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News from China
Fujitsu eyes Lenovo for PC merger
28th October 2016

 JAPAN’S Fujitsu said yesterday that it was in talks to merge its struggling PC business with Chinese computer giant Lenovo, sending its shares soaring as the company also announced a recovery in profits.

The talks come as Japanese personal computer makers work to scale back their businesses as consumers shift to smartphones and tablets.

Tokyo-based Fujitsu said it and Lenovo, the world’s largest PC maker, are “exploring a strategic cooperation in the realm of research, development, design and manufacturing of personal computers for the global market.”

The two firms, which are yet to reach an agreement, are also talking with government-backed Development Bank of Japan for financial and strategic support.

The market is rife with speculation that the two firms may merge their PC operations, with Lenovo taking the majority stake in the new venture.

That should free up Fujitsu to pour more resources into its profitable IT services operations, while also pushing ahead with a sweeping restructuring program that will see 3,200 job cuts.

Fujitsu President Tatsuya Tanaka told a press conference that his firm wants to improve the competitiveness of its PC business. “Our priority option is to team up with Lenovo Group which has global PC operations,” he said.

Investors welcomed the news, as Fujitsu shares rose by 7.8 percent to close at 599.3 yen (US$5.72).

Fujitsu had been in talks with Toshiba and Vaio to merge their once high-flying personal computer businesses, but those talks failed to result in a deal.

Once-mighty Japanese firms have struggled to reorganize in the face of stiff competition from lower-cost rivals overseas, including in China and South Korea.

Earlier this year, Taiwan-based Hon Hai, better known as Foxconn, took over struggling Japanese electronics maker Sharp after it faced huge losses and mounting debts.

In a separate announcement, Fujitsu said its net profit for the six months to September came to 11.8 billion yen. The recovery marks a reversal from a net loss of 15.9 billion yen during the same period of last year.

Source: Shanghai Daily, October 28, 2016
Chinese miners talk to Barrick on stake
27th October 2016

 CHINA’S Zijin Mining Group Co and Shandong Gold Mining Co have held separate talks with Barrick Gold Corp to buy a 50 percent stake in its Veladero gold mine in Argentina, according to four sources with knowledge of the process.

Veladero is one of Barrick’s five core mines; all are in the Americas. It is set to produce between 580,000 and 640,000 ounces of gold this year.

The high quality of the mine, production capacity and the prospect for geographical diversification have appealed to the Chinese suitors, said three of the sources, who requested anonymity because the matter is private. All spoke over the past week.

Barrick, the world’s biggest gold miner, has not launched a formal sales process for Veladero, and there is no certainty that the talks will result in a transaction, the sources said.

A potential sale of a 50 percent stake could fetch Barrick over US$1 billion, two of the sources said.

Barrick, Shandong and Zijin declined to comment.

“It’s a sensible thing to reduce risk, and bringing in a deep-pocketed partner can help,” said John Stephenson, president of Stephenson & Co Capital Management, who acknowledged that it is very difficult to make a joint venture work “in the best of times.”

“In a tighter operating environment with lower commodity prices, it’s important to keep a focus on costs. I think this is a positive move for Barrick,” he added.

Last month, operations at Veladero were shut down for more than two weeks after a cyanide spill at the high-altitude mine. This was the second cyanide spill at the mine in a year.

The deal would be the latest instance of Chinese companies investing in Latin America’s resource-rich commodities sector, partly to help meet domestic demand. Chinese investors have poured billions into Latin American acquisitions in recent years, buying into copper and iron ore miners, oil and gas concessions and power grids.

Barrick would like the buyer of the Veladero stake also to make an investment in its Pascua-Lama project in South America, two of the sources said.

The gold and silver project, which straddles the border of Argentina and Chile in the Andes Mountains, was put on hold in 2013 due to environmental issues, political opposition, labor unrest and development costs that ballooned to US$8.5 billion.

Last year, Barrick and Zijin formed a strategic partnership, with Barrick selling a stake in its Papua New Guinean mine to the Chinese company.

Source: Shanghai Daily, October 27, 2016
Progress in advanced production on show
26th October 2016

 CHINA’S progress and achievements in advanced manufacturing will be displayed at the 18th China International Industry Fair, which will also serve as a platform to integrate investment and business among global manufacturers, the Shanghai city government said yesterday.

To be held from November 1 to 5 at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai, the fair will show domestic industrial achievements made in equipment manufacturing, smart manufacturing, information and aerospace research. It will also display developments in robots and industrial automation.

Russia, which is the country of honor at this year’s fair, will showcase its advanced industrial software.

Of the 2,308 exhibitors, 30.2 percent are from abroad, including industrial giants such as Germany’s Siemens and Bosch, and US-based information technology provider Intel.

A report on foreign investment in Shanghai’s manufacturing industry will be released on November 2 at the investment promotion conference where a “collaborative contract signing between foreign and local manufacturers can be expected,” said Chen Mingbo, director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology.

Source: Shanghai Daily, October 26, 2016
Weak sentiment cools housing market
25th October 2016

 SHANGHAI’S housing market cooled last week as sentiment among both home seekers and real estate developers weakened as government measures to tame rising prices began to take effect.

The area of new homes sold, excluding government-funded affordable housing, fell 6.8 percent from the previous week to 219,000 square meters, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in a report released yesterday.

The city’s outlying areas continued to be the most sought-after, with around 55,000 square meters of homes sold in Nanhui in the Pudong New Area during the seven-day period when 358 apartments were sold in two projects.

The average cost of new homes plunged 9.1 percent from the previous week to 40,563 yuan (US$5,990) per square meter, the lowest weekly data since August, according to Centaline research.

Notably, not a single apartment or house was launched in the local market last week — a rare occurrence for October which is considered a high season for property transactions.

“A wait-and-see sentiment started to prevail in the city’s housing market as further tightening measures by the government to rein in soaring home prices and curb property bubbles are changing the mind of some prospective buyers,” said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Centaline.

“Transaction volume will fall further as home purchase restrictions as well as stricter mortgage policies will be both implemented to dampen speculative demand,” Lu said.

Source: Shanghai Daily, October 25, 2016

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