HK turmoil hurts AIA
More than four months of turmoil in Hong Kong and the chilling effect on Chinese tourism to the territory have taken their toll on insurer AIA Group Ltd, with policy sales slumping. The value of new business, a measure of future profitability of new policies, fell by double digits in the third quarter, AIA said in a statement yesterday. While AIA did not give an exact figure for the slide in Hong Kong, it said the group’s overall value of new business was little changed in the quarter at US$980 million. “Some of our markets are experiencing headwinds from the lower interest rate environment, falling consumer confidence and rising political and trade tensions,” the company said.
IMF reports on Arab unrest
Unemployment and sluggish economic growth are fueling social tension and popular protests in several Arab countries, the IMF said yesterday. The unrest is in turn contributing to slower growth in the Middle East and North Africa region, alongside global trade tensions, oil price volatility and a disorderly Brexit process, the IMF said in a report on the regional economic outlook. Earlier this month it lowered this year’s forecast for the region — taking in the Arab nations and Iran — to a meager 0.1 percent from 1.1 percent last year.
Industrial profits drop
Profits at industrial enterprises continued to contract as the economy slows and factory deflation worsens. Industrial profits dropped 5.3 percent last month, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Sunday. While industrial production picked up last month, growing deflationary pressure continued to weigh on corporate profits and their debt servicing ability. Companies’ earning power would likely remain depressed in the coming month amid weak demand, the bureau said. “The larger slide in September was due to a faster decline in industrial product prices and a slower growth in sales,” it said.
RBI denies gold report
The central bank has not sold any gold recently nor is it trading in the metal, the monetary authority said in a tweet on Sunday. The Economic Times had reported on Friday that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) started trading in gold actively since July, buying gold worth US$5.1 billion and selling US$1.15 billion worth. The newspaper cited data from the RBI’s Weekly Statistical Supplement. “The fluctuation in value depicted in Weekly Statistical Supplement is due to change in frequency of revaluation from monthly to weekly basis and is based on international prices of gold and exchange rates,” the RBI said in the tweet.
China Feihe readies for IPO
China Feihe Ltd (中國飛鶴), a baby formula producer, yesterday started taking investor orders for its Hong Kong initial public offering, which could raise as much as HK$8.9 billion (US$1.14 billion). The Beijing-based company is offering 893.3 million shares at HK$7.50 to HK$10 apiece, according to terms of the deal obtained by Bloomberg. The price range implied a market value of US$8.5 billion to US$11.4 billion, the terms show. The offering would at least be Feihe’s second attempt to conduct an IPO in Hong Kong after the company went private from the New York Stock Exchange in 2013 amid a wave of delistings by US-traded Chinese firms.
NO VIRUS BLUES: A SEMI Taiwan official said that the virus does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday. That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today. The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said. In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms
Intel Corp has received licenses from US authorities to continue supplying certain products to Huawei Technologies Co (華為), a company spokesman said yesterday. Washington has been pushing governments around to world to squeeze out Huawei, saying that the telecom giant would hand data to Beijing for espionage. From Monday last week, new curbs have barred US companies from supplying or servicing Huawei. This week, the state-backed China Securities Journal reported that Intel had received permission to supply Huawei. China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯國際), which uses US-origin equipment to make chips for Huawei and other companies, last week confirmed that it had sought
Taipei Times: When do you think the hospitality industry can return to how it was before the COVID-19 pandemic? How does Formosa International Hotels Group (FIH, 晶華酒店集團) fare this quarter and beyond? FIH chairman Steve Pan (潘思亮): The virus outbreak will have a serious impact on business travel, driven mainly by meetings, incentive travel, conferences and exhibitions over the past three decades. For the past six months, many businesspeople have grown used to exchanging information on the Internet, where more people can participate. The trend might sustain for three to five years until people are vaccinated and it is safe to
DIGITAL COMMERCE: In 2016, only 2 percent of orders were delivered in Taiwan, but that has risen to 10 percent, Foodpanda Taiwan Co operations director Nick Yu said Online food delivery platforms have seen explosive growth in Taiwan this year, helped by business opportunities related to the COVID-19 pandemic, company executives said at a digital commerce conference in Taipei yesterday. When the threat of COVID-19 kept people from going out to eat, more people experimented with ordering food deliveries online, Foodpanda Taiwan Co Ltd (富胖達) operations director Nick Yu (余岳勳) said. Foodpanda started operations in Taiwan in 2012. “We experienced 5,000 percent growth in the past 24 months,” Yu said. “That’s more than the previous six years combined.” In 2016, only 2 percent of food orders were delivered in Taiwan, but that