Wednesday 4th May 2016
NEWS TICKER: MARKET ROUNDUP —Markets tanked today (almost everywhere bar the PRC) as economic data from China and an 18% lunge in profits at HSBC sapped market confidence. The bank reported an adjusted profit before tax of $5.4bn for the first quarter, down 18% on the same period last year. Citing challenging market conditions, the bank reported first quarter(Q1) pretax profit before adjustments of $6.1bn, down from $7.1bn in the first three months of 2015 but beating analysts’ forecasts of a pretax profit of $4.3bn, according to Reuters. In Hong Kong this morning the bank’s shares were up on the news, as expectations had been for much worse. Earnings per share came in at 20 cents, down from 26 cents per share in the same period last year. HSBC held its first-quarter dividend in line at 10 cents per share. In London HSBC fell 3.5p to 449p as the bank said it put in a "resilient" performance in difficult market conditions, with the entire investment banking sector suffering after stock markets tumbled at the start of 2016 amid an oil price rout. However, as we reported earlier today indexes across Europe paid the price of lower than expected manufacturing data from the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' index (PMI), rather than Chinese bourses. The DAX fell 1.5% lower and the CAC40 dropped 1.1%. Commodity stocks were also on the back foot despite the price of oil rising 0.4% to 45.99 US dollars a barrel. Glencore ended the day down 7.5p to 155.5p, Rio Tinto fell 96.5p to 2205p and BHP Billiton slipped 34.8p to 897.4p – AQUISITION—M&A maven Cavendish Corporate Finance has advised bfinance on the investment in the company by private equity funds managed by Baird Capital. Current bfinance CEO David Vafai will continue to lead the consultancy in this next, exciting phase of its growth. He will be joined on the board by Andrew Ferguson, managing director at Baird Capital, and CFO Mark Brownlie, as directors. Also joining the board as chairman is Tim Trotter, who founded public relations group Ludgate, co-founded Citywire, the information service for the global fund management industry and is a non-executive chairman at a number of financial services and asset management related blue-chip companies. The deal with Baird follows a strong period of successes for bfinance. Recent high-profile mandates for bfinance include advising on a $1bn alternative beta strategy programme for a U.S. corporate pension plan, a USD 1.2bn private equity search for Swedish State pension fund AP7, and multiple searches across asset classes on behalf of Australian superannuation funds. The deal marks a strong start to the year for Cavendish. It follows shortly after the sale of Periproducts to Venture Life Plc, the sale of Gloucester Rugby club to new owner Martin St Quinton, the sale of B2B creative marketing agency Twogether to Next 15 Plc and the debt raise for Pets Corner following a highly successful 2015 during which the company completed over 20 deals –AIIB/ADB— In a shift in strategy the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank has signed a financing memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Asian Development Bank, the second partnership signed in the space of a few month by the challenger development bank. AIIB, set up to counter the ‘hegemony’ of Western dominated aid institutions, has been struggling to dispel its image as a rival to existing NGOs. The bank secured a similar arrangement with the World Bank during the International Monetary Fund-World Bank spring meetings in Washington last month. This MoU sets the stage for the banks to share funding costs for projects. The ADB said it is already in talks with the AIIB around ventures in the road and water sectors, the first of which is expected to be a 64-kilometre highway connecting two cities in Pakistan’s Punjab Province. - ASIAN TRADING SESSION - The Nikkei and Topix indexes took the brunt of risk off sentiment today as investors gave a distinct thumb down to last week’s decision by the Bank of Japan not to cut rates further. The Nikkei225 fell 7.41%, while the Topix went down 7.25% in a somewhat bloody trading session. Continuing with the pattern set down for most of this year, the yen by contrast continues to appreciate, touching at one point 105.81 again the dollar, the yen’s highest point for almost two years. The Bank of Japan in response rattled a few sabres, threatening to intervene should the yen appreciate further; but investors continued to test the yen’s upper limit. Yann Quelenn, market analyst at Swissquote noted this morning: “The yen has climbed 13% against the dollar since the start of the year and there a strong support lies at 105.23, which is now clearly on target.” The other story in the Asian session was the surprise move by the Reserve Bank of Australia to cut The Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday cut the cash rate to a record low of 1.75 per cent in a bid to head off falling prices and an economic downturn. Market commentators now expect a second cut before the end of the year, although some say the June quarter inflation figure, out in August, will determine the RBA's next move. The latest cut puts Australia firmly into the group of countries with an ultra-loose monetary programme, or should that be a noose around falling interest rates and bond yields. Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said the decision was based on last week's surprisingly weak inflation figures. "Inflation has been quite low for some time and recent data were unexpectedly low," he said in a statement. The AUDUSD fell to 0.7572 from 0.7720 on the news, though the ASX All Ordinaries rose 1.94% on the day, with the S&P/ASX100 rising 2.24%. The index is now up 6.8% on the month, though up only 1.32% over the year. Aside from China and Australian indexes, boards across the region ran red for most of the session. The S&P BSE Senses was down 1.75%. The Kospi100 was also off by 1.50%, while in Singapore the Straits Times took a beating, losing 4.39% today, bringing it down 0.26% over the month and down 2.58% over the year. The Hang Seng also had a tough day, falling 3.68% today, though it is up by 0.87% over the month and down 5.65% over the year. In China, the Shanghai Composite was up 1.13% in trading today, though it is still down 0.56% over the month and down 15.44% over the year. The Shenzhen Composite had a better day, up 3.29%, and is up 1.45% over the month, but still down 16.45% on an annualised basis. The upbeat market sentiment was interesting, given that the Caixin Manufacturing PMI weakened to 49.4 in May from 49.7 in April, softer than market expectations and marking a 14th month of contraction; data that usually would have sent investors to the hills. Go figure. The data indicated that softness in labour markets and exports continue. Meantime, the central bank set the USDCNY mid-point at 6.4565. There is still mixed data emanating from China. Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s latest China: An Equity Strategist’s Diary research report highlights the nugget that YTD 241 non-government bond issuances have been cancelled or postponed, 120 of which were deferred in April, compared with 315 across the whole of last year. Some 709 bonds worth a total of RMB1.04trn came to market in last month (an 85% success rate). However, says the bank, if the bond market corrects sharply, sectors that rely most on the credit markets to support their day-to-day activities (including developers, banks, brokers, industrials and utilities) could suffer disproportionately as their reliance on credit has grown significantly during the past six months. Among the 120 bond issues affected in April, 70% were from industrials (50 bonds), financials (18) and materials (17). The bank also says a perceived implicit government guarantee on bonds and other moral hazards in the shadow banking sector, including wealth management products, is largely behind the mispricing in corporate credit. With the country’s overall default risk perceived to be low, bonds have become a cheap source of long-term financing for corporations compared to other traditional credit products. At the end of April, an AA+ rated five-year bond yielded 4.3% while the benchmark rate for a one-year to five-year loan was 4.75%. A five-year AA- rated bond offered 6.6%. The overnight repo rate annualised was 2%; seven-day repo, 2.5%; six-month discounted bill, 3%; and the one-year benchmark loan rate came in at 4.35%. Alternative sources of finance cost between 12% and 15% for P2P; 8% for a two-year trust; 19% for private lending in Wenzhou; and 18% to 20% for offline wealth management companies. BAML says a sharp uptick in the number of corporate defaults, coupled with the increasing number of cancelled or postponed bond issuances, shows that the market is starting to reprice risk although this process could last until the end this year. The peak maturing period is April/May with between RMB80bn and RMB790bn of bonds maturing over the period. From June onwards maturities fall to around RMB600bn a month for the rest of the year—SAUDI ARABIA—In another move to liberalise the Saudi Arabian capital markets, the Capital Market Authority (CMA) has approved a request by the Saudi bourse to relax settlement cycles for investors, making the country’s inclusion in the MSCI Emerging Markets Index more likely from next year. It has also announced an overhaul of foreign ownership regulations for listed companies, as it seeks to encourage participation by international institutional investors in a wide ranging programme of privatisations. The CMA announced today that it was widening the definition of Qualified Financial Investors (QFI) to include financial institutions such as sovereign wealth funds and university endowments as well as banks. The regulator says the minimum value of assets under management for QFIs will be reduced to SAR3.75bn (about $700m), compared with the current level of SAR18.75bn ($3.5bn). From the end of June 2017, QFIs will be able to own up to 49% of a company’s capital, “unless company’s bylaws or any other regulation provides for foreign ownership to be limited to a lower percentage". Individual QFIs will be able to own up to 10% of a company’s share capital, compared with the current level of 5%. Foreign investment is now an important element in the government’s wide-ranging economic diversification program, which will also involve partial privatisation of some of the country’s key state owned firms. Over the last few weeks Saudi has signalled its intention to list a 5% stake in Saudi Aramco, a move that could raise in excess of $100bn. The opening of the Saudi stock exchange, the GCC’s largest, to QFIs in June of last year was hailed as a milestone at the time, but has so far failed to attract large scale foreign investment into Saudi equities. Licensed QFIs to date include Blackrock, Ashmore Group, Citigroup and HSBC. However, up to now the firms, in combination own less than 0.1% of the Tawadul’s market capitalisation—STOCK EXCHANGE NEWS—Börse Stuttgart reports turnover in excess of €6.7bn in April 2016. The trading volume was almost on a par with the previous month. Securitised derivatives accounted for the largest share of the turnover. The trading volume in this asset class was more than €2.7bn. Leverage products contributed more than €1.4bn to the total turnover, while the trading volume of investment products was more than €1.2bn. At more than €1.4bn, turnover from equity trading at Börse Stuttgart was around 9% higher than in the previous month. German equities accounted for more than €1.1bn of the total turnover – an increase of more than 7% in comparison with March - while international equities contributed about €299m. Trading in debt instruments generated turnover of around €1.6bn in April, with trading volumes almost as high as in the previous month. Corporate bonds accounted for the largest share of the turnover, with approximately €918m.The order book turnover in exchange-traded products (ETPs) was more than €916m in April. Trading in investment fund units generated turnover of €8m —ASSET MANAGEMENT —Aberdeen Asset Management says pre-tax profits have fallen to £98.8m in the six months to March 31st, down from £185.4m over the same period a year earlier after investors have backed off from emerging markets. The asset management has been affected by changes in end investor asset allocation choices as fund outflows over the period amounted to £38.2bn (£16.7bn on a net basis says the asset management maven); however, the pace of outflows has slowed, compared with the previous six months, when investors withdrew £41.7bn (£22.6bn in net basis). Aberdeen has £292.8bn worth of assets under management, down from £330.6bn a year ago, although it marked an improvement on the £283.7bn at its financial year-end. Despite the challenges, Aberdeen has been active in turning around its fortunes, promising to cut annual costs by £70m by 2017 and has diversified its business proposition by a series of acquisitions, including the takeover of hedge-fund manager Arden, risk-graded portfolio provider Parmenion, and fund-of-funds investment manager—CORPORATE NEWS—Advance Utilico Emerging Markets Ltd says it has has extended its £50m senior secured multi-currency revolving credit facility with Scotiabank for a further two years to April 2018. Shares in Utilico are down 0.1% to 176.75 pence—SPANISH ELECTIONS – Looks like Spain is heading for another hung government. News agency The Spain Report says the latest poll of polls data from Electograph shows only minor changes compared to the results of the last general election on December 20th last year. The order of the parties remains the same: PP, PSOE, Podemos, Ciudadanos and United Left. No party is currently forecast to be close to an overall majority, of 176 out of 350 seats in Congress. Over the past four months, polls have at times suggested a slight shift towards a right-wing PP-Ciudadanos coalition and, in the latest round, the possibility that a joint Podemos-United Left electoral list might overtake the Spanish Socialist Party (PSOE) as the reference for the Spanish left, says the news agency—POLITICAL RISK—maven Red24 advises professionals to avoid visiting Kabul. The firm reports that yesterday, the US Embassy, issued a statement warning of an increased threat of attacks in the Taleban’s spring offensive (Operation Omari) against Afghanistan's government and its Western-backed allies, including the US, on April 12th. Crowded public areas, police and military interests, foreign embassies, foreign guest houses, hotels and government buildings/sites have been listed as probable targets; no information was provided regarding the timing of any planned attacks. Red24 says Taleban attacks in Afghanistan generally increase during the spring and summer months, which generally extend until September, when warmer weather allows militants greater access through usually snowed-in mountain passes from their traditional strongholds along the mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. “Given the extreme and ongoing threat of terrorism in Afghanistan, such warnings by government authorities are taken seriously and regularly result in additional security force deployments. The warning is particularly pertinent given the attacks carried out in the capital on 19 April, following the launch of the offensive, in which at least 24 people were killed as a result of a car bomb attack, in the vicinity of several government ministries and the US Embassy in the Pul-e-Mahmood Khan and Shahr-E-Naw areas. Further incidents are expected to persist,” says the firm in an alert issued today.

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HKEX's long term commodities play

Monday, 26 November 2012
HKEX's long term commodities play The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing’s (HKEx’s) recent £1.4bn purchase of the member owned London Metal Exchange (LME) certainly raised a few eyebrows. At 180 times trailing net income, it ranked as the most expensive of any bourse deal above $1bn since 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. However, the HKEx has no doubts that it was the right move. In one fell swoop this staid domestic player has been catapulted into the global league of exchanges. What now? Lynn Strongin Dodd reports. http://www.ftseglobalmarkets.com/

The Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing’s (HKEx’s) recent £1.4bn purchase of the member owned London Metal Exchange (LME) certainly raised a few eyebrows. At 180 times trailing net income, it ranked as the most expensive of any bourse deal above $1bn since 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. However, the HKEx has no doubts that it was the right move. In one fell swoop this staid domestic player has been catapulted into the global league of exchanges. What now? Lynn Strongin Dodd reports.

The 135 year old LME, which put itself up for sale last year, was not an easy prize to win. Competition was fierce with around 15 contenders vying for its hand. The HKEx, which mainly derives its revenues from trading in Hong Kong shares, warrants and stock index futures as well as initial public offerings, was not the most obvious choice. Its experience in commodity trading was limited and there were also fears over Beijing’s influence.


Moreover, it was up against formidable players such as the CME Group which had in 2007 made the headlines with what was then considered the priciest exchange deal—the roughly $11.9bn acquisition of CBOT at a multiple of 66 times earnings.




However, the Chicago based firm along with NYSE Liffe, the London based derivatives arm of NYSE Euronext were both knocked out in May while the IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) made it to the final stages before losing out to HKEx this summer.


While the US exchanges were thought to be in a better position to cut costs and modernise the London exchange, the opportunity to realise its potential in China made Hong Kong the most attractive bidder. The country not only consumes 40% of the world’s metals but China related trading is estimated to account for only 20% on the LME.


The HKEx also allayed fears over the Chinese government’s influence by stating that, “China does not own HKEx or have management control. HKEx embarked on this transaction for its own sound commercial reasons and in the interests of all of its shareholders. HKEx is a publicly listed company with a wide base of institutional and retail shareholders which is run with scrupulously high levels of corporate governance.” It also noted that there are various legal and institutional safeguards in place such as Hong Kong’s Basic Law, which is based on the principle of one country, two systems. In other words, Hong Kong has its own independent legal and regulatory system based on English Common Law which is separate from mainland China.


Equally as important, the HKEx assured the LME that it will not make any immediate changes to the structure or fee base for contracts currently traded before January 1st 2015. As a result, traders will be able to continue to use arcane hand signals to conduct open outcry trading in copper, aluminium, lead, nickel, tin and zinc across a circle of red leather benches.


The main appeal of the LME for the HKEx is the foray it provides onto the world exchange stage and the platform to broaden its revenue base. The price paid might have been high but some industry experts believe it will make its money back in the future. “There were some concerns that the Hong Kong stock exchange had overpaid for the LME,” says Herbie Skeete, managing director of Mondo Visione. “However, I think the LME gives them a more diversified product range and puts them in a stronger position with a more sustainable business.”


The LME will give the HKEx control of about 80% of global trade in industrial-metal futures at a time when the exchange’s main activities (trading and initial public offerings) look to be falling off. Overall performance is something of a short term worry: the latest second quarter figures, for instance, show a 21% drop in net profit to HK$1.07bn ($137.98 m) from the same period last year due to continuing weak market conditions. Share-trading volume was lacklustre for most of the first half, with average daily turnover, a key determinant of exchange income, down 23% from a year ago to about HK$56.7bn a day.


The exchange has also suffered from the vicissitudes of an indifferent IPO market of late. Its IPO calendar has been marred by high profile names such as luxury jeweller Graff Diamonds, pulling its Hong Kong offering in the light of poor investor sentiment. Recent offerings have also had a mixed reception. Shares of Shanghai’s Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group) Co Ltd fell as much as 12% on its debut in late October, underscoring weak investor appetite for new offerings. Fosun Pharmaceuticals $512m offering is the largest IPO to come to market in Hong Kong over the last three months and has been regarded in the local press as a temperature gauge for the exchange’s IPO pipeline for the rest of the year.


November in particular looks to be a testing time for the exchange’s IPO calendar. The People’s Insurance Company of China Group (PICC) is the largest expected IPO this month, and is said to be worth up to $6bn. Also expected in November are Zhengzhou Coal Mining Machinery’s planned IPO,  managed by Citic and Deutsche Bank, UBS and JP Morgan and reported to be worth $600m; CIFI Holdings ($300m), arranged by Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Standard Chartered; and Horizon Hospitality ($800m or so), arranged by Standard Chartered and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. While China Railways $2bn is planned to debut by the end of this year (arranged by CICC, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, HSBC and UBS).


Most of the deals to come to market this year have been block offerings that target selected numbers of institutional investors. The question is whether this institutional investor appetite for big ticket Chinese IPOs is sustainable with a sizeable number of deals planned to come to market before year end.


The LME transaction is then clearly an indication of the exchange’s need to secure alternative revenue streams. If that is the case, then it might equally be that the exchange is moving between proverbial frying pans and fires. Certainly, some analysts believe that continuing buoyancy in commodities prices is no longer a given.  
There are two schools of thought. One believes that the super cycle of commodities which started on the back of the industrialisation and urbanisation of China and other emerging countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America has run its course. The rationale is that the combination of a slowdown in Chinese economic growth, the continuation of the eurozone crisis into 2014, ongoing uncertainty in the US economy and the arrival of fresh raw materials supplies (after a decade of investment in new production) will inevitably begin to dampen prices for products ranging from crude oil to iron ore.


Others however believe the cycle still may have legs. They argue that the death knell has been rung often in recent years only to ring hollow; as it did in 2008 and 2009 when the World Bank pronounced the end of the bull run in commodities. Prices then recovered sharply in 2010 after economic growth gathered momentum.
The evidence supporting either argument this time around is mixed; adding to the overall tension around key commodity prices over the near term. Overall, the IMF commodities index for instance—one of the broadest and more complete measures of raw materials costs—has fallen from its record high of four years ago. Even so, it is still up 32% over the past five years and a hefty 220% since 2000.  


Right now, the exchange wallows in a quiet period and is unable to go on the record for this interview. However, exchange personnel agreed to speak on a background basis only. According to one HKEx spokesperson, “the strategic rationale for the acquisition is based on growth of the LME’s existing operations. Revenue synergies are expected to be realised in the long term from increased volumes in China and rest of Asia, the establishment of LME Clear and the introduction of new products. The LME also provides a platform for entry into a range of commodity asset classes as well as the development of RMB denominated products in fixed income and currencies that are attached to commodity flows.  In addition, there will be opportunities for further ­geographical expansion, especially in emerging markets, by leveraging HKEx’s membership of the recently formed BRICS Exchanges Alliance.”


The five member exchanges, including Brazil’s BM&F Bovespa, Russia’s MICEX-RTS, India’s Bombay Stock Exchange, HKEx, and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) all joined forces in October 2011. A year later in March the participating members cross listed their benchmark index futures in order to give investors easier access to the BRICS index derivatives which can be used to hedge diversified portfolios.

 Hong Kong Stock Exchange: 2012 Turnover and On-floor and Off-floor Trades
[Year to date] [Main Board + Trading Only Stock]

Hong Kong Stock Exchange: 2012 Turnover and On-floor and Off-floor Trades

The varying fortunes of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange 2011/2012 IPOs by volume and value: the world’s top ten exchanges
01 Jan - 31 October Top IPO Exchanges Globally – By Deal Volume

Varying Fortunes HK2012

 

 

 

 

 

 
01 Jan - 31 October Top IPO Exchanges Globally – By Deal Volume

Top IPO By Deal Volume

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Although product development is important, The HKEx also plans to help the LME develop its market infrastructure. This includes the expansion of its warehouse network in Asia, including China as well as the progressive upgrade of its core platforms to drive business growth. In addition, the HKEx aims to utilise its data centre, established Asian infrastructure and market data hub in Shanghai to enhance distribution of market data to Chinese clients.


In addition to the LME acquisition, HKEx introduced the first exchange-traded currency futures settled in RMB in September and will continue promoting the listing of RMB-traded products such as bonds, exchange traded funds and a real estate investment trust in its securities market.  “We are also in the process of introducing hosting services and a clearing house for OTC derivatives, both of which are scheduled to be up and running by next year,” according to the spokesperson.


Skeete believes that these developments will help the HKEx keep its edge over rival Shanghai Futures Exchange. “Hong Kong is perceived to be the gateway of China which used to be the role of Shanghai until the Communists took over. I think the rivalry will continue and although Shanghai would like to return to where it used to be I can’t see the Hong Kong Exchange being displaced in the medium term.”


For the HKEx’s part, it would like to collaborate rather than compete and has already forged links with the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange in June to create a joint venture in Hong Kong with an aim to develop financial products and related services as well as the franchising of index-linked and other equity derivatives products. The joint venture will also include the compilation of cross-border indices based on products traded on the three markets and the establishment of industry classification for listed companies, information standards and information products. Market promotion, customer services, technical services and infrastructure development will also be covered.


According to the HKEx spokesperson, “the mainland economy’s continuing growth will result in more business for both stock markets. We believe that the Shanghai and HKEx markets are complementary; one is international and funds can be raised in a freely convertible currency; the other is mainly domestic in terms of investors and currency. With respect to other markets, HKEx has been competing with its overseas counterparts for investors and issuers for years.  Hong Kong is relatively small (about 7m people) so HKEx has to seek growth opportunities at home and abroad.”

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