Alec Macfarlane is a columnist based with Breakingviews’ Asia team in Hong Kong. He was previously with the Wall Street Journal in Hong Kong, covering the Asian IPO market, and has also covered private equity for Dow Jones in London.
The Swiss bank put economist Paul Donovan on leave after misconstrued comments triggered outrage in the mainland. Local rivals fed the unwarranted flare-up. The episode hints at new pressures for outsiders in the country; excessive subservience, however, creates bigger headaches.
Warehouse operator ESR shelved plans for a $1.2 bln float, a day after police and demonstrators clashed violently in the Asian financial centre. A high price was one issue, but unrest plus economic headwinds formed a perfect storm. It’s a bad sign for others in the queue.
The tech giant has picked the Swiss bank, along with part-owned CICC, to lead a $20 bln Hong Kong share sale. Both have largely stayed clear of Alibaba rivals, suggesting loyalty is being rewarded. They are now positioned to contest a bigger prize: $150 bln Ant Financial’s IPO.