Monday, March 28, 2005

Bank_Indian banks' overseas plan

ICIC bank, India's biggest consumer lender, said it would look beyond the border and benefit from the estimated 25 million Indians living abroad and the oversea push of companies like Tata group, Indian's biggest group of companies by market value, reported by IHT.

The Chief executive, K.V.Kamath, said the 58 banks in the nation, which have fewer assets collectively than China's largest lender, should expand overseas focusing on certain groups such as expatriates who have have about $34 billion of dollar deposits at banks in India, almost twice the $18.8 billion of deposits held by ICICI Bank as of Dec. 31.

His words came six days after the one-day strike by about 1 million workers in banks protesting government moves to encourage bank mergers and foreign investments. The walkout is a protest against government's move to create a ``small group of large lenders'' by encouraging mergers among India's 27 state-owned banks that labor unions say may lead to job cuts. The government said it wants state-run banks, which make up 80 percent of banking assets, to increase their size and reach so they can compete with international and regional rivals, reported bloomberg on Mar. 22.

State Bank of India, the nation's largest bank, has a market value of $33 billion, compared with $640 billion for Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the biggest Chinese lender. The shortage of large lenders forced the government to encourage more merger between state-owned banks, and reduce the tariffs to encourage more foreign investment in the budget this year.

State-owned banks are developing their ways to increase assets besides the government steps. Kamath of ICIC said it is a good oppotunity to serve the India expatriates. The total of whom sent $22.8 billion to family and friends back home in the year to March 31, 2004, equivalent to 5 percent of total banking assets in the country. The companies like Tata group is aiming to expand their service overseas. Ratan N.Tata, the group's chairman, said that the company is aiming for overseas sales to make up 30 percent of total revenue from 20 percent now to spread its risks. The 126-year-old Tata Group, reported the sales of $14 billion in the year ended March 31, 2004, reported Bloomberg.


Stockmarket_South Korea rules on disclosure

South Korea will require investors who buy more than 5 percent stake in a company to disclose their purpose of the investments, according to the Financial Supervisory Service in Korea, reported by IHT.

The new rules take effect tomorrow, after the Federation of Korean busness, the main lobbying group for corporate South Korea, urged the government to adopt rules to prevent overseas fund from taking over Korean Businesses.

The direct investment in domestic stocks was allowed in January 1992. The investment limits have been gradually expanded to allow individual investment below 50 percent just after the 1997 Financial Crisis. Totally 685 companies are listed in the market at the end of February, with 3 trillion won(3 billion US dollars) trading per day.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Politics_China, next aim?

Rice and Hu (Source: CNN)
Originally uploaded by bigkoala.

"When the United States, Japan and the Republic of Korea stand together in support of peace and security, and promote our common values, Asia and the world become better, and safer."
-----U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at Sophia University in Japan, March.20, 2005

Many things happened after Rice finished her first visiting to Asia. Middle-Asia Kyrgyzstan's government collapsed after the President Askar Akayev for 15 years fled the country; Parkistan got 25 F-16 flighters from U.S. as the reward of a key ally in the war on terror amid the tension with its nuclear rival India. And then....

Rice's visit told that the White House is tightening their policies in Asia, especially China, after it got a hand out of the Iraqi war. A blogger friend once said that U.S. will "deal with" China after the war in Iraq. Now it is getting ahead of the schedule though the Iraqi war is still continuing.

The turn of the countries on Rice's visiting schedule, showed her priority of the various political matters. India and Pakistan are the second two stops, where Rice focused on the gas pipeline project from Iran through Pakistan and India's concern over the supply of F-16 fighters to Pakistan.
At least, India prepared to accept the result though it was "greatly disappointed" in the comment on the deal.

Afghanistan is the third stop where Rice comforted people there saying "Washington will not abandon Afghanistan as it did in the 1990s", reported VOA. Rice said that the United States remained committed to assisting the Afghans as they prepare for September parliamentary elections.

Japan and South Korea(the Republic of Korea) are both important partners as Rice said in the first paragraph.
In her speech given in Sophia University in Japan, she referred Japan and South Korea as the "essential Partnert", with Australia, Philippines and Thailand as the "alliances", also India as "broader stragetic relationship". Though she said she appreciated many efforts and supports from Chinese government in different issues, she hoped to "work with China to forge a common approach to the challenges of Sudan and Burma and Nepal". Rice even put the rise of China as one of the reasons for the States to maintain a very large number of U.S. forces in Okinawa.

Now it is the turn for China, the last stop for Rice, or the most hard to get through in Asia. CNN reported that North Korea and Taiwan are the most important two topics, but China itself is already a big topic for Rice to work out.

Rice said she was " a longtime specialist on the Soviet Union and then Russia", which may be the reason why U.S. took advantage in the policy of the former Soviet Union nations. But China is a "new factor" to her and her government.

Rice said she was " a longtime specialist on the Soviet Union and then Russia", which may be the reason why U.S. took advantage in the policy of the former Soviet Union nations. But China is a "new factor" to her and her government.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Currency_USD GEL KGS

Originally uploaded by bigkoala.
Amy tried her best to find some chart showing the converting between Som, Kyrgyzstan's Currency(KGS), and USD, but failed. I could only find the indirect way to do that via an intermediate currency, named Georgian Lari(GEL). You could see from the chart that KGS fells towards USD since March.24, when opposition forces finally captured the center of government.

Another interesting point is what happened on Mar. 17 when both USD and KGS fell down greatly towards GEL? posted a story
on how Georgian President acted before and after Kyrgyzstan's revolution happened?

What are the relations between them?? Confusing.

Bank_Hu Xiaoliannew China Foreign Exchange chief

Originally uploaded by bigkoala.
Central bank official Hu Xiaolian, will be named ChinaĆ¢€™s top foreign exchange regulator, taking over the running of the countryĆ¢€™s currency reserves and steering planned forex reforms, the latest news from Sina today.

Hu, 46-year-old, is the assistant governor of the People's Bank of China now. Hu is widely regarded as a top expert on currency management because of her experience at the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.She had served as vice chief of the regulator from 2001 till August last year, when she went to the central bank, reported Reuters.

Hu is also the general managemr of the Central Huijing Investment, the state-owned company holding the investment in the commercial banks such as China Construction Bank and Bank of China.

Hu and Wu Xiaoling,another speculated candidate for the FX chief, were classmates in the post graduate studying class of the Central Bank, the place where most top banking officials studied.
Wu is now the No.1 Vice chief of the Central bank and in charge of the currency policy.

Economy_How emerging market bond affected by the increasing U.S. interest rates

The emerging market bonds had their biggest two-week decline since July 2002 on concern acceleration inflation will boost the pace of global interest-rate increases, reducing demand for riskier assets, reported Bloomberg.

The bonds of emerging market nations are designed to attract the investors with interests in the developing countries in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia. It is often riskier than the bonds in U.S. but more profitable if getting the right bets.

Bloomberg reported that Morgan Stanley Capital International Inc.'s Emerging Market Index of Stocks, an equity benchmark made up of 733 members, fell for nine consecutive days until yesterday, its longest streak of losses since September 2001. The index, which tracks the stocks of companies in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, today rose 0.4 percent, paring its decline in the last two weeks to 6.3 percent.

The decline followed after the U.S. Federal Reserve lifted its target rate for overnight
between banks by a quarter point to 2.75 percent on March 22 and said that the U.S. inflation pressures were picking up, spurring speculation it may abandon its nine-month-old policy of gradual increases. A U.S. government report on March 23 showed consumer prices rose 0.4 percent in February, the most in four months.

Part of the money has flowed out of the Emerging-market equity funds. For example, the funds for Europe, the Middle East and Africa had their biggest weekly outflow of money in at least three months, according to, a Boston-based fund tracker.

As a consequence, the governments in those nations will be pressed to raise their interest rates to attact the investors, with the stockmarkets dropped.

Surely, the investment banks, who are good at making betting products for the investors, has lost profit in the outflow money from emerging market bonds, and more from the clear measure the Fed has taken.

Friday, March 25, 2005

How regulators change their type to businessmen

Guo Shuqing, the newly appointed Chairman of the China Construction Bank(the third-largest lender by assets in China), may never think of his new postition when he attended the opening of the bank's shareholding company as top government official last September. At that time, he was the Vice Chairman of the Central Bank, and the Chairman of Central Huijin Investment, the state-owned company to hold state capital investments in banks.

Six months later, he was appointed as the Chairman of CCB, after Zhang Enzhao, the former Chairman, was removed for the bribe scandal. Now Guo faced sticky situation to push the bank's privatization amid the recent bribe scandal and the pressure on how to use the government money in an efficient way. The goverment injected US$ 22.5 billion each into CCB and rival Bank of China (BOC) late year, to help two banks speeding up their privatization and getting rid of bad loans.

Academics said the injection had violated the regulation. There was no specific laws about how to use the foreign reserve to help the state-owned company get out of losses, so how the Central Bank could transfer the money without grant of laws? Wu Jinglian, an economist who are famous for challenging the government, said that the government should explain the law or set new one before transfering any money to the commercial banks.

Guo of the CCB was attending the same conference two weeks before his appointment, when Wu gave the argument. Guo said the foreign reserve could be both used to balance the international currency sheet and maintain the stability of the financial system under the regulation. The injection belonged to the second type, while requesting the law's admission will affect the progress of the financial reform, Guo added.

Now the problem with Guo is not only whether it is legal to inject money to the commercial bank, but how to reform the bank in a efficient and decent way. It would be hard for a regulator to change his style to a businessmen, but he should change as soon as he could. The time is urgent before financial industry opening at the end of next year.

Bank_Minsheng gets approvals for $880 million Hong Kong sale

China Minsheng Banking group, China's first privately owned bank, has got approval for it $880 million from regulators to sell shares in HK, reported Bloomberg after the bank announced it this morning.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission approved a sale of 1.3 billion shares, or one fifth of its outstanding stock, Minsheng said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange(in Chinese) today.

Bloomberg reported that Wang Jinxu, who arranges share sales at Everbright Securities Co. in Shanghai said that Market conditions might determine the timing for the bank finally going listed.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bank_Construction bank lowered the Mortgage rates

China's construction bank lowered the mortgage rates yesterday a week after it kept the higher mortgage rates than the other three state-owned banks following the new rules of the Central Bank.

The rate went down by 0.61 per cent to 5.51 per cent, the bottomline regulated by the Central Bank for customers to buy only one house with the five-year borrowing period, though the rate for the borrowing of two or more houses remained at 6.12 per cent.

The rate change of the Construction Bank followed after other banks' policies to keep with the bottomline of the regulation. The Central Bank ruled the commercial banks to lift the mortgage rates above 5.51 per cent, which is the 0.9 per cent of the base rate, from the lower ones.
Three state-owned banks, including Bank of China(BOC), Industrial and Commercial Bank(ICBC), and Agriculture Bank of China, raised their housing loan rates by the 0.2 per cent to 5.51 per cent from March 17, while Construction Bank kept the higher base rate 6.12 per cent.

The spokesman at the Construction Bank said that the reason for the change of the mortgage rates are because of hard competition between the banks, after BOC and ICBC used a smart way to balance the revenue and the property bubble, reported Sina(in Chinese).

But it is unclear that why Construction bank didn't use the same smart way as BOC and ICBC did right after Central Bank's new policy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Opinion_Once I have a dream

Once I had an oppotunity to study in New York University; Now it becomes the U.S's "dream college"beating Harvard, reported Bloomberg. Congratulations.

Telecom_Lucent aiming at applying VoIP in China's gas companies

U.S. based Lucent Technologies(NYSE: LU) has cooperated with a Chinese electronic maker to extend its VOIP service to China's oil companies including China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec Corp.), China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC).

Lucent and Shanghai Wantel Electronic Equipement Co., Ltd. , a branch of Hong Kong-based Wantel group, planed to cooperate on the new communication systems for Chinese oil and gas companies. Wantel will be the exclusive agent to sell Lucent's products in China, covering from optical networks to VoIP solutions, according to Lucent's press release this month.

In its report, Lucent said that "its VoIP solutions for enterprises can help to increase operational efficiency, improve network reliability and security; simplify network administration, and improve disaster recovery operations". It provided the next-generation optical service to Sinopec, China's bigget oil refiner, on its Southwest Products Pipeline Communications System in last June. Wantel was one of the partners in the project. The amount of the contract was not specified by Lucent.

Lucent's VoIP Solutions for Enterprises include a full suite of software, proven hardware and world class professional services. The so-called BroadSoft® Network Communications Platform software application includes a VoIP software application supporting the functions like Call routing, processing and conferencing hosted in different servers. Hardwares include the gateway named APX® 1000 Gateway integrated of dial, VoIP, fax-over-IP, VPN and other IP services and firewall solutions named VPN Firewall Brick® Portfolio , part of Lucent's Security Solutions.

Opinion_BBS crackdown(Update 2)

The BBS crackdown in China's colleges has been discussed in blogsphere these days. In precise words, it is not crackdown, but restriction for the outsiders to visit. But it meant "crackdown" to many graduates who has always visited the school's bbs after their graduation. One of my friends who has just set up a blog in SMTH(Shuimu Tsinghua) said that it is lucky that she had saved all her blogs just before the close of SMTH. But another friend, who was not that lucky, has lost all her data in the BBS of Nanjing University after she was forbidden to visit it from outside.

"All my hard work done with heart and blood has gone". She said.

I don't know what to say when one professor asked me why the government did that yesterday.
Is there a reason? Or no reason at all? I could understand why such things happened, in some extent. It is not the first time, or the second. But what I couldn't understand is that if the economic growth could keep up without free thoughts and speeches. If our leaders think the two conflict with each other, then why not close down the whole Internet?

I am a benifitor of the campus BBS. I visit and experience the campus feelings even after I left the campus. To the students, it is a free forum to exchange ideas with the people inside and outside the campus. I remember the hot discussion once happened in the "Goabroad" board of SMTH, when a former student of Tsinghua University visited and told about his current experience in U.S.

"If there is no SMTH, I will not stand here". said one of my classmates, who had studied in both U.K and Hong Kong. She didn't study in SMTH, but owe a lot to the BBS.

I am not a politician, so I am not in a right position to speak about the policy. But I always believe the freeflow of information is a requistee for a country, just as the freeflow of capital and the free market.

Oil_China increases gasoline prices

China's energy regulator raised gasoline prices today in response to the soaring oil price in the world market, leading to the increase of the retailed gasoline prices across the country.

The National Development and Reform Commission(NDRC), which oversees the country's industrial policies and sets utility prices, raised the ex-refinery rate, the so-called producer price for the gasoline, by 300 yuan ( about US $36 ) per ton from today, the first time since last August. Following NDRC's announcement, the country's largest oil producer, China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Asia's top refiner China Petroleum Chemical Corp (Sinopec), marked up petrol prices about 7 per cent higher at their outlets nationwide. A detailed list of prices could be reached here(in Chinese). In Beijing, prices have increased by 0.23 to 0.27 yuan, to around 4 yuan (about US$0.5 ) per liter.

In the report posted on NDRC's website, it urged CNPC and Sinopec to "make measurable adjustment" on the retailed petrol prices and diesel oil, reported People's daily. The price of diesel oil remains unchanged after the adjustment. The comparatively low Diesel oil is often used in agriculture sector in China, but cars using diesel oil are limited to travel in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai for the reason of environment protection.

"How come NDRC only raised the gasoline price when oil prices grow up, without reducing it when oil prices is down?" One of my friends who had a car for almost two years. He said he had to spend 48 yuan more, 8 per cent higher than he used to afford. He has changed his MSN name to "Damn NDRC".

Oil price has risen nearly 28 percent to above US$55 a barrel(amount to about 159 liter), this year as dollar weakness encouraged funds to switch money out of treasury markets and into commodities. Booming demand in the United States and China is also straining global production capacity. The gap between the oil price and the retailed gasoline price in China is about US$25 a barrel.

Separately, Petrol China, CNPC's Hong Kong listed branch, reported about 50 per cent rise in net profit to 102.92 billion yuan for last year, nearly half of what ExxonMobil earned . Its output reached 778 million barrels in 2004.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Opinion_memorize campus BBS

Ask any graduates in a Chinese university, BBS will always be part of their lives. But now, one of the largest university BBS-Shuimu Tsinghua( was closed from the outside visitors. The other largest ones, including the BBS in Fudan University(in Shanghai), Nankai University(in Tianjin), Wuhan University(in Hubei) and Zhongshan University(in Guangdong), were urged to change to a campus internal forum at the end of February. Outside visitors, including students from other universities, are not allowed to visit those bbs since March. A list of announcements is here.(Sorry, in Chinese)

BBS is always a forum for students inside and outside the university. SMTH is the most popular one where students could always exchange ideas, informations. etc.

I knew the news the day before yesterday. My first response is "it is unbelievable". How do you believe the most famour SMTH. org in Tsinghua could be closed in one night? But unfortunately, it is true. I couldn't log into the website any more. Protestors are memorizing SMTH in their own way. Photos are here.

Foreign media preferred to use "irony" to describe my country, China. I hate that word, but I have to say it is irony this time. A simple example: the most popular forum in SMTH is named "going abroad". Tsinghua Students overseas always come back to the forum and teach students in the campus the experiences to apply and study in the U.S. schools. With the closing of the BBS, it means that there's no chance for them to communicate online in the future. I guess Mr. Zhou Qi, Director of Ministry of Education(the one who announced the new rules of campus BBS), was one of the Tsinghua students, who benifited from using SMTH, before he got the admission from New York State Universtiy.

I called a friend in Nanjing University yesterday. She was really sad.

"Where could I check all the useful information(on the other BBS including SMTH ) later?"

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Economy_China's central bank's new policy_Stick and Carrot to the commercial banks

China's central bank introduced new policies on mortgages and banking reserve, giving the banks both stick and carrot to balance between marco policy and corporation development.

The adjustment to preferential mortgage rates barred the banks from lowering interest rates on consumer housing loans to below 0.9 per cent of the PBOC's benchmark rates, which effectively raised the interest rate on a home loan with a maturity of five years to 5.51 percent -- or 90 percent of the base rate of 6.12 percent -- from the previous 5.31 percent.

The central bank said banks could also request a minimum downpayment on a home of 30 percent of its purchase price, up from 20 percent, in cities where property prices are rising quickly.

China daily reported
that the property price in 9 cities out of the total 31, increases more than 9 per cent last year, including Shanghai, and Nanjing in the east Jiangsu province.

The new rules could give banks flexibility in diffrentiating low-risk lending request from self-living and high-risk one from commercial buyings. Last year, New York times has reported that 40 per cent of the home property in Beijing are occupied with no people living.

Banks could decide the time to launch the new rules, when Sina today reported that Minsheng Bank and Guangdong development bank have already followed the rules to tighten the lending in cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

But investors worried that the new rules will affect the property market, with 150,000 new investment projects were launched last year, of which 20,000 starting up in December alone, reported AP.

"When the dust settles, China would face massive oversupply," Andy Xie, an economist at investment bank Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong, wrote in a report issued Thursday, AP reported.

The new rules also reduced the annual interest rate on excess bank reserves, which banks keep besides required reserves basically to meet payment needs, to 0.99 per cent from 1.62 per cent, China Daily reported. Part of the reason is the worry that the tightening lending policy will reduce banks' revenue capability, if the investors reduce their lendings on the property market.

The move is aimed more at pushing the banks to lend more to businesses, many of which -- particularly the smaller ones --, are feeling liquidity difficulties partly as a result of the ongoing macro management, said Wang Songqi, deputy director of the Finance Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

After the word "unexpected" from Premier Wen, the Central bank may bring more action in the same kind later.

Economy_Hong Kong budget_four quarter GDP worse

The speed of Hong Kong's economic growth slowed slightly in the fourth quarter last year, while the year number reached 8.1 per cent, the highest one in four years.

Dow Jones Newswire is one of the few medias to report the slowth, while most media highlighted the fast economic growth in last year reported by the territory's Financial Minister Henry Tang Ying-yen.

Hong Kong's gross domestic product expanded 0.6 per cent on the quarter in the three months ending Dec.31, the government said, down from growth of 1.6 per cent in the previous quarter.

The results were below expectations. A Dow Jones Newswires poll of seven economists forecast growth for the quarter to come in at 1.0 per cent. The median of six economists' forecasts in a Bloomberg News survey is 1.1 per cent.

Part of reason is China's economic control on industrial expansion. Bloomberg reported that import growth in China is slowing after the government last year clamped down on industrial expansion to help damp inflation and ease power shortages. China's imports fell in February for the first time in three years.

Tang also said that the economic growth this year would be 4.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent, with inflation at 1.5 per cent.

It is still too early to say if it is only China's controlling policy hurts Hong Kong's fourth quarter economy. I will continue watching.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Politics_Tung official resigned today

Sina reported(in Chinese) Tung Chee Hwa, the chief executive of Hong Kong, got the permission to resign today. He also got the nomination of the Vice Chairman of CPPCC(Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) today.

The rumor has been hanging around HK for almost a week. Finally, everything is clear now. Oh, no, there is still something unclear.

First, did someone forced Tung resign or he wants to resign himself? We did an interesting survey on the class. Almost ten students, half of the total, agreed that it is the Central government who forced Tung out of his CE position, while only three to four students, including me, agreed that Tung departed volunteerly. My reason is that the Central government was not willing to remove the top official in Hong Kong, its nominator since the handover, from his position at the current stage because it will be embarrassed. It is not usual even in the history of Chinese government, while official always complete its whole term, though his managing ability may be just so so. Tung's resignation application confirmed my point(in Chinese), saying he considered the departure since the third quarter last year. But I admit that he couldn't leave only on his own will. So he may take time to persuade the central government and assure the smooth transmission of the power. There is definitely a schedule of Tung's resignment, both decided by the central government and local government. But it must be Tung who asked for the departure first. The time is also a period where certain candidates are valued. From Oct21 to Oct 24 Tung took a secret leave of four days and appointed Henry Tang Ying-yen, the Financial Minister and now loser of the future CE in short term, as the acting CE.

The second unclear question is who released the information to the media a week ago. I believe many people's assumption will still be the sources in BJ or close to central government, as quoted by many local media, too. But, I say, but, why central government released such information at the expense of being discovered and quoted later? My assumption, just assumption, is that the purpose of the people who released the tip to media is the one who didn't want to see HK people and stockmarket shocked at the sudden news that the top official resigns. He must have the experience of dealing with the local stock market, the most important section in Hong Kong, which are sensitive to the shocked news but could bear rumor in a period, to say, a week. Also, he is kind-hearted to Hong Kong to do so.

He, or they, are smart. In another word, they know how to deal with local media, without getting responsibilities and faults.

Anyway, all above are rumors, too. Maybe someday when Tung writes a biography, saying that all of them are bluh, bluh, bluh....

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Politics_Tung Chee Hwa admitted to resign

The rumor has got to its end until Tung Chee Hwa, the Chief Executive in HKSAR, said that he would resign today.

Tung confirmed the rumor that he would resign at a government press conference at 5:30 pm today. He also talked about his health problem and his confidence at Hong Kong, though he would resign from the top place after the official admission from the central government.

Local media has reported Tung's resignment at a gentle voice, totally different one from before, which may be the first time for me to hear since Tung's appointment. For example, A news piece in Commercial Radio, one of the most popular local radios with opposing voices, interviewed the people who has worked as Tung's haircutter for 40 years. The guy, whose surname is Xu, said that Tung is a hard-working guy, who always devoted his lunch time to his work.

In my memory, it is the first time for the media to interview Mr. Xu. The reason is not because the reporter want to balance the reports, but because Tung will leave and media needs some good words of Tung.

Sometimes, media is not trying to be "neutral", but staying at the opposite side of the government, no matter it has done rightly or wrongly. Like this time, since Tung will leave, so some good words there...

BANKING_Deutsche Bank to buy stake in China's fifth biggest fund

Deutsche Bank AG, Europe's third-biggest bank, has bought 20 per cent of Harvest's Fund management Co., China's fifth-largest fund managers, and would seek to increase the stake to 49 per cent, amid the running of foreign fund managers to tap into Chinese market.

Deutsche has already hold 20 per cent of Harvest's shares through the deal with the shareholders of the company, according to the latest report from its website. (Reuters and Bloomberg have also reported the deal, but failed to disclose that the Bank has already owned the 20 per cent shares).

The Bank has also interested in buying the bad debt of China Avation Oil Singapore Corp., the Singapore-listed Chinese branch who has suffered a $550- million betting on derivatives, according to Reuters. It has offered to buy CAO's debt for 40 per cent of its face value upfront in $648 million, compared with the 41.4 per cent CAO is offering. But a main creditor SK Energy Asia Pte Ltd. has refused to accept the bank's offer two weeks ago.

Though there is no evidence to show the relations between two events, they shows that the Deutsche Bank has not only interested in Chinese funds, but also in Chinese debt.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

BANKING_Merrill Lynch settled for market timing activities

Merrill Lynch & Co. settled with two state regulators in the price of $13.5 million to resolve charges it failed to supervise employees who made improper mutual fund trades, reported Reuters.

New Jersey, Connecticut and New York Stock Exchange have cooperated to investigate the trades of marketing timing mutual funds. A hedge fund, Millennium Partners L.P has alleged to New Jersey Bureau of Security and settled with Merrill Lynch in $10 million. The other $3.5 million settlement with Connecticut regulator is still pending, according to NYSE.

From Wallstreetaccess, market timing is an investment strategy based on predicting market trends. The goal of market timing is to anticipate trends, buying before the market goes up and selling before the market goes down. Although some investors practice market timing, the results over the long term are less successful than a buy-and-hold strategy.

Seems market timing is not a totally bad thing, hmmm...

COMMENTS_China will not go to collapse?

My never-met friend Fons told his readers the view on the possibility of China's collapse in the future. As a Chinese, I don't believe the economic system will be destoryed in one night. But I am not sure if a long-term collapse will happen in the future. There is once a ancient Chinese saying: "The rein of a thousand-mile-long wall is caused only by the home of the ants inside".

The company managing problem is one of the "ants homes" if that is the case. Asian Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that China is considering a cap on executive pay at its state-owned enterprises. It quoted the words from Xu Kuangdi, the vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative conference, saying that regulators are formulating a policy that would limit a boss's pay to 14 tims that of the average salary of a company's employee.

The policy is aimed at reducing the widening gap between wealth and poor in the context of companies. Many employees are now complaining that their salary is going down, while the bosses are only looking at how to earn more money for themselves. According to AWSJ, executives at China's state-owned enterprises used to determine their own pay packages, leading to corruption and lack of accountability. Thought the state-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission are trying to regulate tightly on the payment of the executives, the systems of monitoring and punishing are still underdeveloped. The recent frequent corporate scandals have pushed the regulators to do more on the section. The latest annual report of the Supreme People's Procuratorate(in Chinese) said that the most important job this year is to punish the people, especially the senior management, who "ate" the state-owned asset illegally.

The target of the current Chinese leaders is to set up "harmonious society", which will solve the most urgent problem in China if done. In some extent, harmony means equality in the society, while Pareto Efficient(a economy theory created by Vilfredo Pareto) tells that there is an inverse relationship between equality and efficiency. If equality is achieved, how about efficiency?

Friday, March 04, 2005

RECOMMENDATION_story about Chinese stockmarket

If you want to know more about Chinese stockmarket, "A marginalised market" from Economists will give you a good view.

I remember once we have a class discussion on the theory that stockmarket acts as a leading indicator of the country's economy. A classmate raised China's stockmarket as the contradicting example . Then the professor added that the prequiste for the theory is the existing of the "real" stockmarket. The questions is: is Chinese stockmarket a real one?

ECONOMY_U.S._Survey shows optimistics on the coming employment data

The U.S. labor department's February employment report tomorrow would show solid growth amid the decline in weekly new jobless claims and strong productivity numbers, reported Reuters.

The survey among economists by Reuters expected that 220,000 jobs will be added to February's data, 50 per cent higher than the number of new jobs created in January.

January's employment data could be accessed here.

BANKING_U.S._Bank of America settled the Worldcom case

Bank of America Corp. yesterday agreed to settle a lawsuit accusing it of hiding risks from Worldcom Inc. investor in the expense of $460.5 million, after Citigroup, the lead underwriter in the case, paid $2.58billion to settle the same case, reported Reuters.

14 other banks, including J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Deutsche Bank AG, are still in the case.

The report said that the bank has recently made payments to resolve allegations over improper mutual fund trading and Enron Corp.'s collapse. It still faces lawsuits over its dealings with insolvent Italian dairy company Parmalat SpA.

PROPERTIES_HongKong_leasing market in 2004

Two major real-estate developers, Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., and Hang Lung Properties Ltd. reported fiscal net profit for the six months ending December 31 last year, while the second exceeded largely the first in the revenue growth of the leasing market.

Hang Lung said its rental income rose 13 percent to HK$886.5 million, due to the steady growth both in the local and Shanghai market, while SHKP said its rental income rose 0.1 per cent to HK$2.49 billion. It remains unclear that why the two growth figures dismatch so much. (Bless I have a chance to ask the Chaiman of SHKP)

The government figures in January showed that housing, the biggest swing factor in Consumer price index, has fell by 3.1 percent, with private housing rents drop 3.9 per cent.

Things may not be that optimistic, though SHKP got a nearly double net profit from a year earlier.

MEDIA_the new feature of Internatinal Herald Tribune

IHT has launched a new language feature, which allows the readers to see translations of the words in the article of English version. The language includes French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. But it will be a little boring for people who don't know English to look up every word in a story. But to some Spanish language beginners like me, the tool is good to learn new words.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

BANKING_U.S._Citigroup settles Investor suit

Citigroup Inc. has settled a litigation brought on behalf of purchasers of Global Crossing Ltd securities to its subsidiary, Salomon Smith Barney in millions of dollars, though it denied any violation of law, reported Dow Jones Newswires.

Citigroup will pay $75 million pretax, or $46million after tax, to the settlment class, which consists of all investors in publicly traded securities of Global Crossing, a former large fiber-optic company or Asia Global Crossing during the period from Feb.1, 1999 to Dec.8, 2003, Dow Jones said.

The case record from the court, the United States District Court for the southern district of New York, showed Salomon's wrongly recommendation and failure to disclose necessary information to the investors, though the report from Dow Jones said only in a sentence that the litigation was related to research matters. The records said that Salomon rose the recommendation to "Buy"in the IPO period in order to obtain high underwriting fee. It also said that the company failed to disclose the conflicts of interests with the Global Crossing Ltd.

Citigroup said it was entering into the settlement "solely to eliminate the uncertainties, burden and expense of further protracted litigation."

Separately, Salomon Smith Barney, the subsidiary group of Citigroup, was the financial advisor to the investment group, including China Netcom, when the group bought Asia Global Crossing, the Asian branch of Global Crossing, at the price of $80 million in November 2002.

Ten months later, Global Crossing was permitted to sell 61.6 per cent of stake to the investors, including the Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by Hong Kong billionnaire Li Ka-shing, in the price of $250 million, three times the price of its Asia branch. Citigroup, is one of the two dozen banking lenders helping to arrange the selling, according to New York Times.

Another ten months later, China Netcom, the big investors of Asia Global Crossing, seeked listing approval from Hong Kong stockmarket regulator, while Citigroup is one of the three underwriters.

Last month, China Netcom has bought a 20 percent stake of PCCW(Controlled by Li Ka-shing, too) in HK$7.9billion. It is said that the banks are the activists to push the deal at the first time.

Then I begin to wonder if it would be Citigroup again. If it is, then that's why it doesn't want to waste its time in a possbily losing litigationand get trouble for its beloved cusomers.

Mozilla Firefox enter into Chinese market

Mozilla Firefox, a web browser competing with Internet explorer, will enter into Chinese market after its Chinese website opening tomorrow, reported Sina. com(in Chinese).

The Chinese website is supported by the software branch in Chinese Academy of Sciences and Sun company. But my opinion is that the popularity of the web brower is pushed by its users, rather than companies or research organizations.

The Chairman of Mozilla Firefox Foundation, Mitchell Baker, said that it was still unknown how many Chinese are using the web browser, though media reported that there are already 8 per cent of the people using Firefox in the world.

Personally I would like to suggest the Foundation doing a survey on how many Chinese websites support the browsing of Firefox. I guess the result will not be satisfactory.

The Shanghai branches of China Mobile and China Unicom sign agreement to stop the price war

China Mobile Shanghai branch and China Unicom Shanghai branch have signed an agreement on Feb. 28, aiming at stopping the "excessive competition" in the market, reported Sina(in Chinese), but it remains to say if it will work or not in the future.

Under the support of the local regulator, both companies signed the agreement including the terms in the communication mechanism, interconnecting, pricing. etc. Report quoted sources saying that the marketing department in both companies planed to meet now and then to exchange the opinions.

The reason to sign the agreement is mostly because of the hard competitions in the pricing of Shanghai market. In a fast developing city in the country, both telecom operators were eager to get market share as more as they could, which resulted in the gradual direct or non-direct decline in the prices of the mobile calls. Either of the two marketing departments would update its policy immediately after the competitor reports a new discounting policy. The market is also a place where China Unicom, the comparatively weaker one in terms of the market in the country, get the market share not less than China Mobile. Last year, the revenue of China Unicom Shanghai branch reached 1.5billion RMB(almost 190 million US dollars), ranked as the No.1 in all the branches of the company.

The user loyalty should be more important to the operators, than the low price and the communications between the operators. Though the advantage of low price may attract some users, most of the users, especially high-end ones, will keep subscribing their favorite services. The operators should try to think more ways, instead of decreasing the price, to attract new users, both in the low-end and high-end markets.

In other perspective, the competition on the price is the natural development to lower the comparatively-high price of the mobile call fees in Chinese market, though it seemed that the operators haven't been used to it.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

mixing days in Hong Kong

The worse-that-expected result of HSBC Holdings and its Hong Kong unit, Hang Seng Bank, contributed to the decline of the blue-chip index today, amid the uncertainty over whether the city's chief executive would resign early than expected.

Reuters reported that HSBC Holdings, which accounts for around one-third of the weighting of the Hang Seng Index, fell 1.53 percent to HK$128.50. It has shed 3.75 percent since announcing earnings late on Monday.

The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp, the Asia Unit of HSBC Holdings, reported a 37 per cent rise in 2004 pertax profit to HK$17.61 billion, at the low end of the range of $17.20 billion to $18.92 billion in a Reuter Poll of 10 analysts.

Hang Seng bank, the second-largest listed bank in Hong Kong in terms of market capitalisation, reported a 14 percent rise in its second-half profit. while its operating profit operating income jumped 22 percent to HK$6.4 billion. The 2004 net income rose 20 per cent to $11.4 billion, compared with the expected $11.1 billion in a Reuters poll of 26 analysts.

The news of the resignation of the city's chief executive mixed the opinions in the market. Reuters said that some traders thought it would provide a short term lift to sentiment, while others said the rumors had already driven the market down.

"I know you all have a lot of questions in your heart, I will explain when it is appropriate". Our CE told reporters at a brief press conference in Beijing. But when?

Hong Kong is rainy these days

Rainy always makes me sad.

Who will be the next President of the World Bank?

Do you know how the President of the World Bank is chosen? Here, New York Times gives an answer-"By tradition, the United States chooses the head of the World Bank while the Europeans select the director of the International Monetary Fund." Now, the U.S. government is facing a dilemma when over 50 organizations endorse statement calling for more democracy in the selection process.

Top bank officials are calling for the transparency, too. Peter Woicke, outgoing head of the International Finance Corporation, the Bank's private lending arm, said any backroom deal between the US and Europe to replace James Wolfensohn, who steps down in May, would damage the credibility of his successor.", reported Andrew Balls of the Financial Times.

But NYtime's story seems more interested at the result of the selection. It reported that Carleton S. Fiorina, the former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, will be a strong candidate. Ms. Fiorina is the only woman on the list and has a reputation of dynamic leadership, according to NYtimes.

A website called gives a list of 32 candidates, where the former U.S. president Bill Clinton is included. If it is at last the decision of the WB President comes from the U.S. President, a warm relationship between Bush and Clinton may help the latter to get into the light.

Link: History of past Presidents