Becoming a bank would shrink but not squash Ant

[HONG KONG] Becoming a bank will shrink Ant. Regulators are set to treat Jack Ma's financial group more like a regular Chinese lender. Though it has enough capital to support its existing online credit business, growth prospects will dim and its US$300 billion-plus valuation will shrivel.

Intel woes provide timely lesson for Samsung

[HONG KONG] Intel's troubles today could be Samsung's tomorrow. The South Korean giant is ending 2020 on a strong note, thanks largely to its dominance in memory chips. Its US peer, by contrast, has fallen behind and faces calls from a pushy investor to break up. A prolonged leadership vacuum at...

COMMENTARY

Spanner in Tencent's M&A machine could be useful

CHINA could be doing Tencent a small favour. The technology titan's acquisitive ways have led to a dominant position in online books, music streaming and e-sports. That strategy looks increasingly unsustainable as the country's trustbusters intensify their scrutiny. Fewer deals might be better...

Alibaba will feel the Ant sting

[HONG KONG] Alibaba is starting to feel the Ant sting. The e-commerce giant's ties to the reeling financial technology company are weighing on its US$780 billion valuation. A suspended initial public offering (IPO) and Beijing's new credit rules have hit just as growth at Alibaba's core shopping...

Beijing puts Ant on a shorter leash

[HONG KONG] Ant mania is getting a reality check from Beijing. Days ahead of the company's record-setting US$34 billion initial public offering (IPO), founder Jack Ma was hauled in by regulators for a chat. Newly unveiled rules also would treat technology middlemen more like banks.

China bank IPO offers StanChart profitable exit

[HONG KONG] An exit door has opened for Standard Chartered in China. The emerging market lender has owned a fifth of Bohai Bank for over a decade with few obvious benefits. The latter's US$11 billion initial public offering (IPO) in Hong Kong gives StanChart chief executive Bill Winters hope of...

Hong Kong's jobless rate understates harsh reality

[HONG KONG] It's hard to tell there's a crisis from Hong Kong's official labour figures. The headline 4.2 per cent unemployment rate is implausibly low given the protests and the pandemic. The 20 per cent figure anticipated in the US exposes omissions that may distort the Asian financial hub's...

China’s Didi looks short on engine power

[HONG KONG] Didi Chuxing lacks a spark. A new three-year strategic plan from China's top ride-hailing outfit includes only vague targets and uninspiring direction, as Big Tech peers like Alibaba and Meituan Dianping grab post-Covid-19 opportunities in health and more. Didi's US$53 billion...

Alibaba's health shift prescribes market medicine

[HONG KONG] Alibaba's new health priorities come at the right time. The e-commerce group is injecting more assets into its healthcare subsidiary, now worth a punchy US$25 billion. It's a timely bet that the coronavirus will accelerate reforms, like opening China's US$370 billion drug industry to...

Chinese consumers imperil V-shaped virus rebound

[HONG KONG] Weak Chinese consumption may outlast the coronavirus. A slowdown in new Covid-19 cases outside Hubei province, where the outbreak is thought to have originated, is feeding investor optimism. Signs of stress, though, hint at a slower recovery.

COMMENTARY

Outbreak could catalyse China's smart city innovation

THE metropolis of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is under unprecedented quarantine as a deadly virus, believed to have originated there, spreads around the world ahead of the Lunar New Year when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel.