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Asia News Bulletin - Mar 12


Hesitancy around getting Covid-19 vaccines has risen among Hong Kong residents amid reports of negative side effects. China has passed the Hong Kong election overhaul bill, which would empower Beijing to vet candidates for the city's legislature. The Singapore-Indonesia Bilateral Investment Treaty has come into force this week to strengthen investment protection and facilitate international arbitration.


MAJOR HEADLINES IN ASIA

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

  • China has set its target for annual economic growth above 6% for 2021 as the country continues its economic recovery. The modest growth target is said to leave policymakers with more flexibility to boost growth and confront risks accumulating in the financial system. The Finance Minister said fiscal policy will be “proactive and more sustainable” this year, as Beijing plans to slowly phase out stimulus.

  • Huobi Tech, China’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platform, said its asset management subsidiary won approval from the Hong Kong securities regulator to launch 100% crypto asset management funds. Hong Kong-listed Huobi said the unit would set up three funds to invest entirely in digital currencies, tracking Bitcoin, Ethereum and other crypto assets.

  • South Korea has launched a new committee with business groups from chip and display industries aimed at cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. Under the ties with the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association and the Korea Display Industry Association, along with local businesses, the committee will make joint efforts to develop environment-friendly technologies to reduce emissions.

  • The Singapore-Indonesia Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) entered into force this Tuesday, which will provide additional protection for Singapore's investments in Indonesia, and Indonesia's investments in Singapore. The BIT includes protection from discriminatory treatment and illegal expropriation and provides investors recourse to international arbitration in the event of a dispute.

  • Japanese financial conglomerate SBI has opted for a full withdrawal from Hong Kong over the city’s regulatory uncertainty. Chief executive of SBI, Yoshitaka Kitao, said the introduction of the controversial National Security Law, under which 47 activists were arrested earlier this month, had created increasing fear in Japanese boardrooms.

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

  • The China Securities Regulatory Commission is considering tighter rules for first-time share sales on Shanghai’s STAR board, that will require firms to prove their technology credentials. There will also be increased scrutiny on financial health to boost the quality of companies and protect investors. The revised rules could be introduced as soon as next month.

  • Troubled property developer China Fortune Land Development again defaulted on billions of yuan in debt as it struggled to meet its commitments amid a tightening regulatory environment.

HONG KONG

  • Abbisko Therapeutics, an oncology-focused Chinese biotech company backed by investors including Carlyle Group and Warburg Pincus, is planning a Hong Kong IPO that could raise about US$250 million.

  • Three US-listed Chinese electric vehicle makers, Li Auto, NIO, and XPeng, plan to list in Hong Kong as soon as this year, each aim to sell at least 5% of enlarged share capital and could raise a combined US$5 billion in proceeds based on their New York market capitalisation.

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

  • China-based eye disorder specialist Arctic Vision has raised a US$100 million Series B round led by Loyal Valley Capital. Tencent, Octagon Capital, and New World Development CEO Adrian Cheng also participated.

  • Allianz Group has led a US$75 million round for Hong Kong’s WeLab to help the financial technology provider develop new insurance and investment products.

  • Zhongneng United, a Chinese construction equipment rental platform specialising in aerial work, has raised US$460 million in Series C equity and debt financing across three tranches.

  • FountainVest Partners has led a US$100 million funding round for Ushopal, a China-focused e-commerce platform that sources global luxury brands for the high-end consumer market.

  • Innovusion, a Chinese developer of LiDAR technology used in autonomous driving, has raised US$60 million in funding. The round which values Innovusion at US$300 million, features Temasek, BAI, and Joy Capital.

JAPAN AND KOREA

  • Japanese technology conglomerate Pioneer Corporation has agreed to sell Increment P Corporation – its car navigation and mapping business – to Polaris Capital Group.

  • SIP Global Partners, a US and Japan-headquartered VC firm, has reached a first close of US$75 million on its debut cross-border fund. The target is US$150 million.

SOUTHEAST ASIA

  • Indonesia logistics start-up Sicepat has raised a US$170 million Series B round from investors including Temasek’s growth-stage PE unit Pavilion Capital. It has been described as the largest Series B ever seen in Southeast Asia.

  • Malaysia Debt Ventures and Kenanga Investment Bank have launched a VC fund focused on the local financial technology space with a target of US$73 million.


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

  • China will put financial institution bankruptcy laws on its legislative agenda, as the absence of a legal bankruptcy framework has prevented technically insolvent firms from exiting the market effectively. Regulators are also looking to revise the anti-monopoly law and give priority to regulations on the digital economy, which aim to rectify irregularities in the market and better regulate giant online platforms.

HONG KONG

  • China’s national legislature has approved a resolution by a near-unanimous vote, paving the way for the biggest shake-up to Hong Kong’s electoral system since its return to China in 1997. Under the new electoral system, members of the NPC and the Chinese People‘s Political Consultative Conference – the country’s top political advisory body – will be part of the Election Committee selecting the city’s leader next year. A vetting mechanism will be established for “reviewing and confirming the qualifications” of candidates for the Election Committee, the chief executive and the legislators.


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


This week has seen the tenth anniversary of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which led to the Fukushima meltdown. Amongst the commemorations, there have been numerous articles discussing the wider impact of the disaster, particularly for nuclear energy, and its role as a replacement for fossil fuels. With public opposition for nuclear power in Japan still the norm, in the town of Fukushima, one of the world’s largest and advanced hydrogen plants has been built as Japan continues to push to renewable energy.


THE WEEK AHEAD

China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Australia are all set to publish employment figures, while Japan will announce its inflation rate and BoJ interest rate decision.



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