Asia 8

The eight must-reads from the world's most dynamic region


Isaac Poole: The increasing importance of ESG in China

US 'China hawks' urge Huawei treatment for other firms
Republicans tell Commerce Secretary that rule requiring a special licence to sell advanced semiconductors should apply to any Chinese company
Mining gets green light as Duterte tries to kickstart economy
Controversial move aims to boost Philippines' revenue and follows landmark law that slashes corporate income tax in stimulus for pandemic-ravaged country
Citibank to dump Asia consumer business as earnings soar
Global lender to close about 200 branches in China, India and other regional markets although announcement is not expected to have an immediate effect
Japan manufacturers' optimism hits two-year high on strong demand
Companies highlight uncertainty about global economic outlook and cite problems with sourcing materials for production, in a sign of patchy recovery from pandemic 
Indian small traders fight back Amazon, Walmart-Flipkart
Small Indian businesses protested against large foreign retailers like Amazon in a sign of escalating tensions between smaller Indian traders and global e-commerce giants
China central bank paper calls for liberalisation of childbirth
Research paper says the country should “vigorously encourage” childbearing, otherwise the working age population will drop by 15% by 2050
Renewables gain global momentum, but coal in Asia the key concern
More than 260 GW of renewable energy capacity was added globally in 2020, beating the previous record by nearly 50%, according to a new study; More than 80% of new electricity capacity added last year was renewable, but coal remains a sticking point in Asia
LG Chem powers into US with second battery factory
New plant would provide much-needed domestic production of advanced power cells as China supplied nearly half of US lithium-ion imports in last quarter of 2020
China faces uphill climate battle as Kerry arrives for talks
US climate envoy visits amid tense relations between Beijing and Washington over host of issues but says areas of potential regional cooperation hold key to success
Bonds climb on Tencent sale, BNY Mellon collateral decisions
Investors welcome news as nod of approval for Chinese fixed income, outweighs SOE declines on Huarong concern  
Coinbase settles at $86bn value on Nasdaq, helping bitcoin hit new record 
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase settled at $86 billion after touching $112 billion in its Nasdaq debut, while bitcoin hit a new high near $65,000 before also easing
Second Covid wave dents India’s rebound but analysts hopeful
The new wave of lockdowns and curfews to tackle the soaring resurgence of Covid in India will hit the dramatic recovery seen over the past two quarters, but the country is tipped to emerge with less repercussions than the first wave once vaccinations progress
Jiangxi province leads China in rare-earth magnet breakthrough
JL Mag Rare-earth Co in Ganzhou has developed a 'grain boundary diffusion' technology that can improve the performance of magnets by 20-30% while reducing the consumption of heavy rare earth elements by 50%, China's state TV has reported

The ATF Big Picture

The US President seeks routes to ending financial graft. Here are some methods he could use

Riding a wave of anti-money laundering momentum, will the US president from Delaware deliver on his pledges to tackle tax havens and make the wealthy pay more? Brenda Medina reports.

Cash-rich Xiaomi determined to boost its share price
CEO Lei Jun says it has up to HK$10 billion to fund stock repurchases; while legal case continues in the US over the group's controversial inclusion on a US Defence Dept list as a 'military-linked company'
Xpeng’s stock value loses power despite new EV model launch 
The Chinese EV maker, touted as a future rival to Tesla, has been showing off its all-singing, all-dancing latest high-tech model, the P5, but that didn’t help its share price 
Huarong panic may prompt China sovereign wealth fund move
Concern spreads about spillover from a Huarong Asset Management failure, prompting speculation that China’s sovereign wealth fund may step in with support
Walmart-Flipkart forms a ‘deadly trio’ with Adani
India's fastest rising billionaire, Gautam Adani, has joined Walmart and Flipkart in the fight for supremacy in India's online shopping market, in a bid to offer a serious challenge to Amazon and Mukesh Ambani
Australia’s green pivot helped by another large offshore wind project
UK-based developer Australis Energy is planning a 300MW wind farm in Geographe Bay in Western Australia; renewables are projected to supply over 30% of the country’s power this year and 55% by 2030, a Federal government report released in December said
Crypto sector tops $2 trillion in value despite scepticism
Bitcoin is among digital currencies seen to rival or potentially surpass gold as a haven investment, despite its volatility and limitations as a means of payment  
Biden sends delegation to Taiwan as supply chain looms large
Senator and former deputy secretaries of state set to land in Taipei in move that will annoy China but also signify island's importance to US and global infrastructure
Toshiba CEO resigns after storm over a $20-billion buyout bid
Nobuaki Kurumatani steps down amid controversy over private buyout bid from CVC Capital Partners, his former employer; shares rise on reports that KKR & Co and Brookfield are also planning offers
Huawei says its first self-driving car surpasses Tesla
Chinese tech giant will partner with 3 carmakers on electric vehicles with autonomous driving capacity; first 'HI' model to be unveiled at Shanghai this weekend; Huawei chief said panic over US sanctions led to stockpiling of chips and the current global shortage
Suez Canal chiefs’ $916m damages claim could run aground too 
Insurers of the now dislodged Ever Given say the canal operator’s huge claim is ‘largely unsupported’ but say they are committed to striking a deal and allowing the ship to finish its journey 
Time to upgrade! China clicks 'agree' on tech sector evolution
A new nationwide industrial quality brand has been launched as part of the ‘intelligent transformation’ of the country’s high-tech brands 
Grab Holdings confirms $40 billion Spac record
Singapore's Grab Holdings has confirmed that its planned record SPAC merger will go ahead; food delivery market tipped to explode 

ATF TV New bill hoped to revive India ailing manufacturing sector

Can India revitalise its manufacturing industry? The government thinks so and has announced an incentive to do that. Shubhada Rao, founder of QuantEco Research, assesses the prospects.

Biden vows action on semiconductor shortage, citing China threat
President says US must build up its own infrastructure to prevent future supply crises as Intel chief executive pledges to boost domestic chipmaking 
Ant rejig cools investor appetite for revived IPO
Chinese regulators warned more than 30 internet platforms on Tuesday to stop using practices banned under the country's new anti-monopoly laws, such as forcing vendors to use their platform exclusively
Beer festival city Qingdao toasts 226.5bn yuan investment inflow 
The cash is going to be pouring into the coastal city after 63 key modernisation projects were announced to help modernise its manufacturing and service sectors  
Hyundai execs face insider trading probe after Apple talks 
South Korea's regulator is investigating a number of trades made by the motor firm’s chiefs following the firm’s ultimately curtailed auto-vehicle discussions   
South China Sea tensions spike, as oil and gas drilling continues
According to a US study in 2010, there is a 95% chance there is at least 750 million barrels of oil in the South China Sea platform and a median chance of around 2 billion barrels
China to create hundreds of 'new' cities
China is set to rezone hundreds of areas currently classed as 'rural' or 'county' as cities; The move is likely to transform life for hundreds of millions of citizens because 'urban residents' receive far more access to services and benefits than those in rural areas
HSBC reaches deal with Huawei's Meng over dispute
Telecom giant's chief financial officer, who says she is innocent, sought publication of documents relating to her efforts to battle extradition from Canada to the US
Coinbase's Nasdaq IPO to make cryptocurrency history
Investors heartened by preliminary figures showing net revenue at $1.8 billion, which is almost twice as much as Euronext revenue in all of 2020
Kerry meets Modi, vows funds to help India shift to clean energy
Climate envoy John Kerry said the US would help India mobilise finance for 'clean and green' power sources and help the country to reduce its carbon emissions and its dependence on coal
CATL takes $137m stake in Congo’s Kisanfu copper-cobalt mine
Investment in Democratic Republic of Congo mine gives battery maker access to one of the world’s largest undeveloped sources of cobalt, an expensive metal it needs for its EV batteries; Cobalt prices are up more than 50% this year on surging demand
Charlie Munger’s Daily Journal added Alibaba to his portfolio
Warren Buffett's deputy at Berkshire Hathaway appears to have made a healthy gain after buying 165,000 shares in the Chinese tech giant while the price was down in recent months; HK shares of Alibaba jumped 9% today
China no longer the US’ top trading partner
Mexico ousts world’s second-largest economy in first two months of the year; China expected to regain position by end of 2021  
China scolds its reckless corporate borrowers: No more debt!
Regulators have imposed 3 Red Lines for debt-laden giants like Evergrande in the property sector, while Beijing has made clear it will let weak local companies default or go bankrupt, as with HNA; others like Suning have been forced to sell non-core assets to cut debt to more responsible levels
Top scientist raises efficacy issues with Chinese Covid-19 vaccin
Overall success rate is just 50.7%, but rises to 62% if there is an interval of more than 21 days between doses, according to long-awaited Brazil report on phase 3 trial data
China’s central bank releases first quarter data for 2021
'Broad' money (M2) grew by 9.4% and 'narrow' money (M1) expanded by 7.1% during the first three months of the year, the People's Bank of China says
China tech startups favour Hong Kong over Mainland for IPOs 
Prospective listers put off after the halting of Alibaba affiliate Ant Group's $37-billion float last year as HKEX vigorously promotes itself to 'new economy' candidates
Thais face biggest Covid wave, while Myanmar crisis intensifies
Thailand has set up field hospitals in Bangkok as it faces its most serious Covid advance; meanwhile, Fitch Solutions expects Myanmar's economy to shrink by at least 20% this fiscal year and says the political upheaval could cause the country to 'be ostracized like North Korea'
Korean EV giants settle bitter trade secrets dispute in US
After losing a bid to win Volkswagen orders, LG Chem accused rival SK Innovation of stealing trade secrets by poaching nearly 80 of its employees
Markets this week: Inflation outlook, vaccine progress key
Opening tone in Asia will be one of optimism after the S&P 500 and the Dow notch record closing highs on Friday as investors note yuan erased all 2021 gains against dollar
China regulator hits Alibaba with record $2.8 billion fine
Shares rise 2 days after antitrust body tells embattled internet group to strengthen its internal control compliance and ensure fair competition
China’s fast-growing onshore corporate bonds offer opportunities
Rising corporate default rates since 2016 and uncertainties in the post-default process have stymied foreign interest, while poor liquidity is another major challenge
A glimpse at China's burgeoning edge cloud market
Equal Ocean report notes cloud computing industry growing rapidly and in China deepening digital transformation initiates new chapter with more accessible Internet
US restricts trade with Chinese supercomputer centres
Washington targets machine once considered world's fastest and six others amid concern over their military applications; meanwhile, search engine Baidu fends off a lawsuit in California alleging it defrauded shareholders
China coal strategy hits importers and consumers, data show
Importers of foreign fuel have been facing higher costs, with prices for alternatives to supplies from Australia rising as the market adjusts to the unofficial ban
Italy blocks Chinese company from taking over chip firm
Cabinet decision to veto acquisition frustrates Shenzhen Investment Holdings as semiconductor shortage continues to batter global technology sector
Pandemic and weather help coal reassert its dominance in India
Coal’s share of India’s electricity generation mix has risen to its highest in more than two years, reversing renewable energy's growth and setting back the world's second most populous country's hopes of a net zero future
China faces challenge as Europe energises EV market
Mainland car sales soar for 12th consecutive month as Serbia and Spain join push to develop economic and manufacturing infrastructure
US restricts trade with Chinese supercomputer centres
Washington targets machine once considered world's fastest and six others amid concern over their military applications; meanwhile, search engine Baidu fends off a lawsuit in California alleging it defrauded shareholders
China’s $111 billion boost to Guangdong’s tourist industry
The southern sub-tropical region is to see major investment in its resorts, forests and coastline to lure even more visitors to the country’s holiday hotspot to raise $1.4 billion in Hong Kong secondary listing
Travel booking site will become the fourth US-listed Chinese company to seek a secondary listing in Hong Kong; it is aiming to raise up to HK$10.5 billion ($1.4 billion) to fund an expansion of its offerings as travel rebounds within its home market
French energy giant caught in turmoil rocking Myanmar gas sector
Oil and gas major Total finds itself in the geopolitical crosshairs over its decision to remain in Myanmar while other corporate giants are pulling up stakes; it has also had to cancel a resumption of work at a $20bn gas project in Mozambique 
HK challenge over defaulted SOE may impact foreign bond purchases
Examination of Chinese Keepwell deed protection agreements is hoped to shed light on the enforceability of so-called ‘letters of comfort’  
CVC makes $18 billion offer to take Toshiba private 
Proposal comes three weeks after shareholders approve independent probe into Japanese conglomerate hit by repeated accounting and governance scandals
China's central bank floats plan for yuan futures exchange market
A yuan exchange-rate futures market has long been a hot issue of concern to regulatory authorities, the business community and finance sector
China crypto sector battered by claims of fake sales, energy use
Short-seller Hindenburg Research attacks bitcoin equipment company Ebang over figures while new report says coal-intensive mining efforts could undo climate goals
The panda now arriving on platform one is the 2021 service from Chongqing
Rail service themed on national mammalian mascot is among new infrastructure projects funded with money raised in Covid relief bond sales 
Could a digital yuan dethrone the mighty US dollar? 
China’s new blockchain-enabled currency has some Fed chiefs worried about a threat to the US currency’s dominance of world financial affairs – but others argue Beijing’s urge to control will scupper any global dreams 

Thailand prepares for tourists who've had a Covid vaccine

Hotel workers in Phuket and local people in a handful of 'tourist provinces' will also be given the vaccine to boost faith that foreign visitors will be safe in those areas; Visitors who can show they had the 'jab' should be able to avoid undergoing quarantine if they arrive in the fourth quarter

Enel and Iberdrola are Europe's big movers in energy transition
Early decisions to buy power grids and build renewable plants mean these utilities are now among a clutch of global green energy majors which are well ahead of oil giants such as BP, Shell and Total in the race to supply low-carbon power
Why sovereign investors have power to influence govt climate action
With deficits skyrocketing, bond investors have the opportunity to engage with governments on climate change, Thomas Dillon, Senior Macro ESG Analyst at Aviva Investors, argues
Major EU states, IMF and even Bezos back minimum corporate tax rate
G20 is set to discuss the US proposal to counter tax avoidance and the use of tax havens, but no agreement is expected yet on what the base rate for corporate tax might be
US pushing G20 for global minimum corporate tax, Yellen says
President Biden has voiced anger that multinationals have moved to tax havens or use loopholes to pay little tax; he wants US corporates to pay 28% tax, or multinationals 21%; Treasury Secretary Yellen says a collective international effort would end the "race to the bottom" on taxation
China’s sole beneficiaries of the Xinjiang cotton boycott row 
The Beijing-backed domestic boycott of western brands has sparked a wave of price speculation in, of all things, basketball shoes… 
SPAC shift to focus on value lets Bill Foley shine
The SPAC boom continues with $100 billion of volume in the first quarter, but more vehicles trade at a discount; SPAC veterans like Bill Foley with a strong track record are getting more credit
India dismisses ByteDance plea even as company alleges harassment
The Chinese tech giant has gone to court in Mumbai to unfreeze its accounts in India saying tax evasion claims against it are illegal and improper

More foreign firms suspend or cut ties with Myanmar military

Covid outbreak in southern China, as troops mass on Myanmar border

BOJ begins experimenting with digital yen CBDC 
Japan takes further step towards catching up with China in race to create central bank digital currency 
Trusting the tech to make the checks – the case for AI in trade finance 
One of the sector’s main procedural problems is paperwork – digitalising the process could make things a whole lot easier especially for SMEs looking for capital  
Tesla hails Chinese demand for record deliveries
Tesla announces record first-quarter deliveries on the back of Chinese demand for its Model Y electric sedans as sales of cheaper products make up for high-end slowdown
Korea's LG to be first big smartphone brand to withdraw from market
Smartphone division suffered six years of losses totalling about $4.5 billion, despite being third most popular brand in North America; Samsung tipped to get much of its market share

The ATF Big Picture

Facing pressure at home, Chinese tech giants expand in Singapore

"Chinese tech companies are facing regulatory pressures and sanctions from governments in other countries, notably the US but also other nations such as India"

The Big Read International pushbacks threaten Amazon's worldwide ambitions

Amazon may find itself in hot water this week if votes, set to be counted in the coming days, lead to the creation of a union in the United States. It would cement a historic effort by its employees over a five month-long David vs Goliath campaign. Indrajit Basu examines the potential fallout worldwide.

Iridium holds at record $6,000 on 5G and green hydrogen hopes
Iridium is holding on to its record price of $6,000 per ounce; as an investment it is outperforming bitcoin but 5G phones and green hydrogen prospects are driving long term demand
Assessing Investment Options in a low-yield world 
Enhanced diversifiers and alternative growth strategies offer routes to returns
K-Pop star makers to buy Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande management
BTS backer HYBE proposes to merge with Ithaca in $2bn deal; "This is an opportunity for us to make history” 
Borrowing limits raised in changes to Asian financial safety net
The Chinese currency has a slightly bigger role after changes to the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilaterisation, a regional arrangement brought in after the Asian financial crisis in the late 90s; negative impacts from the Covid pandemic spurred a need to update the scheme
Navigating the new financial landscape
Investors must grapple with changing interest rate and inflation expectations 
India reports record rise of daily coronavirus cases 
India's Covid numbers breached 100,000-a-day on Monday with new mutations playing havoc and politicians hosting huge election rallies
Myanmar heading for state collapse, ICG warns
Banks are barely operating, crippling domestic businesses, supply chains and trade; Ports also shut down by civil disobedience movement; food security collapsing, as threat of more conflict grows, International Crisis Group warns
SMIC records first profit after listing on China’s tech board
Country's biggest chipmaker made a net profit of 1.7bn yuan ($259 million) last year, but has just raised prices 15-30% amid the global chip shortage
Vaccines, stimulus boost US jobs
Non-farm payrolls increase the most since August as biggest boom in decades looms
China derails Applied Materials’ $3.5bn bid for Kokusai Electric
California chip gear maker fails to get approval from Chinese regulator for takeover of Japanese firm amid tension over semiconductors and Trump administration sanctions put on Huawei
Adani Group's share prices on a bull-run on MSCI-inclusion hopes
Gautam Adani-controlled Adani Group’s shares continued to be the biggest gainer on the bourses in the new FY amid a sharp surge in prices in a post-pandemic rally
SPACs and Covid spark M&A frenzy not seen since the dotcom boom
Deals worth $1.3tn were struck in the first quarter of 2021 in a year-to-date record driven by a number of mega deals and the surge in SPACs
Singapore cements arbitration venue dominance over Hong Kong
Dispute resolution venue hears a record 1,080 new cases in 2020, more than double the figure of the previous year, underscoring quiet push to become a regional hub for dispute negotiation hearings
Singapore aims for tighter rules than US to attract SPAC listings
Stock market proposing to allow only independent shareholders to vote on merger proposals so sponsors won't be able to force decisions on business combinations
Boeing urges US to separate China business and human rights
Chief executive expresses hope that intellectual property and other issues can be split so free trade environment between two economic juggernauts is encouraged
Global chip supply chain can’t take a punch, industry admits 
The world’s semiconductor supply chain has become increasingly concentrated leaving it open to massive disruption from world events – natural and political – a study has found 
The great cotton conspiracy
Western retailers are being squeezed in an ethical debate over lucrative returns in the huge China market, or claims of forced labour, which China rejects; but geopolitical tension has risen because of other factors as well
Trillion dollar man: Biden unveils vast new jobs package
Republicans slam employment plans as 'far-left demands' after president plans to raise corporate taxes to 28% to help pay for projects that put millions of people in work
China's Xiaomi to launch electric car business with $10bn investment
The company will set up an EV subsidiary and is pledging to invest $10 billion over the next 10 years in the business
China gets to grip with green bonds but net zero goal still way off 
The world’s biggest emitter of carbon dioxide has surpassed the US this year in green bond issues but many more investors still don’t like the yields they offer 

8 must-reads from the world's most dynamic region

The most important news, commentary, charts and TV that are moving markets in Asia today