Thursday, 4 February 2010

Investors take walk on wild side - CLSA Feng Shui Index

Zodiac signs in the Year of the Tiger suggest that investors hoping for a smoother ride in the markets will have to wait a bit longer, according to CLSA’s tongue-in-cheek fung shui index released yesterday.

Operators Pin High Hopes on Singapore Casinos

As Singapore gets ready to open its first casinos, there is little doubt that the controversial decision it made five years ago to allow gambling is going to pay economic dividends for the city-state. But whether the operators of the two giant resorts will be reaping jackpots anytime soon remains the big question.

Yin-yang contracts must be stamped out

The disclosure of fraudulent conduct often foreshadows the bursting of an asset bubble. If so, the revelation of widespread dodgy property transactions on the mainland designed to cheat the taxman may be a signal of worse news to come. So-called “yin-yang” contracts are a common but illegal practice to avoid paying taxes. Officials have long known about it, apparently, but have done little for fear of upsetting shaky market sentiment during the financial crisis. They may soon have to pay a much higher price for not cracking down on the practice.

The people’s will

Public sentiment can play a dangerous role in mainland justice

China’s clout doesn’t extend to ore price

China is pressing to turn its status as the world’s biggest steel producer into clout over global miners and cheaper iron ore prices. But its tactics failed in 2009 and there are few indications it will fare better this year.

Bank of China pulls back mortgage discount policy

Bank of China, the country’s third-largest bank by market capitalisation, said on Wednesday it had cut a discount on mortgage rates offered to home buyers, in an effort to optimise lending structures.

Feng shui master arrested in Hong Kong over tycoon’s will

Hong Kong police arrested a feng shui master Wednesday after the High Court dismissed as fraudulent his claim to the estate of eccentric property tycoon Nina Wang.

“Big bubble risk”

Fitch Ratings warned on Wednesday that banks in China face the greatest ‘bubble risk’ of any Asian country, one day after it downgraded two mid-sized Chinese banks due to the rising threat of bad credit.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Fung shui master Tony Chan arrested

Police arrested fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen on Wednesday afternoon after searching his home on the Peak.

Chan’s chances of appeal win slim, lawyer says

Tony Chan Chun-chuen’s chances of winning an appeal against a court decision awarding control of Chinachem boss Nina Wang’s multi-billion-dollar estate to a family charitable trust are very slim, according to a senior lawyer who has read the more than 300 pages of judgment.

Court battle puts heat on fung shui masters

Regardless of whether Tony Chan Chun-chuen is a real fung shui master or not, his legal battle sent a shockwave through the trade and has resulted in many practitioners coming under scrutiny from tax officials.

Siblings say big sister is up there smiling

Joining him in the room packed with 100 journalists were his sisters, Dr. Molly Gong Chung-sum and Kung Yan-sum. “Like everyone, I feel very happy,” Kung said as he thanked company staff, lawyers and the public for their support during the trial. “I think my big sister up there will also smile. She must be extremely happy now.”

A will? No way

Police may probe Tony Chan after judge dismisses as forgery the will purported to leave him Nina Wang’s billions

Judge devotes a third of ruling to fake signatures

More than a third of the 300-odd pages of the judgment in the Nina Wang probate battle was devoted to analysing the signatures on the will fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen claimed left him her fortune of at least HK$10 billion.

Excerpts from the judge’s ruling

‘The court does not believe that their relationship was such that Nina was prepared to give him her entire estate irrespective of her other commitments and responsibilities.

Tycoon Nina Wang’s lover loses claim to her fortune

Judge declares signature on 2006 will is forged; upholds previous will

Players at centre of Harry Elias storm tell their stories

Philip Fong, Latiff Ibrahim give their accounts of last week’s resignations

Trading secrets for business in China

Maze of purchase rules, joint venture demands frustrate foreign firms

Developer penalised in Beijing for land deal delay

A developer said on Tuesday it was penalised by mainland authorities for failing to complete a major Beijing land deal on time, as authorities clamp down on land purchase and development practices while moving to fend off property price bubbles.

What next for China’s monetary policy?

China has begun moving at the margins to withdraw excess cash from the financial system, as a spike in lending in the first few weeks of the year prompted concerns that credit growth was getting out of hand.

Tony Chan loses battle for Wang’s fortune

The High Court on Tuesday threw out fung shui master Tony Chan Chun-chuen’s claim for the estimated HK$100 billion fortune of late property tycoon Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum after a sensational court battle.

Reflecting on HG Metal’s board tussle

The insurrection at HG Metal Manufacturing appears complete, after shareholders at last Friday’s annual general meeting gave a nod to the new management.

Uygur’s death highlights wider tensions

Tight security has been kept for three weeks in a Shenzhen neighbourhood where a Han man stabbed a Uygur to death last month, with at least two police officers conducting round-the-clock surveillance amid fears of further ethnic violence.

UK firm wins damages in Beijing copyright case

One of the world’s largest producers of controls for electric kettles has successfully sued two Chinese manufacturers over patent infringements, a landmark case that could have wide-ranging implications for mainland intellectual property rights.

Outflows accelerate from emerging market funds

Outflows from China, other Asian, Latin American equity and commodity funds have accelerated because investors fear an economic slowdown in China.

Only 121 out of 5,000 casino applicants rejected

The Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA) has come out to clear the air over who is allowed to work as a croupier or cashier in the casinos of the two integrated resorts.

Chinese gifts are ‘bugged’, claims MI5

Britain’s domestic intelligence service MI5 has accused China of bugging British business executives using memory sticks which provide access to users’ computers.

Bailout may lead to deeper crisis

Government’s growing role in housing also raises risk of bubble

Arms deal unlikely to hurt cross-strait thaw

Washington’s latest plan to sell US$6.4 million worth of arms to Taiwan will have little impact on warming cross-strait relations, considering that it involves less sensitive weapons, analysts say.

Another top soccer boss thought to be detained

The top commercial official for the scandal-plagued Chinese Super League has disappeared and may have been detained for investigation, according to media reports.

Accredited estate agents have to abide by code of ethics

I refer to Miss Yusnita A. Raby’s Forum Online letter last Saturday, ‘Is there a code for property agents?’ Currently, the Common Examination for Salespersons (CES) is a prerequisite for estate agents who intend to be accredited with the Singapore Accredited Estate Agencies (SAEA). The syllabus of the CES course taught in SAEA’s 18 approved training centres (PropNex Realty is one of the approved training centres) includes landlord and tenant law, leases, the selling of private residential, HDB, commercial and industrial properties, as well as properties under construction.

Beijing proposes major changes to land seizures

China’s Cabinet suggested major changes yesterday to the way land is seized for redevelopment, in an attempt to bring calm to an issue that has sparked growing violence.

Yunnan a reluctant refuge for desperate Myanmar traders

Ask residents of the dusty Chinese border town of Ruili what they think of their neighbour and supposed friend Myanmar, and one word features prominently - luan, or chaotic.

Hacking for Fun and Profit in China’s Underworld

With a few quick keystrokes, a computer hacker who goes by the code name Majia calls up a screen displaying his latest victims.

China faces risks from bank lending surge: OECD

Surging bank lending could threaten the stability of financial institutions in fast-growing China, the OECD said Tuesday in a report that urged more market reforms to help reduce such risks.

Beat the traffic and enjoy your Expo visit

Have you started to plan your Expo visit? By ferry, wheel or Metro? Read our detailed traffic guide to make the best choice.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

China Regulator Said to Seek to Curb Third Mortgages

China’s government, seeking to stem property speculation, told banks to raise interest rates on third mortgages and demand bigger down payments for such loans, a person with knowledge of the matter said.

China Property Market ‘Bubble’ Set to Burst, Xie Says

China’s property market “bubble” is set to burst as the government curbs credit growth and clamps down on speculation, according to independent economist Andy Xie.

Trends and trip points in Shanghai

I was working in Shanghai two weeks ago and had the opportunity to talk with many investors. The general feeling is a fear that the moderation of the market is going too far, partly as a result of global influences. There is support for the strategy of “Removing the Firewood from Beneath the Cauldron” to avoid the market’s overheating. There is concern, however, that a sudden rainstorm from the West is cooling the cooking pot too quickly.

There’s no education in a Chinese school

It’s known among a small circle of scholars in China as ‘the Qian Xuesen question’. Four years ago, Mr. Qian, the rocket scientist and genius architect of China’s space and missile programmes who died in October at the age of 97, asked a prominent visitor a troubling question: ‘Why does China produce so many clever people, but so few geniuses?’ Prime Minister Wen Jiabao’s answer isn’t recorded, but my friend Bai Hua thinks that she knows.

Squeezing easy money to avoid hard landing

China’s move to freeze loans panicked some investors, but it helped correct surge

Rail woes persist despite spending

The mainland rail system is struggling to cope with problems in service, safety and research and development, despite the central government’s record spending on it last year.

New rules aimed at easing property disputes

People whose homes are tagged for redevelopment should be paid market value and can sue over disputes before any demolition, the government said on Friday, as it tries to ease persistent public anger at forced relocations.

Mainland may hit brakes on rail network

Plans for new lines may be stymied as financing for projects dries up

Liaison offices tout their worth to Beijing

Dealing with emotional petitioners accounts for more than 80 per cent of the workload of low-level liaison offices in Beijing, according to liaison officers interviewed by mainland media, as authorities confirmed the news of a pending shutdown of these offices by June.

Internet users turning to VPNs to breach firewall

Paid virtual private networks (VPNs) are quietly catching on on the mainland as a way to access forbidden websites, analysts say, while the authorities are leaving them alone until they become more popular.

Google attack highlights ‘zero-day’ black market

The recent hacking attack that prompted Google’s threat to leave China is underscoring the heightened dangers of previously undisclosed computer security flaws _ and renewing debate over buying and selling information about them in the black market.

Court adds to big gambler’s losing streak

The Court of Appeal yesterday declined in particularly derisive fashion to hear the case of a high roller who was ordered to pay US$3 million in gambling debts to casino operator Wynn Las Vegas.

China, US, Russia in cyber arms race: net security chief

China, the United States and Russia are among 20 countries locked in a cyberspace arms race and gearing up for possible Internet hostilities, according to the head of web security firm McAfee.

China to keep policy loose despite price pressure

China’s central bank will ensure that money and credit growth remain ample in 2010, even though inflation is likely to rise further, it said in a report on Friday.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Beijing mulls staggered hours to cut traffic jams

Beijing is considering changing office hours for businesses and public organisations and raising parking fees in the capital’s central districts in its efforts to deal with the traffic headaches caused by private cars.

Housing plan for ‘Western faces only’ sparks row

A property developer in China is inviting only ‘Western-looking’ foreigners to live in a new development, sparking comparisons with the controversial concession areas in the 1800s, state media said yesterday.

Fujian roots nourish Hui property empire

Ranked sixth on the Forbes China 400 Rich List, secretive Hong Kong billionaire Hui Wing-mau is described as “a seasoned property developer who is coming through the latest real estate cycle in good shape”.

A bitter taste at Olive Garden

Occupants of one of Beijng’s most luxurious developments are fighting tooth and nail to keep it just as it is

Recycling tainted cadres not way to clean government

Flourishing official corruption and incompetence is the downside of China’s remarkable success. The public is powerless to do much about it, but top leaders have warned that unless corruption is reined in it could undermine the Communist Party’s political legitimacy. For this reason state media hailed a new accountability system for officials when it was endorsed by the politburo in May.

Fighting Words

Jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo reveals the extent of official corruption in his new book and argues reform is only a matter of time

Chinese abuzz over ‘tomb economy’

Discovery of famous warlord’s grave sparks excavation craze in a chase for tourist dollars

Obama adviser Summers says US in ‘human recession’

President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser said Saturday the U.S. is experiencing an economic recovery on paper but a “human recession” because of job losses.

New Great Wall of China is digital

China has completed an ambitious drive to install digital surveillance systems at all border checkpoints, on land and offshore, with the new Great Wall being seen as a key part of its national security strategy.

Monetary policy change not seen in bureaucratic character

Is China going to end its lax monetary policy? That question has cost the Hang Seng Index more than 2,000 points in the last three weeks.

Economic Black Hole: 20 Reasons Why The U.S. Economy Is Dying And Is Simply Not Going To Recover

Even though the U.S. financial system nearly experienced a total meltdown in late 2008, the truth is that most Americans simply have no idea what is happening to the U.S. economy. Most people seem to think that the nasty little recession that we have just been through is almost over and that we will be experiencing another time of economic growth and prosperity very shortly. But this time around that is not the case. The reality is that we are being sucked into an economic black hole from which the U.S. economy will never fully recover.

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Inflated IPO prices blamed on institutions

A senior securities regulator yesterday criticised mainland institutional investors for pushing up initial public offering prices, a day after China XD Electric slid below its offer price on its trading debut.

Ring of Fire – Public Debt of Countries

1. Japan
2. Italy
3. Greece - already surfaced
4. US
5. France
6. UK
7. Ireland
8. Spain

HSI clings to key 20,000 level as optimism wanes

The bears are back. Short sellers piled back into the stock market this week, forcing long-term investors to don their tin hats yesterday as the Hang Seng Index teetered on a precipice, in danger of closing below the psychologically important 20,000 mark.

Big stink as Pearl River Delta battles a rising tide of sewage

Officials in the heavily polluted Pearl River Delta are waging war on sewage sludge swamping the region. Winning the war, however, might be difficult.

MGM seeks buyers for casino stake after Pansy Ho findings

Las Vegas casino operator MGM Mirage is looking for buyers for its 50 per cent stake in a New Jersey casino after gaming regulators in the US state last year found MGM’s Macau partnership with Pansy Ho Chiu-king “unsuitable”.

Sands says no place for junkets in Singapore

Casino giant Las Vegas Sands Corp is not banking on using any VIP gambling junket operators at its US$6 billion Singapore casino resort because of the strictness of licensing requirements in the city state.

$100K to be premium player at casino

So in Singapore’s casinos at Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, premium players - including those from Singapore - can place a minimum deposit of $100,000 with the casinos or licensed junket promoter to receive credit.

Chief quits in split over law firm’s future

Differences in the strategic direction the firm should take led to a split within a top law firm, with its head and two others walking out.