Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Wednesday, March 19:
Harbin Bank starts retail subscription as planned
Harbin Bank Co. Ltd. (06138.HK) will open the book for retail orders Wednesday as planned, despite cancellation of an investor presentation roadshow for its IPO the previous day. The lender’s management refuted rumors about cornerstone investors withdrawing their subscriptions, asserting that the bank has been receiving warm response to the book-building. The bank is seeking to raise about HK$10.07 billion (US$1.3 billion) by selling 3.02 billion shares, of which 200 million shares were held by the Social Security Fund.
Mainland 4G mobile telecoms set to start price war
The three major mobile telecommunication carriers in the mainland are on the verge of a price war amid competition from peers and mobile virtual network operators (MVNO). China Mobile Ltd. (00941.HK) is said to be reducing the charges for its 4G plans in a bid to defend against competition from rival China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. (00762.HK), which has priced its 4G plans at a level lower than China Mobile and even its own 3G services. China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (00728.HK), the cheapest carrier, will soon launch its own smartphone to enhance its competitiveness.
Xiaomi eyes Asian emerging markets with 3 Hong Kong
Beijing Xiaomi Technology Co. Ltd. is tapping its cooperation with 3 Hong Kong, a subsidiary of Hutchison Telecommunications Hong Kong Holdings Ltd. (00215.HK), to gain more presence in emerging markets in Asia, the mainland handset producer’s vice president Hugo Barra said. Xiaomi will enter Malaysia shortly, Barra said, adding that it is in discussions with Hutchison on opening the markets in Indonesia and Vietnam. The Chinese firm is also speeding up research and development of 4G phones, and will unveil the new models in due course.
Former HK justice minister warns freedoms impaired by Ming Pao editor attack
Former justice minister Wong Yan-lung has called on Hong Kong people to uphold the city’s core values including freedom of opinion and the press and the rule of law. He warned that the brutal attack against former Ming Pao chief editor Kevin Lau has posed a threat to freedom of opinion and the press. People should also be vigilant against the defence of rule of law in light of the rapid integration between the mainland and Hong Kong, Wong said.
Pan-democrats demand response from Beijing on electoral proposals in Shanghai talk
Pan-democratic legislators have made three demands to Beijing for the invitation for them to hold political reform talks during a visit to Shanghai next month. They conveyed their demands to Legislative Council President Tsang Yok-sing for him to relay to the central government, saying they would make a decision on joining the trip based on the replies. They said they want to mainly discuss political reform during the trip, while seeking separate talks with Beijing officials on reform and direct response from officials on the pan-democrats’ electoral proposals.
Crimean crisis may not get worse, for now
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday that he would not seek confrontation with Western countries following the move to make Crimea a part of Russia. It shows Russia does not plan to seize other parts of Ukraine. The standoff between Russian and Western countries is not likely to escalate in the short run. World markets have also become stable following Putin’s remarks. Faced with sluggish economy and weak currency, Russia is not keen to see escalation of economic sanctions. There is room for cautious optimism about the Crimean crisis.
Pan-democrat legislators should hold talks with Beijing on election
Pan-democratic legislators should send representatives to talk to mainland officials during a visit to Shanghai next month, former civil service minister Joseph Wong wrote. Wong said pan-democrats should explain and seek response from the officials the thinking behind their proposals for the 2017 chief executive election. They would then be able to know whether Beijing allows room for discussion or has no plan to make any concession.
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