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Asia News Bulletin - June 25


The Hong Kong Government will gradually relax some pandemic measures starting next week, shortening quarantine periods for vaccinated travellers arriving in the city to seven days from 14 and allowing certain premises to increase seating capacity. Singapore has taken the top spot in Fintech among Asian countries, while China furthers talks with major financial institutions to cut off crypto transactions. Ahead of Hong Kong’s 24th anniversary of its handover to China, a Government reshuffle is in the works with the appointment of a new Chief Secretary and Secretary for Security.


MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA

This section tracks major political, economic and business news from the key economies in Asia.

  • Hong Kong’s most vocal pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily printed its last edition on Thursday after a stormy year in which its owner and executives were arrested under the National Security Law and its assets frozen, bringing its operations in the city to an end. International media described the closure of the paper as a blow to freedom of expression in Hong Kong, as the publication had become a leading critic of Hong Kong and Chinese leadership. – South China Morning Post, BBC, Reuters

  • Singapore has taken the top spot among countries in the Asia-Pacific in the latest Global Fintech Rankings, facing stiff competition from countries like Australia, China and Japan, which have moved up the leader board this year. The index scores each location for the quantity and quality of privately-owned fintech companies, as well as the local business environment. – The Straits Times

  • Japanese companies operating in China are urging Beijing to clear up confusion over a string of new regulations, such as the Export Control Law and the China Cybersecurity Law, that are creating uncertainty and making it more difficult for them to do business in the country. The Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, which represents some 8,560 Japanese companies, has released the annual white paper (executive summary) containing a total of 56 proposals based on suggestions from members doing business in China. – Caixin Global

  • The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has for the first time publicly suggested a visit to China and Xinjiang, which she hopes to arrange this year, to look into reports of serious violations against Muslim Uyghurs. More than 40 countries have through a joint-statement urged China to allow Bachelet immediate access to Xinjiang. – Reuters

  • Electronics groups including Japan’s Canon and Innolux, an affiliate of Apple supplier Foxconn, have been accused of locking up migrant workers in Taiwan as an outbreak of Covid-19 hits the country’s tech industry, highlighting the labour practices used to sustain Taiwan’s position as a technology manufacturing powerhouse. – Financial Times


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.

CHINA

  • Syngenta Group, owned by state-backed ChemChina or China National Chemical Corp, has kick-started the process to possibly list on the Shanghai Star Market. – South China Morning Post

  • Carbon emission credits traded on the Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange will not be allowed to rise or fall more than 10% in a session, according to a notice. The maximum size of a single transaction will be less than 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent. – Caixin Global

HONG KONG

  • Apple supplier Biel Crystal Manufactory, and innovative drug research and development company Abbisko Therapeutics, are both planning for a Hong Kong IPO. – Bloomberg, AVCJ

  • Chinese electric vehicle maker Xpeng Inc has filed for a dual primary listing in Hong Kong, which will allow qualified Chinese investors to invest in the company through the Stock Connect regime linking mainland Chinese and Hong Kong markets. – Reuters


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

  • Up to 92% of China-based institutional investors plan to increase ESG-related investments this year despite concerns about a lack of client interest, a recent survey conducted by American private investment bank Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. found. – Caixin Global

  • Hong Kong-based Insilico Medicine, which leverages artificial intelligence technology to speed up the drug development process, has closed a US$255 million Series C funding round led by Warburg Pincus. – AVCJ

  • 3D printing technology startup, Triastek, has raised US$330 million in a Series B round of funding jointly led by Matrix Partners China and CITIC Private Equity Funds Management. – DealStreetAsia

  • Hong Kong-based crypto trading and technology firm Amber Group has raised US$100 million in a Series B round of financing led by private equity firm China Renaissance. – DealStreetAsia

JAPAN AND KOREA

  • Viva Republica, operator of the Korean money transfer app Toss, has raised a US$404 million round led by US-based Alkeon Capital, at a valuation of around US$7.2 billion. – AVCJ

  • South Korea-based AI startup VoyagerX has raised a US$27 million series A round backed by SoftBank Ventures, Altos Ventures and Yellowdog. – Tech in Asia

SOUTHEAST ASIA

  • Circulate Capital, a Singapore-based investor dedicated to stemming plastic waste pollution in South and Southeast Asia, has achieved a US$14 million first close on a new venture capital fund. – AVCJ

  • Singapore’s Goldbell Investments is looking to launch a US$60 million Asia-focused smart mobility and logistics venture fund by the first quarter of next year. – DealStreetAsia


REGULATORY UPDATES

This section highlights the major regulations, policy changes and political developments in China and Hong Kong that have implications for the business environment.

CHINA

  • The People’s Bank of China ordered its banks to cut off crypto transactions, causing Bitcoin to tumble to its lowest since late January. While China's anti-crypto stance is well established, the latest statement came after its talks with Alipay and major banks including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Construction Bank, Postal Savings Bank and Industrial Bank. – Coindesk

HONG KONG

  • With no clear indication of where the limits of the city’s national security law lay, Tara Joseph, president of AmCham Hong Kong, expressed concerns over its ambiguity of red tape and called for closed-door talks to explain what could constitute a violation of the law. – RTHK

  • Hong Kong’s Secretary for Security John Lee said that the Administration is actively studying new legislation to plug “loopholes” in the existing national security law and that Article 23 of the Basic Law must be implemented as soon as possible. If passed, the Article 23 would prohibit political activities conducted by foreign organisation in the city and ban local political groups from forming ties with those overseas. – Hong Kong Free Press


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 crackdown of Hong Kong pro-democracy tabloid Apple Daily has implications range well beyond journalism. “Banks will be wary that analysts’ reports critical of Chinese politics or state companies would cause them trouble,” said the Financial Times. “The development will strip away the advantages that long made Hong Kong an important financial hub and gateway to mainland China with its free flow of ideas and information backed by rule of law.” Read here for the full article.


THE WEEK AHEAD

July 1 will be the hundredth anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party, and the 24th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China. For the first time in 18 years, the organiser of the annual pro-democracy march will not be holding a rally.



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