Friday 6th May 2016
NEWS TICKER: Moody's says it has downgraded the ratings of Exeltium SAS's €1,000m 15 year floating rate bank term loan (Facility A), €155m 15 year floating rate institutional term loan (Facility B1) and €280m 15 year fixed rate institutional term loan (Facility B2), together, the senior debt, to Baa3, from Baa2. The senior debt matures in June 2030. Moody's has also downgraded the rating of Exeltium's €153m subordinated bonds, the junior bonds, maturing in December 2031 to B3, from Ba3. The outlook on the ratings is stable. The downgrade of the senior debt ratings reflects, says Moody’s, wholesale electricity market price falls in France, resulting in a material risk that Exeltium's customers will opt out of electricity purchases from 2020 to 2024 and a fall in the weighted average credit quality of clients to Baa3, from Baa2 and iii) the weakened credit quality of the put counterparty, a large French industrial rated Ba2 negative that is obliged to purchase 51% of volumes subject to Client opt-out (the Put Option). Moody's has also revised its French wholesale electricity price assumptions downwards, reflecting the current price environment and Moody's assumption that lower prices will be sustained. The industrial logic of the project is significantly weakened in a low electricity price environment. In Moody's revised base case, the rating agency assumes that clients would opt-out of electricity purchases between 2020 and 2024. Over this period, Moody's assumes that just over half of Exeltium's electricity would be sold under the Put Option, with the remainder sold at market rates. - CORPORATE REPORTING - Lufthansa Group says is maintaining its full-year earnings forecast for an adjusted EBIT which is “slightly above” the previous year’s €1.8b, after reducing its operating losses for the first quarter, having introduced substantial cost cuts and despite a decline in revenues. The firm’s adjusted EBIT loss for the three months to the end of March fell by more than two-thirds to €53m ($61m). Revenues fell slightly to €6.9bn because of pricing pressures in the group’s passenger airlines, says chief financial officer Simone Menne. Lufthansa’s passenger airline division improved its adjusted EBIT by €244m and that for Austrian Airlines was up by €23m. However, currency effects, however, dragged on the result at Swiss International Air Lines, where adjusted earnings fell by €28m. However, the firm issued a health warning that its forecast does not take into account any negative effects of possible strike actions and that it does not expect that pricing pressures will ease any time soon. Lufthansa Group turned in a net loss of €8m, compared with a €425m profit last year, but stresses that this included a large benefit from transactions relating to US carrier JetBlue Airways. Taking this into account, it says, the first quarter net result equates to an improvement of €70m. - SOVEREIGN DEBT - THE UK’s DMO says the auction of £2.5bn of 1.5% treasury gilt 2026 says bids worth £4.473bn were received for the offer of which £2.125bn was sold to competitive bidders and £374m sold to gilt edged market makers (GEMMs). An additional amount of the Stock totalling up to £375.000 million will be made available to successful bidders for purchase at the non-competitive allotment price, in accordance with the terms of the information memorandum. Higher priced bids came in at £98.566, providing a yield of 1.653% and the lowest accepts was £98.526, providing a yield of £1/656% - CYBER SECURITY - Global Cyber Alliance, an organisation founded by the New York County District Attorney's Office, the City of London Police and the Center for Internet Security, say they will collaborate with M3AAWG to push the security community to more quickly adopt concrete, quantifiable practices that can reduce online threats. The non-profit GCA has joined the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group, which develops anti-abuse best practices based on the proven experience of its members, and M3AAWG has become a GCA partner for the technology sector – ASSET MANAGEMENT JOBS - IFM Investors today announced the appointment of Rich Randall as Global Head of Debt Investments. Mr. Randall takes on this senior leadership role from his prior position as Executive Director of Debt Investments, which he had held since joining IFM Investors in 2013. Randall replaces Robin Miller, who will semi-retire from IFM Investors after a 17-year association with the company. Miller will remain with IFM Investors and will transition to the role of Senior Advisor and Chair of Investment Committee within the organisation. In his new role, Randall will manage IFM Investors’ global debt investment teams and maintain the organization’s global debt investment process and relationships with investors. He will also oversee the sourcing of infrastructure debt opportunities internationally. He will continue to be based in IFM Investors’ New York offices and will report directly to CEO Brett Himbury – ACQUISITIONS - Intercontinental Exchange says it has backed off from its counterbid for the London Stock Exchange. In a statement issued by ICE, chief executive Jeffrey Sprecher says LSEG did not provide enough information to make an informed decision on the value of the merger. "Following due diligence on the information made available, ICE determined that there was insufficient engagement to confirm the potential market and shareholder benefits of a strategic combination. Therefore, ICE has confirmed that it has no current intention to make an offer for LSEG – POLITICAL RISK – Global risk analysts Red24 reports that political parties, including the National Movement for the Organisation of the Country (MONOP) and the Fanmi Lavalas party, held a series of demonstrations in Port-au-Prince, yesterday. The action was launched to show support for the Commission to Evaluate Haiti Elections (CIEVE), a body established to verify the 2015 elections. The latest call to action came amid heightened tensions between the aforementioned political parties and former president Michel Martelly's Parti Haitien Tet Kale (PHTK), which launched general strikes against CIEVE on 2 May. Further opposition party-led demonstrations are expected to continue in the near-term due to the indefinite postponement of the country's 24 April run-off election and issues surrounding the evaluation of the 2015 elections – INDEX TRADING – Investors have not yet leant into the wind as a ruff of mixed data discombobulated markets yet again, with a lacklustre Asian trading session. More pertinently perhaps, investor sentiment is hanging in advance of tomorrow’s US labour market report. Peter O’Flanagan ClearTreasury reports that uncertainty around Brexit has impacted business sentiment in the UK and “if we are seeing this filter through into Q2 data there may well be additional downside for UK data until we have a referendum result. That may not be an end to the uncertainty as the “Out” campaign appears to be gathering some momentum. Depending on what poll you look at, it would appear the “uncertain” portion of the polls is narrowing, and while the position is currently still far too close to call by looking at the polls, bookies are still favouring the ‘In’ campaign with a 75% probability of remaining”. In the Asian trading session meantime, Japanese stock indexes fell to three week lows, and in line with sentiment this year, the yen has touched yet another 18-month high against the dollar, no doubt testing the resolve of the central bank not to act, despite stating that the yen is way over-priced. The Nikkei225 was down 3.11% today. The Hang Seng ended down 0.37%, while the Shanghai Composite rose marginally by 0.23%. The ASX All Ordinaries ended 0.17% higher, though the Kospi fell 0.49% and the FTSE Bursa Malaysia dropped 0.75%. The Straits Times Index (STI) ended 0.53 points or 0.02% lower to 2772.54, taking the year-to-date performance to -3.82%. The top active stocks today were SingTel, which gained 0.53%, DBS, which declined 2.22%, OCBC Bank, which declined 1.06%, UOB, which declined 1.04% and Wilmar Intl, with a 0.57% advance. The FTSE ST Mid Cap Index declined 0.27%, while the FTSE ST Small Cap Index rose 0.01%. OIL PRICES RISE - The story today was oil as prices climbed in the Asian session, with the Brent crude price breaking through $45; wildfires in Canada were behind the rise. Wildfires look to be burning out of control in the Alberta oil sands region of Canada, which mines and ships heavy crude to the US. Oil companies there have reduced operations as non-essential employees are evacuated. Moreover, US oil output fell last week by more than 100,000 barrels a day to 8.83m, its lowest level since September 2014, though inventories continue to rise. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery next month was up $1.19, or 2.7%, at $44.97 while Brent prices for July supply rose 94 cents to $45.56. The price of oil has rallied recently because of the 400,000 bpd cut in US oil output (IEA data), US dollar weakness and Asian demand optimism. The next OPEC meeting scheduled for June 2nd will likely be another watershed, as all recent meetings have been. One beneficiary of the recent rally in oil prices is Russia, where the ruble has appreciated 14% against the US dollar this year. As well, investor sentiment towards Russia risk is highly influenced by the oil price. Year-to-date the dollar-denominated Russia RDX equity index is up 25%, and that compares with a gain of 6% for the MSCI EM Index and 1% for the S&P 500 Index reports Chris Weafer at macro-advisory.com. Weafer says the current oil price also makes the removal of financial sector sanctions less urgent for 2016 and eases both short-term geo-political and economic pressure on the Kremlin and reduces social stability concerns. “Oil should rise by [the end of the decade] but be less important by mid-next decade. Medium-term, an oil price rally to over US$100 per barrel is perfectly feasible due to the combination of steadily rising Asia demand (in particular) and the lack of investment by the oil majors since late 2014. Longer-term, the age of oil, or the importance of oil, may already be over or significantly in decline. The strong growth in alternative energy and the commitments made as part of the Paris Agreement make that a very high probability”. Gold is still seen under pressure this morning, say Swissquote’s Michael van Dulkin and Augustin Eden in their morning note today, which they attribute as usual to “pre Non-Farms trading (or lack thereof). We’re of the opinion, however, that employment is OK in terms of the US economic picture such that while there will be short term volatility around it, there’s little point giving this print much attention. Better to concentrate on US inflation data which, if it starts rising, could boost Gold (an inflation hedge) much more efficiently. There is, after all, a fair amount of concern that current easy US monetary policy could lead to inflation overshooting the 2% target when it does finally pick up.” In focus today, UK Services PMI (flat).

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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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