 10.4 billion yuan, and Shanghai GM Sales Co Ltd with 8.4 billion yuan.

Onecard, China’s version of Coin, is your digital credit card As well as storing your credit cards and being swipe-able in China’s point-of-sale devices in stores, OneCard will go a couple of steps further than Coin in also storing prepaid cards and membership/loyalty cards. Even better, it promises to support the tap-to-pay function on Beijing’s and Shanghai’s public transport systems. It also incorporates NFC, but that’s of limited usage pretty much anywhere.

Moody’s assigns A1 to BOC Hong Kong Branch’s MTN program drawdown Moody’s Investors Service has assigned an A1 rating to the benchmark-size  senior unsecured notes to be issued by Bank of China Limited (BOC) Hong  Kong Branch.

ASIA CREDIT CLOSE: New issues feel impact of competition | Reuters Bank of China, meanwhile, also announced a two-tranche offering, which took the shine away from BoCom’s 3-year bonds printed last week, which were, therefore, last quoted at 186bp/184bp over the 2-year US Treasury, or 3bp wider.

Sinohydro Group Ltd : 32 Years After, No Power At Mambilla Hydro-Power Project | 4-Traders According to the report, the project was contracted at the sum of $3.2 billion (equivalent N508 billion) to the China Gezhouba Group Company Limited (CGGC) and another Chinese consortium, Sinohydro, with the proposed structure of the contract stipulating that Sinohydro cover 70 per cent of the project while CGGC would execute the remaining 30 percent.

Hong Kong Electric Eyes up to $3.6 Billion From IPO | 4-Traders HK Electric Investments, which owns power plants and electricity-distribution networks in the city, is selling 4.43 billion units in an indicative price range of HK$5.45-HK$6.30 each, it said in a statement late on Sunday. At the US$3.6 billion size, it will be the region’s top deal since Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd raised US$4 billion from an IPO in Japan in June, according to Dealogic.

£24bn rival to Panama Canal to break ground this year – Telegraph Its construction is essential to deal with a surge in global trade and the rise of colossal supertankers, many of which are too large for the ageing   Panama Canal, more than 500 miles to the south.

The project’s funding is being led by the Chinese telecoms billionaire Wang Jing, whose HKND Group won a licence for the development last year.

Chinese Startup Hopes to Capture Apple’s Magic – China Real Time Report – WSJ The Chinese company, which is planning to expand abroad, paid Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to appear on Sunday in front of reporters at its headquarters in Beijing. Mr. Wozniak showed up at the event–labeled as the “Lei Jun & Woz Tech Talk”–with Xiaomi’s founder and chairman, Lei Jun, and told reporters that Xiaomi’s products were “excellent” and “good enough to crack the American market.”

What U.S. Coffee Chain Could China’s Goubuli Be Looking to Buy? – China Real Time Report – WSJ Zhang Yansen, chairman of closely held Chinese bun maker Goubuli, has been in the Chinese press this week saying he is in the final stages of negotiations to acquire a well-known American coffee chain, without disclosing the name. He gave some hints though: It has hundreds of shops in 40 countries spanning the U.S., Europe and Asia.

China Life Insurance Co. Ltd. (LFC): New Analyst Report from Zacks Equity Research – Zacks Equity Research Report – NASDAQ.com We maintain our Neutral recommendation on China Life as strong market position, growth in premiums and investment income is expected to outweigh the headwinds like higher expenses and declining cash flow.

Posted from Diigo.

China Business Briefs 12/1/14

Sorry about there being no blogpost yesterday. Enjoy today’s bumper issue.

ECONOMY

Beijing Tests Tools to Tackle Bad Debt – WSJ.com China’s government is gearing up for a spike in nonperforming loans, endorsing a range of options to clean up the banks and experimenting with ways for lenders to squeeze value from debts gone bad.

Write-offs have multiplied in recent months. Over-the-counter asset exchanges have sprung up as a way for banks to find buyers for collateral seized from defaulting borrowers and for bad loans they want to spin off. Provinces have started setting up their own “bad banks,” state-owned institutions that can take over nonperforming loans that threaten banks’ ability to continue lending.

Caixin Explains: What the Central Gov’t Thinks of Shadow Banking – Problems regarding shadow banking have long concerned the central bank and the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), but it was not until a meeting in July that the State Council made a priority of addressing the problem. A lot more attention was paid to the CBRC’s research on the matter, which constituted the basis of the document that was circulating.

The CBRC had argued that trust companies and some off-balance-sheet operations of commercial banks were not shadow banking, considering that they were not highly leveraged. Also, the Ministry of Commerce had long opposed treating pawn shops and financial leasing companies as shadow bankers.

China uncovers thousands of disaster risks in oil and gas sector | Asia-Pacific | BDlive China has uncovered about 20,000 disaster risks in its oil and gas sector during a nationwide safety probe following a pipeline blast that killed 62 people last year, the country’s safety watchdog said on Thursday.

People’s Bank of China keeps pressure on money markets – FT.com Last week, hours before 2013 came to an end, the People’s Bank of China delivered an unwelcome surprise to some of the country’s biggest banks. Despite frazzled nerves after a liquidity squeeze just one week earlier, the central bank told them it wanted to conduct a bond repurchase operation, a move that would take cash out of their hands for a few days.

“Everyone said it was like a new year’s message from the PBoC. They were telling us that money is going to stay tight,” says a senior credit trader with a European bank in Shanghai.

China Keeps Dancing With a Lehman Moment – Chovanec – MoneyBeat – WSJ China’s year-end cash crunch, the one that the government didn’t want journalists to call a cash crunch, is a very serious situation, Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management, said this morning on the MoneyBeat show.

Oilweek – The big chill China is an oil-producing superpower. Last year the country’s state-owned oil companies spent $35 billion buying foreign assets. One result: the country’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) now produce almost as much oil outside the country as such OPEC kingpins as Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. These overseas acquisitions are being operated as commercial investments, in the sense that oil from far-flung businesses is mostly being used to supply traditional markets. Add those volumes to China’s position as the world’s fifth-largest producer from domestic fields and the end result is a network of SOEs that is global in scope.

Women Add To Their Lead On Forbes China’s New List Of 50 Top Financial Planners – Forbes Women added to their majority on the new list, taking up 31 spots, compared with 28 last year. Their success, according to Forbes China managing editor Bridge Kang, comes in part from a convention in Chinese households that “men earn the money and women manage it.” That in turn helps female professional financial planners and advisers build good relationships among industry executives and customers, Kang said.

China Exports to Face Tough 2014 as Yuan Climbs – China Real Time Report – WSJ China’s export growth was disappointing in the final month of 2013due to lackluster demand from developed markets, data released Friday showed.

But there could be more problems in store for China’s exporters in 2014 as the yuan currency’s continued appreciation against the U.S. dollar makes the country’s goods more expensive in world markets.

Maturing of municipal bonds puts pressure on Chinese citiesWantChinaTimes.com Municipal bonds worth 285 billion yuan (US$47.1 billion) will be due in 2014 and bonds worth 140.6 billion yuan (US$23.2 billion) will be due in 2015, according to Shanghai-based China Business News. The total outstanding amount of municipal bonds in the nation is estimated in a range of 2.7-3.3 trillion yuan (US$447-546 billion), the paper reported.

China Auto Industry News | China Ends Microgrowth Myth With 13.9% Growth | China Car Times – China Auto News 2011 and 2012 ushered in the era of ‘micro -growth‘ for the Chinese auto market where auto sales slipped from the 30-40% range as seen in the previous decade to to 2.5% and 4.3%, respectively. It was widely thought, and accepted, that micro growth would be the norm rather than the exception for the Chinese automotive market. However, 2013 saw a strong rebound to 13.9% sales growth where sales grew to just under 22 million units over the course of the year with an exceptionally strong December where sales rose 17.9% year-on-year to 2.13 million units according to China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM)

Fitch’s China shadow banking guru quits – FT.com Charlene Chu, who as a senior director of Fitch Ratings was among the first to flag the growth of China’s massive shadow banking sector, is leaving the credit rating agency. Her departure ends an eight-year spell as a thorn in the side of the Chinese banking industry.

Ms Chu was one of the first to highlight the dangers of both shadow banking and China’s mammoth stimulus plan, rolled out in early 2009 in response to a collapse in global trade.

China iron ore imports grow 10% in 2013 – FT.com The strength of Chinese iron ore demand confounded analysts last year, with 2013 imports rising 10 per cent year-on-year to 820m tonnes, as steel mills defied expectations with an 8 per cent rise in output, according to estimates by the state-backed industry association.

Reversal of fortune in China’s peer-to-peer lending boom – FT.com Dozens of the P2P lending websites that sprang up in recent years have shut down. The biggest companies are unscathed so far, but the rapid collapse of smaller rivals highlights the mounting difficulties in the Chinese micro-lending industry as economic growth slows and monetary conditions tighten.

It is a dramatic reversal of fortune for China’s peer-to-peer websites, which, for a small service fee, connect people wanting to invest money with those looking to borrow small amounts.

Dubai property market attracting more Chinese investors|Markets|Business|WantChinaTimes.com The bubble created in Dubai’s real estate market burst in 2008, but the sector is now making a comeback, attracting global investors including those from China, reports Shanghai’s China Business News.

Housing prices in Dubai have surged by nearly 30% over the past year, with Dubai-based real estate developers, such as Nakheel Properties, recruiting salespeople that can speak Chinese to attract Chinese investors entering the market.

China central bank guides yuan slightly lower, downside seen limited – Economic Times China’s yuan edged down against the dollar on Thursday after the central bank fixed a slightly weaker midpoint but traders said the potential for any sharp correction was limited as Beijing appeared to want to keep the yuan largely stable for now.

Spot yuan was trading at 6.0546 per dollar at midday, falling 0.06 percent from 6.0512 at Wednesday’s close, after the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set its midpoint at 6.1109, down 0.05 percent from Wednesday’s 6.1079. “Thursday’s midpoint guides the yuan to weaken slightly,” said a trader at a Chinese state-owned bank in Shangh

Chinese banks rush to float bonds abroad|Economy|News|WantChinaTimes.com McKinsey predicted that Chinese banks will raise 2 trillion yuan (US$330 billion) in funds from overseas markets, via issuance of stocks and bonds, in the next five years.

The trend will be fueled by the increasing difficulty of Chinese banks in raising funds on the domestic market due to rising bad debts, a sluggish stock market, rising funding costs, and the deleveraging process.

China mulls national pollution permit trading system | Reuters China will look into establishing a nation-wide trading system for pollution permits as part of efforts to use market mechanisms to help clean up its environment, the country’s top environment official said.

In remarks published on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection (www.mep.gov.cn) on Friday, minister Zhou Shengxian said China was working on new regulations for pollution permits and would also publish proposals for new pilot trading projects as soon as possible.

Private capital to play bigger role in China’s healthcare services|Policy|Business|WantChinaTimes.com Investors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan can now run their own hospitals in every city at prefecture level or above, while it was previously stipulated that they could do so only in municipalities and provincial capital cities, according to a circular publicized by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Thursday.

Investors from foreign countries can also set up wholly foreign-funded medical institutions in the newly established Shanghai Free Trade Zone and in certain other regions, according to the circular, which was jointly signed by the commission and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, although it did not specify the other regions.

Half of China’s coastal outfalls over-discharging sewage – Xinhua | English.news.cn Half of China’s 156 coastal outfalls are discharging excessive sewage into the ocean, according to the State Oceanic Administration.

According to a survey conducted by the administration in November, 78 ocean outfalls are discharging excessive sewage, with municipal drainage being the biggest contributor.

Survey results showed that South China’s Guangxi is the most serious among six coastal provincial regions in over-discharging. Fourteen of its 15 ocean outfalls discharged excessive sewage.

China to expand cross-border use of RMB: PBOC – Xinhua | English.news.cn China will continue to expand the cross-border use of the Chinese currency, the Renminbi or yuan, this year, China’s central bank said Friday.

The Chinese yuan’s cross-border settlement reached 3.64 trillion yuan(596.6 billion U.S.dollars) in the first eleven months of 2013, which was 350 times the amount in 2009, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said at a work-planning meeting.

China fires back at U.S. for criticism on fishing curbs | Reuters China defended on Friday its new fishing restrictions in disputed waters in the South China Sea against criticism from the United States, saying the rules were in accordance with international law.

Beijing claims almost the entire oil- and gas-rich South China Sea and rejects rival claims to parts of it from the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

Washington called the fishing rules “provocative and potentially dangerous”, prompting a rebuttal from China’s foreign ministry on Friday.

Securities regulator shares audit data with US counterparts – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn The China Securities Regulatory Commission has shared the audit details of four Chinese companies listed abroad with overseas regulators, in a further move to crack down on illegal activities and protect the interests of investors, the watchdog said on Friday.

Cabinet approves new zones – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn China’s cabinet on Friday approved the establishment of new zones in Northwest China’s Shaanxi and Guizhou provinces in the southwest, the latest move to open up inland regions.

Shaanxi’s Xi’an-Xianyang New Area and Guizhou’s Guiyang-Anshun New Area got the nod from the State Council, adding to a string of “new areas”.

Some previous new areas are the Chongqing Liangjiang New Area (approved in 2010) and the Lanzhou New Area (2012). But while the Chongqing and Lanzhou areas were designated as State-level development areas, along with four other such areas, the two latest areas approved didn’t achieve that top position.

Proposed pension reform divides opinion – Business – Chinadaily.com.cn The public is critical that government officials do not need to input into the country’s pension pool but will enjoy higher annuities after retirement than their peers from enterprises and farming due to different plans.

China adopts different pension plans for enterprise employees, rural residents, urban dwellers and workers with government and government-sponsored institutions. This has caused a gap in pension payments, Zheng Gongcheng, a professor with Renmin University of China, told the People’s Daily, flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

China’s Liquidity Paradox-Caijing Consider this: Despite China’s swelling foreign-exchange reserves – the result of persistent current-account surpluses – market and interbank short-term interest rates are soaring. How did this happen, and what should policymakers do about it?

China December Exports up 4.3Pct, Trade Surplus $25.6B-Caijing China’s exports grew 7.9 percent in 2013 while imports expanded 7.3 percent from a year ago, resulting in a trade surplus growth of 12.8 percent, government data showed.

Trade surplus in the year hit 1.61 trillion yuan ($259.8 billion), with exports at 13.72 trillion yuan ($2.21 trillion) and imports 12.11 trillion ($1.95 trillion), according to data released by the General Administration of Customs today in Beijing.

COMPANIES

China Disciplines 48 For Pipeline Explosions In Qingdao – WSJ.com Two Sinopec executives in charge of the pipeline and a safety director were removed from their positions, Xinhua said. Three local officials in charge of an economic development zone in the Huangdao district of Qingdao—where the blasts occurred—also were dismissed, according to Xinhua.

In 2011, the State Council issued similar disciplinary warnings to 64 people responsible for four accidents at state-owned China National Petroleum Corp., the country’s largest energy company. Jiang Jiemin, CNPC’s former chairman, was among those disciplined for the accidents, which included a pipeline explosion in the port city of Dalian that didn’t result in casualties. Mr. Jiang was promoted two years later to head a government commission that oversees state-owned companies.

China Petroleum and Chemical Rating Increased to Buy at TheStreet (SNP) | Ticker Report China Petroleum and Chemical (NYSE:SNP) was upgraded by investment analysts at TheStreet to a “buy” rating in a note issued to investors on Wednesday, Stock Ratings Network reports.

China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) (SNP): New Analyst Report from Zacks Equity Research – Zacks Equity Research Report – NASDAQ.com We are downgrading our recommendation on Sinopec to Underperform from Neutral, ahead of fourth quarter results.

China Railway tops charts for proper monetary insulation|WantChinaTimes.com China Railway Group, the nation’s largest construction company, came in on top for accounts receivable, tight cash flows and provisions for bad debt among China’s 36 listed firms related to the high speed rail sector, National Business Daily reports.

China Railway issued a statement on Jan. 6 to clarify that its high level of debt is related to the nature of the industry and not dissimilar from others in the sector. Its liability-asset ratio of 84.84% remains normal and the risk controllable. What should be noticed its high debt ratio has remained for years, the report said.

China’s State Grid buys biggest chunk of HK Electric’s IPO: sources | Reuters Government-owned State Grid Corp of China is coming in as the biggest cornerstone investor in a Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) worth up to $5.7 billion by Li Ka-shing-backed HK Electric Investments, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Li’s Power Assets Holdings Ltd is planning to list its Hong Kong electricity business, HK Electric Investments, as it seeks funds for overseas expansion. The IPO is set to be launched on Monday, they added.

The first Chinese game console: Huawei’s Tron Tron is a small, cylindrical console that runs Android 4.2.3 and connects to TVs via HDMI (it is capable of 1080p output). All told, it’s about the size of a coffee mug. Huawei says the device will sell for $120 or less and come with 16 or 32 GB of storage. Internally, it’s using Nvidia’s Tegra 4 processor, and the Tron also has wi-fi and bluetooth connectivity and even a USB 3.0 port. Here’s a video of the thing in action via Huawei News:

Fosun buys Portuguese insurer for $1.4b – Chinadaily.com.cn Fosun International’s chairman Guo Guangchang said in statement on Thursday that the Hong Kong-listed company outbid US investment fund Apollo Global Management LLC to acquire an 80 percent stake in state-owned Caixa Seguros e Saude SGPS SA, Portugal’s largest insurance group, which is owned by state bank Caixa Geral de Depositos SA.

Shui On Land CEO Resigns as Billionaire Lo Takes Active Role – Bloomberg Shui On Land Ltd. (272), the Chinese developer that’s been selling assets to cut debt, said Chief Executive Officer Freddy Lee quit after less than three years and billionaire Chairman Vincent Lo will resume a more active role.

Shui On has been selling assets as it seeks to pay down debt and improve its cash position. The developer announced last month that it will sell a project in Shanghai to China Life Insurance Group Co. for 3.32 billion yuan ($549 million). New York-based Brookfield Property Partners in November invested $500 million into Xintiandi, which operates the popular entertainment complex in Shanghai.

U.S. Market Still Out of Reach for Chinese Car Makers – WSJ.com GAC Motor isn’t the only Chinese auto company shunning this year’s U.S. show. For the first time since Chinese auto maker Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. debuted at the show in 2006, no Chinese car company will hold an exhibit this year.

Five years ago, many Chinese auto makers were hatching ambitious plans for going global. While some have been stepping up efforts to build their presence in emerging markets, for the most part they have fallen silent on their ambitions tapping demand in developed economies.

Kuga recall leaves buyers bruised – BUSINESS – Globaltimes.cn Chang’an Ford will recall 80,857 Ford Kuga SUVs produced between September 21, 2012 and November 13, 2013 from February 21, 2014 because of substandard steering knuckles, Chang’an Ford announced on December 27, 2013 on its website.

Goubuli prepares to put big dough into expansion[1]- Chinadaily.com.cn An eatery giant known for its steamed stuffed buns, and with an ambitious expansion plan to buy a United States coffee chain, is joining a growing number of Chinese enterprises in going global.

Goubuli Group, a renowned Chinese food corporation based in North China’s Tianjin, announced on Thursday that it plans to buy a US cafe chain company in the first half of the year.

Greenland Group Plans for A-share Listing-Caijing China’s state-owned property developer Greenland Holding Group Co. said today it aims to float shares in the domestic stock market.

The company plans to submit materials for an A-share listing to China’s securities regulator as soon as next month, said Greenland chairman Zhang Yuliag today.

Observer-Reporter | Chinese coal giant enters Greene Co. natural gas joint venture Officials with Energy Corporation of America and China Shenhua Energy Co. subsidiary Shenhua America Holdings Corp. announced a 50/50 joint venture to develop 25 natural gas wells in Greene County over the next 18 months.

China Tops Rolls-Royce’s Largest Market in 2013-Caijing China has toppled the US to become the largest market for Rolls-Royce Motor  Cars in 2013 with the country’s growing class of crass new riches.

The British-headquartered luxury carmaker sold 3, 630 cars around the world  last year, up from 3, 575 a year ago. 2013 also marked its fourth consecutive  year to report record sales.

Infiniti China Sales Surge – WSJ.com Infiniti, the premium car division of Nissan Motor Co., said its auto sales in China surged 54% in 2013 and the brand expects to maintain its growth momentum this year in the world’s largest auto market.

The company sold 17,108 Infiniti-brand cars in China last year, Johan de Nysschen, senior vice president of Japanese auto maker Nissan Motor and president of Infiniti, said Saturday. Infiniti posted a 16% decline in sales in 2012 amid a territorial dispute between Japan and China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Tencent’s Personal Cloud Storage Service Micro Cloud Releases 2.0 Version Chinese Internet giant Tencent recently released version 2.0 for its personal cloud storage Micro Cloud (Weiyun in Chinese) with a number of features that aims to turn the product into an integration service from a storage service. The new 2.0 version is expected to hit market on January 15 (source in Chinese).

WeChat’s Rank Rocketed up in the U.S. during Recent Holiday Season, but Dropped down soon AppAnnie has added new features to its free Store Stats tool that you can track apps’ performance on Google Play, iOS, Amazon, and Mac App Store apps in up to 10 countries at once.

For instance, you can see the rank history of WeChat on iOS Store in multiply countries as below. What immediately drew my attention is a peak during the past holiday season. The graph in orange is WeChat’s performance on the U.S. iOS Store. It’s unknown what marketing efforts by Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, helped it.

Steve Wozniak drops into Xiaomi Beijing HQ According to former Google and Android VP turned Xiaomi executive Hugo Barra, who just posted a photo and some details to his Google+ page, Woz is a new convert to their phones. Woz declared that it’s “very emotional for me to be a part of Xiaomi now” – a reference to him using a Xiaomi Mi3 (not working for the ambitious phone-maker).

A tale of two China stocks: NQ Mobile vs. Baidu – The Cody Word – MarketWatch Put simply, I know how hard it is to stay on top of and believe in the numbers that U.S.-based companies publish. To think that I could successfully do so in most any foreign-based company is rather insane. On the other hand, when I see someone like Muddy Waters’s Carson Block target a company like NQ Mobile out of China, it piques my interest, because I do think there’s money to be made finding companies who are pushing the envelope overseas.

Sam’s Club Has Potential in China Because China has the largest population in the world (1.35 billion people), you would think that this move should automatically lead to exceptional results. However, if you look at retailers that have attempted to make names for themselves in China in recent years, their moves haven’t gone so well, and this group includes Wal-Mart. Sam’s Club differs from Wal-Mart’s namesake stores, and this might be a positive for the potential of Sam’s Club in China going forward.

Warren Buffett’s Chinese Cars Are Coming to the U.S. (BRK-B, GM) BYD has done some intriguing work with hybrids and electric cars. But BYD has a long history of optimistic predictions, and the company has had a rough time staying competitive even in its home market. But the Berkshire Hathaway investment has given the company some global cred. Is it time to take them seriously?

Ford and Tencent Work Together To Bring Tencent’s QQ Music To Cars | China Car Times – China Auto News Ford have teamed up with Tencent’s QQ, China’s largest chat and social platform, to introduce QQ Music into all Ford SYNC systems. QQ Music features China’s leading online music streaming platform, and is the most popular music app among Chinese smartphone users, with more than 200 million monthly users and 40 million daily users.

Tencent, Alibaba Have their Eyes on Mobile Payment Prize – The transactions are part of what is sometimes referred to as online-to-offline, or O2O, business, an arena where Alibaba and Tencent are busy battling for supremacy. Late last year, Tencent, which is listed in New York, invested in Didi Dache. Before that, Alibaba put cash into promoting a similar app, called Kuaidi Dache.

And the rivalry is not limited to taxi-hailing apps. The two firms are expanding their offline frontiers to shopping malls, movie theaters, convenience stores and restaurants. Both are beefing up their mobile payment systems – the key to connecting online and offline services – to compete head to head with credit cards and cash payments.

BoCom HK rides wave of bond issuance – Debt – Deals – News – FinanceAsia.com Bank of Communications (BoCom) Hong Kong branch raised a $700 million three-year senior unsecured note on Wednesday, smartly riding the wave of other bond issuance that has hit the debt markets in the first week of the new year.

The bank’s debut Reg S-registered paper had an initial guidance of 170bp over Treasuries and ended up pricing 25bp tighter at 145bp over Treasuries, according to a term sheet.

Surprising hedge fund plays include Bitcoin and China stocks (ACGBY)-ACGBY-PNGAY-Stockhouse news Two examples that come to mind are Ping An Insurance Group Co. (OTO: PNGAY, Stock Forum) and the U.S. listed version of Agricultural Bank of China (OTO: ACGBY, Stock Forum), both of which are known to be heavily owned by hedge funds.  To this day, despite China stocks being in a bear market, PNGAY has not only seen increased liquidity due to hedge fund presence, but the stock recently experienced a run-up that can only be attributed to hedge fund-created momentum.

China Railway Group Ltd : China : CHINA Railway Group to FUND the UK s £50bn high-speed RAIL LINE | 4-Traders China Railway Group has approached Downing Street to fund the UK s £50bn high-speed rail line. This comes a month after Chinese premier Li Keqiang expressed China s interest in the infrastructure project to Cameron.

See how Noble Group earnings could rebound in 2014 | Singapore Business Review The earnings outlook for Noble Group is looking brighter as prices and crush margins may soon see a resurgence, according to Barclays Research.

Noble Group may see its agricultural business margins recover as well as revive its volume growth, which will help the company post better earnings this year.

Chinese Tycoon’s Vanishing Seen Linked to Probe of State-Firm Officials – WSJ.com Hua Bangsong, one of China’s richest men, controls a vast engineering-services empire, Wison Group, which develops chemical plants for the nation’s major oil companies and international giants like Germany’s  BASF SE. But the 48-year-old hasn’t been seen by colleagues since August, when he was detained by Chinese investigators.

Bank of China London Branch successfully issues 2.5 billion RMB Bonds | 4-Traders On 9th January 2014, the book building of the first London offshore RMB bonds issued by Bank of China London Branch was successfully completed? making it the highest value single issue of RMB bonds in London and providing UK and European investors with an additional high quality RMB product.

Fears OCBC may overpay for Wing Hang | Macau Business Daily Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, Southeast Asia’s second-biggest lender, fell to an almost four-week low in early Singapore stock trading yesterday amid concern it may pay too much to take over Hong Kong’s Wing Hang Bank Ltd.

MVP Group pushes JV talks with CNOOC for Recto Bank | ABS-CBN News The group of business titan Manuel V. Pangilinan is aiming to reach a commercial agreement with state-owned China National Offshore Oil Co. Ltd. (CNOOC) to finally pave the way for exploratory works at the disputed Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea, its spokesperson yesterday said.

World’s largest bank opens branch in Calgary Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the largest bank in the world in total assets, officially opened a Calgary branch Wednesday.

The move marks the first foray into Alberta for the bank’s Canadian subsidiary, known as ICBK. There are already five branches in Toronto and two in Vancouver.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China : Pak-Sino to constitute Experts Working Group | 4-Traders Pakistan and China have decided to constitute an ”Experts Working Group” on setting up energy and development projects in Pakistan with focus on their financing.

This was decided at a meeting between Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) Chairman Jiang Jianqing in Beijing.

Construction of the Yaoundé-Nsimalen highway takes shape – Business in Cameroon The roadwork initially scheduled for early 2013 will now be completed in thirty-six months by the Chinese company, China Communications Construction Company Ltd for 36.7 billion FCfa.

Posted from Diigo.