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News from China
Chinese developers head overseas to raise funds
17th July 2017

 CHINESE real estate firms have turned to the overseas market to seek financing as tougher regulations have made it more difficult for them to raise funds at home.

At least five property companies have announced moves to issue notes or bonds, worth more than US$2 billion in total, in the overseas market since the beginning of July, according to latest statistics from Centaline Property Research Center.
They include Greentown China and Longfor Properties, both major property developers in the country.
Greentown China said earlier this week it would issue US$450 million of senior perpetual capital securities, with the net proceeds to be used to refinance existing debt and for general working capital purposes.
Longfor Properties said early this month it would issue US$450 million of senior notes due in 2020 and use the proceeds for refinancing only.
The moves came as domestic financing by real estate developers shrank, following tightened market regulation aimed at curbing asset bubbles and preventing financial risks.
Property firms raised 177.2 billion yuan (US$26.1 billion) through bond and note issuance in the first half of 2017, a 74-percent plunge year on year, Centaline Property said.
“Authorities have strengthened control over various sources of funding for developers,” said Le Jiadong, analyst at GF Securities. “Major financing channels have been narrowed across the board.”
Meanwhile, the cooling housing market means less contribution from home sales to the companies’ cash flow.
Property sales had surged over two years of pro-growth policies before authorities moved to rein in speculation in the second half of last year.
Of 70 large- and medium-sized cities surveyed in May, new home prices fell or rose more slowly month on month in 35 of them, up from 31 in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
An indication of weaker sales, real estate loans took up 35 percent of all new loans extended by Chinese banks in the first half, down from 44.9 percent in 2016, central bank data showed
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 17, 2017
A future of pilotless planes, flying cars
14th July 2017

 PILOTLESS aircraft, flying electric vehicles and bespoke air cabins are the future of flight, Airbus said yesterday.

Paul Eremenko, the European plane-maker’s chief technological officer, painted a picture of skies buzzing with new flight forms at the RISE tech conference in Hong Kong.
Airbus is already testing out what it calls a “module” cabin concept — passenger planes being tailored to different demands.
“You can imagine on a flight to Vegas, you might have a casino module,” said Eremenko. “Or in a more general sense, you may have a sleeping module and you go and pay 50 bucks an hour to have the ability to sleep in a sound-proof, climate-controlled area.”
Eremenko said Airbus had been working on the project for a year already, including user trials. Airbus has also been working on a self-piloted flying car, the Vahana, with testing on a full-size prototype to be done by the end of the year.
“Our goal really is to open up the third dimension in cities and we believe that the time is right,” said Eremenko, describing the growth of mega-cities, increasing congestion and technological developments as factors fuelling the development of electric short-hop flight travel.
Pilotless flight was also on the cards, he said.
“We believe the first autonomy will come in the domain of urban air mobility where the vehicles are smaller and there are fewer occupants,” he said.
“That, I have fairly high confidence that we will get to in single-digit years,” he said, adding the problem was not a technical one but of social acceptance.
Artificial intelligence was the main focus of the sprawling RISE conference, which Wednesday included a debate between two lifelike disembodied robot torsos on the future of humanity.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 14, 2017
Market slides on doubts over rebound
11th July 2017

 SHANGHAI stocks dipped yesterday in a day of fluctuations reflecting investor nervousness about the sustainability of the recent rebound.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed down 0.17 percent at 3,212.63 points with turnover at 222.8 billion yuan (US$32.8 billion).
Steelmakers were among the gainers. Xinjiang Ba Yi Iron & Steel Co surged 8.6 percent and Maanshan Iron & Steel climbed 5.11 percent.
But trading sentiment was largely subdued as investors wait for the second-quarter gross domestic product figures to be released next week.
Financial shares showed mixed results. Bank of Construction was down 0.49 percent to 6.08 yuan and China Life Insurance retreated 1.17 percent to 27.12 yuan while Southwest Securities jumped 2.33 percent.
China’s consumer and factory gate inflation remained flat in June and in line with expectations, allowing more room for a relatively tight monetary stance. Stocks, including steel, non-ferrous metals, papermaking, and cement, have rebounded strongly recently.
Source: Shanghai Daily, July 11, 2017
Bitcoin dealer faces trial over disappearing money
10th July 2017

 The former CEO of collapsed Bitcoin exchange MtGox heads to trial in Tokyo next week on charges stemming from the disappearance of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of the virtual currency from its digital vaults.

Frenchman Mark Karpeles — once the high-flying head of the world’s busiest Bitcoin trading platform, who reportedly lived in an US$11,000-a-month penthouse and spent money lavishly, including on prostitutes — faces embezzlement and data manipulation charges.

“He is keeping calm as the trial gets underway,” his lawyer Kiichi Iinosaid, adding Karpeles plans to plead innocent.

The 32-year-old was arrested in August, 2015, and released on bail nearly a year later over allegations he fraudulently manipulated data and pocketed millions worth of Bitcoins.

MtGox, which said it once hosted around 80 percent of global Bitcoin trading, shuttered in 2014 after admitting that 850,000 coins — worth around $480 million at the time — had disappeared from its vaults.

The company initially said there was a bug in the software underpinning Bitcoins that allowed hackers to pilfer them.

Karpeles later said he had found about 200,000 of the lost coins in a “cold wallet” — a storage device, similar memory stick, that is not connected to other computers.

Tokyo-based MtGox filed for bankruptcy protection soon after the cyber-money went missing, leaving a trail of angry investors calling for answers and denting the virtual currency’s reputation.

Karpeles, who said he is working as an IT consultant, is active on social media and has commented on issues concerning Bitcoin but not on details of his criminal case.

“The charges (against Karpeles) only cover a subset of the issues which were happening at MtGox, so I don’t expect that we will find out most of the information we want to know,” said Kolin Burges, a British investor who said he lost several hundred Bitcoins in the MtGox collapse. “I’ve not had any back yet but hopefully, eventually all the creditors will get a small percentage of their money back.”

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 10, 2017

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