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The Incentivized Asian “Wedge” Snake to Tunnel Corporate Wealth

 “Bamboo Innovators bend, not break, even in the most terrifying storm that would snap the mighty resisting oak tree. It survives, therefore it conquers.”
BAMBOO LETTER UPDATE | January 19, 2015
Bamboo Innovator Insight (Issue 66)

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 The Incentivized Asian “Wedge” Snake to Tunnel Corporate WealthWith the volatility in the currency market as the Swiss National Bank abandoned the EURCHF floor which sent the Swiss franc soaring and the ASEAN currencies Indonesian rupiah and Malaysian ringgit dropping to the decade lows against the dollar, we are reminded of what happened during the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis. Many auditors could not finalize the accounts of their clients in time because they did not have vital information about the foreign exchange losses incurred and debt covenants triggered on the dollar-denominated loans that their clients had piled up when the dollar-based debt was cheap. As the local currencies devalued sharply against the dollar, resulting in substantially more local currencies needed to service the dollar-denominated interest payments, a wave of default swept across the Asian corporate landscape. But there is a twist to the default story – an accounting tunneling twist.

Two short Asian cases. After the onset of the 1997/98 Asian Financial Crisis, United Engineers Malaysia (UEM), a relatively healthy firm with strong growth prospects, bought out some management-controlled shares of its financially-troubled parent, Renong Corporation, at artificially high prices. Both firms are controlled by the same “family” (Halim Bin Saad via nominee accounts and connected to former finance minister Daim Zainuddin) through a pyramid structure. The buyout directly tunneled corporate wealth to the family at the expense of minority shareholders of both firms. Ting Pek Khiing, Chairman of the Ekran Group, issued shares in Ekran in May 1997 with the declared intention of purchasing shares in the holding company of Bakun Hydro-Electric Corporation, the operator of the largest hydroelectric project ever undertaken in Malaysia. Instead, as the crisis took hold, the money from the share issuance was ultimately used, via third parties, to buy out Ting’s stakes in several of the Ekran Group’s publicly traded affiliates. These are not the typical western-style accruals-based earnings management; they are artful Asian accounting tunneling methods to abuse minority shareholders. “Because I Can”, the controlling owners hissed. But how did they really carry out the tunneling? And how can we detect the incentivized Asian “wedge” snake that tunnels corporate wealth?

Warm regards,

KB

The Moat Report Asia

www.moatreport.com

http://accountancy.smu.edu.sg/faculty/profile/108141/KEE-Koon-Boon

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Bamboo Innovator Daily Insight: 19 Jan (Mon) – Raffles Hotel Paint Job Helps Make Goh Cheng Liang Singapore’s Richest; How To Be Compassionate: 3 Research-Backed Steps To A Happier Life

Life 

How To Be Compassionate: 3 Research-Backed Steps To A Happier Life: Bark

Martin Franklin, Jarden: a repentant corporate raider: FT

Lunch with the FT: Marc Andreessen; The Netscape founder and tech investor talks about the trouble with stock markets, what he looks for in entrepreneurs and why illegal immigration is good for America: FT

How insecurity and preening kill corporate common sense; The fear of being found out is just one reason why the rot sets in but entrepreneurs offer hope: FT

Mitt Romney and the downside of blind perseverance: Fortune

Books

The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking: Amazon, Farnam

Get Smarter: Life and Business Lessons by Seymour Schulich, a Canadian billionaire and philanthropist: Amazon

Investing Process

When stocks are more affordable, but not cheaper; What makes stocks cheap or expensive are their valuation multiples and earnings prospects, not board lot sizes: BT

Greater China

From ‘superman’ to ‘big tiger’, Li Ka-shing loses favour with Beijing: SCMP

Suspension of migration investment scheme hits HK stock brokers hard: SCMP

Shenzhen stock market waits in the wings as drawcard for foreign investors; With blessings from the top, the city is likely to gain a market link with Hong Kong but with mostly smaller companies, risks are seen as higher: SCMP

Hong Kong Regulator Alleges Misleading Research; SFC Pursues Actions Against Moody’s, Citron: WSJ

China Graftbusters Put Kaisa Cat Among the Pigeons: Bloomberg

China Stocks Plunge on Margin-Trading Suspensions as Citic Sinks; Why China Margin-Loan Curbs Are Sinking Stocks: Chart of the Day: Bloomberg, Bloomberg2

Kaisa on Brink of Dollar Default Spooks Money Managers; Kaisa Stress Spreading to Loans as Nomura Sees Big Selling Push: Bloomberg, Bloomberg2

Haitong Plunge Cheers Short-Sellers as Bearish Bets Near Record: Bloomberg

China Dream Ends for Handan as Steel Slump Spurs Property Losses: Bloomberg

Shanghai Widens Lead Over Singapore as Busiest Box Port: Bloomberg

China’s shipyards brace for leaner times as oil slump sours rig building spree: Bloomberg

Scientists raise alarm on China’s fishy aqua farms: Reuters

Now that the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporation (THSRC) has been doomed to bankruptcy, tongues are wagging over what’s really wrong with it: ChinaPost

Officials chowing on US$630 meal during Bund stampede: Hua Shang Daily: WCT

JD.com may have overestimated rural e-commerce demand: WCT

Beware black swan in HK housing rush; Just as the property market continued soaring to new heights, Chief Executive CY Leung declared the housing shortage would soon end. Standard

Xiaomi Looks Overseas After Winning Fans in China; Smartphone Vendor Targets Brazil, Russia, Other Emerging Markets: WSJ

India

Billionaires Facing Higher Debt Costs on Oil Slump: Bloomberg

Japan & Korea

Samsung Loses Connection with Chinese Consumers in 2014: Caixin

Korea to build casino resorts, more hotels, duty-free shops: KH

Weak Yen Rekindles Hope for ‘Made in Japan’; Electronics Makers Among the Vanguard of Those Bringing Production Back Home: WSJ

Nasdaq to Provide Trading Platform for Japan’s Biggest Derivatives Exchange: WSJ

A vision for Korea’s next half-century: We have to break the vicious cycle of fighting back over every single claim that is made.: JA

ASEAN

Raffles Hotel Paint Job Helps Make Goh Cheng Liang Singapore’s Richest: Bloomberg

Jokowi Administration Is Its Own Worst Enemy: JG

For Indonesians, President’s Political Outsider Status Loses Its Luster: NYT

Indonesia’s Indofood to cut stake in China Minzhong: Reuters

Vietnam PM Says Impossible to Ban Social Media, urging officials instead to embrace websites like Facebook to spread the government’s message. JGlobe

Macro

How Pepperstone is profiting from the Swiss currency carnage: BRW

It’s Time to End Financial Advisers’ 1% Fees; Low-Cost Online Advisers Are Challenging Traditional Advisers: WSJ

California is overtaking Brazil as the world’s seventh-largest economy, bolstered by rising employment, home values and personal and corporate income, a year after the most-populous state surpassed Russia and Italy.: Bloomberg

Suitmaker Zegna Tears Up Budget as SNB Shock Clouds View: Bloomberg

High risk of crowded trade unravelling; Strands linking rising dollar, higher stocks and lower oil less resilient: FT

Swiss franc turmoil hits retail currency traders; regulators have tolerated industry for long: FT

UK logistics sector hit by collapse of couriers and hauliers: FT

Bank Losses From Swiss Currency Surprise Seen Mounting: Bloomberg

AIM stocks miss target but backers remain undeterred: FT

Stay calm, New York has its first $100 million apartment: Quartz

Swiss Credibility Shaken By “Franc-mageddon”; Currency policy u-turn rattles markets and signals to Asia that European money printing may be on the way.: Barron’s

http://www.wsj.com/articles/its-time-to-end-financial-advisers-1-fees-1421545038?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLE_Video_Top

It’s Time to End Financial Advisers’ 1% Fees; Low-Cost Online Advisers Are Challenging Traditional Advisers: WSJ

TMT

Priceline eyes shift to mobile bookings: FT

Wireless charging for wearable devices to see boom: WCT

Foreign Founders Should Look Beyond Silicon Valley: Techcrunch

Banking Start-Ups Adopt New Tools for Lending: NYT

Unalloyed success story of aluminium helps to keep the shine on Apple; Apple is well placed to benefit from the current slide in commodity and energy prices: telegraph

Insurance via Internet Is Squeezing Agents; Walmart and Google have recently established websites that allow consumers to compare the premiums of various companies for auto, home and other types of insurance, and buy policies: NYT

Healthcare

Riding High, Biotech Firms Remain Wary: NYT

Robots to fill role in dementia care: AsiaOne

Anti-Vaccine Parents Found to Stick Together as Their Ranks Grow: Bloomberg

Energy & Commodities

Commodities Fraud Explained: Qingdao case; If the judge decides Mercuria could not have repaid Citi as it could not access the metal, banks are likely to be more cautious about engaging in repo financing, especially in China. FT

Argentina’s ‘Soy King’ abdicates in favor of biotech: CNBC

The Cheap-Oil Reform Moment; Ending fuel subsidies is progress, but India and Indonesia need far more.: WSJ

Consumer & Others

Panda Restaurant Billionaire Couple Buys 4.9% Stake In China Mall Chain: Forbes

Tesco turns to branding experts to reverse fortunes: Guardian

Gucci Revival Rests on CEO Bringing Sexy Back to Design Choices: Bloomberg

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