Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Tuesday, Feb. 25:
HKEx may postpone consultation on dual-class share listing
Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (00388.HK) may have to postpone a public consultation on the listing of dual-class shares to the second quarter as the draft consultation paper has yet to gain consent from the Securities and Futures Commission, sources told HKEJ after the Listing Committee of the bourse operator held a quarterly policy meeting on Monday. The delay in the consultation, previously expected to start this quarter, marked another setback for Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in its bid to list in the city.
HSBC to further cut expenses by US$3 bln in two years
HSBC Holdings Plc. (00005.HK) is seeking to cut US$3 billion in expenses in two years after it posted a 9.3 percent growth in net profit for last year, a rate that was much less than expected. The weak results were attributable to a slower income growth in the last quarter, a higher levy by the British government and a smaller realized gain from the disposal of the bank’s stake in Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd. (02318.HK), said finance director Iain Mackay. The lender has no plans to buy back this year any shares arising from the previous payout of scrip dividends amid unclear rules on capital requirements, chief executive Stuart Gulliver said.
Mainland new home prices grow at slower pace
Property prices in mainland China have expanded at a slower pace for the first time in a year amid more stringent controls in the market and tightened mortgage policy. New home prices in 70 major cities rose an 9.6 percent year on year in January, compared with a 9.9 percent growth in December last year, Reuters said, based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics. Property prices in certain cities, including Hangzhou, are expected to see a downtrend later this year, analysts said.
Beijing scholar urges Basic Law interpretation on CE appointment
A legal scholar from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has suggested the National People’s Congress Standing Committee should interpret provisions in the Basic Law to set out clear requirements on how the central government’s power of appointment of the chief executive should be implemented. Li Lin said the central government can accept, reject or “return the candidate” who won in the chief executive election but Beijing could not accept. Legal experts in Hong Kong said they do not see the need for a NPC Standing Committee reinterpretation of the Basic Law provisions.
Legislative Council mulls ‘closure motion’ to beat filibustering
Legislative Council president Tsang Yok-sing has proposed the establishment of a mechanism on the passage of a “closure motion” to help avoid filibustering by lawmakers. Members can set a time limit on debates if the motion gets a two-thirds majority of approval at the Legco House Committee. Tsang said it is not desirable to vest the power of putting an end to a debate on the president, adding it should be left to all legislators. Tsang has been criticized for alleged abuse of power after he stopped filibustering by radical legislator Leung Kwok-hung over the Budget last year.
Major adjustment in mainland property market imminent
Home prices in 70 cities in the mainland in January have grown at a slower pace, signaling the nation’s property market is nearing an adjustment period. This comes amid a fall in transactions, a slowdown in the pace of property price increases and changes in the lending market. Yesterday, both the Shenzhen and Shanghai stock markets fell markedly. Among the worst performers were property and banking plays. The series of unfavorable factors seems to be a curtain-raiser for a major correction in the property market.
Hong Kong will decline if press is gagged, Lam says
Hong Kong will lose its luster and head towards a decline if the voices of journalists in telling the truth, criticizing the powerful and the rich and exposing social injustice disappear, HKEJ founder Lam Hang-chi wrote. Further political pressure through economic sanctions will pose a danger of muzzling the media. The year 2014 is a testing time for people who are fighting for universal suffrage. It is also the year when we will see whether media practitioners, including the proprietors, are willing to pay the price for the defence of freedom of the press and speech.
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