Author: Business News Asia

BusinessNewsAsia.com's Editorial team is composed of experienced professional journalist and financial professionals who have an average of 10 years of experience in financial and breaking news reportage.

A senior Chinese official has urged the United States to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) instead of keeping on questioning the proposed bank’s transparency and governance. Zhang Jun, a senior Chinese official who is in charge of China’s International economic portfolio, issued the invitation on the heels of statements by the US officials that the proposed AIIB will weaken the status of existing global institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “I believe both China and the AIIB welcome the United States in joining the AIIB. But if the United States still…

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China’s tourism industry will continue to boom this year, growing 7.5% and creating more jobs in the country, said the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). The tourism industry of China, the WTTC said will grow faster than the national economy as more middle-class Chinese are traveling this year. The WTTC is a group of around 100 chief executives of the world’s leading travel and tourism firms. The group said China’s tourism industry contributed about Rmb5.81tr (USD935.58bn) to the country’s GDP and created more than 66 million jobs last year. By the end of this year, the WTTC said China’s…

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Countries interested to join the China-led Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are given until 31 March to make their decisions. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the deadline is for countries that want to join as founding members as the AIIB is expected to be officially established by the end of 2015. Countries interested to join but not as founding members will have no deadline, Hong told a news briefing. “March 31 is the deadline for countries to apply to join the bank as founding members, but the door will always be open for interested countries,” Hong told a daily…

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The Insurance Association of China revealed that small and medium-sized insurance firms in the country currently dominate the burgeoning online life insurance market, accounting for 82% of total sales. These insurance companies collected a total of Rmb29bn (USD4.68bn) online life premiums, or about 82% of the total Rmb35.3bn (USD5.7bn) online life insurance premiums. The association said nine of the top 10 online life insurers in China are small and medium-sized insurance firms, led by Life Everbright Life with a 16% share of the market and ICBC-AXA Life Insurance, which takes up 12% market share. Foreign-owned life insurers are also afforded…

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The rise in the number of Asia’s high net worth individuals, the aging population of the region’s wealthy, and the growing expat population are expected to boost the international private medical insurance (IPMI) premiums in Asia. In its findings, insurance advisor Pacific Prime said Asia’s IPMI premiums are set to rise as much as 15.4% annually as more people in the region spend money on healthcare services. Pacific Prime’s forecast is in line with the result of a study conducted by Swiss Re, which shows that IPMI premiums in Asia are expected to triple in overall cost to USD31.8bn in…

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South Korean officials accused North Korea of test firing seven short-range missiles into the sea as the South Korea-US military drills is ongoing. A South Korean defense official said the surface-to-air missiles launched by North Korea last Thursday flew into waters off the eastern coast of the reclusive nation. The source said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un even inspected the missiles before they were fired. The source, however, did not divulge to the Associated Press how he got his information.

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German luxury fashion and style house Hugo Boss said it will take over all its stores in China and operate a total of 130 outlets in the country. The move is part of the company’s efforts to capitalize on the rising luxury clothes and accessories demand in Asia and the Middle East. It also plans to set up its own distribution company in Dubai and take over 17 franchise stores in South Korea. Hugo Boss is shifting to markets outside of Europe as European consumers cut high-end purchases. Sales in Germany, its home base, dropped 8% in Q4 of 2014.…

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The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank, announced plans to introduce new policies that will govern how Internet finance operates in the country. Internet finance includes online payment, crowd-funding and online sales of finance products. According to PBOC Governor Zhou Xiaochuan, the new policies are aimed at supporting the growth of Internet finance and will ensure appropriate regulations are in place, in accordance with the current regulation framework. The proposed policies were drafted last year following a series of consultations between regulators and relevant industries. China’s Internet finance is expected to further grow in the coming years…

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The global insurance M&A landscape, which saw steady flow of deal activity across many of the core global insurance markets throughout 2014, is expected to remain active this year as large insurers, particularly from Asia, look for diversification, capability and access to international investment markets. The regulatory change in markets like India and China is also expected to drive interest this year, the 2015 insurance M&A report published by KPMG said. While insurance M&A may get a boost from Africa, which is considered as high growth market that presents opportunities, Asia and Latin America are also expected to attract insurance…

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Only 10 universities from Asia have made it to this year’s Top 100 World Universities by Reputation published by the Times Higher Education. Universities from the United States continue to dominate the top 10 of the list, taking up eight spots while only two universities from the United Kingdom joined the top 10. This year’s world’s most prestigious universities list is still led by Harvard University of the United States but University of Cambridge and University of Oxford in United Kingdom each rose to two places to reach second and third place, respectively. Ten universities in Asia also made it…

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There seems to be no stopping Alibaba from further investing in Silicon Valley as it aims to build up its mobile services. Reuters reported that the Chinese e-commerce giant is investing up to USD200 million in Snapchat, a photo-messaging application owned by a four-year-old company. Alibaba’s investment now values Snapchat at around USD15 billion, way more than the USD3 billion that Facebook dangled when it offered to buy the company in late 2013. Snapchat, based in Los Angeles, allows more than 100 million users to send messages that disappear in seconds. It had sought further capital to expand its core…

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Bank of Korea (BOK), South Korea’s central bank, surprisingly cuts its key interest rate to 1.75 percent, an all-time low as the nation scrambles to prevent a deflation. Bloomberg reported that the BOK trimmed the seven-day repurchase rate to 1.75 percent. While unexpected, the rate cut was forecast by two of the 17 economists that Bloomberg surveyed. The BOK now joins more than 20 other central banks around the world in lowering interest rates so far this year. On Wednesday, Thailand’s central bank also trimmed its key interest rates. South Korea’s won weakened 0.4 percent to 1,131.20 per dollar at…

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Sources said Morgan Stanley will hold this year’s Asian hedge-fund capital introductions forum in Shanghai in June after a two-year absence. The annual event in China has been considered as one of the most important events for Asia-focused hedge funds. The event presents hedge funds to potential investors. Bloomberg said details of the event has not been revealed yet as it is still being discussed by the bank. The bank started the event in China in 2005, with about 60 Asia-focused hedge funds typically presented to potential investors. The annual event was not held in China in 2013 due to…

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At least 154 new billionaires will emerge in China during the next decade, making the country the biggest generator of billionaires, the Wealth Report 2015 said. The report, jointly released by Knight Frank and Bank of China International last Tuesday, said China will account for two-thirds of the top 30 billionaire-producing cities in the world in the next 10 years. The report also forecast that by 2025, Shanghai and Beijing will occupy the 4th and 6th spots, respectively, in the top 10 cities around the world with the most billionaires. The report tracks the growing number of the super-rich in…

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A total of 268 bank branches in S Korea were closed in 2014, bringing the number of bank branches in the country falling to its lowest level in five years. Data released by the Bank of Korea showed that the number of bank branches in the country totaled 7,433 last year, the lowest level since 2000, after falling by 268 from a year ago. The country’s central bank attributed the fall to the weakening demand for face-to-face service at banks and the increasing focus on non-contact channels. Aside from the number of bank branches, the number of other financial institutions…

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In order to enhance liquidity, the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, imposed its initial interest-rate cut this year. This, after the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) cut on 5 February — a 25 basis-points reduction to the benchmark deposit and lending rates that became effective on the first day of March. The deposit-rate ceiling was on the other hand raised to 1.3 times the benchmark rate from 1.2 times. The PBOC is expected to keep using quantity-based and price-based tools that include RRR and interest rate cuts. The latest interest rate cut is more a signal than real…

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Swiss global financial services company UBS Ltd has announced the appointment of Karen Chen as its new president for UBS China. Chen, former Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s CEO for China, will also be nominated as executive director in addition to her role as China head of wealth management, UBS said. Aside from being the China CEO of Commonwealth Bank of Australia before joining UBS in 2014, Chen also held various positions at Standard Chartered Bank. UBS, meanwhile, maintained its 2015 forecast for GDP growth in China at 6.8%, citing the downward pressure that the Chinese economy is facing. Chen joined…

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Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s 180-day post-IPO lockup expires March 18, following its record-setting IPO last September, allowing about 437 million shares or roughly 18% of the company to be sold publicly. The Chinese e-commerce giant, however, said that of that total, about 100 million shares will remain subject to trading restrictions that apply to employees, until after the company announces quarterly results in May. The number of shares that will be freed is more than the number sold during Alibaba’s IPO, which was 368 million. Analyst said the lockup expiration on March 18 could significantly exert selling pressure on Alibaba’s…

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Google Inc. said it plans to search for a new chief financial officer (CFO) within six moths after announcing that current CFO Patrick Pichette is retiring. The 51-year-old Pichette, who joined Google in 2008, will remain in the company through the transition period following his intention to retire on March 4. Pichette said that he has decided to step down to travel and spend more time with his personal life and family after working for 25 to 30 years. The CFO, however, said he will only leave Google when the company has found a new CFO and stressed that the…

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A report released by Goldman Sachs about the future of money showed that despite tight government restrictions, the amount of bitcoin trading activity in China has risen. The report also underscored the fact that the Chinese yuan is now the highest trading currency for the bitcoin, with 80% of bitcoin volume exchanged into and out of yuan, followed by the US and smaller denominations in yen and euros. The popularity of bitcoin trading in China, however, seems to defy logic considering that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the country’s central bank, banned bitcoin transactions at banks, retailers and payment…

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