Hong Kong has eased social-distancing rules for the first time in three months while the city’s mass vaccination program opens for booking next week. Australian lawmakers will hold talks with Mark Zuckerberg in a bid to break a legal standoff after Facebook blocked news sharing on its platform in Australia. Singapore’s business travel bubble is expected to receive its first batch of visitors next month.
MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA
This section tracks major political, economic and business news from the key economies in Asia.
In response to the proposed law in Australia which would make tech giants pay for news content, Facebook has blocked Australian users from sharing or viewing news content on the platform. The Facebook pages of all local and global news sites, as well as some key government sites had been blocked. Those outside of Australia are also unable to read or access any Australian news publications on the platform.
The U.K. government updated its guidance for the business risk level in Hong Kong on Tuesday, highlighting the increasing political risks in the city, pointedly dropping references to relations with its former colony as “positive” and “beneficial.”
The Singapore Exchange is collaborating with Euroclear Bank to launch a new Orchid bond structure, combining domestic bond issuance with global distribution channels. Through the initiative, international investors will be able to purchase bonds issued by Singapore-based issuers directly on The Central Depository, which is owned by SGX, via Euroclear.
Singapore is set to open its “business travel bubble” next month, allowing people to enter the island for business and official purposes without having to quarantine for 14 days. Visitors will have to stay in a bubble-like facility near Changi Airport, which has 660 guest rooms and 170 meeting rooms. When fully operational, it will have capacity to host around 1,300 business travellers.
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.
The People’s Bank of China offered US$31billion of liquidity with its medium-term lending facility on Thursday, giving banks some relief after its cash drainage last month triggered the country’s worst liquidity squeeze since 2015. While officials remain wary of excess liquidity, the move adds to signs that the central bank is in no rush to repeal measures put in place to support the economy.
Chinese EV manufacturer WM Motor has secured US$1.78 billion in debt from domestic banks led by Shanghai Pudong Development Bank, following a US$1.5 billion equity funding round featuring several government investors.
JD Logistics, the delivery arm of China's second-largest e-commerce company JD.com, filed for an IPO in Hong Kong on Tuesday. The move came shortly after JD.com's healthcare unit JD Health completed a US$3.5 billion IPO last December, making this the third branch in the conglomerate to go public.
The city’s stock exchange is probing whether investors violated rules by placing multiple subscriptions to improve their odds of participating in the IPO of New Horizon Health. Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd., through share registrar Tricor, has asked brokers involved in the IPO to provide the names and identity card numbers of retail investors allotted stocks.
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
Profound Bio has raised over US$10 million in a pre-A series fundraiser led by Xianfeng Qiyun Investment, while Gaorong Capital and Changan Capital were also involved.
Liangyihui, a Chinese digital medical platform that specialises in oncology treatment, has raised over US$15.5 million in a Series C round of financing led by Qiming Venture Partners. DT Capital Partners and Yuanju Capital Management also participated
Chinese precision medicine firm Chigene has secured over US$15.5 million in a Series B round of financing led by healthcare-dedicated fund 3E Bioventures.
Wuhan-based Binhui Biotech has raised US$93 million in Series C funding led by Share Capital. Other investors include CICC Capital, Vertex Ventures China and Qianhai FOF under Shenzhen Capital Group.
JAPAN AND KOREA
South Korean retailer Shinsegae Group has invested an undisclosed amount in Southeast Asian ride-hailing app Grab. The funding has been reportedly routed through the retailer’s newly formed corporate venture arm Signet Partners.
Mid-market technology and Southeast Asia industrial sector-focused PE firm Novo Tellus has reached the final close of Novo Tellus PE Fund 2 at US$250 million, which is 43% above the fundraising target.
Indonesian early-stage VC firm Kinesys Group has hit the final close of its maiden fund at US$15 million and is currently planning its next fund.
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 Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is exploring limiting the export of 17 types of rare earth minerals, which are central to the manufacturing of products including smartphones, electric vehicles, wind turbines, fighter jets and other sophisticated weaponry. China currently controls about 80% of global rare earth supply.
As the Hong Kong government eases social-distancing rules, premises including sports venues, beauty and massage parlours, theme parks, exhibition centres and entertainment facilities are back in business, under the requirement that everyone entering the premises must use the government-launched contact-tracing app or leave their personal information for record.
Hong Kong’s government is considering legislation that would prohibit insulting public officials. The city’s Security Bureau is leading a study on the legislation and would oversee it should it come into effect.
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
Facebook’s decision to block users from sharing and viewing news items on the platform this week has caused uproar among critics of the social networking site and from news outlets. The decision, dubbed by many as the “nuclear option”, stems from a long-running dispute with Australian officials over concerns about the market dominance of tech firms over media organisations. With Facebook facing increasing antitrust scrutiny in a number of jurisdictions, these kind of tactics, played out here in an individual market, will have reverberations around the world as to how social media platforms should be regulated.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Central banks in China, Korea and New Zealand are set to review their monetary policy. All are expected to leave interest rates on hold. January inflation, trade and manufacturing data are also in the pipeline.
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