Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Tuesday, Oct. 29:
Vanke may become Huishang Bank’s largest shareholder with over HK$3 bln stake
Mainland property developer China Vanke Co. Ltd. (000002.CN) and Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd., backed by billionaire Cheng Yu-tung’s family, have invested in Huishang Bank Co. Ltd. (03698.HK). Together with three other cornerstone investors, the two companies took up a combined 40 percent of the total shares to be issued in the city commercial lender’s initial public offering in Hong Kong, a preliminary share sales document showed. Vanke is likely to be the largest shareholder of the lender, which is based in Hefei, Anhui province, with its over HK$3 billion (US$386.92 million) investment in the share sale that is worth as much as HK$10.13 billion.
Pacific Century Premium Development in talks to sell Beijing property
Pacific Century Premium Developments Ltd. (00432.HK), the property arm of PCCW Ltd. (00008.HK), is in discussions to sell its stake in the Pacific Century Place in Beijing to a third party, the company said in a statement after its shares surged almost 50 percent on Monday on rumors that its chairman Richard Li may inject his insurance business FWD Hong Kong into the developer. The company has denied the purported asset injection in the same statement. The Beijing property has received bid offers worth HK$6 billion to HK$8 billion from some groups, including SOHO China Ltd. (00410.HK), earlier this year.
ECONOMY and BUSINESS
Hong Kong Monetary Authority signs charter with 22 banks to treat customers fairly
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority on Monday signed with 22 retail banks in the city a charter for fair treatment of customers, with five top local lenders cancelling charges on inactive accounts. The five lenders are the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd., Standard Charted Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd., Hang Seng Bank Ltd. (00011.HK), BOC Hong Kong (Holdings) Ltd. and The Bank of East Asia Ltd. (00023.HK). The non legal-binding charter stipulated principles in five areas, such as product design, customer needs evaluation, promotional materials, channels for complaints and services to vulnerable groups.
Cheung Kong pockets US$71.36 mln by selling 6.03% stake in ARA Asset Management
Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. (00001.HK) is divesting its 6.03 percent stake in ARA Asset Management Ltd. through Cheung Kong Investment Co. Ltd. to cash in about S$88.3 million (US$71.36 million). The asset management company is currently operating properties of real estate investment trusts listed in Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, including counters such as Prosperity REIT (00808.HK), Fortune Real Estate Investment Trust (00778.HK) and Hui Xian Real Estate Investment Trust (87001.HK). Cheung Kong, the Hong Kong giant backed by Li Ka-shing, has been divesting lately. It, along with group firm Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. (00013.HK), sold stake in a commercial property in the Pudong New District in Shanghai for HK$8.96 billion earlier this month.
HKTV offers to drop lawsuit if government explains TV license decision
Hong Kong Television Network has offered not to take the government to court if authorities disclose reasons for refusing the company’s application for a free-to-air TV license. The government has repeatedly refused to do so, arguing a judicial review will be imminent. Meanwhile, five pro-government Liberal Party and two non-affiliated legislators joined the pan-democrats to issue a joint demand for the government to issue new licenses to all three applicants. The government had earlier rejected HKTV’s application and given green light to two others. Meanwhile, the popularity of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his team dropped to a new low in the wake of the license row, a poll conducted by a Chinese University institute showed.
Business groups attack Occupy Central activist for colluding with pro-independence head
A coalition of eight major business associations in Hong Kong has issued a joint statement, accusing three pan-democrats including one core Occupy Central campaign organizer of colluding with Taiwan pro-independence activists. They pointed to a recent meeting between the trio – Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, Joseph Cheng and Lee Cheuk-yan – and former pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan. The association said the move could undermine the “one country, two systems” policy. Both Cheng and Lee dismissed the accusation as a smear tactic. Academics said the impact on the blockade movement would be limited.
Military tension in Sino-Japanese relations on the rise
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has made no secret his intention of taking the lead to counter China’s alleged attempt to “change the status quo in Asia”, in remarks made to Japan’s Self-Defense Force and foreign media on the eve of his visit to Turkey. His remarks not only suggest that Sino-Japanese relations have hit a nadir, but also point to growing military tension between the two powers. The road of peace is getting narrower. Geopolitical tension in northeast Asia poses greater risk to regional security. The two nations should first cool down their dispute over Diaoyu islands.
Hong Kong population policy paper lacks vision on social development
The Hong Kong government should have envisioned in its just-released population policy consultation paper on how public and social policies will be formulated to cope with the city’s social development, Chinese University social worker lecturer Fung Ho-lap wrote. He said the document is seen to be focused only on problem-solving. This explains why the paper has been criticized as just a report on manpower resources, but lacking of a people-oriented approach.
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