Hong Kong has expanded its vaccination programme to residents aged 16 or above and proposed a “vaccination bubble” plan to gradually lift social-distancing restrictions for the inoculated population. Malaysia has eased currency protections as ASEAN vies for investment, while Thailand could also revamp rules this year to make it easier for expats and tourists to stay.
MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA
This section tracks major political, economic and business news from the key economies in Asia.
The chief executive of Toshiba, Nobuaki Kurumatani, has decided to step down as the company’s “old guard” launch a boardroom coup to block a US$20 billion buyout offer by European private equity group CVC. – Financial Times
A dozen Chinese Internet platform companies, including Baidu, JD.com and ByteDance have pledged to avoid anti-competitive behaviours such as over-harvesting consumer data and forcing vendors to use their platform exclusively. – Reuters
Thailand’s government could revamp immigration rules this year to make it easier for expats and long-term tourists to stay in the country, part of a strategy to boost investment and tourism revenue once the pandemic eases. – Bloomberg
Bank Negara Malaysia eased regulations to allow companies to hold all of the export earnings in dollars and other foreign currencies, as peers in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations compete for job-creating investments from multinationals diversifying away from China. – Nikkei Asia
China’s has approved a US$5 billion quota for a pilot program of Qualified Domestic Limited Partnership in the Hainan free trade port, which will make it easier for domestic investors to invest in foreign assets. – Caixin Global, official announcement (Chinese only)
EQUITY AND DEBT CAPITAL MARKETS
This section highlights the biggest ECM and DCM developments in China and Hong Kong which are moving markets and grabbing headlines.
Chinese internet and social media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd plans to raise up to US $4 billion in a bond launched on April 15. – Reuters
Stocks related to maternal and infant goods surged after the People’s Bank of China published a document calling for an end to all birth restrictions to tackle the ageing population issue by spurring the birth rate. – Yicai Global
Hong Kong and mainland China stocks gained as technology companies rebounded from a slump after antitrust regulators in China summoned 34 big internet companies for a lecture on compliance. – South China Morning Post
ByteDance has kicked off preparations for an IPO of some of its main businesses, including video app Douyin, news aggregator Toutian and video platform Xigua. Rumours say the company is choosing between Hong Kong and the US as the listing venue. – Bloomberg
PE/VC DEAL ACTIVITY
This section tracks the fundraising, deals and other activities conducted by the PE/VC funds in Asia.
CHINA AND HONG KONG
Beijing-based logistics and delivery services operator ZJS Express has raked in nearly US$153 million in a Series B round. – DealStreetAsia
Hong Kong-based food tech investor Lever VC has achieved a fourth close of US$46 million on its debut fund. – FoodBev Media
5Y Capital has closed an unspecified number of USD- and RMB-denominated funds at over US$2 billion in total. – AltAssets
Ice Kredit, a Shanghai-based fintech start-up that provides credit rating and risk control intelligence solutions, has raised US$35 million in its Series C2 round of financing led by China Development Bank Capital’s joint fund CDB-CDC Capital. – DealStreetAsia
JAPAN AND KOREA
Netstars, the operator of Japan’s largest QR code payment gateway, has completed a US$60.6 million funding round led by KKR. – DealStreetAsia
Blockchain start-ups from Singapore-based Tribe Accelerator have raised US$70 million, with a growing list of big-name network partners. – CoinDesk
Singapore-based venture debt firm Genesis Alternative Ventures has closed its debut fund at US$80 million, exceeding its target of US$50 million. – The Business Times
Singapore-headquartered Affirma Capital has held a first close of its fifth Korea fund, Ascenta V, with an AUM of US$403 million. – Private Equity Wire
This section highlights the major regulations, policy changes and political developments in China and Hong Kong that have implications for the business environment.
China’s central bank plans to expand its stress test regime to all of the country’s 4,024 banks this year to better prevent risks to the financial system. It will also work with other financial regulators to build up a prudential management framework on financial risks related to climate change. – Caixin Global.
Hong Kong’s Legislative Council has begun the legislative process of the city’s electoral reform and will introduce new rules to make it illegal to organise public activities that incite others not to vote, or cast blank votes or invalid ballots. – South China Morning Post
ONE FOR THE WEEKEND
Each week we will select one or two articles which have caught our attention – long reads, institutional outlooks, analysis or interesting viewpoints
The world is watching as Toshiba walks on eggshells in a bidding war that is considered a bellwether for corporate governance and shareholder activism in Japan. The Financial Times wrote that Toshiba should conduct an open process, allowing various buyers to make a case for themselves; and if a back room deal allows incumbent management to escape from shareholder pressure, rather than address its problems, then it would do the reverse.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Boao Forum, an annual conference to gather business, academia and government leaders from all parts of the world, will be held next week from April 18 to 21 in Hainan Province. This year’s theme is “A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt and Road Cooperation”.
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