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Saturday, 23 August 2014


Peter Thal Larsen

Asia's reform spotlight swings to Indonesia

22 August 2014

The election of a charismatic leader raises hopes for overdue change. Joko Widodo’s rise invites comparisons with India’s Narendra Modi and Shinzo Abe in Japan. In some ways, Indonesia’s new president faces the more daunting challenge. But the rewards for faster reform are large.

An employee counts Chinese 100 yuan banknotes at a branch of Bank of Communications in Shenyang, Liaoning province July 6, 2012.

Stock-based bank pay one reform China doesn't need

22 August 2014

Bank of Communications’ goal of compensating staff with shares sounds like progress. But as long as China’s lenders are state pawns, it’s unlikely that bosses will have much influence over valuations. At worst, dysfunctional banks with glum management could be the unhappy result.   

A bank clerk counts Chinese yuan banknotes at a branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in Huaibei, Anhui province, June 8, 2012.

China's CICC mulls shift from contacts to capital

21 August 2014

China’s first global investment bank has seen better days, judging by poor returns and sliding league table positions. But a mooted IPO in Hong Kong might not be a bad solution. CICC’s connections are solid. What it lacks, like scale in lucrative margin trading, can be bought.

Chen Honglei, a 26-year-old courier of Jingdong, also known as, prepares his electric tricycle before leaving the company's Haidian district delivery station in Beijing, November 20, 2013.

China e-commerce groups fight for pseudo-supremacy

20 August 2014

Market share is a big driver of value, but with so many ways to carve up a $308 bln sector, everyone seems to be number one for something. On the measures most relevant for shoppers, Alibaba is the clear victor. But looks better placed for a richer, more discerning China.

A man uses his mobile phone to take pictures outside a China Mobile shop in Xiangfan

China Mobile's foreign foray risks meagre returns

21 August 2014

The dominant Chinese operator is using its $73 bln cash pile to hunt for growth overseas. The strategy has failed to create value for other telcos. Expansion may help to push Chinese technology, but rival governments may be wary about allowing China Mobile to take control.

A man on his motorcycle stands in between other vehicles in a gridlocked street in Jakarta December 11, 2013.

Fed adds urgency to Indonesia's fuel reform test

20 August 2014

President-elect Joko Widodo’s first big challenge will be to rethink the country’s $30 billion energy subsidy. Though higher fuel prices will be unpopular, the handout boosts the trade deficit. That makes Indonesia extra vulnerable to capital flight when U.S. interest rates rise.

Trucks wait to be loaded with iron ore at the Fortescue Solomon iron ore mine located in the Valley of the Kings, around 400 km (248 miles) south of Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia December 2, 2013.

BHP spin-off won't appeal to commodity players

19 August 2014

The mining giant plans to hive off some assets into a new company. The prices of nickel and aluminium, two of its key products, are rising. Investors could use the new firm to follow the trends. But they probably won’t. There are purer plays and better-diversified producers.