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Business

Chinese sportswear stocks jump after anti-Xinjiang cotton statement

Shares of Chinese sportswear makers extended gains on Friday in hopes of increased sales as leading foreign brands, including H&M and Adidas, faced backlash in China after western countries imposed sanction on the country amid a Xinjiang cotton row. Li-Ning (2331.HK) ended 2.9% higher at HK$51.45 after jumping nearly 11% on Thursday. Anta Sports (2020.HK) rose 5.61%, extending gains of 8.4% yesterday. Chinese consumers boycotted some foreign brands after the US along with the European Union, Canada and the UK announced a joint statement earlier this week for sanctions on Chinese officials over human rights violations in Xinjiang. Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwestern China produces about a fifth of the world’s cotton and supplies the material to many international brands. The anti-Xinjiang statement affected a number of fashion brands in China over Xinjiang cotton. Swedish fast-fashion retailer H&M products were removed from major Chinese e-commerce platforms including Alibaba and JD.com, following calls by state media for a boycott over the retailer's decision to stop buying cotton from Xinjiang, according to media reports. Several other international brands, including Nike and Adidas, were also targeted by social media in Mainland China this week. The People's Daily, a Chinese government-backed newspaper, shared an image with the hashtag “I support Xinjiang cotton” in Chinese. This post triggers a boycott on Adidas, News Balance, H&M, Nike and Burberry, brands, which expressed concern about the alleged use of Uighur forced labour in the production of Xinjiang cotton. Adidas, New Balance, H&M and Burberry and their stock prices were lower. Adidas was at $155.71 (HK$1209.7) and H&M $4.56 (HK$35.43), down 5.25% and 3.38% respectively overnight. Chinese celebrities cut ties with brands rejecting Xinjiang cotton. “Me and my company artist - Eason Chan Yick-shun resolutely boycott any action vilifying China, Therefore, we decided to terminate all collaboration …

Business

Hongkongers jump on live streaming e-commerce trend

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰、Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿Edited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿
  • 2021-03-25

Standing in the spotlight, Connie Hung enthusiastically sold a range of products to more than 30,000 people watching her live streaming. "Our products are of high quality and low price. Don't hesitate to buy them," said Ms Hung, a former insurance broker and veteran marketer. Numerous messages concerning the products pop up continuously from the viewers. In this Facebook Live with Group Buyer, one of the most popular group-buying websites in Hong Kong, Ms Hung pitched the company's products, mainly daily groceries, and the two hours’ sales exceeded the company's sales volume for three days. "More and more merchants are willing to come to me to do live streaming for their products because it can save the high cost of online advertising," said Ms Hung. "Every live streaming is watched by tens of thousands of people. Through interaction with fans, the sales are much higher than just advertising," she said. More Hongkongers like Ms Hung are becoming livestreamers, jumping on the new e-commerce bandwagon to tap into the profit as COVID-19 lingering and more brick-and-mortar stores sorting alternative ways to stay afloat. China’s live-streaming craze Influencer streaming has first shown prosperity in the mainland and has already become a new normal in China retail industry. According to iiMedia Research, the market size of the country’s live streaming e-commerce reached 961 billion yuan (HK$1.15 trillion) in 2020, with a year-on-year growth of 121.5%. As of June 2020, China has 309 million live-streaming consumers, accounting for about a third of its internet population. During the live interactive online video shopping, the influencer, as a host, hawks on viewers by introducing products and services, meanwhile adding non-shopping contents to make the whole session attractive. They will also answer viewers’ questions on-site and many offer exclusive discounts to lure customers. The top influencers such …

Business

Bilibili raises up to $3.2 billion in Hong Kong secondary listing amid a cooling market

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰Edited by: Kwok Chiu Tung 郭昭彤
  • 2021-03-19

Chineses video-sharing platform Bilibili Inc. (9626) planned to raise as much as $3.2 billion (HK$ 24.85 billion) in its secondary listing in Hong Kong, while the recent corrections in the market may force the company to price the stock below its maximum offering price. The public offer commenced on Thursday and would run through Mar.23, with trading expected to start on Mar.29, its listing document said. The Shanghai-based Bilibili, backed by Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., went public on Nasdaq in March 2018 (Nasdaq: BILI). Its 25 million Hong Kong shares are on offer at a maximum price of HK$988 apiece, 16.9% higher than its U.S. stock closing price of $108.82 (HK$ 845.18) on Thursday. Each American depositary receipt represents one ordinary share to be listed in Hong Kong. "Recent declines in the share prices of many US technology stocks and the volatility in the Hong Kong stock market could depress Bilibili's final price," said Wang Hui, a portfolio manager at Haitong Securities. "The final offer price will have a lot to do with the value of Bilibili’s American Depositary Receipts in the coming week, as well as the investor demand level." Baidu, another technology stock listed in the U.S, just completed its Hong Kong IPO on March 17. It initially priced its shares at HK$295 based on the average trading price of its US stocks in the previous period of time. But eventually, Baidu cut its offer price by 14.6% to HK$252 due to the recent decline in its US share price. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 7.5% from its 2021 high of 14,175.12 to close at 13,116.17 overnight. The Hang Seng Index closed at 29,405.72 on Wednesday, down 5.7% from its 2021 peak of 31,183.36. Bilibili generates its revenues primarily from mobile games, value-added services, …

Society

Surge in complaints on wedding services amid Covid

The number of complaints against wedding-related services has reached a three-year high, according to the Consumer Council. Of 233 complaints the Council received last year, more than half were about catering services, and 122 had to do with wedding banquets, the Council said in an online press conference today. In January, the consumer watchdog conducted a survey on cancellation and postponement policies for Chinese wedding banquets. All 10 catering providers said they allowed special arrangements because of the pandemic, customers were guaranteed the same services or menu prices despite the cancellation. Deadlines for cancellation also varied. The sum involved in the complaints to the Council ranged from HK$250,000 to HK$400,000, according to Gilly Wong, the council’s chief executive. In one case, a couple had paid a $72,000 deposit, but when they wanted to cancel the booking after several postponements, they were asked to pay the remaining sum as compensation for terminating the contract. “The couple ended up giving 30% of the deposit to the venue”, Ms Wong said. “Don’t trust verbal contracts, this is the most important advice that we would offer to consumers,” she added. “Think of all the ‘devil in the details’, and think through before you talk to the provider.” The Council has outlined a number of guidelines for consumers before signing up for a wedding banquet contract: Understand the service terms and conditions carefully and thoroughly before signing the contract. Retain all relevant records and important information such as promotional flyers, quotations, contracts or receipts, so it can be used as evidence and for follow-up in case of future disputes. Ask the provider to put all verbal promises in writing, and request confirmation of all phone and text communications in an official company email; Should both sides agree to postpone the wedding banquet, set up a …

Business

Baidu raises up to HK$28 billion in Hong Kong secondary listing

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Vikki Cai ChuchuEdited by: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰
  • 2021-03-12

Baidu Inc. (9888), China's search engine giant, plans to issue 95 million shares at a maximum global offering price of $38 (HK$295) each, raising up to $3.6 billion (HK$28 billion) in a Hong Kong offering starting today till 12:00 noon on Mar. 17. Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) shares, which were listed on the Nasdaq in August 2005 in terms of American Depositary Shares (ADSs), increased 12% to $272.38 (HK$2113.82) overnight boosted by its secondary listing plan in Hong Kong. Each ADS represents eight ordinary shares to be listed in Hong Kong. The ADS hit a record of  $339.91 (HK$2637.33) on Feb. 19. The company will sell a total of 95 million shares under the global offering.  The final pricing of Hong Kong shares will be fixed on Mar. 17. Dealing in shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange is scheduled to start at 9 am on Mar. 23, Baidu said in its listing document. Baidu generated a net income of 22.5 billion yuan (HK$ 26.92 billion), 2.1 yuan billion (HK$ 2.51 billion), and 27.6 billion yuan (HK$33.02 billion) in 2020, 2019, and 2018 respectively.  The 21-year-old company has three main growth engines: mobile ecosystem, AI cloud and intelligent driving. The core of Baidu Mobile Ecosystem is Baidu App with a monthly active user of 544 million in December 2020. “We intend to pursue the following strategies to further grow our business:  continue to invest in technology; continue to scale our AI Cloud; further develop and commercialize intelligent driving and other growth initiatives; continue to grow our Mobile Ecosystem; and selectively pursue M&A and strategic investments,” said in its prospectus. Baidu’s listing will make it one of the Chinese technology companies that are listed in the US and have secondary offerings in Hong Kong, joining Alibaba, JD.com and NetEase. The joint sponsors of …

Business

Hong Kong excluded from Index of Economic Freedom, Singapore climbs as top

Hong Kong was excluded for the first time by an influential index that ranks the freedom of the world’s economies while the city’s official and scholar said the move was based on “political bias” and would not affect the economic development of Hong Kong. Hong Kong and Macau were removed from The Heritage Foundation's 2021 Index of Economic Freedom released on Thursday. Before that, the city was ranked as the world’s freest economies for 25 years straight before 2020 when it was taken over by Singapore, which also topped the list this year. "Developments in Hong Kong and Macau in recent years have demonstrated unambiguously that the policies are ultimately controlled from Beijing,” said Heritage Foundation in its report. The Washington-based research and educational institution said classifying Hong Kong and Macau economies under China was a reflection of Beijing’s “ultimate control” over the cities. Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said the move made by The Heritage Foundation was unjustified. During a webinar organised by the South China Morning Post, Mr Chan said, “It seems to me when they arrived at that decision, it must have been clouded by their ideological inclination and political bias.”  A Hong Kong Government spokesperson said Heritage Foundation’s ranking is ill-conceived in the press release yesterday. "We take strong exception to the Foundation's claim that Hong Kong's economic policies are 'ultimately controlled from Beijing,” Hong Kong government spokesperson added in the press release. The Heritage Foundation’s ranking cannot be valid, because it was evaluated from a different perspective, it should not be generalised as a whole, said Dr Chong Tai-Leung, the director of Economics and Executive Director of Lau Chor Tak Institute of Global Economics and Finance of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The Fraser Institute of Canada ranked Hong Kong as the world’s freest …

Business

Pop Mart wins as blind box mania sweeps through Chinese youths

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿、Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰Edited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿
  • 2021-02-27

Anna Wang Kai-cen, a 27-year-old wealth manager, is one of the beneficiaries in China’s mystery or blind box craze by snapping up the toys and shares of Pop Mart International Group Ltd. (9992), the most famous blind box retailer in China. "I first entered the Pop Mart shop in Beijing two years ago, just out of curiosity why my friends bought so many of their toys," said Ms Wang. Twenty minutes later, she got her own toy, a vinyl doll dressed in a yellow suit with big blue eyes called Molly. Since then, apart from buying toys, Ms Wang started to pay attention to the designer toymaker and seller behind, Pop Mart, which went public in Hong Kong on Dec. 11 last year. The young wealth manager is among hundreds of thousands of investors betting their money on this Chinese largest designer toymaker, setting eyes on the behind “new economy” growth opportunities.  Within one day after IPO,  Ms Wang earned more than HK$70,000 by selling her some 2,000 new shares of Pop Mart, thanks to the blind box mania, which is taking over China by storm. Shares of Pop Mart jumped to a high of HK$89.60 in December, more than doubling its initial public offering price of HK$38.50, boosting the total market value of the company to more than HK$120 billion. The stock closed at HK$89.9 on Friday. "Of course I know its toys are popular among us young generation, but I didn’t expect their stocks are also that popular in public," Ms Wang said.  The "first blind box stock" Pop Mart is famous for its blind box selling strategy. Customers will not know what the toy looks like until they unpack it, sharing the same nature with toys in a capsule called Gashapon, or “niu dan'' in Hong Kong.  …

Business

Standard Chartered restores dividend while yearly profit more than halved

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰Edited by: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿
  • 2021-02-26

Standard Chartered PLC (2888) reported on Thursday a 68% decrease in net profit in 2020, due to lower interest rates and higher credit impairments under the COVID-19 pandemic.  The net profit of the London-based bank fell to $751 million (HK$ 5.8 billion) in 2020. But the company would pay a $0.09 (HK$ 0.7) per share dividend and restarted a $254 million (HK$ 1.97 billion) share buyback scheme. Standard Chartered's Hong Kong shares fell more than 5% after trading opened on Friday, and closed at HK$51.05. "The resumption of dividends was announced in December last year, which was good news at the time and made the company's stock rise," said Jacky Luo, partner and director of several companies. "After the release of the 2020 results, the decline in the bank income and the similar forecast of this year's income to last year, will make some investors feel not so positive, adjust their expectations, and make corresponding judgments on changes." The bank, which does most business in Asia, reported a 57% pre-tax profit drop to $1.61 billion (HK$ 12.5 billion) in 2020 from $3.71 billion (HK$ 28.8 billion) in the previous year, due to a total charge of $895 million (HK$ 6.9 billion) related to restructuring, goodwill impairment, and other items. The operating income slipped by 4% to $14.75 billion (HK$ 114 billion), with net interest income declining 11% to $6.88 billion (HK$ 53.4 billion). The credit impairments of the bank in 2020 surged more than double to $2.29 billion (HK$ 53.4 billion), with the majority booked in the first half of the year. Despite profit decline, Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters was confident that the company would recover from the epidemic. "We are weathering the health crisis and geopolitical tensions very well," he said in a company statement. “Our strategic transformation …

Business

Budget Address 2021: tax concession reduced by half

Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po on Wednesday announced salaries tax breaks of up to HK$10,000 while raising stamp duties on stock transfers from 0.1% to 0.13%.  With 1.87 million Hongkongers benefiting from the tax break, government revenue will be reduced by HK$11.4 billion due to the waivers, said Mr Chan.  Last year’s tax waiver was capped at HK$20,000.  Meanwhile, the stamp duty increase will be applied to both buyers and sellers. This is the first increase since 1993, provoking complaints from the securities industry.  After the announcement, Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing’s share price recorded a 9% drop The Hang Seng Index faced its biggest drop of nearly 3% since May last year.  Cheung Tsz Wai, a 33 year old Uber driver, said he is disappointed in the budget. “It is no help to citizens like me,” Mr Cheung said.  “During the pandemic, everyone faced a financial crisis,” Mr Cheung said. “Not only the government did not distribute welfare this year, but they even reduced all kinds of allowance and subsidies.” Agnes Cheung, director and head of Tax of BDO Limited, said the budget was “as expected” and “shortsighted”. Ms Cheung said BDO had wanted a tax deduction for rental expenses, but the budget did not address the item this year.  “There are only “sweeteners” for the property owner from Home Loan Interest Deduction, but nothing for the rental paying group,” said Ms Cheung. “It just focuses on the current year measures, saving expenses, but didn’t take a broader approach to target Hong Kong long term economy growth.” Webster Ng, president of the Taxation Institute of Hong Kong, said the measures were normal. “Additional revenue from stamp duty will make room for tax relief,” he said.  “In this year, everybody including the government is suffering, we are all …

Business

Budget Address 2021: Effects of unemployment loan in doubt

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhu Zijin Cora 朱子槿、Kwok Chiu Tung 郭昭彤Edited by: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰
  • 2021-02-24

Hong Kong's Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said on Wednesday unemployed citizens can apply for government-backed low interest personal loans of up to HK$80,000 but citizens cast doubt on its effectiveness because some fear that they cannot repay the loan. The one-off loan at an interest rate of 1% per annum is part of the government’s relief measures announced by the Financial Secretary in his budget speech amid the city’s unemployment rate hitting a 17-year high of  7% in January, with more than 250,000 people unemployed. “The labour market deteriorated sharply,” said Mr Chan in the speech. “This prolonged economic downturn has plunged some people into financial difficulties.” As an extra financing option for the unemployed, eligible individuals can pay interest only in the first year, and then repay the principal plus interest within the next five years. People who repay on time will get the interest back at the end. “I think the budget is reasonable and fair, especially in giving low interest rate loans to the unemployed,” said Teresa Tong, 65, former Partner at Ernst & Young Hong Kong. “ It’s a new idea for this year and it’s pretty innovative. It’s the right way to support the poor and unemployed rather than just offer them money.” “But some people are reluctant to borrow from the government”, said Kwok Man-ho, district councillor Tin Shui Wai. He has received comments from about a dozen of residents and none of them planned to apply for the loan as they were not sure if they were able to repay later. Besides, Mr Kwok also said the amount of the loan was too small, especially for people who were not living in public housing. “Since the unemployed have no idea when they can find jobs, most of them prefer direct unemployment grants …