|Frontier's "Invest Mongolia Tokyo 2018"||Frontier Securities||Tokyo Japan|
|"Open to Export" ICC WTO International business award||ICC WTO||London|
Chinese regulators said they’ve broken up an underground banking operation that conducted $3.7 billion in illegal foreign currency transfers. The move comes as Beijing attempts to curb massive capital flight.
The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said it had investigated six companies suspected of illegal FX transfers in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen.
According to the regulators, other firms were found to have used false documentation and fabricated trades to transfer money out of the country.
The authorities in particular cracked down on 'ant moving' strategies whereby large sums of money were transferred out of China in small portions to avoid detection.
"Underground banking has become a major channel used for money laundering and illegal cross-border transfer of funds," said the Ministry of Public Security.
"It creates an enormous black hole of funds, severely disrupting normal financial supervision and endangering the economic safety of the nation," it added.
Last year Chinese police busted more than 380 underground banks, involving more than $131 billion (900 billion yuan). More than 800 suspects were arrested.
Chinese regulators have intensified their fight against irregularities in the foreign exchange market, following the acceleration of capital flight.
The government has taken restrictive measures limiting cash withdrawals abroad as foreign exchange reserves unexpectedly fell below the $3 trillion level in January for the first time in nearly six years.
Chinese nationals have been moving their money offshore over fears of a weakening economy and with confidence that investments were safer outside the country.
To bolster the bond market and attract more foreign investment SAFE allowed foreign investors in the country’s interbank bond market to trade derivatives for the first time.
The head of SAFE Pan Gongsheng said this week China's foreign exchange market was relatively stable and cross-border capital flows were becoming more balanced.
NEW DELHI -- India's economy grew a surprising 7% in the October-December quarter despite the government scrapping high-value bank notes that constituted 86% of all cash in circulation.
Gross domestic product grew at a slightly slower pace in the third quarter of the fiscal year that began in April 2016 compared with the 7.4% uptick in the July-September period and the 7.2% growth in the previous quarter, showed data released by the Central Statistics Office on Tuesday.
The CSO also retained its full-year growth forecast of 7.1%, against 7.9% in the financial year that ended in March 2016. It recently upgraded the country's GDP growth for the previous fiscal year from an earlier estimate of 7.6%.
Tuesday's numbers came as a surprise as many analysts had expected the third quarter expansion to be below 6.5%, especially because the demonetization drive appeared to have hit consumption and business activity. A Reuters poll of economists had projected December-quarter GDP growth at 6.4%, while the State Bank of India's research department expected it to be 5.8%.
However, analysts found it strange that the CSO data showed 10% growth in private consumption in the quarter, the first such double-digit growth in India under the Modi government.
"What is important to note is that the agriculture sector has shown very robust growth at 6%," Economic Affairs Secretary Shaktikanta Das told reporters. Manufacturing growth at 8.3%, unaffected by demonetization, "is again very, very satisfying," he added, commenting on the CSO data.
The third-quarter GDP figure also means that India remains the fastest-growing major economy in the world, surpassing China's 6.8% growth in October-December.
At a media briefing by chief statistician TCA Anant, reporters wondered whether the impact of demonetization was factored into the third-quarter estimates.
"As of now, the data which is available has been captured in these estimates," Anant responded.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced that Saudi Arabia is investing $7bn (£5.6bn) in an oil refinery in the country, a project that will be set up by Malaysian oil company Petronas.
The investment is the first deal to be signed during Saudi monarch King Salman's Asian tour, and is expected to help boost profits at Petronas, which has been struggling with low oil prices for the past few years.
The visit is the first by a Saudi king to Malaysia in more than a decade, but the ties between the two nations run deep.
The Saudi connection came up in Malaysian politics as recently as last year, when Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said that the $681m found in his personal bank account was a gift from the royal family, and not money embezzled from funds linked to the state investment fund 1MDB.
The Malaysian anti-corruption commission cleared Mr Najib of all wrongdoing. However, his critics say the Saudi Arabian excuse is just a convenient cover - and several international investigations into the matter continue.
Meanwhile, King Salman is expected to head to Indonesia, Japan, Brunei and China as part of his tour of the region.
But behind the cheque book diplomacy is the kingdom's desire to extend its influence in the region and attract Asian investors to Saudi Arabia.
Five reasons why Saudi Arabia is investing in Asia:
1. Scratching backs: Saudi Arabia is looking for ways to diversify its economy and reduce its dependence on oil. The kingdom has been hit by the twin challenges of trying to reform its economy at a time when it has been losing money from falling oil prices.
Investing in nations such as Malaysia may not yield much in terms of reciprocal investment, but watch out for any announcements when King Salman is in China and Japan. Riyadh has already invested in a $45bn technology fund with Japanese firm Softbank, and, according to analysts, the Saudis are looking for investments in logistics, infrastructure and technology from Tokyo and Beijing.
2. Keeping customers: It's not just about bringing investment into Saudi Arabia - it's also about maintaining business in Asia for Saudi crude. The big prize is China - which has overtaken the US as the world's biggest importer of oil. Data from 2014 shows that it sources most of its energy needs from the Arab kingdom.
But Russia and Iran are fast gaining ground, and China has been investing in oil fields in both nations. Riyadh will be keen to ensure that it remains the top supplier for Beijing.
3. Potential investors: Saudi Aramco, the Arab kingdom's state-run oil firm, is heading for a public share sale in 2018. According to reports this would be the world's biggest share flotation, although there has been some doubt cast on the valuations.
Nevertheless, this trip is very much about drumming up interest from Asian investors into buying a 5% stake in Saudi Aramco. There has also been talk of an Asian share listing, although that has yet to be confirmed.
4. Don't cry for me Washington: The US has traditionally been Saudi Arabia's most powerful ally, both in terms of trade and politics. But Donald Trump's recent anti-trade stance may have unnerved some in the kingdom, which could explain why a trip to Asia was planned before one to Washington.
Reaching out to Muslim majority nations such as Indonesia and Malaysia makes sense for the Saudis as it won't just be conversations about investment in physical infrastructure - but also about investing in religious pilgrimages and schools.
5. Investment extends Islamic influence: Traditionally Saudi aid and investment into Malaysia and Indonesia has come through the Saudi government, religious charities and foundations. But in recent years, there's been growing concern in some quarters over the resultant increase in Wahhabism in South East Asia, at a time when the region is going through what some have termed an Islamic revival.
In Indonesia, human rights groups have pointed to the funding of ultra-orthodox clerics in mosques who often have views that are at odds with the archipelago's interpretation of Islam.
In Malaysia, Marina Mahathir, the daughter of Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, has said that Malays are losing touch with their identity and in danger of undergoing an "Arab colonisation" - in the way they dress, speak and practise their faith.
Saudi Arabia may be keen to deflect this criticism: note that the trip also includes a stop in Indonesia's predominantly Hindu island of Bali.
Two Canadian provinces — Saskatchewan and Manitoba — are the world’s top two most attractive mining investment destinations, displacing Western Australia from the first to the third place, the latest annual global survey of mining executives released Tuesday by the Fraser Institute shows.
According to Canada’s policy think-tank’s Annual Survey of Mining Companies, the other seven jurisdictions that currently attract the most investors to their resources sector are the US state of Nevada, Finland, the Canadian province of Quebec, the US state of Arizona, Sweden, Ireland, and the Australian state of Queensland, in that other.
Within Canada, Saskatchewan remains the top-ranked province, though Quebec is showing clear signs of improvement. It now ranks third in the country and 6th globally — up from 8th spot last year — and is the only other Canadian jurisdiction in the top 10 worldwide for overall investment attractiveness.
Canada’s Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the world's new top mining destinations
Saskatchewan's leading position can be partially explained by its richness of mineral reserves, coupled with competitive tax regimes, efficient permitting procedures and certainty surrounding environmental regulations, said Kenneth Green, senior director of the Fraser Institute’s energy and natural resource studies and co-author of the survey.
Chile, until recently an undisputed miners' darling, tumbled in the rankings from the 11th place to the 39th position, ranking now way below Peru.
The opposite can be said of two of Canada’s other large jurisdictions — British Columbia and Ontario — which dropped in this year’s rankings. Internationally, Ontario places 18th (down three spots from last year) and B.C. ranks 27th, more than ten places lower than its 2015 position (18th).
When it comes to Latin America, the survey — which ranked 104 jurisdictions around the world based on geologic attractiveness and the extent government policies encourage or deter exploration and investment — shows some surprises.
Chile, until recently an undisputed miners' darling, tumbled in the rankings from the 11th place it held in 2015 to the 39th position and currently ranks below Peru, which occupies the 28th place.
While it’s difficult to single out what caused Chile’s big drop in the ranking, Taylor Jackson, senior policy analyst with the Fraser Institute and co-author of the study, noted that respondents seemed concerned about the country’s tougher and more uncertain environment protection rules. They also appeared more critical of Chile’s geological potential.
Argentina continued to fall in the eyes of mining investors, with five provinces now at the very bottom of the ranking. Two of them — Jujuy and Neuquen — are now ranked even below Venezuela.
In contrast, Africa continued to better its performance, a trend that began in 2012, buoyed by Ivory Coast (17th), Botswana (19th) and Ghana (22nd). As a region, Africa now ranks ahead of Oceania, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean and Argentina for its investment attractiveness.
The Fraser Institute also released a separate study examining issues surrounding the exploration permitting process.
Canadian provinces grant the necessary permits to explorers faster than in other international jurisdictions.
It found that, overall, Canadian provinces grant the necessary permits to explorers faster than in other international jurisdictions.
But there is still room for improvement, the report notes, especially in the Territories and BC, with Canada’s most westerly province performing worse than Ontario and Quebec when it comes to waiting times, transparency of the permitting process, and the confidence that explorers have that they will receive their permits at all.
“Time is money, and if permit approval times are unnecessarily long or lack transparency, confidence plummets, overall costs increase and investors will take their money elsewhere,” concludes Green....
The Russian government expects the country's gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by 2 percent in 2017, pulling the country out of economic recession.
Maxim Oreshkin, Russia's Minister of Economic Development, said that the forecast was based on oil prices rising 0.6 percent from an average of $40 per barrel. He said that the government's full GDP report would be available next month.
"In 2016, growth was concentrated in certain industries, such as agriculture. In 2017, we expect that growth will continue and start to affect the consumer sector,” Oreshkin said. He told investors at a forum in the Russian city of Sochi that the changes would allow the economy to "breathe more freely, to invest more and to grow more."
Last year, the International Monetary Fund forecast that Russia's GDP would grow by 1.1 percent in 2017 and 1.2 percent in 2018.
The World Bank also predicted growth of 1.5 percent growth over the next 12 months, largely boosted by rising oil prices.
Russia's economy contracted by 3.7 percent in 2015, largely thanks to falling oil prices and the impact of international sanctions linked to the Ukrainian crisis.
The number of investors predicting the eurozone will lose at least one member this year has increased, according to the Frankfurt-based Sentix research group. The risk of contagion is regarded to be even bigger than during the debt crisis in 2012/13.
The group’s 'euro break-up' index is based on 1,000 investors. The index rose to 25.2 percent in February from 21.3 percent in January, according to the report quoted by Reuters. This means every fourth investor predicts a euro break-up in the next twelve months.
The risk of contagion has risen above 45 percent, more than during the peak of the 2012/13 eurozone debt crisis, Sentix said.
"After two years absence, the euro crisis is back in the spotlight. However, this time is different. The protagonists have multiplied as France and Italy now join Greece as likely exit candidates," said Sentix researched Manfred Huebner.
"Investors fear forecasters might get it wrong again after last year's surprise victory of [US President Donald] Trump and Brexit," he added. Huebner added that Marine Le Pen’s presidential win in France is less likely.
Last week, a majority in the Netherlands Parliament voted in favor of asking the government’s top advisory body to examine if the single currency works.
According to lawmaker Pieter Omtzigt, the probe will analyze whether it is necessary and possible for the country to ditch the euro and if so how.
In the Netherlands, the Geert Wilders-led Party for Freedom, PVV, is likely to win elections on March 15, shaking up the country’s politics, including eurozone membership.
PVV’s ideology is Dutch nationalism, anti-immigration, anti-Islam and hard Euroskepticism. Wilders has called for a Dutch EU referendum, dubbed as ‘Nexit.'
Samsung's legal nightmare is intensifying.
Prosecutors on Tuesday indicted Lee Jae-yong, the de facto chief of the giant South Korean conglomerate, on bribery and other charges. Four other Samsung executives were also charged with bribery and other crimes under the investigation into a huge political corruption scandal that has shaken the country.
The move means South Korea's highest profile business leader and some of his top lieutenants are now headed for trial. The scandal that has engulfed them has already brought hundreds of thousands of South Korean protesters onto the streets and prompted lawmakers to vote to impeach the president.
Lee, 48, was arrested earlier this month and has been in custody since then.
Prosecutors allege that Lee, who's also known as Jay Y. Lee, pledged tens of millions of dollars to win favor with President Park Geun-hye and secure government support for a merger that helped tighten his grip on Samsung.
They are accusing him of bribery, perjury, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.
Samsung and Lee have denied the allegations.
The other indicted Samsung executives include Park Sang-jin, president of Samsung Electronics (SSNLF), which is the crown jewel in the Lee family's array of affiliated companies.
Samsung declined to comment directly on the indictments Tuesday, but it announced that Park is resigning. Samsung also said it would shut down its corporate strategy office, which coordinates plans for the conglomerate's various businesses and where some of the indicted executives worked.
Lee is the heir to Samsung's sprawling business empire. His father, the chairman of the group, suffered a heart attack in 2014 and has remained in ill health. Lee is also vice chairman of Samsung Electronics.
Samsung's links to the corruption investigation have done further damage to the company's image after the humiliating fiasco over its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphone last year.
Lee is far from the first South Korean business leader to face accusations of corruption. His father, Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, was convicted twice -- and pardoned twice.
Analysts say that Samsung Electronics has a strong group of senior managers who can manage the company on a day-to-day basis but that a protracted absence of Lee could affect big strategic decision making.
BEIJING - China opened its foreign exchange derivatives market to overseas non-central bank institutional investors on Monday.
The investors are allowed to trade forwards, forex swaps and options over the counter with banks, according to a circular released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).
Access was granted in light of the increased presence of overseas institutional investors, which held bonds worth 870 billion yuan ($126.6 billion) by the end of 2016, up 83.4 billion yuan from 2015, SAFE said.
China will deepen the opening-up of its foreign exchange market by creating more trade tools and allowing more participants, SAFE said.
A year ago, Peabody Energy Corp's (BTUUQ.PK) chief executive was presiding over $2 billion of losses as the world's largest private sector coal miner spiraled into bankruptcy.
Now, CEO Glenn Kellow and other top executives stand to reap tens of millions of dollars in stock bonuses under Peabody's bankruptcy exit plan, which sets aside 10 percent of newly minted shares for employees.
The executives would collect a big portion of that stock when the company exits bankruptcy, expected in April. The shares would be worth about $15 million for Kellow and between $3 million and $5 million for each of five other executives, according to a company estimate.
But some shareholders and creditors who are challenging Peabody in bankruptcy court say the executives could reap a much bigger windfall. That's because Peabody's estimate severely undervalues the stock, they argue.
The company's valuation, they contend, fails to properly reflect the impact of President Donald Trump's unexpected election victory and regulatory changes in Beijing that have stoked demand for coal in China.
The critics include hold-out creditors who complain they are getting shorted by a deal hammered out by Peabody executives and hedge funds that hold the bulk of the company's debt, which totals about $8 billion. The funds - led by Elliott Management, Discovery Capital Management and Aurelius Capital Management - would benefit from a lower valuation because it would give them more shares of the newly created Peabody stock, which will be used to pay off their bonds.
"You'd think this was one of the hottest IPOs in the world," said Fredrick Palmer, who retired from Peabody in 2014 as a senior vice president and will be left with Peabody's old and essentially worthless stock.
Some shareholders and creditors are expected to oppose Peabody's Chapter 11 exit plan when the company seeks approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Louis in March.
By any estimate, the stock in Peabody's management incentive plan is unusually valuable for a bankrupt company.
Peabody predicts it will be worth $310 million based on a $3.1 billion market capitalization, a figure the company said is appropriate given the volatile nature of global commodity markets.
Critics contend the stock could be worth up to three times that amount. Palmer estimates the initial stock award to Kellow could be worth as much as $43.5 million. That would top all restricted stock grants in 2015 by U.S. public companies with at least $1 billion in revenue, according to a survey by the Equilar consulting firm.
Peabody spokesman Vic Svec disputed Palmer's estimate and said that one-time bankruptcy exit awards should not be compared with other companies' annual stock grants. Peabody followed widely accepted pay practices for companies in Chapter 11, Svec said, and offers stock grants to all 7,000 of its employees.
Companies emerging from bankruptcy generally give stock to executives to align the interests of management with new shareholders, who are usually former creditors. The percentage of stock being granted to Peabody executives is standard for a company exiting Chapter 11, according to John Dempsey, a partner at the Mercer consulting firm.
AN UNLIKELY RALLY IN COAL
The potentially high stock value stems from an unexpectedly positive near-term outlook for the coal industry, based in part on Trump's promises of deregulation.
"Many coal companies were convinced that Hillary Clinton would seek to destroy the industry," said Nathan Yates, director of research at Forward View Consulting.
For a bankrupt company, Peabody has drawn unusually high interest among investors. The company's bonds rallied in recent months, and the miner was able to easily raise money in financial markets. Creditors including the Appaloosa Management hedge fund sued so they could get access to Peabody's new stock.
Prices for seaborne coal, which Peabody produces from Australian mines, rose sharply in the second half of last year, driven by higher demand from China after the government there closed money-losing coal mines. That sparked a rally in the shares of miners such as Cloud Peak Energy Inc (CLD.N) and Australia's Whitehaven Coal Ltd (WHC.AX).
Long-term prospects for the coal industry, however, remain uncertain. The Chinese government has for years worked toward cleaner energy to ease choking smog in cities and is now considering cuts to coal-consuming heavy industries.
It also remains unclear how Trump policy changes would make coal cheaper than abundant U.S. natural gas.
At Peabody's estimated value, the company would start trading with a market capitalization just below the industry leader, CONSOL Energy Inc (CNX.N), which is shifting from coal to natural gas production.
Kellow and his management team will have to wait one year before they can sell a portion of their incentive-plan stock and three years before they can sell all of it.
SURVIVING CHAPTER 11
Surviving the bankruptcy at all is a victory for Peabody executives. Top managers are often shown the door when a company declares Chapter 11.
Many energy producers, however, retained executives during the recent wave of industry bankruptcies, which many boards of directors blamed on a once-in-a-generation price collapse rather than mismanagement.
Kellow joined Peabody from BHP Billiton Ltd (BHP.AX) in 2013 and took the helm in May 2015, after the industry had slumped on weak China demand and a shift by U.S. power plants away from coal to cheap natural gas.
In his first three years, as the company stumbled, the board awarded Kellow restricted stock worth a combined $6.58 million, as part of his overall pay of $14.37 million.
Those shares were rendered essentially worthless by the bankruptcy, but the company replaced much of the lost compensation with a plan that could allow up to $11.9 million in cash bonuses for executives, including up to about $4 million for Kellow.
The cash bonuses would be paid in addition to the stock awards that executives stand to collect. Peabody said the cash bonus plan, which is based on 2016 and 2017 performance benchmarks, was in line with other bankrupt companies.
For both the stock and cash incentives, creditors had the chance to object when the plans were negotiated, said Jonathan Lipson, a professor at Temple Law School.
"The creditors apparently accepted it," he said, "and it's their money."
(Reporting by Tracy Rucisnki and Tom Hals; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Brian Thevenot)...
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Tsagaan Sar or Lunar New Year officially begins when the sun rises on the first day of spring /by lunar horoscope/. This lunar year is attributed as a Red Fire Rooster.
The ancient nomadic people’s first statehood, the Hun was established over 2000 years ago in the current territory of Mongolia and later became the Great Mongol Empire under Chinggis Khaan’s rule. Mongolians wake up early before the sun, wearing their freshly made deel (Traditional costume), brews their tea to offer the best to the mother-earth and proceeds in greeting their family.
Each family member greets the elders first. The edge of Khadag /traditional ceremonial scarf/ must face the greeting person. Traditionally, the younger person greets the elder by grasping their elbows to show support for them and say “Ta amarkhan sain baina uu?” (Are you living peacefully?), allowing the elder to kiss them on both cheeks. The elder should respond “Amar mend ee” (Living trouble-free). After sitting behind the feast table, the guests and the elders exchange Khuurug (snuffle-bottle with a fine-ground tobacco inside) with its lid released and say “Ta sar shinedee saikhan shinelej baina uu?” (Are you celebrating well?). And the response should be “Saikhan, saikhan” (Good and well).
For Mongolians, exchanging khuurug means to strengthen the bonds between family and friends. Same-aged people greet by crossing their wrists. Also, it is a taboo for spouses to greet each other, as their souls are counted as one. For pregnant women to greet each other is another taboo for Mongolians as it claims that the genders of the unborn would change.
Another tradition that tourists find strange is the ethics of starting footprints. The good and taboo directions of 12 years and 28 stars are explained upon the drawings of celestial direction in the pictorial representation of ‘eight seats’ in lunar horoscope which wards off the misfortunes of that year. This unique tradition is mostly related to Mongolian shamanism.
Tsagaan Sar traditions are originated from the ancient Daoism and was enriched by Buddhism, which became the unique cultural and religious heritage of Mongolia. On the first day of Lunar New Year, the head of a family practices the tradition of ‘starting footprint’, wearing a full garment of Mongolian traditional costume and ride their horses to the top of the hill before sunrise in order to offer treats and pray to the spirits.This represents the anticipation of good fortunes in business and work in the upcoming year. The tradition is still being kept in modern days as the people in the city prioritizes the tradition of starting footprints on the first day of spring.