Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Wednesday, Oct. 30:
HKEx may seek public opinions on dual-class share listings
The listing committee of Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (00388.HK) may solicit public opinions on listings of shares with a dual-class structure next year, depending on the results of a study to be conducted by the listing division, sources told HKEJ. The listing committee has discussed the issues at its seasonal meeting on Tuesday, a spokesman with the bourse operator said. The move, in contrast to a previous stance of defending the one-share-one-vote principle, came after a series of arguments between the listing authority and e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which has been seeking to sell its shares in the city with a partnership structure aimed to keep management control through a different class of shares.
Hong Kong slips in competitiveness as business-friendly city, World Bank says
The double stamp duty and buyer stamp duty, among other property curbs, have taken their toll on Hong Kong’s status as a business-friendly city, the World Bank Group and the International Financial Corp said in a joint report “Doing Business 2014″. The city has remained in the second spot, with Singapore taking further lead, as the extra stamp duties have largely increased the costs of registering assets in Hong Kong. The report covered 10 areas, including cross-border trading and credit availability. However, it does not reflect any political or social factors, leaving the impact of the “Occupy Central” movement and the social conflicts between the city and the mainland on the business environment in Hong Kong untouched.
ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
MPF authority mulls measures to enhance employee choice arrangement
The Hong Kong Mandatory Provident Fund Authority may require every MPF plan to establish a “default” fund, which constitutes the lowest investment risks and charges that will be assigned to a scheme holder who has not selected any particular funds, sources told HKEJ. The authority will also study whether to put a cap on the fees of the default fund, the sources said, adding that it is considering more measures in preparation for the launch of the last phase of the employee choice arrangement that will give workers full discretion in choosing a scheme provider to manage the funds contributed both by themselves and their employers.
Hong Kong’s competitiveness in shipping can’t easily be replicated, C C Tung says
The competitive edge of Hong Kong in logistics and shipping transport has its uniqueness and cannot be substituted easily by any other cities in the mainland, said Tung Chee-chen, chairman of Orient Overseas (International) Ltd. (00316.HK), in response to potential rivalry from the pilot free-trade zone in Shanghai. Hong Kong provides the highest quality of services among three other top registration place of fleets in the world, Tung said. Meanwhile, he warned that the global shipping sector may face more uncertainties amid oversupply, possibly leading to volatility in freight tariffs.
PetroChina 3Q net profit up 19.4% after management reshuffle
PetroChina Co. Ltd. (00857.HK) unveiled Tuesday its first interim results after a reshuffle of top management following anti-graft investigations by the central government. The oil giant posted a net profit of 29.8 billion yuan (US$4.89 billion) for the third quarter, up 19.4 percent from a year ago on hikes in the selling prices of refined products and natural gas. The company produced 233 million barrels of crude oil and 650.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas during the period, up 1.3 percent and 10.8 percent respectively over a year ago. Separately, China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (00386.HK) reported 22.2 billion yuan net profit for the third quarter, up 21.6 percent from a year earlier.
Popularity of Leung dives over TV license row
The popularity of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has plummeted as he rejected calls for him to reveal reasons for the rejection of an application for a free-to-air license by Hong Kong Television Network. His defense of the rule of confidentiality of the Executive Council, however, was dismissed by former chief secretary Anson Chan and former Exco member Selina Chow as a distortion of the secrecy rule. Results of a poll by the University of Hong Kong showed Leung’s popularity fell below 44 points out of 100. Pollsters said Leung’s support rating has fallen into an alarm zone.
‘Wide gap’ in compensation, apology over Manila bus tragedy remain, To says
Representatives of families of victims of the 2010 Manila bus hostage tragedy and the Manila city government held their first meeting on families’ demands for settlement yesterday, with a wide gap persisting over compensation and apology issues. Democrat lawmaker James To, who represented the families, met Manila councilor Bernardito Ang, who is Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada’s representative, for about two hours. To said although some progress has been made, there were still differences over their demands in four areas, in particular compensation and apology. He said he hoped some consensus could be reached in the next two days.
Lack of political reform casts doubt over China’s long-term development
A blueprint that aims to deepen reform and put China on the path of stable and sustainable growth is set to be approved at the Communist Party’s 18th central committee plenum scheduled to be held from November 9. It is a pity that there is still no sign of political reform. The strategy of taking bold steps in economic reforms while being conservative on political changes will face serious test. There are increasing signs that authorities have tightened control on ideological matters and the media as they focus on improving livelihood and economy. History will judge whether the approach of improving livelihood while delaying democracy will work.
Hong Kong people should step up fight for release of documents on TV license, Wong says
Hong Kong people should exercise their power to push for the passage of a motion that seeks to invoke the Powers and Privileges Ordinance for legislators to demand the disclosure of Executive Council documents about the decision on the issuing of free-to-air TV licenses, former civil service minister Joseph Wong wrote. Pro-government legislators who insisted on ignoring public opinion should be made to pay for their decision. Voters and consumers should exercise their powers to make those lawmakers pay a huge political price.
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