Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Thursday, Jan. 9:
Alibaba launches mobile gaming platform to compete with Tencent
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has launched its own mobile gaming platform using low commission fees to attract programmers to distribute their games, in a bid seen to compete with Tencent Holdings Ltd. (00700.HK). Analysts said the new platform is expected to boost the usage of Alibaba’s newly developed instant messaging application. Tencent is said to have been sharing 90 percent of the revenue programmers make in distributing products on its platforms, while Alibaba only takes hold of 20 percent of the revenue plus another 10 percent for charitable activities in rural education.
Existing rules enough to sanction bitcoin-related fraud, Chan says
Hong Kong has enough laws and rules to control financial crimes such as money laundering, fraud and illegal fundraising, that may arise from the use of bitcoin, although it does not have specific regulations on the use of any virtual currency, said Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Chan Ka-keung. Chan also said it is unlikely that the use of bitcoin will pose significant risks to the city’s financial system, since only a few vendors currently accept the digital currency as a means of payment and no local banks have ever used bitcoin in its transactions.
ECONOMY and BUSINESS
HKTV may seek regulator intervention in talks with TVB
Hong Kong Television Network Ltd. (HKTV, 01137.HK) may seek assistance from the Office of Communications Authority in its talks with Television Broadcasts Ltd. (TVB, 00511.HK), if necessary, on the extension of the lease agreement on six transmitters which will end in July, HKTV said in a statement. The transmitters are currently rented by HKTV’s unit China Mobile Hong Kong Corp. Ltd. The company, backed by Ricky Wong, who has been struggling to enter the free-TV market, has a contingency plan to resolve the technical issue.
CIRC opens door for insurers to invest in blue chips
The China Insurance Regulatory Commission will allow insurers to invest premium income from long-term insurance policies in blue chips. The plan covers policies dated before 1999 with higher guaranteed yields as the interest rate levels were extremely high back then, the report said. Analysts estimate China Life Insurance (Group) Co. has underwritten 300 bilion yuan (US$49.57 billion) worth of such policies, while other insurers hold a combined 200 billion yuan, providing a potentially huge boost to the mainland stock market.
Govt urged to consider relaxing property curbs for end-users
Interview: Nan Fung Development Ltd. managing director Donald Choi has called on the Hong Kong government to review the property curbs it has put in place in 2012 and 2013, which have affected buyers who are also end-users. The extra stamp duties should be waived for first-home buyers, while the time they are required to hold the property before resale can also be shortened, Choi said. The private developer is planning to sell a total of 4,000 new home units in seven residential projects this year, Choi added.
Universal suffrage not panacea for Hong Kong political woes, Vincent Lo says
A leading Hong Kong businessman has cautioned that universal suffrage was not a panacea that could solve all governance problems facing the city. Vincent Lo, chairman of Shui On Group, has lamented the now-defunct Basic Law Drafting Committee had underestimated the complexity of the post-1997 political scene. The drafters had thought civil service would have been able to lead a strong executive-led system as it was during the colonial period. Lo said any chief executive would face difficulty in governance if he or she lacks support from the legislature.
Alliance put forward ‘three-track’ nominating plan for chief executive election
The Alliance for True Democracy, an umbrella coalition of pan-democratic groups, yesterday formally proposed a “three-track” system for nominating candidates for the 2017 chief executive election. They insisted it was a “full, comprehensive” package, but avoided saying whether it would still be acceptable if any one of the three nomination methods was rejected. The three are civil nomination, nomination by political parties and nomination by a committee. The Alliance’s plan is apparently different from the “three-track” proposal earlier made by the Democratic Party. The party chairwoman Emily Lau has said their proposal is not a “three-in-one” package that would only be accepted as a whole.
Insurance fund news boosts stock markets as IPOs resume
ChiNext stocks rose Wednesday on news that China’s insurance firms can buy shares of start-up companies. The green light was given as China resumed floating listed companies on the stock market. As more firms’ initial public offerings are scheduled to be approved, liquidity will become tight in the short term. Interest rates in the monetary market are expected to go up. Authorities have now set a clear direction of speeding up reform in the securities markets. Its success hinges on whether investor confidence in the markets is restored.
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