23 March 2019

HKEJ Today: Highlights

Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Wednesday, April 2:


Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp to buy Wing Hang Bank for HK$38.43 billion

Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. has offered HK$38.43 billion (US$4.95 billion), or HK$125 a share, for acquiring Wing Hang Bank Ltd. (00302.HK), in the largest takeover of a Hong Kong bank since DBS Group Holdings’ bid for Dao Heng Bank Group in 2001 and marking the biggest mergers and acquisitions deal since the 2008 financial crisis. The acquisition cost translates to 2.2 price-to-book multiplier and represents a 1.63 percent premium to Wing Hang’s Tuesday closing price. Singapore-based OCBC sees the acquisition as a good opportunity to tap the Greater China market.

Benjamin Hung to head Greater China operations for StanChart

Standard Chartered Plc. (02888.HK) has named with immediate effect Benjamin Hung, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd., as head of the group’s Greater China operations, overseeing mainland China and Taiwan markets apart from Hong Kong. Hung will continue to report to Jaspal Bindra, the group’s executive director and chief executive for Asia. The appointment was part of a reorganization the group announced last year after its financial performance was dragged by operation in South Korea, with the first year-on-year profit decline in 11 years. The Hong Kong operation, meanwhile, saw a 19 percent increase in pre-tax profit.

Liwan deep-water natural gas project seen boosting CNOOC revenue next year

The co-owned Liwan project that produces natural gas off the South China Sea is expected to drive revenue for CNOOC Ltd. (00883.HK) next year. The project is currently contributing 200 million to 250 million cubic feet of daily produce to Husky Energy Inc. for the first 10 to 12 months of operation, said Robert Hinkel, chief operational officer for Asia Pacific at Husky, an affiliate of Hutchinson Whampoa Ltd. (00013.HK) and the project’s joint-operator. CNOOC will begin sharing 51 percent of the production starting the second year, Hinkel added. The estimated contribution to CNOOC roughly represents 24 percent of the group’s total coastal production in the mainland last year.


More pan-democratic lawmakers join Shanghai trip for political reform talk

A group of 11 pan-democratic legislators said yesterday that they decided to join a Legislative Council trip to Shanghai at the end of next week, during which talks will be held with senior mainland officials on political reform. Alan Leong of the Civic Party said they decided to go because Legco President Tsang Yok-sing has promised their demand for an exclusive session with the mainland officials would be met. Constitutional affairs minister Raymond Tam said he welcomes the democrats’ decision. The Democratic Party will make a final decision on Thursday.


Shanghai reform talk should mark beginning of dialogue

The upcoming talks between Beijing officials and pan-democratic legislators in Shanghai may not result in immediate concrete achievements, but could open dialogue between the two sides. Those who genuinely hope to improve Hong Kong’s political environment can no longer sit idle. They should take political risk and try to bridge differences between Beijing and the pan-democrats. The electoral proposal put forward by the Hong Kong 2020 group led by former chief secretary Anson Chan, which does not include public nomination, can help narrow the differences. Legislative Council President Tsang Yok-sing can also play an important role.


Hong Kong Democratic Party loses direction 

A spate of recent incidents relating to the Democratic Party has caught the attention of Hong Kong people for all the wrong reasons. They include the defeat of vice-chairman Sin Chung-kai in a district council by-election. Their decision to participate in a hunger strike for democracy is also difficult to understand. There is no need to take such radical actions as hunger strike when the government has not yet put forward any formal proposal on universal suffrage. Those who support moderate political stance will find such action confusing and disappointing.

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