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Business

TikTok owner ByteDance likely to launch Hong Kong IPO in second quarter

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Vikki Cai ChuchuEdited by: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰
  • 2021-04-16

ByteDance Ltd. has started preparations for its Hong Kong IPO and is likely to file a prospectus in the second quarter assuming the company’s valuation of up to $400 billion (HK$3.12 trillion), about 1.8 times of its competitor Kuaishou, according to media reports. Caixin Global said if the Hong Kong IPO could be successfully launched, ByteDance would be the third most valuable listed company at the Hong Kong stock exchange behind Tencent and Alibaba group. Caixin put the valuation of ByteDance at about US$300 billion (HK$ 2.33 trillion) while Hong Kong and international media reported that it would be up to $400 billion (HK$3.12 trillion). However, ByteDance kept silent on the rumoured listing plan.  The listing of the Beijing-based start-up is expected to include BtyeDance’s most popular mobile applications such as Douyin, news platform Toutiao and video service Xigua. TikTok will probably seek a separate listing since it involves overseas assets, Caixin said. China Securities Journal said that ByteDance had notified the operator of the HKEX that it had appointed securities underwriters on Wednesday but the media took away the story from its website on the same day. According to the HKEX underwriting agreements, firms are required to appoint sponsors and underwriters at least two months ahead of applying for IPO. The latest stock-option price for employees trading their bonuses to ByteDance’s unlisted stocks more than doubled compared with last year to $126 (HK$978.82) per share from under $50 (HK$388.42). The price did not move much from 2019 to 2020 at around $44 (HK$341.81). The prominent rise in internal stock-option price reflects the private equity market’s assessment of the firm’s value in the past 12 months. ByteDance now is the world’s highest-valued unicorn. ByteDance’s rival Kuaishou, with 271 million daily active users, reported revenue of 58.8 billion yuan (HK$ 69.93 …

China's billion dollar "blind box" toys craze

  • 2021-04-15

Lin Tangtang is shaking a box against his ear in a brightly lit toy shop. He is trying to guess from the sound and the weight of the box to see whether the doll inside is the one he wants. “All of my friends are buying blind boxes,” the 21-year-old university student said. “Every time I go out to eat, I will go to the store to buy one or two of the new series of dolls. It’s already a habit of mine.” He has bought over 200 figurines since July 2019, each of them costing 59 yuan (HK$70). A blind box is a type of packaging that keeps its content hidden. The box is identical in every way and nobody--including the store owner--knows which toy is inside.  In recent years, the "blind box craze" has gradually become a phenomenon in China, attracting many young consumers to buy mystery boxes and in order to collect the toys inside.  Pop Mart, the largest company in the Chinese blind box industry, launched a US$674 million (HK$5.2 billion) initial public offering in Hong Kong last year. The driving force behind China's blind box business is pop culture. The market was valued at 29.48 billion yuan (HK$35.38 billion) in 2020, a 44% increase year on year, according to a Chinese data analysis platform iMedia. The products in the blind box mainly just toys with images authorized for production by the original creators.  There are mainly two types of intellectual property (IP) rights for Pop Mart’s blind box toys: existing IP from well-known movies, cartoons, games and historical figures with a story background such as characters from the Harry Potter books. Then there are original IPs designed by artists without story content, such as a popular green-eyed blonde hair pouting lips girl, Molly, designed by …

Society

A Hong Kong Calligraphy Master

Every corner, wall and even the floor of King Wah Signboards in North Point is covered with the calligraphy of  Au Yeung Cheong. There are also photos of his visitors, both local and from overseas.  It’s a kind of creative mess with ink, plastic boards and paper all over the floor.  The shop has been around for 30 years but recently relocated to Kam Ping Street after the State Theatre building was sold.  The 65-year-old Chinese calligraphy master is well known for his remarkable and unique real script Mr Au Yeung has created more than a thousand signboards in Hong Kong, starting from writing, text carving to installing lightboxes.  He started when he first arrived in Hong Kong in the 1970s and later set up his shop King Wah Signboard. “The real script was created and used by emperors as the official typeface since the Tang Dynasty,” Mr Au Yeung claimed.  He described the strokes as Guan Yu’s blade, clean-cut, awe-inspiring, which is different from the Song Ti font and regular script typeface.  “The Real script shouldn’t look as if they don’t have heads or tails. The characters are tightly structured and as sharp as a knife cutting a watermelon,” he explained. As  Mr Au Yeung demonstrated his calligraphy, he almost threw himself into a trance, savouring the connotation his work seemed to bring him. He then compared his work with the calligraphy of  Wu Zetian, the only empress of China. “Don't you think mine is more beautiful than hers?” he asked.  It might be a common misconception that expensive brushes and ink are needed for the artform. But Mr Au Yeung revealed that his brushes and inks were bought from a hardware store nearby.  “What matters most is the skill you have in handling the brushes and how familiar …

Society

Muslims in Hong Kong prepare for a second Ramadan under COVID

Muslims in the city welcomed the month of Ramadan after the Incorporated Trustees of the Islamic Community Fund of Hong Kong, the official representative body for Muslims, announced the confirmation of the start of the holy month yesterday. The announcement came after the government allowed the resumption of religious gatherings with a maximum 30 percent of the venue’s capacity. “There’s this sense of relief in Hong Kong that the mosques are open” said Adeel Malik, chairman of the Muslim Council of Hong Kong. “Overall, It’s sweet to have Ramadan again,” Mr. Malik said More than 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide fast from dawn to dusk for the month of Ramadan, though some, such as the sick, are exempted. Not having the iftar — the group meal during the breaking of the fast -- was the only downside this year, said Mr Malik. The iftar meal is usually eaten after sunset together with a large group of people, including family and friends. Social gatherings beyond four people are not allowed under the current government regulations — making iftars in the city confined to homes. "The purpose of Ramadan is to attain righteousness and that’s the main purpose of fasting," said Mr. Malik, adding that he expected to have Ramadan “fully back to function” in following years. Rahman Anse, a final year student at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the month helps her to improve her spiritual goals. Ms. Anse also added that people should protect themselves as well as the community during the pandemic. “All of these activities can be done in smaller groups or even at home,” said. Ms. Anse. “I have more time to spend at home because all of my classes are online now.”. The city has 300,000 Muslims from multiple backgrounds, making up 4.6% …

Society

Life Under the Pandemic: How Do the Domestic Helpers Spend Their Holidays

Every Sunday, in areas such as Mong Kok and Central, footbridges and parks are packed with clusters of foreign domestic helpers. Under covid regulations, large groups  are broken up. A domestic helper, Bege, said this was her first time to gather with friends at the Mong Kok footbridge. They used to spend their  day-offs in her neighbourhoods. Another domestic helper, Vina, said, apart from resting at the footbridge, she would go shopping with her friends. But under the pandemic, she had nothing to do after spending time with her friends, so she would get home earlier. Unlike Bege and Vina, another domestic helper, Magttelena enjoyed “me-time” on the footbridge by doing live streaming on Facebook. For domestic helpers in Hong Kong, finding a place to spend their days off is tough during COVID. The parks in which they used to gather are now off limits. "Under the gathering ban, domestic helpers are facing more discrimination from locals when spending time together," said Peggy Shek, committee member from the Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions, which has over 750 foreign domestic helper members. According to the FADWU’s figures in June 2020, among the 427 domestic helpers who were interviewed, over 80% of them felt they faced more discrimination amid the pandemic. "Before the pandemic, the domestic helpers would sometimes be driven out by security guards  or dissuaded from taking photos when resting in parks," said Ms Shek But since last year, the domestic helpers interviewed felt that they had become the focus. Ms Shek added that reporters come to them more often and more people give them the dirty look. "Once when the domestic helpers were resting in the park, there were announcements reminding them to follow the social distancing rules every hour, which they found disturbing," said Ms …

Business

China's Trip.com raises up to $1.4 bln in HK secondary listing amid tourism recovery

  • The Young Reporter
  • By: Zhou Yichen Gloria 周奕辰Edited by: Kwok Chiu Tung 郭昭彤
  • 2021-04-09

Chinese online travel giant Trip.com Group Ltd. (9961) is raising as much as $1.4 billion (HK$ 10.9 billion) in its Hong Kong secondary listing, as a rebound in travel may lead to a business revival.  The public offer started on Thursday and would run through Apr.13, with trading expected to start on Apr.19, according to its listing document. The Nasdaq-listed company (Nasdaq: TCOM) is offering 31.6 million shares at a maximum price of HK$333 apiece. That's a premium of 11% to its closing price of $38.55 (HK$ 299.88) on Nasdaq on Thursday. Each Trip.com's American depositary receipt represents one ordinary share to be listed in Hong Kong. "Trip.com's secondary listing in Hong Kong could increase cash flow, diversify risk and attract more Asian investors amid growing tensions between China and the U.S.," said Zhang Xiao, an analyst from Great Wall Securities. "The domestic tourism is recovering strongly and the global tourism will gradually recover as more people having vaccinations. This will boost investor confidence and bring more opportunities for Trip.com to increase its market value." The Shanghai-based company is among the growing cohort of U.S.-listed Chinese firms to carry out homecoming listings, including search giant Baidu which is Ctrip's single largest shareholder holding a stake of 11.5%. Total fundraising via new share listings in Hong Kong surged 822% to a record high in the first quarter. Trip.com provides comprehensive travel products and services on its global one-stop travel platform, generating revenues primarily from the accommodation reservation and transportation ticketing businesses. Due to the severe impact of COVID-19 on the global tourism industry, the company's revenue in 2020 plunged 49% to 18.3 billion yuan (HK$ 21.74 billion), according to the prospectus. It also saw a loss of 3.3 billion yuan (HK$ 3.92 billion) after making a profit of 7 billion yuan …

Sweeping changes to Hong Kong’s electoral laws move to the Legislative Council on April 14

  • 2021-04-08

The drastic overhaul of Hong Kong’s electoral system will be considered by the Legislative Council on Wednesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said today. To overhaul Legco's geographical constituencies, five key ordinances will be amended, she said, speaking at a Q&A session at the Legislative Council, including cutting the number of directly elected Legco seats, redrawing geographical election boundaries and vetting candidates to ensure a system of "patriots governing Hong Kong”. She said the government will hold three elections within a year once the bills are passed by lawmakers. “Any election manipulation and sabotage will be solved by law enforcement," said  Lam.  Under the proposed amendments, candidates for the Legislative Council and the Election Committee will require the approval of the Hong Kong Committee for Safeguarding National Security, established last year under the National Security Law. Mrs Lam said the new electoral system will restore order in the Legislative Council, adding that the pro-democracy camp hindered the government from understanding public opinion.  The government will also open a temporary civil servants school to train more patriotic political talents and deepen the understanding of “one country, two systems”, she said. An amendment of The Personal Data Ordinance will be prioritised, she added, saying that “the government is the largest victim of fake news”. 

Hong Kong should consider dropping Astrazeneca vaccine, top pandemic advisors say

  • 2021-04-07

Hong Kong should cancel 7.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca expected to arrive in July, according to Dr. David Hui, a Covid-19 government advisor. Speaking on a Commercial Radio programme, the respiratory disease expert said the AstraZeneca vaccine only provided 10% protection against the South African variant, a strain which might be more infectious. Dr Hui also suggested the government should suspend its purchase of the AstraZeneca vaccine because it might cause blood clots. He added the government could instead look for other vaccines which can cover the South Africa variant, or some second-generation vaccines. Dr Hui’s advice was echoed by Dr. Ho Pak-leung, another Covid-19 advisor, who also said the authorities should withdraw the AstraZeneca vaccine if it is found to be related with blood clots. In February, the Astrazeneca vaccine was suspended in at least ten European countries after reports of several deaths among vaccine recipients. German health authorities announced last week that people aged 60 years and over will be eligible for the vaccine. The uncertainty of the situation has changed some people’s vaccination plan. Kitty Sze, a 21-year-old student studying in the UK, said she might consider other vaccines such as the BioNTech jab. “I was originally going to take the AstraZeneca vaccine during the summer and go back to the UK for in-person classes. But my parents have urged me not to take this vaccine. I am worried too,” said Ms Sze. Currently, the European Medicines Agency is conducting an investigation on the vaccine and a conclusion is expected to be released shortly.

Society

Nearly 3 million Hong Kong Facebook accounts may be affected by data leak

Personal information from more than 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries have been leaked and posted in a low-level hacking forum on Saturday, cybersecurity researcher, Alon Gai said on Twitter on Saturday. Around 2.94 million Hong Kong users may be affected. The exposed data includes users’ full names, phone numbers, locations, email addresses and biographical information. Security researchers say hackers could use the data to commit fraud.  A Facebook spokesperson said that the data had been scrapped due to a vulnerability that the company patched in 2019.  According to Alon Gal, the chief technology officer of a cybercrime intelligence firm Hudson Rock, who discovered the leakage of data on Saturday, said while the data is a couple of years old, it could be used by cybercriminals  to impersonate users or scam them into handing over login credentials.  Ms Chung Lai-ling Ada, the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data inHong Kong, said that her office is paying close attention to the Facebook leak and has carried out compliance investigations.  She suggested that members of the public should think twice before using social media. "The use of social media carries inherent yet non-negligible risks to users' privacy in relation to personal data," said Ms Chung.  The PCPD also issued a “Guidance on Protecting Personal Data Privacy in the Use of Social Media and Instant Messaging Apps” on April 5, which provides the public with some practical advice to mitigate the privacy risks involved in the use of social media. The Guidance points out that the use of social media and instant messaging apps is not really "free" because users’ personal data is usually monetized upon registration or in the course of user activities.  Users of social media often unwittingly reveal more information than they think. Information shared online can also be misused …

Society

Hong Kong resumes BioNTech vaccination after 12-day suspension

Hong Kong resumes BioNTech vaccination after 12-day suspension Hong Kong's BioNTech vaccination programme started again on Monday after a batch of the vaccine was found to have defective packaging on March 24. The injections offered from today come from a new batch of 300,000 doses that arrived last Saturday. Two previous batches are temporarily on hold until an investigation is completed by the manufacturer. People who could not get their vaccination during the week-long stoppage are automatically reassigned new time slots by the Centre for Health Protection. A notification is sent to their phones. "I am actually still a little worried, but I heard that the second dose must be given within a limited time after the first dose," said Ngan Lap-wing, a 62-year-old man who received his first shot on March 10. He originally booked a second shot on April 1. The city's vaccination booking system showed that all bookings of the BioNTech jabs are taken in the coming two days. "I had obvious side effects such as a fever after getting the first dose, and the second dose I received was a new batch. So I think it should be effective," said Alfred Lau, a 35-year-old banker who had his second shot today. By April 4, about 151,400 people in Hong Kong have received the first dose of the BioNTech vaccine and about 600 have also had their second shot, according to the latest figures released by the government.