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News from China
Yum Brands names new CEO of China division
20th August 2015

 YUM Brands, the parent of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, is naming a new CEO of its China division as it works to reverse a sales skid in a key market.

The company said Micky Pant, 60, is now the CEO of its China division. He replaces longtime leader Sam Su who is retiring. Pant has been the CEO of KFC since the beginning of 2014 and now takes over the business that Yum Brands describes as the single biggest contributor to its profits.

Yum Brands also named new CEOs of its KFC and Pizza Hut businesses in China.

Yum Brands has more than 6,800 locations in China, but the business has been damaged by bad publicity connected to poor food handling by a former supplier a year ago. In the second quarter, its revenue from China fell 4 percent to US$1.64 billion. Sales in China division restaurants open at least a year, a key metric of a retailer’s health, slid 10 percent in the quarter. That was the fourth straight quarter of double-digit declines.

But the company says it expects those sales to improve in the second half of the year and it also forecast bigger profits.

The company says KFC is the biggest quick service restaurant chain on China’s mainland and Pizza Hut is the biggest casual dining chain. The firm is also building restaurants in China rapidly, as it opened 700 new sites in China in 2014 and expects to do the same in 2015.

Su, 63, became president of the China unit in 1997 and has been chairman and CEO for five years.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 20. 2015
New paper production line
19th August 2015

 FINNISH paper producer UPM has completed 60 percent of a 277-million-euro (US$307 million) investment in a new production line in China.

 
The new line, located in Changshu, Jiangsu Province, will produce 170,000 tons of release liners per year and help strengthen the company’s market share and production capacity in Asia.
 
Executive Vice President Kim Poulsen said yesterday that the company will hire about 150 employees to operate the new line.
 
A release liner is a paper or plastic-based film sheet, usually applied during the manufacturing process to prevent a sticky surface from prematurely adhering.
 
UPM now operates two major production lines at its Changshu plant and produces around 500,000 tons of stationery paper each year.
 
 
Source: Shangha Daily, August 19. 2015
Shanghai’s economy faces tests to recover as indicators worsen
18th August 2015

 SHANGHAI’S plan for an economic recovery is facing renewed challenges as all its economic activity indicators worsened in July, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said yesterday.

Industrial production declined 4.3 percent from a year earlier to 246.6 billion yuan (US$38.6 billion) last month, down further from the 1.9 percent fall in June.

Retail sales, the broad measure of consumer demand, rose 7.7 percent to 83.6 billion yuan, slowing from the pace of 9.6 percent a month earlier.

Trade shed 1.4 percent to 243.8 billion yuan from a year earlier, deteriorating from the zero change in June. Exports lost 8.7 percent in July although imports still managed to increase 4.9 percent.

Fixed-asset investment grew 8.7 percent to 316.1 billion yuan in the first seven months, also down from the 9.6 percent gain in the first six months.

“The overall performance was worse than expected,” said Li Maoyu, an analyst at Changjiang Securities Co.

“The data showed a weak foundation for the economic recovery that emerged in the second quarter, and the pace of deterioration is quick.”

Li cautioned that the corrections in the stock market may affect the city’s growth in the second half with less output in the services sector.

Finance, part of the services sector, powered Shanghai’s growth in the first half. Output from various financial services and products jumped 30.1 percent in the first six months, partly due to an active stock market.

Shanghai’s gross domestic product grew 7 percent in the first half of the year, up from the increase of 6.6 percent in the first three months and catching up with the national pace for the first time in seven years.

The city’s economic output totaled 1.18 trillion yuan in the first six months, with the service sector gaining 10.2 percent and producing 67.1 percent of the total output, compared with 67 percent in the first quarter and last year’s 64.8 percent.

The city’s manufacturing sector is also under pressure, Li said.

The six key industries — information technology, automaking, oil, refined steel, machinery equipment and biochemical — posted a combined loss of 2.9 percent last month.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 18, 2015
Exporters to benefit from currency dip
17th August 2015

 

 
 
 
CHINA’S export-oriented companies are set to be the biggest winners from last week’s plunge in the value of the yuan.
 
Some of the many factories flooding Western markets with “Made in China” products said they will benefit from the depreciation, although the boon might be temporary, while others fear rising import costs could offset the benefit.
 
Xu Jianping, head of textile company Zhongxiang in east China’s Zhejiang Province, called the weakening yuan “a big bonus.”
 
The profits of his company, which sells cloth and garments overseas, will rise by 100 yuan (US$15.65) for every basis point the yuan’s exchange rate drops, he said.
 
“The average margin rate in China’s textile industry is about 5 percent. Every penny in profit increase will be helpful,” he said.
 
Cost-sensitive textile products take up a major portion of China’s exports. History shows that if the yuan depreciates by 1 percent against the US dollar, the average margin rate in the industry will increase by 2-6 percent.
 
“The cheaper yuan means our products are cheaper. Our competitiveness is rising,” said Wang Li, who is in charge of customs affairs at Luthai Textile Co in east China’s Shandong Province.
 
“We are trying to take advantage of the depreciation and seek a stronger footing overseas,” she said.
 
“The weaker yuan will have positive effects on machinery makers as well,” said Tang Yongping, general manager of Bracalente Manufacturing Group’s (BMG) China subsidiary.
 
The yuan was mildly appreciating when Tang joined BMG in 2006. A strong yuan added pressure to Chinese manufacturers already suffering from rising labor costs.
 
“To some extent, the ongoing depreciation will help reduce the financial burden,” he said.
 
China overhauled its exchange rate formation mechanism this week, shortly after the world’s largest goods trader reported an 8.9 percent slump in exports in July.
 
While export-oriented companies hailed the depreciation, those relying on imported raw materials are concerned the cheaper yuan will increase their production costs.
 
“We have not yet felt the pinch because we are using oil storage,” said Zhao Huili, trade manager of Shandong-based refiner Luqing Petrochemical Co.
 
“But we reckon the price of imported crude oil denominated in the US dollar will rise” and tariffs will increase accordingly, he said.
 
China’s imports also fell by 8.6 percent in July. Total foreign trade dropped 7.3 percent in the first seven months, while the country’s annual growth target for this year is about 7 percent.
 
Liu Sai, a customs officer in Jinan, capital of Shandong, said the current fluctuation in the yuan’s value will reassure trading companies, and advised them to arrange production to extend gains and avoid losses.
 
“What really matters now is how long this round of depreciation will last and how much the yuan will fall,” said Tang Yongping.
 
Zhang Xiaohui, assistant governor of the People’s Bank of China, said the value of the yuan has returned to market levels after the massive declines of last week.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 17, 2015

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