Friday 27th May 2016
NEWS TICKER, FRIDAY MAY 27TH: BGEO Group plc, the London listed holding company of JSC Bank of Georgia, has this morning announced that Bank of Georgia, Georgia’s leading bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) have signed a GEL220m (approximately £70m) loan agreement with a maturity of five years. EBRD obtained the local currency funds through a private placement of GEL-dominated bonds arranged by Galt &Taggart, a wholly owned subsidiary of BGEO. This is the largest and the longest maturity local currency loan granted to a Georgian bank, which will allow Bank of Georgia to issue longer-term local currency loans, providing essential support for micro, small and medium sized enterprises to converge to DCFTA requirements, as well as underserved women entrepreneurs. “We are keen to develop financial products and lending practices, to service specifically women-led SMEs, which will ultimately increase their involvement in developing Georgia’s private sector”, says Irakli Gilauri, CEO of BGEO Group - The UK’s CBI has responded to analysis from the Treasury showing that a vote to leave the European Union could negatively impact UK pensions. Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Economics Director, says that: “All pension schemes benefit when funds can be invested across a stable, growing economy, to best support people in their retirement years. Any financial market turmoil caused by a Brexit is likely to have a negative effect on household wealth, the value of funds and damage pensions here at home, especially for those looking to retire within the next few years. The sheer weight of credible evidence points towards a serious economic shock if the UK were to leave the EU, meaning a hit to the value of our private pensions, jobs and prosperity.” - EPFR Global reports that Nine weeks into the second quarter mutual fund investors remain underwhelmed by their choices as they seek to navigate a global economy characterized by political uncertainty in Europe, lacklustre corporate profits and the prospect of another interest rate hike in the US, economic stress in major emerging markets and Japan's experiment with negative interest rates. During the week ending May 25 all nine of the major EPFR Global-tracked Emerging and Developed Markets Equity Fund groups posted outflows, as did Global, High Yield, Asia-Pacific and Emerging Markets Bond Funds, seven of the 11 major Sector Fund groups and three out of every five Country Equity Fund groups. Alternative Funds look to have taken in over $1bn for the fifth time in the past 14 weeks. Overall, EPFR Global-tracked Bond Funds added $2.6 billion to their year-to-date tally while another $9.1bn flowed out of Equity Funds. Some $12bn was absorbed by Money Market Funds with US funds attracting the bulk of the fresh money. EPFR Global-tracked Emerging Markets Equity Funds remained under pressure from many directions. China's economic data and policy shifts continue to paint a mixed picture for growth in the world's second largest economy, the US Federal Reserve is talking up the prospects of a second rate hike this summer, Europe's recovery appears to be running out of stream and the recent recovery in commodities prices is being viewed with scepticism in many quarters. All four of the major groups recorded outflows during the week ending May 25, with the diversified Global Emerging Markets (GEM) Equity Funds seeing the biggest outflows in cash terms and EMEA Equity Funds in flows as a percentage of AUM terms. Latin America Equity Funds extended their longest outflow streak since late 3Q15 as investors who bought into the prospect of political and economic change in Brazil confront the messy reality. However, year to date Brazil has been the top emerging market for all EPFR Global-tracked Equity Funds as managers bet that the impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff will open the door to more centrist economic policymaking says the funds data maven. Among the EMEA markets, the firm reports that GEM managers are showing more optimism than investors. EMEA Equity Funds have now posted outflows for five straight weeks and investors have pulled over $300m out of Russia and South Africa Equity Funds so far this month, though GEM allocations for both South Africa and Russia climbed coming into this month. The latest allocations data indicates less optimism about China despite is still impressive official numbers - annual GDP was running at 6.7% in 1Q16 - and the edge the recent slide in the renminbi should give Chinese exporters. GDP growth in Emerging Asia's second largest market, India, is even higher. Elsewhere, India Equity Funds have struggled to attract fresh money as investors wait to for domestic business investment and the government's reform agenda to kick into higher gears says EPFR Global – According to New Zealand press reports, stock exchange operator, NZX, will initiate confidential enquiries into listed companies that experience large, unexplained share price movements, to determine whether they may be holding undisclosed "material" information even while remaining in compliance with the market's Listing Rules that require disclosure of material information at certain trigger points. In an announcement this morning, NZX also warned investors not to assume that a listed entity's Listing Rules compliance statements meant they did not have material information in their possession which would potentially require eventual disclosure - Asian stocks were modestly higher today, largely on the back of increasingly softening sentiment from the US Federal Reserve. Most people think there will be one rate hike this year, but likely it will be in July rather than June. Either way, it will be one and not two or three. Fed chair Janet Yellen is scheduled to talk about interest rates at an event at Harvard University today and the expectation is that a softer approach for the rest of this year will be writ large; a good signal of intent will follow today’s quarterly growth stats. The presidential election will encourage caution; continued market volatility will encourage caution and mixed manufacturing data will encourage caution. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index added 0.4% to touch 16,834.84 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.9% to 20,576.52. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.3% to 2,829.67. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 6.65 points or 0.24% higher to 2773.31, taking the year-to-date performance to -3.80%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which gained 1.05%, DBS, which gained 0.07%, UOB, which gained0.11%, Keppel Corp, which gained2.47% and Ascendas REIT, which closed unchanged. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index gained 0.27%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.30% - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) says it is taking the first step towards developing a green financial system in Kazakhstan in partnership with the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC) Authority. EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti and AIFC Governor Kairat Kelimbetov signed an agreement today on the sidelines of the Foreign Investors Council’s plenary session to commission a scoping study for the development of a green financing system in Kazakhstan. The study, scheduled to be completed in 2017, will assess the demand for green investments, identify gaps in current regulations, and make recommendations for the introduction of green financing standards and for the development of the green bonds market and carbon market services. The development of a green financing system would be consistent with the COP21 Paris Agreement, aligning financing flows with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate resilient development. The AIFC Authority was put in place earlier this year and is tasked with developing an international financial centre in Astana. In March, the AIFC Authority, TheCityUK and the EBRD signed a Memorandum of Understanding to support the establishment of the financial centre and to encourage and improve opportunities for the financial and related professional services industries – Turkey’s Yuksel has issued notice to holders of $200m senior notes due 2015 (ISIN XS0558618384), and filed with the Luxembourg Stock Exchange, that the company has agreed a term sheet with the ad-hoc committee of noteholders and its advisors to implement a restructuring of the notes and is currently finalising the required scheme documentation with the Committee. Once agreed, the Company will apply to the English High Court for leave to convene a meeting of note creditors to vote on the scheme proposals as soon as reasonably practicable when the High Court reconvenes after vacation in June 2016 - Following the agreement in principle of the May 24th Eurogroup for the release of the next loan tranche to Greece, domestic authorities have intensified their efforts for the completion of all pending issues reports EFG Eurobank in Athens. According to Greece’s Minister of Finance Euclid Tsakalotos, on the fulfilment of all pending issues, €7.5bn will be disbursed in mid-June, of which €1.8bn will be channeled to clear state arrears – This weekend is the second UK May Bank Holiday. FTSE Global Markets will reopen on Tuesday, May 31st at 9.00 am. We wish our readers and clients a sunny, restful, safe and exceedingly happy holiday.

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New Asian DR issues down. Will 2012 be any better?

Friday, 09 December 2011
New Asian DR issues down. Will 2012 be any better? Against the current backdrop of an unresolved eurozone crisis and slowing global economy, it is not surprising that the depositary market across the spectrum has grown quiet. Asian companies along with Brazil still account for the bulk of global DR issuance but like many they are waiting and watching for events to unfold. Lynn Strongin Dodds reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

Against the current backdrop of an unresolved eurozone crisis and slowing global economy, it is not surprising that the depositary market across the spectrum has grown quiet. Asian companies along with Brazil still account for the bulk of global DR issuance but like many they are waiting and watching for events to unfold. Lynn Strongin Dodds reports.

According to Gregory Roath, head of Asia-Pacific for BNY Mellon’s depositary receipts (DR) business, it is “fair to say in respect to capital raising, which includes initial public offerings of depositary receipts, there has been a general slowdown. It has affected the plans of issuers who were considering issuing in the third and, potentially, in the fourth quarter. There is still a healthy pipeline but in terms of timing, they may want to wait until the first or second quarter of 2012.”

Kenneth Tse, Asia Pacific head of JP Morgan’s depositary receipts group, adds: “There has been a great deal of global uncertainty with Europe in the middle of it. However, although flows to emerging markets have slowed, the Asian economy and the BRIC countries in particular have been more resilient. The one major trend that we have seen this year is the return of Russia, which was totally absent last year.”



According to Edwin Reyes, managing director and global product head of depositary receipts at Deutsche Bank, there were 166 new depositary receipt deals and follow-ons in 2010 with Asia accounting for 70%, Europe at 17% and Latin America at 10%. So far this year, the total has been 96, with Asia contributing 53%, Europe at 28% but staying roughly the same as in 2010 in terms of the number of deals, and Latin America at 13%.  

The bulk of activity happened in the first half with BNY Mellon figures showing 79 new sponsored programmes from 19 countries compared to 64 programmes from the same period in 2010. Australia led the way with 13 followed by 12 from India and nine each from Russia and China. Brazilian and Mexican issuers were also busy with four each. In terms of capital raised, issuers from Russia accounted for nearly half of the total $11.7bn in the first six months with financial group VTB’s $2.8bn follow-on offering being the most notable as the largest DR capital raising. Meanwhile, China and India executed the largest number of transactions at 12 and 11, totalling $2.6bn and nearly $200m respectively.

The BNY Mellon report noted that the New York Stock Exchange and NASDAQ remain the most popular venues for listings, accounting for almost 86% of all DR trading value worldwide.  In total, 65.1bn US-listed DRs, valued at $1.66trn, traded on US markets during the first half of 2011 with the most active being China’s most popular online search engine, Baidu, Brazil’s Petrobras and industrial metals and mining firm Vale, the UK’s BP and Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals.

 “The US continues to be the most popular for the Chinese private sector because that is where their peer group is,” explains Roath. “Investors understand start-up companies and their business models.” Tse echoes the sentiments. “China prefers the US markets because the internet and e-commerce industries are more developed in the country than in Europe. Russian companies though like the London Stock Exchange because it is stronger in mining and commodity related businesses.”

While fears over the eurozone debt crisis and slowing economic growth are making participants nervous, they are not the only reasons holding Chinese and Indian companies at bay. Accounting scandals in both countries have also made investors wary. There have long been suspicions that Chinese companies listed overseas do not adhere to strict accounting standards plus there are concerns over the Chinese government prohibiting US regulators from examining China-based auditing firms.

Reporting irregularities

In September, these issues came into sharper focus when the US justice department announced it was investigating accounting irregularities at Chinese companies on the US exchanges.  Although the names of companies have not been revealed, it has been reported that it is looking at both civil proceedings as well as criminal charges.  The minute the news hit the wires, American DRs of some Chinese companies such as Baidu as well as Weibo, which runs a service similar to Twitter, fell sharply.

The charges came after a review conducted earlier in the year by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) into accounting problems at foreign-based stock issuers. It was looking into the resignations of auditors and book-keeping irregularities at dozens of China-based companies.  For example, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu CPA in May resigned as auditor of Chinese software company Longtop Financial Technologies, because it said it found falsified financial records and bank balance confirmations. Valentina Chuang, head of depositary receipt services for Asia at Citi, says:  “Although market conditions are the main reason why there has been a slowdown in issuance from Chinese companies, the scandals have had some impact. It has made investors more cautious. They are asking more questions and looking more closely at the companies’ corporate governance structures.”

In some ways, the scandals have had a positive impact in that it is forcing Chinese companies to raise their game. They not only have to strengthen their corporate governance standards but also their disclosures to the US regulators.

As for India, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) banned seven companies from raising fresh capital, after investigations revealed they manipulated share prices after issuing global DRs (GDRs). The regulator also barred ten entities, including a foreign institutional investor (FII) and sub-accounts, from dealing in securities market.

A recent study conducted by Crisil Research, which is part of the Standard & Poor’s Index Services Group, analysed 40 GDRs issued by Indian companies in 2010 and found  that investors lost money in 85% with four out of five issues giving a negative return of 35% or more.

Looking ahead, while no one is brave enough to predict when the markets will recover, participants are hopeful that there will be a crop of issuance from India and China in the first and second quarters of 2012. ”One of the key challenges is the slowdown in some markets and that there is not the same level of deals coming through,” says Reyes.”However you have to be competitive and ready for when the markets improve.  You also need to be able to provide more than the basic services. Issuers are looking for value-added capabilities such as support with their investor relations programmes.  In this case we adopt a more consultative role and help them with identifying new investors.”

Local markets such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, albeit hit by the current turbulence, are also expected to rebound. They are increasingly attracting foreign companies on the back of the Asian economic growth story.  

Taiwan has been a favourite with repatriated companies although it is gaining traction from firms that do not have the same domestic connection. For example, in May, Hong Kong-listed companies NewOcean Energy Holdings, a vendor and distributor of liquefied petroleum gas in China and New Media Group Holdings, an investment holding company, filed to list troubled debt restructurings (TDRs).

HK draws luxury brands

Hong Kong too is popular, particularly with foreign luxury brand names which want to tap into mainland China’s burgeoning middle classes and wealthy consumers.  Handbag manufacturer Coach, which announced in May its intention to list on the Hong Stock Exchange, was hoping to make its debut in early December.  It follows Italian fashion house Prada and US luggage manufacturer Samsonite International, which raised $2.5bn and $1.25bn respectively in June. Coach, like other luxury brands, is targeting China’s newly-affluent consumers and says it plans to open 30 stores in China next year.

The handbag maker says in a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that it will issue up to 293.6m Hong Kong depositary receipts “by way of introduction” rather than a public offering and said no new funds would be raised. “China is our largest geographic growth opportunity, given the size of the market, its rate of growth, and our increasing brand awareness,” the company says in the statement. Fashion IPOs are also having a knock-on effect on their Chinese suppliers. One of Coach’s major Chinese suppliers, handbag maker Sitoy Group, is also due to list in Hong Kong in December.

Hong Kong is also a magnet for natural resource companies that want to forge closer links with resource-hungry China. For example, Swiss commodities trader Glencore International raised $20bn through a dual listing in Hong Kong and London in May.

There are also stirrings in the frontier markets of Mongolia, Indonesia and Vietnam which are looking towards Hong Kong as a way to raise their profile in China. Tse says: “Although BRIC will continue to dominate GDRs, we are seeing interest from state-owned enterprises for example in Mongolia. The firm recently organised the first Capital Raising Options for Mongolian Companies workshop where participants worked with the government to educate companies on how they can raise funds through a listing in Hong Kong. Vietnam has also seen a small number of GDRs below the $50m mark and I expect to see larger deals in the next two to three years.”

Aside from new countries entering the local DR game, different structures are also expected to appear. In June this year, Barclays Bank’s listed nine of its iPath exchange-traded notes (ETNs) on the Tokyo Stock Exchange via a Japanese DR.  It was noteworthy for being the first ever ETN listing in Japan as well as the first listing of non-Japanese securities in a format of a JDR.

 We see this as a very interesting development,” says Chuang. “One of the main reasons for the listing is to attract liquidity and we now are seeing more ETF and ETN providers hoping to replicate the process in Japan. As for the growing importance of the renminbi (RMB) market, DR players do not see it as a threat but as a complement to equity issuance.

“RMB issuance is a growing sector in some bond markets and we would expect this to continue once markets stabilise “says Roath. “In time we believe that equity RMB issuance will follow. However, it depends on the financing needs and structure of the company as to whether debt or equity is preferable.”

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