Asia News Update
Global: Asian and African leaders look to strengthen economic and diplomatic bonds
Source: The Wall Street Journal, 23 April 2015
In a summit the leaders expressed the need for a new international institutions, financial and otherwise like the China-led effort to create the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. They want emphasis to be placed on stimulating growth and spending on major infrastructure projects in developing nations.
A notable agreement from the summit between Indonesia and China was their commitment to triple their bilateral trade to 150 bn USD and develop a high-speed railway between the Indonesian capital of Jakarta and the city of Bandung.
China: Government push for EV results in Toyota’s continued development of EVs
Source: Bloomberg, 23 April 2015
Toyota is going back on its commitment to focus on hydrogen cars rather than electric ones to satisfy the government’s desire for manufacturers to increase EV production. Beijing’s current initiative looks to have foreign companies partner with local partners to manufacture EV in the country.
Toyota will introduce the Leahead and Ranz all-electric brands with its China partners Guangzhou Automobile Group and FAW Group beginning this year. Currently, China is the only market where Toyota sells EVs. Automakers, like Toyota, say marketing an EV has become increasingly important for those looking to win government approval to build factories.
India: Goodyear eyes growth in India
Source: The Economic Times, 26 April 2015
Goodyear India is looking to increase efforts in the country and be among the top two-three players in the passenger cars tire segment. They plan to introduce products with new technologies, for example the newly released Assurance TripleMax.
The company, according to Goodyear India Vice Chairman & Managing Director, has been growing at a steady pace for the last three-four years and now accounts for 15-16 percent of Goodyear's Asia-Pacific business. India is second largest market for Goodyear to China in the Asia-Pacific region. The company has two manufacturing plants at Aurangabad in Maharashtra and Ballabgarh in Haryana.
Vietnam: Large growth in auto industry projected
Source: The Establishment Post, 21 April 2015
The Vietnam auto industry will have the quickest growth of all in Southeast Asia over the next 20 years, according to Vichai Jirathiyut, president of the Thailand Automotive Institute (TAI). Factors contributing to the projected growth are the increasing consumer demand, a young workforce and strong governmental support for the industry.
Vietnam’s auto industry, according to Vichai, will produce 220,000 units annually by 2020 and 1.5 million units by 2035. In 2014, there were 157,810 vehicles sold in the country, a 43 percent y/y increase. Looking forward to this year, the country’s local automotive industry will see a growth rate of 4.4 percent this year and output 200,000 vehicles, according to Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade. Possible hindrances to this growth are the duty-free import of autos as put forth in the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement, low localization rate of 10-30 percent and weak supporting industries.
Japan: Showa Denko boost supply of high-purity hydrogen fluoride
Source: Chemicals Technology, 23 April 2015
The company doubled the capacity of its existing high-purity hydrogen fluoride (HF) production facility in Kawasaki, Japan in March/2015, and is planning to build a new facility in China to produce the gas, whose main use is as a cleaning gas in the process of producing semiconductors.
There has been an increasing need for HF as an etching gas in the process of dry etching called chemical oxide removal (COR), according to the company. Fine-etching technology is replacing plasma and wet etching, and as a result COR is in higher demand from semiconductor manufacturers. Construction of new HF plant will begin sometime in April/2015 and operations are expected to begin by the end of 2015.
China: Jacobs purchases majority stake in Suzhou Han's Chemical Engineering
Source: Chemicals Technology, 23 April 2015
The move is an effort by Jacobs to expand its capabilities and client base in China. Suzhou Han's Chemical Engineering (SHCE) owns two specialty class A design licenses in chemical, petrochemical and pharmaceutical (CPP) industry in China which Jacobs will use to bolster its current offerings that their class B license has enabled.
Jabobs provides engineering design, procurement and project management services for a diverse set of chemical projects in China. The new combined venture, to be known as Jacobs Engineering, will give Jacobs access to an engineering office in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, and increase its employee base in China to more than 500.
Australia/Malaysia: Altech Chemicals starts permitting process for Malaysian alumina processing plant
Source: Chemicals Technology, 22 April 2015
The company has submitted a preliminary site assessment (PAT) to the Malaysian Department of Environment to indicate compliance with international environmental standards. In addition to these standards, the proposed HPA plant will also meet the standards of the Malaysian Environmental Quality Act (EQA) 1974.
The high-purity alumina (HPA) the processing plant makes will be used in the manufacturing of scratch-resistant artificial sapphire glass that is used in high-end electronic devices.
Construction & Property Development
Singapore: Investors look to property stocks for big future returns
Source: The Wall Street Journal, 21 April 2015
The stock priced deflated last year and helped make transactions, including deals taking companies private, more attractive to investors. Many bet on the rebound of these stocks. Developers that saw their valuations dip in 2014, including Wing Tai Holdings Ltd. , Ho Bee Land Ltd. and Wheelock Properties (Singapore) Ltd. have reversed most of those losses. The value of the three companies has risen by more than 685 mn USD since.
Take-private deals, or privatization, have many analysts thrilled about the sector, as these deals often translate into big returns for investors due to the premium offered by the acquirer to allure minority holders into accepting the offer.
Hong Kong: Surge in stock market spurs investment in luxury real-estate
Source: Reuters, 22 April 2015
In the current bull market, Hong Kong stocks have sent the benchmark Hang Seng Index (HIS) to seven-year highs and mainland investors invested some of their returns in high-end real estate in what analysts say may be a record year for home sales.
Luxury home prices in Hong Kong have already increased about 5 percent so far this year, and according to Agency Centaline, in Q1/2015 sales of homes valued at more than 1.5 mn USD reached their highest level since late 2012. Property prices in the city are at more than double their 2008 levels as homes become increasingly price prohibitive for many.
Australia: Booming property market attracts money launderers
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 April 2015
The intergovernmental Financial Action Task Force said in a report that real estate agents and lawyers are at high money laundering risk in Australia due to lax regulations that do not necessitate them to report possibly illegal transactions.
"Australia is seen as an attractive destination for foreign proceeds, particularly corruption-related proceeds flowing into real estate, from the Asia-Pacific region," FATF said in its year in review of Australia. Australia, the United States and Canada are top three locations those suspected of economic crime in China flee to, according to Chinese state media.
Consumer & Retail
Asia: Asia behind surge in global shopping center development
Source: World Property Journal, 22 April 2015
Global shopping center development growth remained strong with a total of 11.4 million square meters (122.7 million square feet) of new shopping center space opened in 2014, compared with 10.6 million sq. m. (114.1 million sq. ft.) in 2013, according to a CBRE report. Emerging markets account for most of the development, particularly in Asia, where over 39 million sq. m. (419.8 million sq. ft.) of space is in the works. China accounts for over 60 percent of the space in the pipeline.
Shanghai has the most new space under construction with 4.1 million sq. m. (44.1 million sq. ft.), followed by Shenzhen with 3.4 million sq. m. (36.6 million sq. ft.) and then Chengdu with 3 million sq. m. (32.3 million sq. ft.). Chongqing and Guangzhou round out the top five most active markets with more than 20 planned projects.
Thailand: Aftermath of consumer credit binge to be felt soon
Source: Financial Times, 20 April 2015
Thai household debt will reach or surpass 100 percent of GDP by 2020 under probable macroeconomic scenarios. This number excludes the sizable amounts of borrowing from illegal moneylenders by the poorest Thais. Household debt levels have continued to rise (to an estimated 86 percent of GDP, up from 61 percent in 2009), but private consumption growth has started to slow. This is could be a sign of things to come as this suggests families are devoting a larger portion of their paychecks to repay debts and not to stimulate the retail sector.
Stock markets, however, remain stable and a 25 basis point cut in the Bank of Thailand’s policy interest rate to 1.75 percent in March/2015 will provide little relief from household debt commitments. Consumer confidence and people’s confidence in the country’s economy are both down. Headline inflation has also turned negative, to -0.57 percent in March/2015, leading to increased debt service costs.
India: Tesco pulls back on expansion in India
Energy, Resources & Environment
Philippines/China: VP of Philippines willing to work with China in oil exploration of South China Sea
Source: Reuters, 23 April 2015
Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay’s stance is in opposition to that of President Benigno Aquino, who is reluctant to engage in business partnerships with China in territory claimed by both countries.
On the topic of joint oil and gas exploration with China, Binay said, "China has all the capital and we have the property so why don't we try and develop that property as a joint venture?"
Indonesia: Government will not re-introduce gasoline subsidies, regardless of future pricing
Source: The Star, 21 April 2015
Indonesia will not re-introduce government subsidies for gasoline, regardless if the price hits previous record levels, according to the energy minister. This stance is seconded by oil minister Sudirman who stated, “The president said we will never retreat from this policy.”
The policy took effect as oil hit seven year lows and so that helped offset the lack of subsidies. The cost has also been shifted to Pertamina, a state-owned fuel company, for whom the government controls the selling price of oil, which is below the company’s optimum sales price. President Joko Widodo got rid of gasoline subsidies in Q1/2015, making available up to an additional 20 bn USD in state spending for infrastructure and agricultural projects.
Japan: Country seeks to keep nuclear energy production levels high
Source: Business Insider, 23 April 2015
Japan's government set forth its idea of making nuclear energy account for 20-22 percent of the country's electricity mix by 2030, with renewable energy sources making up an additional 22-24 percent of electricity output. These proposed levels of nuclear generated power are down from 30 percent from before the Fukushima
crisis while renewables are up from 11 percent in the year through March/2014.
Natural gas, shipped in superchilled liquid form, should account for 27 percent of power production, down from 43.2 percent now and coal account for 26 percent of electricity production, instead of the 30.3 percent it does now.
Asia: J.P. Morgan shuffles senior banking positions in Asia
Source: The Wall Street Journal, 21 April 2015
Changes are as follows: Carl Chien and David Li will act as co-heads of greater China banking, adding to their current roles as senior country officers. Rohit Chatterji, formerly the bank’s head of mergers and acquisitions for Asia excluding Japan, will become J.P. Morgan’s head of banking for Southeast Asia and Singapore.
Brian Gu and John Hall together will oversee Asia-Pacific mergers and acquisitions, in addition to having responsibility for providing advisory services across industries including private-equity firms, health care, technology, media, and telecommunications. Prior to the reassignment, Mr. Gu was co-head of China investment banking and Mr. Hall oversaw the bank’s advisory services to companies in the technology, media, and telecommunications industries.
Australia: Q4/2014 Bank lending between Australia and China falls from USD 33.7 billion to USD 700 million while banks become more cautious
Source: Financial Review, 27 April 2015
2014 growth rate for bank exposure fell by 10 percent in comparison to a 70 percent increase during 2013. Switzerland-based BIS said, "Claims on China contracted by USD 51 billion in the Q4/2014, bringing down their y/y growth rate to 21 percent from 40 percent at end September 2014." The main reason for this decrease is largely due to higher bad debt levels for banks and the weaker trade flows for foreign lenders while the Chinese economy is experiencing a period of slower growth.
According to Omakar Joshi, Watermark Funds Management investment analyst, China has decreased the reserve requirement ratio for its banks mainly to offset an increase in bad debts and slower growth which have both stifled lending to China. He said, "Things have been slowing down and bad debts rising over the past year. The bad debt ratio of Chinese banks is currently at five-year highs." In addition to issuing fewer loans to Chinese borrowers, the decrease in commodity prices which have significantly reduced the value of cargo ships have also affected foreign banks in the region.
Singapore: DBS Group Holdings Ltd post record Q1/2015 net interest income of USD 953 million
Source: Bloomberg, 27 April 2015
Southeast Asia’s largest lender reported a record 3 percent Q1/2015 increase in net interest income of USD 953 million. Singaporean banks were able to place higher charges on lenders due to a rising trend in domestic interest rates. This may prevent a continued slowdown in lending. Kevin Kwek, a Sanford C. Bernstein analyst said, “Considering the still-weak macro environment in the region and especially Singapore, the numbers were strong.”
Loans increased by 11 percent y/y while net interest income has risen to USD 1.17 billion, up 14 percent. Net interest margin has increased to 1.69 percent. Ivan Tan, a Standard & Poor’s analyst in Singapore said that lenders “will benefit from the rising interest-rate environment. Impacts will be much more prominent from the second quarter.” With the sale of DBS’s Hong Kong property investment the company was able to collect a USD 93.8 million one-time gain, while their net fee and commission income increased to USD 386 million, up 10 percent. Another 43 percent gain was achieved through their wealth-management income. 30 percent of DBS’s lender revenue came from China, while 8 percent came from other parts of Asia and the rest of the world.
Logistics & Transportation
China: China Railway Import and Export Company signs strategic cooperation agreement with Kerry Logistics
Source: Digital Supply Chain, 21 April 2015
The cooperation agreement aims to combine China Railway’s rail network and its experience in domestic and international projects as well as Kerry Logistics’ Southeast Asia networks and expertise in logistics service. This agreement is in line with the China’s“One Belt One Road” initiative which promotes new growth opportunities for large-scale domestic firms.
With the help of key international projects which include conducting operations and maintenance work in Saudi Arabia or import parts from countries such as Germany, France or the US, China Railway as mostly focused on building its brand on an international scale.
South Korea: CJ Korea Express aims in becoming a leading global logistics company while planning to acquire Daewoo Logistics
Source: Business Korea, 21 April 2015
CJ Korea Express said, “Even though we have submitted a letter of intent to take over Daewoo Logistics, nothing is decided yet.” Last year Daewoo Logistics created USD 560.8 million in sales, up 40 percent and USD 17.5 million in operating profits, up 490 percent. Daewoo Logistics has networks in countries such as China, Japan, Singapore, Indonesia and Myanmar while also having years of experience working together with Daewoo International.
Daewoo Logistics is currently valued at USD 277.85 million while POSCO is also likely to attend the bidding process together with CJ Korea Express. CJ aims in creating up to USD 23.15 billion in sales by 2020 while planning to invest USD 4.63 billion in infrastructure and M&A’s overseas. It is still not clear whether CJ Korea Express is also targeting large European distribution companies or not.
Japan: Prime Minister Abe to promote Japanese Hitachi high speed rail system in the US
Source: The Guardian, 20 April 2015
Japanese rail companies are looking to join 3 major rail projects which would connect L.A with San Francisco, Dallas and Houston, as well as New York with Washington. Promoting the Japanese rail industry is part of Abe’s plan to stimulate the domestic economy. By playing a role in the three US project will help expand the Japanese rail business on a global scale. In order to link San Francisco with Los Angeles an estimated USD 68 billion will have to be invested. Mr. Abe also proposed to construct the high speed maglev train in the northeastern part of the US to emphasize bilateral cooperation. Mr. Abe said, “If that happens, you could travel from Washington to Baltimore in 15 minutes, and to New York within less than an hour. What’s more, there would be very few delays.”
However, due to financial and political reasons, the US has not been developing its high-speed rail network. Japanese rail producers want to catch up with their major competitors including Alstom SA, Siemens AG and Bombardier Inc. as well as their much lower priced competitors including Chinese state-owned CNR and CSR Corp. Due to China’s growing geopolitical influence in Southeast Asia, Japan is also interested in infrastructure projects in the region. However, because major local suppliers in the EU and China dominate the market, Japan is having a hard time to create some multibillion dollar deals.
Manufacturing & Industrial
Indonesia: Country wants to boost its manufacturing sector while China’s labour costs is on a continuous rise
Source: The Straits Times, 20 April 2015
Due to China shifting more towards value added manufacturing, Indonesia is trying to take this opportunity and capture the market. However, last year Indonesia’s manufacturing sector share in the country’s GNP declined from 28 to 24 percent. In order to promote the sector, the government wants to attract investors through tax incentives. Mr Sofyan Djalil, Coordinating Economic Minister said, "We will build schools, labourers' housing facilities near projects where investors are planning to build an industrial estate, for example."
Indonesia has neglected to develop its manufacturing sector largely because of high global commodity prices. Mr Sofyan said, "Indonesia is a big country with 250 million people. More than 60 percent of the population is under 30 years old. It is a big potential. We understand that we have a lack of infrastructure. We didn't pay enough attention to this. But this is a good opportunity for investors." The country plans to build 35 GW to meet its demand for 2019.
Asia: ANZ Bank forecasts that Southeast Asia is to replace China as the world’s manufacturing powerhouse within the next decade
Source: Financial Review, 24 April 2015
With plans to establish a unified market by the end of this year, ANZ estimates that Southeast Asia will overtake China’s manufacturing sector and become Asia’s third growth engine. Australia and New Zealand will be able to lessen their dependence on China while the ASEAN group becomes an increasingly more important trading partner. ANZ International chief executive Andrew Geczy says: "ANZ believes that Southeast Asia will eventually be as important to Australia and New Zealand as China is today. The Asean bloc has enormous potential, as both a manufacturing hub and as a source of consumption for the world.”
By 2025 trade amongst Australia, New Zealand and the ASEAN as well as investments coming from ASEAN will increase from USD 100 billion today to USD 230 billion. Southeast Asia will develop into an economic zone with Myanmar providing cheap labour manufacturing, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam providing mid-level manufacturing and Malaysia together with Singapore providing high end manufacturing skills. ANZ say "Good progress has already been made in some areas such as trade integration and the reduction of tariffs, and ultimately we expect the AEC to unlock synergies within the region which will usher in a new era of higher potential growth." Most export opportunities will be found in tourism, food, education, energy and various hard commodities.
Malaysia: Manufacturing still to remain the key driver for growth in the economy
Source: The Star Online, 22 April 2015
Expected exports for electric and electronic components are estimated to grow by another 5 percent throughout 2015. Even during a period of global economic uncertainty, Malaysia was able to maintain low external debts, employment and reserve levels while simultaneously being able to attract FDI. Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, International Trade and Industry Minister said, "Last year, we managed to achieve a 38 percent increase in the manufacturing sector with approved investments of RM71.9 billion. The E and E industry was the top contributor at RM11.1 billion. "E and E exports will certainly benefit from higher demand from the advanced economies, while exports of the non-E and E sector will be sustained by regional demand for resource-based products."
The government is supporting an increasingly business friendly environment for companies which will attract more multinationals. Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said, "Hence, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority and the Ministry of Education is collaborating with Talent Corp to establish the industry Academia Collaboration programmes, as a platform to motivate, encourage collaboration among academia, industry and government entities." The E and E industry saw foreign investments of RM 10.42 and domestic investments of RM 724 million.
Pharmaceuticals & Healthcare
Asia: Major medical device makers to form Asia’s first industry trade group
Source: The Wall Street Journal, 23 April 2015
The trade group will be known as The Asia Pacific Medical Technology Association, or APACMed. Fredrik Nyberg, APACMed CEO said, that including both local and international device makers, “will make the government and regulators and policy makers look at us a little bit differently.” Some of the key issues that APACMed wants to resolve are China’s new medical device regulations which stall the products to market by 1 to 2 years.
Asia is a rather fragmented market and thus it is of great importance to form an industry group which will have some influence on regulations, laws, ethics and treatment guidelines. Nyberg said that an increasing amount of people are able to afford better health care in the region, however, supply is unable to keep up with current demands. Supply issues are not only resulting from regions not having the certain infrastructure, but also having a lack of training for certain medical devices.
Japan: Daiichi Sankyo selling USD 3.6 billion worth in shares from Sun Pharmaceutical
Source: Reuters, 20 April 2015
After seven years of battling against the US Food and Drug Administration, Daiichi Sankyo sold its majority stake in the company. The sale comes after the acquisition of Ranbaxy by Sun Pharma last month. Daiichi Sankyo said, "From the perspective of the improvement of corporate value, Daiichi Sankyo has performed a review of the Sun Pharma shares and reached a conclusion to sell the shares entirely or partially."
The sanctions imposed by FDA on Sun Pharma were largely due to the manufacturing processes at its India plants which also halved its share value since Caiichi Sankyo bought the company in 2008.