China Central TV: champion of the people with a blurred picture

November 20, 2013 3:15 am

China Central TV: champion of the people with a blurred picture

By FT reporters

At the end of October, a young journalist in handcuffs, green prison jacket and a freshly shaved head appeared on China Central Television, the state-owned national broadcaster, and confessed to taking bribes in exchange for writing negative articles about a large Chinese company. Just days earlier, the newspaper that employed Chen Yongzhou, 27, had published front-page banner headlines calling for his release, while human rights groups had mobilised to defend him. But after his admission on national television, the issue quickly died away. Read more of this post

Canada’s Tar Sands Oil Boom Yields Toxic Wastewater Lakes

Canada’s Tar Sands Oil Boom Yields Toxic Wastewater Lakes

By Jeremy van Loon November 21, 2013

Canada is blessed with 3 million lakes, more than any country on earth—and it may soon start manufacturing new ones. The oil sands industry is in the throes of a major expansion, powered by C$20 billion ($19 billion) a year in investments. Companies including Syncrude Canada, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS/A), and ExxonMobil (XOM) affiliate Imperial Oil are running out of room to store the contaminated water that is a byproduct of the process used to turn bitumen—a highly viscous form of petroleum—into diesel and other fuels. By 2022 they will be producing so much of the stuff that a month’s output of wastewater could turn New York’s Central Park into a toxic reservoir 11 feet deep, according to the Pembina Institute, a nonprofit in Calgary that promotes sustainable energy. Read more of this post

Beijing’s top tipple heads down market after Communist crackdown

November 22, 2013 1:13 am

Beijing’s top tipple heads down market after Communist crackdown

By Patti Waldmeir in Shanghai

The Chinese Communist party’s favourite drink, ultra-luxury baijiu, is heading downmarket to supermarket shelves and restaurants as a result of Beijing’s ban on top-end white spirits. The prohibition is part of the government’s anti-corruption campaign, which is hitting sales of luxury goods from watches to mooncakes. With expensive drinks from baijiu to Bordeaux now off limits for officials, purveyors of tipples from wine to white spirits are trying to cultivate new drinkers and distribution channels in one of the world’s oldest drinking cultures. Read more of this post

Beijing Looks to Markets to Fix Pollution; Leaders Take Aim at Cheap Use of Resources That Has Led to Environment Problems

Beijing Looks to Markets to Fix Pollution

Leaders Take Aim at Cheap Use of Resources That Has Led to Environment Problems


Updated Nov. 20, 2013 5:00 p.m. ET

BEIJING—China’s leaders are taking aim at the cheap use of resources that has let its industries boom but has choked its air and tainted its soil, looking to markets to play a larger role in commodity prices as a way to fix pollution. The strategy change, endorsed as part of a wide-ranging policy blueprint at a Communist Party meeting that concluded last week, promises to grant markets a “decisive role” in allocating resources, while more harshly penalizing polluters. Read more of this post

Surfstitch claims it’s now the world’s largest online sports apparel and fashion retailer

Surfstitch considering IPO

November 20, 2013

Alexandra Cain

The Aussie enterprise claims it’s now the world’s largest online sports apparel and fashion retailer. Having just started to dominate European online fashion retailing, after already becoming the market leader in Asia and Australia, Surfstitch is now considering an initial public offer on the Australian bourse. Co-founder Justin Cameron told Fairfax Media the business is assessing its options, with an IPO or trade sale on the cards. “It’s something being considered currently,” he said. According to Cameron, the business is already the largest online action sports and fashion business in the world. Read more of this post

Profits spike, risks multiply in Asia’s derivatives return

Profits spike, risks multiply in Asia’s derivatives return

4:04pm EST

By Lawrence White

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Investment banks in Asia are taking advantage of a regulatory grey area to reap big returns from rising sales of equity derivatives, increasing the systematic risks to the financial system that regulators are trying to eradicate. Derivatives are tempting for yield-hungry investors and banks facing a slowdown in their traditional deals and trading markets because of the higher returns they can offer both sides. But regulators and academics fear banks are using them to circumvent rules intended to stop them risking their own money to boost returns. Read more of this post

Li Ka-shing’s CKI Relies on Consortiums to Keep Debt Low

Li Ka-shing’s CKI Relies on Consortiums to Keep Debt Low

Tycoon’s Utilities Arm Bands Together With Associate Companies to Buy Overseas Assets


Nov. 20, 2013 4:56 a.m. ET


Hong Kong’s utilities companies have been snapping up assets from London to New Zealand in the past few years, but while electricity company CLP Holdings Ltd.0002.HK +0.72% ‘s debt exceeded its equity in 2011, tycoon Li Ka-shing‘s Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings Ltd. has kept its debt levels low. Since the 2008 financial crisis, CKI has spent more than US$22 billion on overseas acquisitions, according to Dealogic, to reduce its reliance on the domestic market, where returns on selling electricity are capped. Hong Kong’s other electricity producer and distributor, CLP, has spent just US$2.3 billion, but unlike Asia’s richest man, the company owned by the Kadoorie family can’t count on associate companies to take on debt to fund overseas purchases. Read more of this post

Aberdeen Sees Sensex Earnings Slowdown on Polls: Corporate India

Aberdeen Sees Sensex Earnings Slowdown on Polls: Corporate India

Profit growth at Indian companies is set to slow from the fastest in six quarters as elections delay projects and higher borrowing costs hurt economic expansion, said Aberdeen Asset Management Plc and Bank of America Corp. Read more of this post

India Confronts the Politics of the Toilet

India Confronts the Politics of the Toilet

On Tuesday, the United Nations marked its inaugural World Toilet Day, designed to draw attention to the fact that more than one-sixth of humanity still lacks indoor sanitation, and that the world needs new ideas and technologies to deal with one of the most basic human needs. If there is any one country toward which such initiatives must be aimed, then that is India, where a combination of ignorance, apathy, embarrassment, deeply ingrained cultural codes, ineffective policy, huge numbers and very different urban and rural sanitation challenges have meant that more than half of the population still doesn’t have access to a proper toilet. Read more of this post

India’s State Banks Need More Medicine

India’s State Banks Need More Medicine


Nov. 20, 2013 6:56 a.m. ET


India’s state-owned banks need new blood. Weak economic growth has hit these lenders hard. Exposed to politically favored but risky customers like farmers and small businesses, state-owned banks have racked up more than their fair share of bad loans. State banks hold 86% of the system’s bad loans while accounting for 75% of the lending market. To help write off these assets, the government plans to inject $2.3 billion of fresh capital into state-owned banks over the next few months. While this is a step in the right direction, it isn’t enough.

Read more of this post

India: Modi muscles in; Even the politician’s admirers in the business community admit he could be a risky choice

November 21, 2013 6:58 pm

India: Modi muscles in

By Victor Mallet and Lionel Barber

Even the politician’s admirers in the business community admit he could be a risky choice

For the past two months, a cavernous office in the Gujarati capital of Gandhinagar has become the improbable focal point of Indian public life. Flights to the nearby airport at Ahmedabad are packed with politicians, campaign managers, pollsters, foreign diplomats and European arms manufacturers. The man they have come to see sits serenely behind an enormous desk of polished wood, flanked by a portrait of a Gujarati lion: Narendra Modi, chief minister of the state for more than a decade. In September, he was named as prime ministerial candidate for the Bharatiya Janata party, India’s Hindu nationalist opposition. Read more of this post

India’s Modi and the Market

India’s Modi and the Market

India’s opposition candidate can do more to signal his commitment to fixing the economy.


Nov. 21, 2013 12:14 p.m. ET

Can Narendra Modi revive India’s economy? In some ways, this is the central question Indian voters face when the country goes to the polls next summer. Yet as with most anything that concerns the Gujarat chief minister and opposition Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate, opinion in the country is sharply divided. Read more of this post

Moët Hennessy’s Chandon: now made in India

November 19, 2013 4:02 pm

Moët Hennessy’s Chandon: now made in India

By Jonathan Moules

Julian Richer is fretting about catching a train. “I have to be in a taxi at 10,” says his email, explaining that he has an economy ticket for the journey home to York, which means he can travel only on the 10.30am from Kings Cross. He will have to leave our meeting at The George, his Mayfair club, prompt­ly. He usually forswears taxis too, he later adds. He is making an ex­ception today because he is squeezing the meeting in between a visit to one of his shops and hosting a Bible study group at his Georgian mansion in the Yorkshire countryside. Read more of this post

Sugar Mills in India to Extend Shutdown on Record Cane Costs

Sugar Mills in India to Extend Shutdown on Record Cane Costs

Sugar mills in India’s biggest growing region will extend a shutdown to curb losses after the government retained cane prices at a record high, potentially curbing output in the world’s second-largest producer. Factories will remain shut as the mills are unable to pay growers the price set by the state, Uttar Pradesh Sugar Mills Association President C.B. Patodia said yesterday in a phone interview in New Delhi. Producers can only pay as much as 225 rupees ($3.60) per 100 kilograms (220 pounds), compared with the state-set price of 280 rupees, he said. Read more of this post

Toward a uniquely Indian growth model; India can’t afford to emulate China. Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra says the country’s states must compete, not march in lockstep, if India is to develop its own path to sustainable prosper

Toward a uniquely Indian growth model

India can’t afford to emulate China. Mahindra Group chairman Anand Mahindra says the country’s states must compete, not march in lockstep, if India is to develop its own path to sustainable prosperity.

November 2013 | byAnand Mahindra

When I listen to pundits, economists, and multinational CEOs talk about India, often I detect a familiar note of frustration. India, they insist, should be blasting upward like a rocket, its growth rate ascending higher and higher, bypassing that of a slowing China’s. India’s population is younger than that of its Asian rival and still growing. Its democratic government enjoys greater legitimacy; its businesspeople are more internationally adept. And yet the Indian rocket continues to sputter in a low-altitude orbit—growing respectably at 5 to 7 percent each year but never breaking through to sustained double-digit growth. Read more of this post

Indonesia Pain Threshold Looms on Rate Increases: Southeast Asia

Indonesia Pain Threshold Looms on Rate Increases: Southeast Asia

Indonesia’s most aggressive rate-tightening in eight years has barely dented a current-account deficit, prompting calls for more increases and other measures before the Federal Reserve cuts stimulus. Bank Indonesia has raised borrowing costs by 1.75 percentage points to 7.5 percent since mid-June, the quickest since 2005. Following data last week showing the country recorded its second-highest current-account shortfall on record in the three months through September, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Standard Chartered Plc now see a further 50 basis points of increases in the first half of next year. Read more of this post

Indonesia’s informal dentists bite back on ban

Indonesia’s informal dentists bite back on ban

Friday, November 22, 2013 – 03:00

The New Paper

For more than 30 years, Indonesian Edi Herman has been fixing the teeth of Jakartans in the rusty chair of his tiny shop. He is one of thousands of low-cost, unlicensed dentists, whose small stores with their lurid signs can be found nestled in grimy alleys and wedged between redtiled houses across the capital. But after years of horror stories about people suffering terrible damage at the hands of unscrupulous practitioners with neither clean tools nor training, the government moved to ban them from all dental work in 2011. Read more of this post

BOJ Chief Rejects Idea of Yen, Stock Bubble

BOJ Chief Rejects Idea of Yen, Stock Bubble

Kuroda Says He Will Press Ahead With Easing


Nov. 22, 2013 1:45 a.m. ET

TOKYO—Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda on Friday rejected the view that the central bank’s aggressive pumping of money into the economy is creating a stock market bubble and excessive yen weakness, instead stressing that he will press ahead with monetary easing to vanquish deflation. “I don’t think there is any bubblelike, abnormal yen weakness right now in the currency market,” Mr. Kuroda said during a parliamentary session when an opposition lawmaker accused the BOJ’s policy of merely causing bubbles in asset prices. “I have no particular concerns that a bubble may be in the making in the asset markets,” he added. Read more of this post

Doubting Toyota Prince Defeats Crisis to Prove Self Wrong: Cars

Doubting Toyota Prince Defeats Crisis to Prove Self Wrong: Cars

He’d heard it so often he began to believe it himself. Too young. Not up to the task. Didn’t deserve it. Only there because of his name. “I probably won’t last a year as president, but at least I can finally do something for the company.” Akio Toyoda says those doubts haunted him in early 2010, eight months into the top job at the carmaker his father once ran and his grandfather founded. Eight months in which he’d been all but invisible as defects in autos bearing the family name were tied to deadly crashes in the U.S. And now he was headed for Washington to apologize to Congress and the American people. Read more of this post

Japan Pension Fund Urged to Take More Risk, Review Bonds

Japan Pension Fund Urged to Take More Risk, Review Bonds

Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the world’s largest manager of retirement savings, should become more independent of the government and review its domestic bond holdings, an advisory panel said. GPIF should allocate more of its 121 trillion yen ($1.21 trillion) portfolio to overseas assets and consider investing in real-estate investment trusts and private equity where returns may be higher than Japanese government bonds, the panel said in a report today. The fund should change its organizational structure, while the government should recognize GPIF’s independence, the report said. Read more of this post

Japanese companies face double challenge; They need to consolidate at home and grow overseas

November 21, 2013 6:58 am

Japanese companies face double challenge

By Henny Sender

They need to consolidate at home and grow overseas

After the Japanese government recapitalised ailing Japan Air Lines and installed Kazuo Inamori, formerly Kyocera’s chief executive, in the cockpit, the airline’s new chairman discovered that it took the country’s once flagship airline a full 50 days to figure out whether it was making money or losing money on any given day. Like many Japanese companies, or many Chinese state owned enterprises for that matter, JAL was more focused on sales than on profits, and had never developed the information systems that enabled it to be efficiently run. Read more of this post

Secret Octopus Dad Has Indie Key to Sony’s Console Success: Tech

Secret Octopus Dad Has Indie Key to Sony’s Console Success: Tech

When trying to revive one of the world’s most iconic consumer-electronics brands, it pays to have a mollusk on your side. The gangling, accident-prone star of “Octodad: Dadliest Catch” may hold the secret to success for Sony Corp. (6758)’s PlayStation 4 console in one of his eight suckered arms. Sony wants independent developers — like the college crew who dreamed up the game about an undercover octopus trying to keep his true identity from his human family — to give it an edge in the $93 billion-a-year industry. Read more of this post

Can the sweet potato latte help a Korean coffee chain conquer the world?

Can the sweet potato latte help a Korean coffee chain conquer the world?

By Heather Timmons November 21, 2013


Gimme a double sweet potato with extra whipped cream.Hollys Coffee/Facebook

Does the world really need another global coffee chain? It’s about to get one, in the form of Hollys Coffee, a South Korean coffee company that is striking out from its coffee-saturated home market. Hollys, which was started in 1998, serves espresso, cappuccinos and other typical coffee shop fare, but the company’s signature drink is its “sweet potato latte,” a 445-kcal hot drink made with milk, sweet potatoes and almonds. They also do a brisk business in “anytime brunch,” which mostly means waffles whenever you want them, sometimes topped with a scoop of gelato. Read more of this post

Mobius Vietnam Buy Orders Unfilled as Foreign Holdings Hit Limit

Mobius Vietnam Buy Orders Unfilled as Foreign Holdings Hit Limit

The rush of foreign investors into Vietnam’s most-favored companies has exhausted the government-limited supply of shares, freezing out some as inflation slows and the economy recovers from the weakest growth since 1999. Vietnam Dairy Products JSC (VNM), the nation’s largest milk producer, and DHG Pharmaceutical JSC, the biggest listed drugmaker, are among 20 companies with overseas ownership at the 49 percent limit, according to Ho Chi Minh City-based ACB Securities Co. Foreigners have bought a net $208.5 million of the nation’s shares in 2013, the eighth straight year of inflows, as the benchmark VN Index (VNINDEX) rose 22 percent. Read more of this post

Thai Rice Hoard at Record Seen Hurting Prices Amid Global Glut

Thai Rice Hoard at Record Seen Hurting Prices Amid Global Glut

Record reserves of rice in Thailand, accumulated from a state-buying program that’s spurred concern from the International Monetary Fund, are seen contributing to lower prices next year as worldwide harvests expand. The stockpiles probably total 16 million metric tons, which will pressure global prices, according to Eklavya Chandra, director at Bangkok-based Phoenix Commodities Ltd. (Thailand). The Thai holdings will surge 18 percent to 14.9 million tons in 2013-2014, the International Grains Council forecasts. Read more of this post

Trying to Build the Next Amazon—in Nigeria

Trying to Build the Next Amazon—in Nigeria

By Chris KayChris Spillane, and Janice Kew November 21, 2013

When Gbemiga Omotoso bought a Samsung tablet last year, he handed over his cash to a man in a van. The transaction wasn’t illegal, though. It’s part of online retailer Jumia’s attempt to adapt its operation to the unique challenges of selling in Nigeria. With many of the country’s 160 million residents suspicious of paying online—yes, they get those fraudulent e-mails, too—the Lagos-based retailer wins over skeptical shoppers by accepting payment on delivery and offering free returns. “It’s very important that people know it’s not a scam,” says 29-year-old co-founder Tunde Kehinde. “Even though they want to buy, trust is still a very, very big issue.” Read more of this post

Snapchat CEO Says 70% of Users Are Women

Nov 20, 2013

Snapchat CEO Says 70% of Users Are Women

By Douglas MacMillan

Roughly 70% of Snapchat users are women, the chief executive of the messaging app said at a closed-doorGoldman SachsGS -0.96% conference Wednesday. Co-founder and CEO Evan Spiegel said Snapchat users are sending 400 million“snaps” a day on the service, where messages disappear after a few seconds, according to a person who was present at the meeting. He said half of Snapchat’s users have tried out “stories,” a feature the company introduced last month to link multiple messages together. The on-stage interview, titled “What Lies Ahead for Snapchat,” covered the two-year-old company’s plans after spurning a roughly $3 billion acquisition offer from FacebookFB +0.15%. Snapchat has not disclosed its number of users. Spiegel was asked about user numbers Wednesday but declined to discuss them. Snapchat has no revenue, and Spiegel said the company is in no hurry to make money from advertisers. “There are a lot of things in our product that make it appealing for advertisers, but we want to do it right,” Spiegel told a packed room at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas, according to the person who was present. Mary Ritti, a spokeswoman for Snapchat, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spiegel said Snapchat’s biggest competitors are rival messaging apps. WeChat and Line are popular in their home markets of China and Japan, respectively, but “there are no real huge players worldwide,” he said. To expand overseas, Snapchat is relying on users to translate its app into new languages – a low-cost strategy that’s worked for other Internet services such as Facebook and Pinterest. The company plans to add to its current team of 30 employees, Spiegel said.

Say Goodbye to Old-Style Car Salesman; No-Haggle Price, Online Selling Transforms Auto Retailing

Say Goodbye to Old-Style Car Salesman

No-Haggle Price, Online Selling Transforms Auto Retailing


Nov. 20, 2013 3:35 p.m. ET


At Toyota Sunnyvale in Silicon Valley, about half the store’s sales staff “do nothing but wait on customers digitally.” Here, Stan Wolowski emails customers. Jason Henry for The Wall Street Journal

A car salesman used to spend long days on his feet. Now he’s becoming like everyone else—stuck most days in a chair in front of a computer screen. The Internet has been upending car sales for more than 15 years. That change is now coming down hard on the people on the front lines—converting them into more into concierges than hand-shaking sales maestros. Read more of this post

Samsung and LG test folding screens in search of flexible future

November 21, 2013 1:00 pm

Samsung and LG test folding screens in search of flexible future

By Song Jung-a in Seoul

Flat screens may have been fine for smartphones but Samsung and LG are betting that curved will be king for wearable devices such as smartwatches. The South Korean companies are racing to bring flexible displays to their mobile devices. Success in doing so could give them a significant advantage over AppleGoogleand other makers of wearable devices in an area that is shaping up to be the next big battleground in consumer electronics. Read more of this post

Competitors are working hard to break up Qualcomm’s dominance, but the company maintains a strong lead. Its latest LTE baseband chips are in their fourth generation, while rivals are launching their first.

Qualcomm Is Still a Smart Bet


Updated Nov. 21, 2013 4:27 p.m. ET


Some may believe the party’s over at QualcommQCOM +0.96% but it is too early for last call. The stock has jumped 18% over the past four months and just hit its highest level since an inflated dot-com run-up back in 2000. Qualcomm also just notched a three-year run averaging 31% annual revenue growth and warned investors in its last earnings call that the current fiscal year would see a notable slowdown from those levels. Read more of this post

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