Also in this week’s issue

Last week’s stories

News roundup

  • Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong has been appointed as the new Party boss of Hubei, replacing Jiang Chaoliang, Xinhua reported. The province and its capital Wuhan has been at the epicentre of the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, which has affected nearly 60,000 and claimed more than 1,300 lives. Wuhan’s Party chief Ma Guoqiang has also been removed.
  • Political shockwaves were also felt in Hong Kong, which experienced months of unrest last year. Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, will be replaced by Xia Baolong, the vice chairman of China’s top political advisory body, the CPPCC. Zhang will become a deputy to Xia.
  • The Ministry of Finance gave the Chinese economy another boost by approving the early sale of Rmb848 billion ($122 billion) in local government bonds. So far this year, a total of Rmb1.85 trillion of local government bond quota has been allocated ahead of schedule, Xinhua said.
  • The annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona has been cancelled after a slew of top tech firms including Facebook, LG and Sony pulled out of the four-day conference amid fears over the Covid-19 outbreak. The world’s largest telecoms trade show was supposed to start on February 24 and was predicted to attract 100,000 attendees including a large delegation from China. Yet there is still some good news for Chinese telecos as Germany’s ruling party is likely to stop short of a 5G ban on Huawei, Reuters reported.
  • The US Justice Department has charged four members of the Chinese military with stealing the personal information of 145 million Americans. The quartet allegedly hacked into the computer networks of the Equifax credit reporting agency in 2017, the indictment alleges. The Chinese authorities have denied the charges.
  • The parent firm of China Life Insurance, China’s largest life insurer, is working with investment banks on a backdoor listing plan for its key businesses in Hong Kong, Bloomberg reported. The state-owned heavyweight now has Rmb4.5 trillion worth of assets on its books, spanning property, insurance and asset management.
  • More good news for the Hong Kong bourse as Geely Automobile said it is in talks to merge with Volvo Cars, which was acquired by Geely’s unlisted parent firm from Ford Motors in 2010 for $1.8 billion. The combined entity could either go public in Hong Kong or Stockholm, the company said in a stock exchange filing.
  • Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund GIC has acquired LG Twin Towers, the South Korean conglomerate’s iconic headquarters in Beijing, for Rmb8 billion, the Straits Times reported. LG withdrew from China’s smartphone market two years ago.
  • 20% The proportion of clinical trials done by multinational drugmakers in China in 2019, up from 10% five years ago, Reuters reports. The value of deals and JVs between international companies and China-based biotechs soared to above $10 billion last year from $3.2 billion in 2015.
  • 55-66 cents The expected decline in Carnival Corp’s earnings per shares for 2020, says the cruise firm, which has suspended operations from ports in China due to the Covid-19 outbreak. More than 200 people aboard its Diamond Princess cruise ship are currently infected with the disease.
  • 3.8% China’s fiscal revenue growth in 2019, reaching Rmb19 trillion ($2.7 trillion). This rate of growth misses the annual target of 5% and is the slowest since 1987. Caixin attributes the slowdown to tax and fee cuts, and predicts that more state-owned assets will be sold off to boost government coffers.
  • 17-20% Estimated fall in car sales in China during the first quarter as a lot of factories face full-scale shutdowns, according to Citic Securities. It expects a 15% rebound in demand in the April-June period, assuming the outbreak will be under control by then.

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