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News from China
China’s debt risks are within control
1st November 2016

 VICE Minister of Finance Zhu Guangyao said yesterday that China’s debt calculation is open and transparent and the risks remain controllable.

Speaking at a meeting in Beijing, Zhu referred to figures from the International Monetary Fund and the National Institution for Finance and Development, a domestic think tank.

“The IMF estimated China’s non-financial debts at 153.4 trillion yuan (US$22.7 trillion) in 2015, accounting for 220.4 percent of GDP, while the NIFD’s was 154.3 trillion yuan, or 227.92 percent of GDP,” Zhu said.

“The two figures were almost the same, and the difference stemmed from statistical methods.”

Zhu’s remarks came amid lingering concerns that China’s policy-makers underestimated the country’s debt level.

But data from the two bodies showed similar results in the government, household and company debt, with minor difference in statistical structure, Zhu said.

He also dismissed worries about rising debt, calling the level as “reasonable” as debt ratios of central and local governments were well below 40 percent.

Source: Shanghai Daily, November 1, 2016
3 nations vow to lift trade jointly
31st October 2016

 TRADE ministers from China, Japan and South Korea agreed on Saturday to strengthen trade and economic cooperation between the three neighbors.

The meeting, held ahead of a China-Japan-South Korea trilateral summit, saw the ministers discussing a number of issues, including implementing the G20 Summit outcome and conducting practical economic cooperation.

As the world economic recovery remained fragile and anemic, the three major economies in East Asia should implement the consensus that was reached between their leaders, give full play to their industrial complementarity, and further promote investment and trade, so as to contribute to the steady economic growth in Asia, said Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng.

Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko said the three countries reached consensus on jointly advancing economic structural reform. He believed the meeting’s outcome will promote regional and global economic growth.

South Korean Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Joo Hyung Hwan said the three sides reached consensus on establishing a trilateral cooperation framework as well as speeding up the negotiations on a trilateral free trade deal and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The three sides also reiterated in a joint statement their commitment to implement the outcome at the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, and emphasized the importance of the G20 Strategy for Global Trade Growth and the G20 Guiding Principles for Global Investment Policymaking.

China has proposed to conduct industrial capacity cooperation in a third-party country under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasia Initiative, jointly explore a fourth-party market, and collectively promote sub-regional cooperation and development.

Source: Shanghai Daily, October 31, 2016
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

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