FILE PHOTO: People walk past a Xiaomi store in Shenyang, Liaoning province, China June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer
March 19, 2019
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp said on Tuesday its fourth-quarter net profit more than tripled to 1.85 billion yuan ($275.59 million), on stronger revenue.
That profit exceeded the 1.7 billion yuan average estimate of 10 analysts, according to Refinitiv data.
Revenue for the period increased 27 percent to 44.4 billion yuan, lower than the 47.4 billion yuan average estimate of 13 analysts, according to Refinitiv data.
For the full 2018 calendar year, Xiaomi brought in revenue of 174.9 billion yuan and made a net profit of 8.6 billion yuan.
This marks the third set of financial results for the company since its IPO in Hong Kong. Xiaomi shares have rallied nearly 30 percent since early January, though they remain well below their July listing price.
(Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Germany’s biggest retailer Metro AG is pictured at a Metro cash and carry in Berlin in this June 10, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch/Files
March 19, 2019
By Kane Wu and Julie Zhu
HONG KONG (Reuters) – German wholesaler Metro AG has kicked off the sale of its China operations by calling for bids, in a deal that would value the business at between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, two people with direct knowledge of the deal said.
Metro, which owns 95 stores in China and real estate assets in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, is planning to offload a majority stake in its China business, said the people.
The sale move is part of a global reorganization of the wholesaler and comes as China’s wholesale and retail sectors are experiencing disruption from e-commerce players.
Metro’s China business could yet be valued at up to $3 billion, said two separate sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Potential bidders include electronics retailer Suning Holdings Group, supermarket chain operators Wumart Stores Inc and Yonghui Superstores, according to three of the people.
Private equity firms such as Hillhouse Capital Group and Bain Capital are also studying a potential deal, they added.
Property makes up the bulk of the value in Metro’s China business, the people said, cautioning, however, that there is a large gap between price expectations among buyers and the seller.
A Metro spokeswoman in Germany said the company is in talks with potential partners concerning the further development of its China business but declined to comment on details of its exchanges with potential partners or the sale process.
Bain and Suning declined to comment. Yonghui and Hillhouse did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Calls to Wumart went unanswered.
First-round, non-binding bids are due in the second week of April, said two of the people. Citigroup and JPMorgan are advising Metro, the people said. The banks declined to comment.
All the sources declined to be named as the deal talks are not public.
E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holdings has also been in talks with Metro about taking a stake in the China business, Reuters previously reported.
Tech giants such as Alibaba and Tencent have been investing in supermarkets and shopping malls to help develop their online-to-offline strategy.
Alibaba in 2015 poured $4.6 billion into Suning’s listed entity – Suning.Com Co Ltd and holds a 19.99 percent stake, its biggest step towards integrating online and store-based shopping at the time.
Tencent, which has invested 4.2 billion yuan in a 5 percent stake of Yonghui, is also forming a partnership in China with Europe’ s largest retailer Carrefour.
The German wholesaler opened its first China store in Shanghai in 1996 and now has over 11,000 employees in the country. Its sales in the country reached 2.7 billion euros ($3 billion) in the financial year of 2017-2018, according to its website.
Once a sprawling retail conglomerate, Metro has been restructuring in recent years to focus on its core cash-and-carry business, selling Kaufhof department stores and then splitting from consumer electronics group Ceconomy.
Metro is also trying to offload its loss-making Real hypermarkets chain.
(Reporting by Kane Wu, Julie Zhu and Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Matthias Inverardi in DUESSELDORF; Editing by Jennifer Hughes and Muralikumar Anantharaman)
FILE PHOTO: Illustration photo of the Dianrong logo on the company’s website April 13, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration
March 18, 2019
By Shu Zhang
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Dianrong, one of China’s biggest peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders which is laying off staff and shutting stores, blamed the government for its troubles saying the absence of clear-cut policies was proving to be a heavy burden.
“Some people wonder why Dianrong’s growth has slowed in the past two years. It was not because we did not want to or could not grow. It was because we were told not to grow,” Guo Yuhang, Dianrong’s co-founder, said in an internal memo seen by Reuters.
“While the industry has expanded quickly to a large and complex scale over the years, regulatory directions keep changing and different regions have different rules,” Guo said, in rare criticism of policy-making in China.
Dianrong was shutting down 60 of its 90 offline stores and laying off an estimated 2,000 employees, Reuters reported earlier this month.
The Shanghai-based company was co-founded by Soul Htite, who was also behind U.S. online lender LendingClub Corp, and is backed by Singapore sovereign fund GIC Pte Ltd and Standard Chartered Private Equity.
Beijing’s multi-year crackdown on risky lending practices and excessive leverage have caused a wave of P2P collapses and triggered protests by angry investors who lost their savings.
“Grey rhino” risks, or highly obvious yet ignored threats, are on the rise, including risks from internet finance such as P2P lenders, a central bank official wrote in an official publication on Monday.
The industry could face a fresh wave of regulatory scrutiny after several fintech companies were slammed by state-run CCTV during the country’s annual consumer rights day TV show on Friday.
Dianrong, which expanded rapidly in 2017-2018 in a loose regulatory environment, had to cut back in the second half of last year, Guo said in the memo.
He added that many highly promising businesses Dianrong developed as part of its aggressive expansion have turned into “heavy burdens with unbearable high costs” for the company as regulations unexpectedly tightened.
The company’s outstanding transaction volume has shrunk to 10 billion yuan ($1.49 billion) from its peak of 14 billion yuan, Guo said. Some employees were not paid for two months, he said.
China’s central bank has yet to respond to a faxed request seeking comment.
The central bank said earlier this month that it would gradually set up a system of rules to regulate fintech and cultivate conditions conducive to the development of the industry.
“We hope regulators can give the industry a clear, and definite timetable, and give guidance and a ray of hope for companies that stick to compliance,” Guo said in the memo.
“The situation of the industry shows that the one-size-fits-all rule will definitely curb innovative businesses.”
Guo did not comment further when contacted by Reuters.
(Reporting by Shu Zhang; Writing by Samuel Shen and Ryan Woo; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
FILE PHOTO: Euro, Hong Kong dollar, U.S. dollar, Japanese yen, pound and Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in this picture illustration, January 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Lee/Illustration/File Photo
March 18, 2019
By Tommy Wilkes
LONDON (Reuters) – Collapsing asset price volatility has turned ‘carry trading’ into one of investors’ top plays of 2019. Many reckon the run is far from over.
This strategy sees investors borrow in currencies where interest rates are low to invest in countries where yields are high, such as in emerging markets. Investors can pocket the difference, or ‘carry’.
For the trade to work liquidity needs to be plentiful, the global economic backdrop benign and, importantly, currency volatility next to nothing. Broadly, all those conditions seem to be in place.
Volatility, or vol, had been crushed this year by central banks’ decisions to hit the pause button on interest rate rises. Societe Generale analyst Kit Juckes says markets’ “outright boredom” so far in 2019 has been the perfect recipe for carry trade success – FX volatility is near multi-year lows.
As a result, carry trading has returned 5.5 percent in 2019, according to HSBC’s Global FX Carry Index. That follows a fall of 1.4 percent in 2018, when rising U.S. interest rates caused a stampede out of emerging markets, the favored place to earn carry.
The current environment for carry is “textbook”, says Andreas Koenig, head of foreign exchange at Amundi Asset Management.
(GRAPHIC: Speculators long on Mexican peso – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Cg2cxu)
SELL AND BUY
Koenig has been betting on the Turkish lira and Brazilian real, both of which offer yields well into the double digits.
Investors buying 10-year Russian government bonds can earn yields of 8.5 percent, or 8 percent in Mexico. Those returns have been further burnished by currency appreciation — some emerging currencies such as the rouble have firmed as much as six percent against the dollar and euro.
On the other hand, the Japanese yen, Swiss franc and euro tend to be carry traders’ funding currencies of choice, as their low yields make them attractive to sell.
Yields in Switzerland on the benchmark bond return -0.35 percent; in Germany barely 0.07 percent. But the euro has been particularly popular this year as the struggling economy has further delayed policy tightening plans in the bloc.
(GRAPHIC: Comeback for carry – https://tmsnrt.rs/2O2a6iz)
But can the good times last?
Analysts say the carry trade is here for a while, or at least as long as rates remain low and economic data is strong, but not so strong it forces a central bank rethink.
BNP Paribas predicts near-term growth in major economies will be “not too cold, but certainly not hot.
“The tepid economic outlook means we are positive on long carry and short volatility trades,” the bank’s economists wrote last week.
As history shows, the hunt for carry is not without risks.
Should U.S. growth deteriorate, international trade conflicts escalate or the end of the decade-long bull run crystallize, the resulting volatility spike can send “safe” currencies such as the yen, euro and Swiss franc shooting higher, while inflicting losses on riskier emerging markets.
But even in a good carry environment, some high-yield trades may not work. For instance, MSCI’s emerging currency index is up 1.6 percent in 2019 after last year’s 3.8 percent drop, but the gains mask individual poor performances.
Robin Brooks, economist at the Institute for International Finance, notes that since the Federal Reserve’s surprise policy U-turn in January, high-yielders such as South Africa’s rand and Turkey’s lira have actually weakened.
Asian currencies including India’s rupee and the Malaysian Ringgit have gained – a “puzzle” Brooks attributes to expectations of a U.S.-China trade deal rather than investors responding to the Fed’s dovish shift.
(GRAPHIC: Emerging markets currency performance in 2019 png – https://tmsnrt.rs/2Cg2cxu)
Investors have also loaded up their carry trade positions already: speculators are $2.3 billion net long in Mexico’s peso against the U.S. dollar, against a neutral stance in January, according to CFTC positioning data.
(GRAPHIC: Speculators long on Mexican peso – https://tmsnrt.rs/2FbJ996)
Amundi’s Koenig said that following the strong recovery in high-yielding currencies in 2019 “the risk is not only in terms of volatility but in underlying levels.
“Carry from here is not my favorite strategy,” he said. “In a late-cycle stage, it’s not very likely that it holds forever.”
(Graphics by Ritvik Carvalho; Editing by Toby Chopra)
FILE PHOTO: People look at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China July 6, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song
March 15, 2019
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A rally that has made China’s stock market the world’s best-performing this year has fed a rush of leveraged bets in the country’s stock options market, prompting regulators to warn investors of rising risks.
Growing interest in China’s equity option market came after a contract soared as much as 19,267 percent in a single session last month.
Data from the Shanghai Stock Exchange shows that the number of open contract positions in the ChinaAMC 50 ETF exceeded 3 million for the first time on record this week as investors hope to take advantage of the equity bull run to land huge profits.
An option gives investors the right to buy or sell the underlying asset at a set price on a specific date. The ChinaAMC 50 ETF tracks the SSE 50 index, dubbed China’s “nifty fifty index”, which has risen more than 20 percent this year.
Interest has been concentrated in a call option expiring March 27 that gives investors the right to buy the ETF at 3 yuan ($0.4467), in effect a bet that the ETF will jump at least an additional 9.5 percent this month from its closing price of 2.74 yuan on Friday.
If the ETF does not reach the option’s strike price of 3 yuan by the expiry date, the option will be rendered worthless.
Zhang Yi, an options analyst at Everbright Futures Co Ltd, said that a buoyant stock market has driven investor hopes of making a quick fortune.
“Some investors are jumping into the options market, without understanding the basics of this instrument, such as what the time value of an option is.”
The speculation has prompted a warning from the Shanghai Stock Exchange.
In a statement on March 8, the exchange noted large volumes, open positions, and price fluctuations on option contracts, and warned investors of the risk that the time value of the option would rapidly diminish ahead of its expiry.
The price of the 3 yuan call option expiring March 27 plunged more than 22 percent on Friday to 0.0052 yuan.
Despite the recent frenzy, Zhang said the words of caution from regulators and stringent risk-management rules in place mean that that there is little risk of a dangerous option bubble.
“China’s option market is still small, and has huge potential to grow, as there’s huge demand for this tool for risk-management,” he said.
(For a graphic on ‘Option frenzy’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2O4LB4g)
(Reporting by Andrew Galbraith and Samuel Shen; Editing by Kim Coghill)
FILE PHOTO: An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo/File Photo
March 15, 2019
By Luoyan Liu and Andrew Galbraith
SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Heartened by signs of an end to a long-running trade war with the United States and monetary easing at home, China’s stock indices have vaulted by a fifth since the beginning of this year and recovered a big chunk of 2018’s losses.
The Shanghai stock index scaled the 3,000 mark for the first time since June this month. The rally has been characterized by heavy retail participation, rising foreign flows into the country and soaring turnover.
Here are some of the salient features of this rally:
China has outperformed its Asian peers and most other global stock markets this year.
Beijing’s efforts to support an economy growing at its slowest pace in 28 years, through tax cuts and government spending, are widely seen as the critical factor behind the recent run-up.
On top of that, the United States and China are possibly in the final weeks of discussions to hammer out a deal to ease their tit-for-tat tariffs dispute.
(For a graphic on ‘China equities outrun other Asian markets’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2CjoVsn)
(For a graphic on ‘Chinese stocks rise amid yuan appreciation’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2OayIG5)
The rally has been dominated by mid-cap firms. Shares in Eastern Communications have seen a jaw-dropping 752 percent gain since late November amid speculation the company would be a beneficiary from China’s 5G tech push, even as the firm repeatedly clarified it has no revenue whatsoever from 5G business.
(For a graphic on ‘China bulls charging to record highs’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2CmEP5d)
Trading volumes have jumped while investor confidence has been picking up. The number of Chinese stock investors had climbed to 147.5 million in January 2019, while market turnover soared to 2015 highs. Retail investors accounted for 99.6 percent of total investors.
(For a graphic on ‘Investor confidence picked up’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2UBVadB)
(For a graphic on ‘China’s A-share market daily turnover soared’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2Uze0BV)
Private equity funds have become one of the driving forces behind the rally. Their average equity exposure stood at 72 percent in March 2019, its highest since at least late 2017, showed data from Simuwang.com, an industry website.
(For a graphic on ‘Chinese private equity funds hiked their equity exposure levels’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2UyNGYH)
Mutual funds are joining the party too, looking for better returns in stocks. According to the data from China Securities Regulatory Commission, the number of equity mutual funds in China had been steadily increasing in the four quarters of 2018, while their fund shares and net asset value were also on a rising trend.
(For a graphic on ‘Shares of equity mutual funds climbed through Q4 2018’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2FbaGb4)
The cheapness of China’s shares, despite the rally, is part of the appeal. The SSEC currently trades at 12.6 times earnings, compared with an earning multiple of roughly 18 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
(For a graphic on ‘China stocks low valuations appeal to investors’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2FatCqd)
Foreign investors have splurged hundreds of billions of yuan snapping up A-shares, particularly after China promised more access for them by combining two inbound investment schemes.
The wall of money rushing in even forced global index provider MSCI to take off a stock from its index. MSCI said it would remove Han’s Laser Technology from its China indexes and slash the weighting of Midea Group Co, citing issues triggered by foreign ownership ceilings.
The ownership limit could become a bigger headache for overseas investors buying Chinese stocks, especially small- and mid-caps.
(For a graphic on ‘Industry leaders with heavy foreign ownership’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2UuwT97)
Even pigs are “flying”.
Alongside the speculative frenzy that has seen many small cap stocks hitting fresh highs, shares in China’s leading pig producers have soared to record levels despite the industry facing one of its worst disease outbreaks in years, as investors bet on tightening pork supplies and strong government support for leading producers.
As of Tuesday, Wens Foodstuff Group, the biggest start-up firm and mainland China’s top hog farmer, had surged more than 60 percent since the end of the Lunar New Year holiday.
(For a graphic on ‘PIGS FLY: China’s hog producers soared amid African swine fever’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2FaKwoM)
Retail borrowing to speculate in stocks is also back with a vengeance as regulators shift their focus back to growth after a lengthy clampdown on riskier types of financing.
Some investors have even turned to the gray market for financing as they tried to maximize their gains in the rally, although China’s securities watchdog is gradually tightening its scrutiny over this form of shadow lending.
(For a graphic on ‘China investors borrow more to buy shares’ click https://tmsnrt.rs/2UBbT0u)
(Editing by Vidya Ranganathan & Shri Navaratnam)
FILE PHOTO: Employees inside the casino prepare for the opening of MGM Cotai in Macau, China February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo
March 15, 2019
By Farah Master
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, has extended casino licences for MGM China and SJM Holdings until 2022, bringing them on par with other operators, authorities in the Chinese territory said on Friday.
The Macau government said the MGM and SJM’s licences, set to expire in 2020, would be extended for another two years with both operators required to pay a one-off fee of 200 million patacas ($25 million).
The licence extensions in the only part of China where casinos are allowed will give authorities more time to consider how to diversify the gambling-dependent economy.
The expiry of the casino licences had been a major concern for investors, company executives and analysts as the government had provided little information until now.
Shares of both MGM China and SJM were suspended on Friday.
Macau’s other operators, which include Sands China, Wynn Macau, Galaxy Entertainment and Melco Resorts & Entertainment, will need to rebid for their licences scheduled to expire in June 2022.
With no information on the rebidding process, the licence situation will likely hang over the shares of the six operators, said Grant Govertsen, an analyst at Union Gaming in Macau.
“We believe the extensions have more to do with making the ultimate task of the licence rebid situation easier, while at the same time making sure the labour market remains stable,” he said.
Macau’s economy is heavily skewed towards casinos with over 80 percent of taxes coming from glitzy gambling halls. China’s government has issued strict warnings to the former Portuguese colony that it must diversify away from gambling.
Policy and regulatory changes are in focus with the election this year of a new leader in the special administrative region, who will work with mainland authorities for the next five years.
The two likely contenders are Ho Iat Seng, president of Macau’s Legislative Assembly, and Lionel Leong, the secretary for economy and finance, which oversees the gaming industry.
Macau is marking 20 years since its handover from Portuguese rule, with a slowing mainland economy, a weaker yuan and China’s trade war with the United States threatening to derail growth.
Casino licences were first awarded in a complex process in the early 2000s, resulting in a slew of legal battles with some still unresolved. The process remains controversial because little is publicly known about how the winners were chosen.
Initially concessions were given to Wynn, a Galaxy-Sands team and SJM. After Galaxy and Sands failed to reach an operational agreement, they split up with the government awarding Sands a subconcession licence. This paved the way for Melco and MGM to receive subconcessions.
SJM Holdings has multiple third party casino operators under its licence which run independent properties.
Many of these local casino operators have been publicly jockeying for a licence, with analysts and executives speculating that the government may permit additional licences to the existing six operators.
(Reporting By Farah Master; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Darren Schuettler)
Scott Morefield | Reporter
New York entrepreneur and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang said disaffected members of a “shrinking, insecure white majority” could begin targeting Asians for mass shootings within a generation.
“And who is going to be the boogeyman of the next 10 to 20 years?” Yang rhetorically asked his audience. “Who’s going to be the great rival to the United States in the eyes of American society? China, that’s right. And so, what do you think the attitude is going to be over time for the shrinking, insecure white majority that’s losing their jobs for, let’s say, Chinese Americans or Asian Americans?”
I don’t … I said to a group at Harvard, I think we’re one generation away from falling into the same camps as that the Jews who were attacked in a synagogue in Pittsburgh like just a couple months [ago]. So we’re probably one generation away from an American shooting up a bunch of Asians saying like, damn the Chinese, because there’s a giant Cold War even more with China. That is the great danger that I fear that my children are going to grow up in.
The Venture for America founder made the comments in December 2018 at an event called “A Glance at US Politics from Asian Americans,” hosted by Yuan Media, but is likely making the rounds on Twitter now thanks to the Democratic candidate’s growing name recognition. (RELATED: Dana Loesch: The Media ‘Has Got To Stop Creating’ Mass Shooters)
Yang recently gained the 65,000 contributions from individual donors necessary to appear in the first Democratic debate, likely thanks in no small part to a February appearance on Joe Rogan’s podcast. He is calling for a $12,000 universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 cash per month for every individual in the United States.
Source: The Daily Caller