Name organizer Where
Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018" Frontier Securities Tokyo Japan
"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award ICC WTO London



Alibaba goes offline with $2.9 billion stake in China's top grocer www.reuters.com

BEIJING (Reuters) - Internet giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) said on Monday it would invest HK$22.4 billion ($2.87 billion) for a major stake in China’s top hypermart operator, Sun Art Retail Group Ltd (6808.HK), part of a wider push into offline retail.

As part of an alliance with Auchan Retail S.A. [AUCH.UL] and Ruentex Group, Alibaba would buy the stake from Ruentex while Auchan Retail would boost its stake, the three companies said in a joint statement.

The alliance would target opportunities in China’s $500 billion food retail sector, as Alibaba races to build big-data capabilities in the offline retail market where roughly 85 percent of sales are made.

“Physical stores serve an indispensable role during the consumer journey, and should be enhanced through data-driven technology and personalized services in the digital economy,” Alibaba Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang said in the statement.

Shares of Hong Kong-listed Sun Art, which were suspended on Nov. 13, resumed on Monday and were down 5.3 percent in morning trade, while the benchmark index .HSI was flat.

The deal would give French retailer Groupe Auchan SA, China’s Alibaba Group and Taiwanese conglomerate Ruentex 36.18 percent, 36.16 percent and 4.67 percent stakes respectively in Sun Art. Alibaba would replace Ruentex as the second-largest shareholder.

Alibaba has invested upwards of $9.3 billion in brick-and-mortar stores since 2015. It has launched many un-staffed concept shops in the past year, including grocery and coffee stores.

The $474 billion firm is taking more risks to secure offline, rural and overseas buyers as China’s urban e-commerce market shows signs of saturating, including purchasing extensive infrastructure which it had previously avoided.

“They’re getting into a territory that’s not their core strength ... for example securing a property, the licenses to sell certain products, paying tax, more labor and so on,” said Bain & Company analyst Weiwen Han.

“On one hand they really need to do it, but on the other hand they are facing a lot of challenges that they have never experienced before.”

Sun Art is China’s grocery store leader with about 8.2 percent of the market, according to data from Kantar Worldpanel.

It operates about 450 hypermarkets across China under the RT-Mart and Auchan banners. It also operates unmanned stores under the Auchan Minute brand.

It has been slow to go online, with its platform Feiniu lagging bigger players like China Resources and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N).

In a separate statement, Sun Art said Alibaba’s Taobao China Holding Ltd would make a general offer for the company at HK$6.50 apiece.



Toshiba to raise \600 billion from investors www3.nhk.or.jp

Struggling electronics firm Toshiba says it plans to raise 600 billion yen, or about 5.3 billion dollars, by offering shares to 60 overseas investment funds.

On Sunday, Toshiba announced the decision, which was made by its board.

The firm says the funds raised will help the company improve its financial situation and avoid being delisted from the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Toshiba has already decided to sell its semiconductor subsidiary in order to settle the company's debts by next March and avoid the delisting.

The board came up with the new share-selling plan because there are concerns that the anti-trust assessment of the chip sale, which is now underway in the relevant countries, may not be completed in time to allow the firm to meet the March deadline.

The sales are expected to increase the volume of the company's shares by 50 percent. This could effectively undermine the current shareholders.

Regarding such concerns, Toshiba says the primary purpose of the investment is not to influence Toshiba's business operations, but rather to make a net profit.

But analysts say they will watch what the investors do with the shares they've acquired.

Toshiba's largest shareholder is Singapore-based Effissimo Capital Management, which was established by former colleagues of Japan's most famous activist investor Yoshiaki Murakami.



Harumafuji questioned by Japan Sumo Association www.nhk.or.jp

Yokozuna grand champion Harumafuji has told sumo's governing body that he assaulted a lower-ranked wrestler.

Officials with the Japan Sumo Association questioned Harumafuji at the Ryogoku sumo arena in Tokyo on Sunday.

Harumafuji is accused of inflicting violence against Takanoiwa when they were dining out during a regional sumo tour last month. They are both from Mongolia.

Police have also questioned Harumafuji and are investigating the situation leading up to the assault.

Sources say Harumafuji admitted hitting Takanoiwa with his hands, but denied using a beer bottle.

The officials reportedly asked Harumafuji what happened before he hit Takanoiwa and how he reported the incident to his stablemaster.

Kagamiyama, a board member of the sumo association, spoke to reporters after the 2-hour session.

He declined to give details, only saying that Harumafuji had admitted assaulting the junior wrestler. He said the association will continue its investigation.

Kagamiyama also said he will interview the people who were drinking with the 2 wrestlers.



SouthGobi Resources says CEO arrested in China www.reuters.com

(Reuters) - Coal miner SouthGobi Resources Ltd said on Friday Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Aminbuhe was arrested on Oct. 11 and detained at the Rizhao City Detention Center in China as a suspect in a fraudulent loan case.

SouthGobi's board has formed a special committee to investigate the charges against Aminbuhe, it said.

Earlier this week, the company said Aminbuhe was on leave and appointed Bing Wang as interim CEO.

A person who answered the phone at the Rizhao detention center when Reuters called on Saturday would not comment on Aminbuhe's detention.

Aminbuhe joined SouthGobi as non-executive director in August 2015 and became the CEO a month later.

Before joining SouthGobi, Aminbuhe was a director at National United Resources Holding Ltd.

Vancouver-based SouthGobi, whose primary market is China, operates its flagship coal mine in Mongolia.



Mongolia's automotive gasoline imports increase by nearly 39 percent www.xinhuanet.com

ULAN BATOR, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- The volume of imports of automotive gasoline to Mongolia grew by 38.7 percent year-on-year in January-October 2017 to 210.5 million U.S. dollars, according to the National Statistics Committee of Mongolia on Friday.

Meanwhile, the import of diesel fuel increased by 90.7 percent compared to the same period in 2016, amounting to 347.9 million dollars.

As experts noted, the increase in volume of imported fuel demonstrates the activation of Mongolia's economy.

Meanwhile, the import of kerosene for the first 10 months of this year grew by 24 percent, compared to the same period last year. As a result, the total amount of imported aviation fuel was 24,800 tons.

It should be noted here that the Mongolian Parliament has increased the excise tax on imported fuel since July of this year in frames of the continuation of the implementation of IMF's Expanded Fund Facility Program in Mongolia.

According to the agreement reached with the IMF, the Parliament of Mongolia in October 2017 had to raise the excise tax on gasoline, but the Ministry of Mining and Heavy Industry of Mongolia proposed to postpone the consideration of the above-mentioned issue for uncertain term.

According to the National Statistics Committee, Mongolia imported about 94 percent of the fuel from the Russian Federation in 2016, in particular, from the Rosneft oil company.

In 2017, more than 96 percent of imported fuel was imported from Russia, and the rest from China.



Harumafuji-funded Mongolian school damaged www.nhk.or.jp

A Mongolian charity school funded by Yokozuna sumo grand champion Harumafuji has suffered a possible act of vandalism following allegations that he assaulted another wrestler.

Residents in Mongolia's capital Ulaanbaatar say someone erased Harumafuji's name from a wall of the school, which is now under construction. The institution is scheduled to open next year.

The people say the incident occurred after Mongolian media reported on the alleged attack by Harumafuji against a lower-ranked wrestler Takanoiwa last month in Japan. Both wrestlers are from Mongolia.

A 75-year-old man who lives near the school said it is commendable that Harumafuji invested in the school's construction for children.

But he added that Harumafuji did something wrong despite his popularity and high social status.

A 57-year-old woman said she is glad that Harumafuji is helping to build the school. She said she does not believe the assault occurred because he and the other Mongolian wrestlers all have good personalities. She added that she wants people to support successful wrestlers, instead of speaking ill of them.

Harumafuji reportedly assaulted Takanoiwa while they were out drinking during a local sumo tour in the western Japanese city of Tottori last month. Sources say Harumafuji was lecturing Takanoiwa about his attitude, and lost his temper when the junior wrestler continued looking at his cellphone while he was talking.



Fitch Revises Outlook on Mongolia to Positive; Affirms at 'B-' www.fitchratings.com

Fitch Ratings-Hong Kong-17 November 2017: Fitch Ratings has revised the Outlook on Mongolia's Long-Term Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to Positive from Stable and affirmed the IDR at 'B-'.

A full list of rating actions is at the end of this rating action commentary.


The revision of the Outlook to Positive reflects the following key rating drivers:

The fiscal outlook has improved considerably. Fitch forecasts the general government deficit to decline to 7.3% of GDP in 2017, above the 'B' median of 4.2%, but down from a peak of 15.9% in 2016 due to strong revenue growth and capital expenditure cuts. The 2018 budget incorporates recently approved revenue-enhancing measures and only modest expenditure increases, which Fitch believes is consistent with a further narrowing of the budget deficit to 6.5% of GDP next year. Continued adherence to fiscal targets and reforms aimed at curtailing off-budget expenditure and introducing greater independence to the budgeting process should lay a path towards a more robust and credible fiscal framework over time, but is still in a nascent development stage.

Gross general government debt (GGGD) is on a downwards trajectory. Fitch forecasts GGGD to decline to 87.5% of GDP in 2017, having peaked at 91.4% in 2016 as a result of the high budget deficit and a substantial revaluation of foreign-currency borrowings associated with a 20% depreciation of the tugrik. The agency's baseline forecasts suggest GGGD will decline to below 80% of GDP by end-2020, assuming a gradual decline in the primary deficit to 1.5%, average nominal GDP growth of 11.5%, and a broadly stable tugrik. Despite the expected improvement in public debt dynamics, GGGD/GDP will remain substantially above the 'B' category peer median of 58.5% for the foreseeable future, weighing on the sovereign ratings.

Refinancing risks have receded. Implementation of an IMF-led financing and structural reform programme following board approval in May 2017 is expected to unlock up to USD3.5 billion in new funding from multilateral and bilateral creditors over the coming years. This in turn has bolstered investor confidence and facilitated the recent issuance of an USD800 million sovereign bond, which will refinance notes previously due in 2018. The authorities also successfully issued a USD600 million bond in early 2017 to fund an exchange offer for government-guaranteed notes, following announcements that an IMF programme was under consideration. Viewed together, recent capital markets exercises have alleviated any lingering near-term external refinancing risks, having extended the sovereign's nearest external bond maturity until after 2020.

Prime Minister Khurelsukh took office in October 2017, following the ousting of the former prime minister and cabinet in a no-confidence vote in September. This political disruption led to a temporary postponement of the IMF's board meeting to discuss the first review of Mongolia's Extended Fund Facility, but this is now back on track, with the Fund having reached staff-level agreement on the first and second reviews in late-October.

The economy is recovering. Real GDP rose by 5.8% in 9M17, up from 1.2% in 2016, due to a surge in investment tied to the underground development of the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine and a rebound in exports and private consumption. Fitch forecasts real GDP to rise by 4.5% in 2018, from 4.2% in 2017, bringing Mongolia's growth performance broadly in line with the 'B' median of 4.6%. The ongoing customs bottleneck at the Mongolia-China border has triggered a sharp deceleration in coal export volumes since July 2017, from record highs in 1H17. This introduces both downside and upside risk to our forecasts, but is unlikely to derail the recovery given that coal export volumes remain well above their 2015-16 monthly average even at reduced throughput levels, and other key exports, such as copper, are only modestly impacted.

Mongolia's 'B-' Foreign-Currency IDR also reflects the following key rating drivers:

External finances remain weak despite recent improvements. Foreign reserves reached USD2.0 billion in November 2017, up from 1.3 billion at end-2016, supported by acceleration in FDI tied to large mining projects and other inflows. Fitch forecasts foreign reserve coverage will rise to 3.0x current external payments (CXR) by end-2017, up from 2.3x a year prior, but remain well below the 'B' category median of 3.8x. External interest service ratios are exceptionally high at an estimated 14.3% of CXR versus the 'B' category median of 3.5%, reflective of Mongolia's heavy reliance on external debt capital markets, although this reliance should moderate as multilateral and bilateral funding inflows increase. The country's high commodity export dependence (76% of CXR) and export concentration to China (75% of exports) also leave it vulnerable to external shocks, and constrain the ratings.

Mongolia's recent history of sporadic leadership changes increases the potential for political shocks and sharp reversals in policy, but Fitch believes these risks are somewhat muted by the Mongolian People's Party overwhelming parliamentary majority ahead of elections in mid-2020. The more immediate risk, in the agency's view, is that stronger macro performance and the resurgence in external inflows dilute the authorities' drive and commitment to adhere to IMF reform targets.

Overall capital adequacy of the Mongolian banking system should become clearer as a result of an ongoing asset-quality review being conducted as part of the IMF programme. Bank of Mongolia will start its supervisory review in December by applying its own two-year stress testing on individual banks and engaging with them to identify and rectify any potential capital shortfalls. The IMF has estimated bank capital needs could amount to 7% of GDP (15% of system-wide loans), from which up to 3.5% of GDP has been earmarked from public funds as a contingency. While the deployment of public funds for banking-sector recapitalisation would be a potential set-back to recent fiscal improvements, Fitch does not believe the estimated amount would pose a material funding constraint to the sovereign, nor is it sufficient in size to offset other positive developments across Mongolia's sovereign credit profile.

Structural factors such as GDP per capita, governance indicators, and doing business rankings score above 'B' category peers and provide continued support to the rating. Mongolia's small population of roughly 3 million also suggests per capita incomes have the potential to rise dramatically over the longer term if the country can successfully harness its general natural resources endowments through strategic projects such as Oyu Tolgoi and Tavan Tolgoi, and deliver them more reliably via planned rail and other infrastructure connectivity enhancements.

Fitch's proprietary SRM assigns Mongolia a score equivalent to a rating of 'B' on the Long-Term Foreign-Currency IDR scale.

Fitch's sovereign rating committee adjusted the output from the SRM to arrive at the final Long-Term Foreign-Currency IDR by applying its QO, relative to rated peers, as follows:
- External Finances: -1 notch, to reflect repeated bouts of external financing stress.

Fitch's SRM is the agency's proprietary multiple regression rating model that employs 18 variables based on three-year centred averages, including one year of forecasts, to produce a score equivalent to a Long-Term Foreign-Currency IDR. Fitch's QO is a forward-looking qualitative framework designed to allow for adjustment to the SRM output to assign the final rating, reflecting factors within our criteria that are not fully quantifiable and/or not fully reflected in the SRM.

The main factors that could lead to positive rating action, individually or collectively, are:
- Continued implementation of credible and coherent macroeconomic policy-making that improves Mongolia's basic economic stability.
- A track record of meeting stated fiscal targets, contributing to an improved outlook for government debt ratios.
- Evidence of substantial improvement in the country's external liquidity position, for example through a build-up of foreign reserves.

The main factors that could lead to negative action, individually or collectively, are:
- Failure to remain current on IMF programme guidelines, which could heighten external financing risks.
- Emergence of systemic financial stress.
- Failure to maintain the GGGD/GDP ratio on a downward trajectory.

- IMF staff-level agreement on the first and second reviews receives board approval.
- Customs bottleneck at Mongolia-China border does not deteriorate any further.

The full list of rating actions is as follows:

Long-Term Foreign-Currency IDR affirmed at 'B-'; Outlook Revised to Positive from Stable
Long-Term Local-Currency IDR affirmed at 'B-'; Outlook Revised to Positive from Stable
Short-Term Foreign-Currency IDR affirmed at 'B'
Short-Term Local-Currency IDR affirmed at 'B'
Country Ceiling affirmed at 'B-'
Issue ratings on long-term senior unsecured foreign-currency bonds affirmed at 'B-'


Primary Analyst
Andrew Fennell
+852 2263 9925
Fitch (Hong Kong) Limited
19/F Man Yee Building
68 Des Voeux Road Central
Hong Kong

Secondary Analyst
Stephen Schwartz
Senior Director
+852 2263 9938

Committee Chairperson
Tony Stringer
Managing Director
+44 20 3530 1219

Media Relations: Leslie Tan, Singapore, Tel: +65 67 96 7234, Email: leslie.tan@fitchratings.com; Wai-Lun Wan, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2263 9935, Email: wailun.wan@fitchratings.com.



Norway's state fund 'needs to drop oil and gas investments' www.bbc.com

Norway's government has been told its state-run fund should drop its investments in oil and gas stocks.

Norges Bank manages Norway's $1 trillion (£758bn) sovereign wealth fund on behalf of the government.
It said the step would make the country "less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices", and its advice was not based on a price forecast or the sector's sustainability.
Around 6% of the fund, worth £28bn, is invested in oil and gas stocks.
"This advice is based exclusively on financial arguments and analyses of the government's total oil and gas exposure," said the bank's deputy governor Egil Matsen.
Norges Bank's proposal must now be reviewed by Norway's Finance Ministry, which has said it will announce its own view in the autumn of next year.
If it decides to back the central bank's proposal, the country's parliament would be able to vote on it in June 2019 at the earliest.
Norway is western Europe's biggest oil and gas producer and its sovereign wealth fund, known officially as the Government Pension Fund, is used to invest the proceeds of the country's oil industry.
But Norges Bank said that investing money back into the energy sector meant the government's exposure to the price of crude was too high, particularly given the country's majority stakes in Statoil ASA.
"There is a substantial difference... in return between the oil and gas sector and the broad stock market in periods when the oil price changes substantially.
"Oil price exposure of the government's wealth position can be reduced by not having the fund invested in oil and gas stocks," Mr Matsen said.
'No cause for concern'
Nonetheless, shares in major oil firms such as Shell, BP and Exxon Mobil all traded lower after the announcement.
And analysts warned that the central bank's proposal could have a knock-on effect on the sector.
"The risk for the oil sector is how many investment funds will downsize their exposure to extractive industries," said Jason Kenney, oil analyst at bank Santander.
But Quilter Cheviot analyst Liz Dhillon said the move was "no real cause for concern".
"Nothing is imminent and even if the advice is fully implemented we believe this will have limited impact on the oil and gas producers, as the holdings of Norges Bank are relatively small and no doubt will be disposed of over an extended time frame," she added.



Basic guideline approved to develop Ulaanbaatar in 2018 www.montsame.mn

Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ At its 1st irregular meeting on November 16, Citizens’ Representatives’ Khural approved a basic guideline on developing socio-economy of the capital city in 2018. The basic guideline reflects over 400 policy actions in five chapters.

The chapter ‘Economic growth to every household’ of the guideline includes actions to select plants to be located in Industry and Technology Park in Baganuur, Nalaikh and Emeelt and commence constructional works. An implementation of the first stage constructional works in the park is predicted to create over 4000 jobs. 

In the chapter ‘Urban development and infrastructure’, a goal was reflected to decentralize and develop Ulaanbaatar city from one-centered into multi-center city. Infrastructural constructional works will be commenced in Selbe and Bayankhoshuu sub-centers. Within the re-planning project, deteriorated flats and houses were dismantled and new apartments for 301 households were built this year in Khan-Uul and Bayangol districts instead. The guideline says to complete constructions of apartments for 816 households next year. 

‘Environment and green development’ chapter says to recycle garbage and commence a construction of industry to produce energy and heat by burning of 150-200 thousand tons of garbage. In addition, greenery of the city will be expanded and a micro-garden will be established in every district. 

‘Social development’ chapter reflects many activities, including building ten model primary health care units with the support of Asian Development Bank in the framework to increase sufficiency of health service. Maintenance works of hospitals in Ulaanbaatar city will be completed. Also it is planned to improve sufficiency of school and kindergarten and to begin constructional works of 30 general educational schools with a total of 18690 seats in 2018.

In correlation to the guidelines, administrative team of S. Batbold, Governor of the capital city and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, will plan next year’s budget of Ulaanbaatar city and submit it to the Citizens Representatives’ Khural.



Gobi desert sees world's longest traffic jam www.news.mn

On the Mongolian-Chinese border, superhuman patience is required. Lorries are queuing over a 130-kilometer stretch of road. It's not only harming the health of the drivers, but also the Mongolian economy.

In 2017, Mongolia had been planning to export a total of 11.5 million tonnes of coal to China; however, coal export has slowed due to the limited capacity at the border crossing on the Chinese border; this has resulted in queues now exceeding 100 km.

In the year to date, Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC has exported a total of 7.5 million tonnes of coal to China; 2.7 million tonnes from its West Tsankhi sector and 4.8 million tonnes from the East Tsankhi sector.

As a result of the queues and congestion on the border, the coal stock is building up at the Erdenes Tavan Tolgoi JSC mine; currently this has risen to 3.6 million tonnes of coal.

The Mongolian government has been in close contact with Beijing about the queue problem for months; so far the border facility has not been extended. In the meantime as temperatures plummet to below zero in the Gobi one can only but respect the Mongolian truck drivers.