Sunday 14th February 2016
NEWS TICKER: FRIDAY, JANUARY 12TH: Morningstar has moved the Morningstar Analyst Rating™ for the Fidelity Global Inflation Linked Bond fund to Neutral. The fund previously held a Bronze rating. Ashis Dash, manager research analyst at Morningstar, says, “The fund’s rating was placed Under Review following the news that co-manager Jeremy Church was leaving Fidelity. Lead manager, Andrew Weir, who has managed the fund since launch in May 2008, remains in charge and is further supported by the new co-manager, Tim Foster. While we acknowledge Weir’s considerable experience in the inflation-linked space, some recent stumbles and below-benchmark returns over time have led us to lower our conviction in the fund. This is currently reflected by our Neutral rating.” - Italian GDP growth looks to have stalled to 0.1pc in the last quarter of 2015, falling below analyst expectations of 0.3% growth. The Italian economy grew by just 0.6% last year having come out of its worst slump since before the pyramids were built. The slowdown will put further pressure on reforming Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, who has been battling to save a banking system lumbering under €201bn (£156bn) of bad debt, equivalent to as much as 12% of GDP. It is a serious situation and one which threatens Italy’s traditionally benign relationship with the European Union. The EU’s bail in rules for bank defaults seeks to force creditors to take the brunt of any banking failures. Italy suffered four bank closures last year, which meant losses of something near €800m on junior bond holders (with much of the exposure held by Italian retail investors). No surprise perhaps, Italian bank stocks have taken a beating this year, Unicredit shares are currently €3.06, compared with a price of €6.41 in April last year. In aggregate Italian banking shares are down by more than 20% over the last twelve months. Italian economy minister Pier Carlo Padoan told Reuters at the beginning of February that there isn’t any connection between the sharp fall in European banking stocks, as he called on Brussels for a gradual introduction of the legislation. He stressed that he did not want legislation changed, just deferred - Is current market volatility encouraging issuers to table deals? Oman Telecommunications Co OTL.OM (Omantel) has reportedly scrapped plans to issue a $130m five-year dual-currency sukuk, reports the Muscat bourse. Last month, the state-run company priced the sukuk at a profit rate of 5.3%, having received commitments worth $82.16m in the dollar tranche and OMR18.4m ($47.86m) in the rial tranche. Meantime, Saudi Arabia's Bank Albilad says it plans to issue SAR1bn-SAR2bn ($267m-$533m) of sukuk by the end of the second quarter of 2016 to finance expansion, chief executive Khaled al-Jasser told CNBC Arabia - The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (Commission) announces that the Energy and Environmental Markets Advisory Committee (EEMAC) will hold a public meeting at the Commission’s Washington, DC headquarters located at 1155 21st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20581. The meeting will take place on February 25th from 10:00 am to 1:30 pm – Local press reports say the UAE central bank will roll out new banking regulations covering board and management responsibilities and accountability – Following yesterday’s Eurogroup meeting, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, says that “Overall, the economic recovery in the eurozone continues and is expected to strengthen this year and next. At the same time, there are increasing downside risks and there is volatility in the markets all around the world. The euro area is structurally in a much better position now than some years ago. And this is true also for European banks. With Banking Union, we have developed mechanisms in the euro area to bring stability to the financial sector and to reduce the sovereign-banking nexus. Capital buffers have been raised, supervision has been strengthened, and we have clear and common rules for resolution. So overall, structurally we are now in a better position and we need to continue a gradual recovery”. Speaking at the press conference that followed the conclusion of the February 11th Eurogroup, Dijsselbloem also acknowledged that “good progress” has been made in official discussions between Greece and its officials creditors in the context of the 1st programme review. Yet, he noted that more work is needed for reaching a staff level agreement on the required conditionality, mostly on the social security pension reform, fiscal issues and the operation of the new privatization fund. On the data front, according to national account statistics for the fourth quarter of 2016 (flash estimate), Greece’s real GDP, in seasonally and calendar adjusted terms, decreased by 0.6%QoQ compared to -1.4%QoQ in Q3. The NBS Executive Board decided in its meeting today to cut the key policy rate by 0.25 pp, to 4.25%. - Today’s early European session saw an uptick in energy stocks, banking shares and US futures. Brent and WTI crude oil futures both jumped over 4% to $31.28 a barrel and $27.36 respectively before paring gains slightly; all this came on the back of promised output cuts by OPEC. That improving sentiment did not extend to Asia where the Nikkei fell to a one-year low. Japan's main index fell to its lowest level in more than a year after falling 4.8% in trading today, bringing losses for the week to over 11%. Yet again though the yen strengthened against the US dollar, which was down 0.1% ¥112.17. Swissquote analysts says, “We believe there is still some downside potential for the pair; however traders are still trying to understand what happened yesterday - when USD/JPY spiked two figures in less than 5 minutes - and will likely remain sidelined before the weekend break.” Japanese market turbulence is beginning to shake the government and may spur further easing measures if not this month, then next. Trevor Greetham, head of multi asset at Royal London Asset Management, says “When policy makers start to panic, markets can stop panicking. We are seeing the first signs of policy maker panic in Japan with Prime Minister Abe holding an emergency meeting with Bank of Japan Governor Kuroda. We are going to get a lot of new stimulus over the next few weeks and not just in Japan. I expect negative interest rates to be used more in Japan and in Europe and I expect this policy to increase bank lending and weaken currencies for the countries that pursue it”. Greetham agrees that both the yen and euro have strengthened despite negative rates. “Some of this is due to the pricing out of Fed rate hike expectations; some is temporary and to do with risk aversion. In a market sell off money tends to flow away from high yielding carry currencies to low yielding funding currencies and this effect is dominating in the short term”. Australia's S&P ASX 200 closed down 1.2%. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng settled down 1.01. in New Zealand the NZX was down 0.89%, while in South Korea the Kospi slid 1.41%. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 1.25 points or 0.05% higher to 2539.53, taking the year-to-date performance to -11.91%. The top active stocks today were DBS, which declined 0.91%, SingTel, which gained 1.13%, JMH USD, which declined 1.39%, OCBC Bank, which gained 0.13% and UOB, with a0.34% advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined 0.50%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index declined0.31%. Thai equities were down 0.38%, the Indian Sensex slip 0.71%, while Indonesian equities were down another 1.16%. The euro was down 0.3% against the dollar at $1.1285, even after data showed Germany's economy remained on a steady yet modest growth path at the end of last year. Gold fell 0.7% to $1238.80 an ounce, after gold gained 4.5% Thursday to its highest level in a year. Greetham summarises: “Like a lot of people, we went into this year's sell off moderately overweight equities and it has been painful. What we have seen has been a highly technical market with many forced sellers among oil-producing sovereign wealth funds and financial institutions protecting regulatory capital buffers. However, economic fundamentals in the large developed economies remain positive, unemployment rates are falling and consumers will benefit hugely from lower energy prices and loose monetary policy.”

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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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