Friday, 29 January 2010

Top lawyers walk out on Harry Elias Partnership

Between the five of them, there is a hefty amount of legal experience. Now, these top legal eagles, most of whom head departments in a range of areas, are walking out on their law firm, Harry Elias Partnership.

Romanian envoy was hit-and-run driver: Police

Police yesterday said they have evidence that Romanian Charge d’Affaires Silviu Ionescu was the driver of the car involved in a hit-and-run accident that left one person dead and two others injured last month.

Tomb fight spreads to warlord’s arch-rival

No sooner has the dust settled on a claim by Henan authorities to have found the tomb of fabled ancient warlord Cao Cao than a new controversy has flared.

The rise of the ‘Beijing consensus’

The world is trying to get a handle on China, the economy that emerged in a flash, and Beijing’s growing global clout

Mainland can ‘foot the bill’ of a credit bubble

China’s credit boom is unlikely to lead to a credit crunch as the government is fiscally strong enough to absorb a bubble, Fitch Ratings said.

Japan’s exports rise but reliance on China a worry

Japan’s exports in December rose from a year earlier for the first time since before the financial crisis hit, but a rising yen and a growing reliance on Chinese demand may bode ill as Beijing looks to tighten monetary policy.

Getting children to log off, shut down, go out

Technology monster defeats parents

Ex-finance staff on stand as Airocean trial resumes

A closely watched trial that addresses the extent of the liability of independent directors of listed companies has resumed in the Subordinate Courts.

Electric’s weak Shanghai debut sounds IPO alarm

Shares of China XD Electric, which raised US$1.5 billion this month in a Shanghai IPO, unexpectedly fell in their trading debut on Thursday, serving a stark warning to China’s securities regulator that it may have gone too far in trying to cool the overheating stock market.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

DNA tests on possible relatives may help verify grave of Cao Cao

A group of scientists from Fudan University in Shanghai have come up with a bizarre idea to verify the authenticity of a controversial ancient tomb: test the DNA of the tomb owner’s potential modern offspring.

Cosmetics firms turn to men for sales lift

Otsuka, Shiseido add product lines for male clients

Copper, Aluminium, Zinc Tumble as China Reins in Property Loans

Copper headed for its longest losing streak in seven weeks and aluminium dropped to the lowest level in more than a month as China, the world’s biggest metals consumer, stepped up measures to prevent asset bubbles.

Analysts keep eyes peeled on China property, bank sectors

But both analysts and Singapore companies with sizeable presence in China will keep a close eye on developments there, after last week’s news of the government putting a cap on rampant bank loans.

US-bound shipments clog Shanghai terminal

Shanghai port, the country’s busiest, is becoming increasingly congested with US-bound vessels amid a frantic rush of shipments to the world’s biggest economy.

Toronto a magnet for Hong Kong homebuyers

Financially armed Chinese immigrants, pent up demand and low mortgage interest rates are starting to push prices up in the city’s real estate market

Roubini: Asset Bubble Is Beginning Now

Withdrawing economic stimuli and tightening monetary policy are very difficult future policy choices, but something has to be done because asset bubbles have started to take shape, Nouriel Roubini, chairman of Roubini Global Economics, told CNBC Wednesday.

Another day, another raft of soccer scandals

Footballers paying big bribes for places at the national team’s training camp and even bigger ones to play in international games. Foreign coaches of the national team forced to pay agents kickbacks. Another official involved in match-fixing.

Heavyweight task force named to tackle soccer corruption

Liu Peng thinks he knows what’s wrong with soccer on the mainland - and as the minister for sport, he hopes he has the cure.

Footballers bribed officials to play for China, newspaper alleges

200,000 yuan buys international call-up, claims Shanghai report, as sports minister says corruption is deeply rooted

Ernst & Young pays up to settle negligence claim

The Hong Kong branch of accounting giant Ernst & Young, which in September l paid US$200 million to creditors of its collapsed former client Akai Holdings, has quietly settled another audit negligence case involving a failed local company.

Discounts point to end of Shanghai home bubble

The property bubble in Shanghai appears to be deflating with developers offering steeper discounts than normal to drum up purchases by first-time homebuyers.

China’s Largest Bank Says Some Loans Not Rolled Over

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country’s largest bank, said it has stopped rolling over some loans to slow credit growth after a surge at the start of the year, though it will not halt new lending.

Bicycle Seat

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

China ‘to shut down local lobbying offices’

China has ordered the closure of thousands of ‘regional liaison offices’ - in essence, lobbying firms - that local governments and companies operate in Beijing to curry favour with senior officials, said media reports.

China must narrow gap with US in disaster relief

For all the talk of an America in decline and a rising China, the crisis triggered by the devastating earthquake in Haiti is a reminder of the huge disparity that still exists between the ability of the United States to project power, for military or humanitarian purposes, and that of China.

Google’s exit may pull plug on other tech giants in China

The US-based company’s spat with China raises issues of censorship and cyber-attacks

Heat on China to act fast on housing prices

Skyrocketing real estate prices are leading to much unhappiness

IRs driving demand for China-made buses

More and more China- made buses are plying Singapore roads, with demand being fuelled by the Integrated Resorts (IRs).

Mobius Says China Lending Curbs May Benefit Economy

China’s lending slowdown may benefit the domestic economy by reducing risk and investors should still buy shares of the nation’s banks, investor Mark Mobius said.

Investors Wrong on China, Wen Won’t ‘Do a Volcker,’ Jen Says

China’s monetary tightening is likely to be more gradual than this month’s stock sell-off reflects, and the economic rebound will be sustained this year, said Stephen Jen of BlueGold Capital Management LLP.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

US-Japan security pact not as solid as it seems

Battle to move marines’ air base in Okinawa shows fragility of long-standing alliance

The road to world domination, via China

China disclosed the other day that its foreign exchange reserves had increased to about US$2.4 trillion in 2009, a gain of US$453 billion for the year. These stupendous figures - and the likelihood that the country’s reserves will rise by a comparable amount this year - have now become a financial, economic and geopolitical reality of surpassing significance.

Mainland bank jitters may be only a taste of things to come

The reason why is a mystery, but news that Chinese banks need to raise capital never fails to take investors by surprise.

Horizon Towers saga roars back to life with new lawsuit

A fresh lawsuit has just been filed over the failed en bloc sale of Horizon Towers - and a new chapter in the long-running saga is about to begin.

Contra trading a proven source of liquidity

It is erroneous to blame contra trading for the less-than-desired outcome resulting from leveraged products. On the contrary, contra trading provides an excellent source of liquidity for derivatives such as structured warrants.

China’s four phases of growth

The rise of its vertical economy will have important consequences for its trading partners

VIX Options Show Biggest Bets on Stocks Retreat Since June 2008

Traders are piling into bets that the biggest sell-off in U.S. shares since March will increase stock market volatility, pushing call options on the VIX Index to the highest level in 19 months.

Global Stocks Are ‘Vulnerable to Correction,’ Jim Rogers Says

Global equities are “vulnerable to correction” after rallying from their March lows and as governments around the world withdraw stimulus measures, said investor Jim Rogers, author of “A Bull in China.”

With China’s Rise Comes Economic Conflict With West

As recently as 2008, when China was still an emerging economy eager to put its best foot forward for Western consumers, it lifted censorship on several Web sites before the Beijing Olympics. At the same time, it responded to entreaties from U.S. and European politicians, allowing its currency to appreciate against the dollar.

Shaolin monks near deal with Hong Kong firm

A Hong Kong arm of China Travel Service is holding talks with a city government in Henan to form a joint venture aimed at turning Shaolin Monastery into a money-spinning mega brand.

Lawyers want probe of defence counsel’s arrest

A group of 20 lawyers are calling on Beijing to investigate the arrest of a defence lawyer representing an alleged gang boss, and to take a closer look at the massive crackdown on organised crime in Chongqing.

Hong Kong central bank warns of asset price corrections

Hong Kong’s central bank said the city may face ‘sharp corrections’ in asset prices should fund flows reverse, adding to concerns voiced by Japan, China and South Korea on the dangers of speculative capital.

Development deaths prompt professors to issue reform call

Yue Xiyou died after trying to defend his fiancee’s flat from a wrecking crew. A woman named Tang Fuzhen protested against another demolition by standing on the roof and setting herself alight.

Chinese quest to regain treasures

A delegation of Chinese cultural experts has swept through American institutions over the past two weeks, in an unfruitful search for historical treasures plundered by Western troops in the mid-19th century from Beijing.

Central government to scrap housing demolition regulation

The central government is moving closer to scrapping the housing-demolition regulation amid public outcry over a number of violent and even deadly confrontations between homeowners and developers.

How Hong Kong tries to be relevant to China

When Hong Kong was returned to China on July 1, 1997 after a century and a half as a British colony, there was much anxiety as to whether the city would continue to prosper and to enjoy British-style rights and freedoms under China’s formula of ‘one country, two systems’ for 50 years. Now, 121/2 years later - or a quarter of the 50 years allotted to Hong Kong as a Special Administrative Region of China - much has changed.

Money mule jailed for 2 weeks, fined $30,000

This year, at least 12 people have been taken to court in separate cases for trying to sneak a total of more than $6 million in and out of Singapore.

Cleaners ‘beat bankers in worth’

Hospital cleaners are worth more to society than bankers, a study suggests.

Small firms told: Focus on investor relations

Smaller firms aiming to grow their businesses will need cash-rich backers, so adopting sound investor relations (IR) practices can mean the difference between success and failure.

Independent directors may get harder to hire

Sitting on boards of listed firms’ overseas units worries directors

Time for shift in China’s growth strategy

It needs a more balanced growth model that fosters more of a pro-consumption thrust to growth and development

SGX tweaks to listing rules lack solid bite

For the umpteenth time in its nine-year existence, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) is tweaking its Listing Rules. Announced yesterday, the proposed changes - which are open to public debate and feedback - fall well within the scope of the existing disclosure-based governance framework that has been progressively installed over the years since deregulation a decade ago. Which is fine - if you subscribe to the view that all it takes to ensure the marketplace is properly governed are periodic fine-tunings and that caveat emptor or ‘buyer beware’ should still reign supreme.

SGX hardening rules to bring errant outfits in line

More onus may be placed on independent directors, range of corporate governance issues addressed

Malaysia plans 20-litre cap on fuel sales to foreign cars

Motorists travelling to Malaysia will soon be allowed to pump a maximum of only 20 litres of fuel within a 50km radius from the country’s borders, including in Sabah and Sarawak, the Malaysian government announced yesterday.

Monday, 25 January 2010

China Squeezes Property Speculators With Tougher Tax Penalty

China issued policies to curb property speculation after home prices rose at the fastest pace in more than a year and Premier Wen Jiabao pledged support for affordable housing.

China market key to US firms’ profitability

US companies are finding China crucial for their profitability as they increasingly focus on selling to the fast-growing Chinese market rather than manufacturing there for export, a report said yesterday.

Be patient, SIAS tells Sino-Env shareholders

The Securities Investors Association of Singapore (SIAS) has urged shareholders of troubled firm Sino-Environment Technology Group to let the various authorities here and in China complete their investigations into the company.

Independent directors start legal proceedings

In the latest twist in the Sino-Environment saga, the company’s independent directors, Mr. Goh Chee Wee and Mr. Wong Chiang Yin, have started legal proceedings in a bid to oust the executive directors from the company’s board.

Court order sought to oust Sino-Env exec directors

Independent directors (IDs) of troubled Sino-Environment Technology Group have applied for a court order to call for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) to remove the executive directors and also to strip them of their powers to execute several types of financial transactions.

Judges must not pre-judge merits of case

Judges must not pressure parties in a case to settle their dispute quickly, nor should they make up their minds about the case before hearing all the arguments.

Comments in civil suit ‘not uncommon’

Lawyers say it is not uncommon for some judges to comment on the issues during the course of a civil suit, or even tell off one or both parties.

China’s ultra rich lift the spirits of London bankers

The fear that established clients will flee rising taxes in Britain might be giving London’s private bankers sleepless nights, but a Chinese remedy is at hand, in the shape of a growing colony of super-rich clients from Asia.

Addict who wagered $2b loses case against casino

A compulsive gambler who wagered close to A$1.5 billion (S$1.9 billion) during a 16-month betting spree lost his lawsuit against Australia’s largest casino, when a judge ruled yesterday that he was not exploited.

Youth league pours millions into recruiting

The Communist Youth League poured 110 million yuan (HK$125 million) into bolstering its grass-roots branches across the mainland in an attempt to attract more young people to join a party that has lost much of its ideological appeal, state media reported yesterday.

Jim Chanos: China’s Real Estate Bubble Is Unprecedented

The bubble in China’s real estate is unprecedented and companies exporting for the country’s construction sector should be watched carefully, James Chanos, president and founder of Kynikos Associates, told CNBC Monday.

The unstoppable Fung brothers

Li & Fung has become one of the world’s largest producers of consumer goods, and the company only keeps growing.

Irate Americans want Bernanke out

With unemployment at 10%, the US is searching for a scapegoat to blame

Expectations of China growth a dangerous complacency

That loud hissing noise you hear is coming from Dubai, where reality is catching up with an economy built on sand - literally and figuratively.

Mafia chiefs hire lawyers from outside Chongqing

Detained mafia bosses in Chongqing have hired prominent lawyers from outside the city in an apparent attempt to minimise political interference and ensure that they get impartial legal advice as the second round of trials started this month.

Playing the China card

Spooked by S-chips? There are other ways to gain exposure to the fast-growing mainland market

PLA on a steep learning curve with record intake of graduates

Joining the People’s Liberation Army has long been the job of choice for strapping country boys, while the vast majority of pampered university graduates turned up their noses at the thought of early morning drills and physical exertion.

Puer’s farmers acquire taste for growing coffee

Tea or coffee? A question asked millions of times each day but in Yunnan’s Puer prefecture, the ancient heartland of tea production in China, the answer has more to do with business than personal taste.

Dual listings: regulatory issues for SGX to clarify

By most accounts, more companies can be expected to go for dual listings on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and markets such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and possibly Korea. Fertiliser firm China XLX was a recent trend-setter on this front - at least this year - when it dual-listed some of its shares in Hong Kong this month, sending its SGX share price up almost 100 per cent that day and sparking a scramble among speculators to try to figure out the next successful dual-listing play.

Fast traders changing the landscape of US equities

Critics worry the secretive and controversial world of high-frequency trading may undermine the integrity of the US equity market

Great leap to excess

China’s industrial output has come at a huge cost in efficiency, quality and to the environment

How to start a fight in a room full of economists

If you ever want to start a fight in a room full of economists, just ask them if it was China that caused the credit crisis.

How US banks peddled debt

Goldman and others not only bundled synthetic CDOs but also bet against them and reaped rich rewards, while their clients suffered losses

Loose-tongued officials no match for a more aggressive media

Are you going to speak for the party or the masses?” That is what a senior urban planning official in Zhengzhou, Henan province, blurted out on June 17 - something he may regret for the rest of his life and may spell the end of his government career.

China out to lure scientists home

Return of high-profile scientists signals major strides at narrowing gap with technologically advanced nations

Chinese Tycoon Emerges to Grab Chilean Iron Ore Mine

Li Zihao, a low-profile entrepreneur and president of Rixin Development Company, of Shunde, Guangdong, announced over Christmas that all legal formalities for acquiring a 70+% stake in a Chilean iron ore project by his company were completed in October. Li’s company gained control of mineral rights of three mines with reserves of 3-5 billion tons for a reported 13 billion yuan.

Common, SGX, strike a little more fear

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is obviously anxious to attract more and larger listings, yet fails to go far enough to help it regain the standing that it has lost in recent years. What the SGX sorely needs to address is its reputation as an effective market regulator. Seen to have been lacking in how it handled the recent S-chip debacles, the exchange now needs to prove afresh that it is one of the region’s best governed markets - a key selling point for the SGX in the past.

Criticism of China’s yuan policy unjustified

All the arguments the West has advanced for a revaluation of the currency are flawed

Adverse impact of higher school fees for non-citizens

Employment pass holders with children may be discouraged from applying for PR

CAD probes ex-Dayen deputy exec chairman

Dayen Environmental’s former deputy executive chairman John Lee is being investigated by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) under the Securities and Futures Act - and is now out on bail of $30,000.

In War Against the Internet, China Is Just a Skirmish

In the beginning, there was one Internet, born from American research and embraced by academics around the world. It was in English and homogeneous, operating according to Western standards of openness.

As the Internet grew, it became fragmented and linguistically diversified. It developed borders, across which it now works in different ways.

Ant tribe: Fresh grads swarming into cities and living in poverty

Together the highly educated groups come to be called the “ant tribe,” a term coined by Chinese sociologists to describe the struggling young migrants, who, armed with their diplomas, scramble to big cities in hope of a better life only to find low-paying jobs and poor living conditions.

Beijing ‘forced’ to develop missile interception system

China developed a missile interception system out of a sense of “forced action” because it perceived threats from other nations, a senior military official has revealed in a commentary written for a state-run magazine.

China’s Africa footprint: a makeover for Algeria

While still struggling with the aftermath of a decade-long Islamic insurgency, oil-rich yet impoverished Algeria is getting a makeover: a new airport, its first mall, its largest prison, 60,000 new homes, two luxury hotels and the longest continuous highway in Africa.

Confusion rules over curbs on ‘obscene’ texts

Plans to freeze mobile phone accounts responsible for sending “obscene” text messages are in confusion, with a Beijing provider yesterday announcing it would introduce the measure, while its Shanghai counterpart apparently issued a denial.

Party chief held after employing thugs in fatal land grab

The party chief of a Jiangsu village has been detained after hiring more than 200 armed thugs to forcibly evict farmers from their land to make way for a petrochemical factory, state media reported yesterday.

Rogers Says Shanghai, Hong Kong Property in Bubble, May Fall

Shanghai and Hong Kong property prices may fall after being driven higher by speculative demand, while the rest of the Chinese economy is “hardly in a bubble,” investor Jim Rogers said.

The Asian locomotive

As we emerge from the Great Recession, a new economic order is forming - one no longer dominated by wealthy nations

Time SGX moves to T+1, scraps contra

Ten years ago, on Dec 1, 1999, when the Singapore Exchange (SGX) was formed from a merger of the Stock Exchange of Singapore and the Singapore International Monetary Exchange or Simex, then-deputy prime minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at SGX’s inauguration that stockbroking commissions would become fully negotiable from Jan 1, 2001, that the settlement cycle for stocks would be shortened from T+5 to T+3 from March 15, 2000, and that the ultimate goal would be to move to T+1, where T is the transaction date. All this, it was said, was to ensure that the local market kept pace with fast-moving markets elsewhere.

UBS eyes bigger slice of China capital

UBS AG will soon apply for more quotas to invest in China’s capital markets on top of the US$800 million it is already permitted, as it is bullish about the stock market’s prospects, an executive said yesterday.

China’s tightening may end with yuan hike

And it could come without warning this year if Beijing’s preferred gradualist approach doesn’t cool the red-hot economy

Mainland defaulters sting small investors

China may boast dazzling economic growth but that has failed to translate into profits for some bond holders and thousands of small investors in Singapore who have seen their investments in a group of mainland companies listed in the city state turn to dust.

Island haven for ill-gotten gains

Some Americans look to the Cook Islands to protect their wealth

Chateau Lafite 1982 goes for HK$363,000

A six-litre bottle of Chateau Lafite 1982 has fetched HK$363,000 (S$65,600), nearly twice its presale high estimate, at a sold-out wine auction as the quest for rarity and inflation concerns drove prices higher.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Only a third of migrant workers given contracts

Only about a third of mainland migrant workers have signed contracts with their employers - two years after the introduction of a controversial labour contract law sought to make them compulsory, a survey has found.

Police detain soccer’s big two in crackdown

Two deputy chairmen of the Chinese Football Association have been detained by police in the most dramatic step yet in the mainland’s crackdown on soccer-related corruption.

Detentions give sport’s followers new hope

Mainland sportswriters and journalists were exhilarated yesterday, claiming they had finally discovered the root cause of the country’s substandard soccer performance.

China roars into the Year of the Tiger

In recent weeks, many analysts have commented that the China market is too hot. They warned of a market bubble or a property bubble. They suggested the Chinese government should do something quickly to cool the speculation and the property market.

Rich Beijingers take on Hong Kong developer

When wealthy Beijingers bought flats in one of the city’s most exclusive apartment complexes, they claim they weren’t told a four-lane highway would be built beneath their windows.

Cooling this hot market will test Beijing to the full

Even widows and orphans are now worried about the property bubble brewing on the mainland. Look up some key numbers and you can understand why. Nationwide property sales soared more than 75 per cent last year from 2008 to hit a whopping 4.4 trillion yuan (HK$5 trillion). In Shanghai, the second hottest property market on the mainland, home loans rose an unbelievable 1,600 per cent year on year to 99.58 billion yuan. Bubble or not, that is simply too much, too fast for many people - especially the central government.

Taipei puts ‘Black Bats’ on the radar

Secret squadron that spied on the mainland is finally honoured by Taiwan’s government