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News from China
Japan to see yuan bond for 1st time
19th June 2015

 JAPAN’S biggest banking group Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc plans to sell yuan bond for the first time in Japan, starting from next Wednesday, the group told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, the main lending unit of the group, will manage a private offering of a two-year yuan-denominated bond worth about 350 million yuan (US$56.3 million), said spokesman Kazunobu Takahara.

The yuan bond will be sold at an annual yield of 3.64 percent, similar to the rates in major offshore markets such as Hong Kong, the bank said.

The private sale will be limited to institutional investors including life insurance companies and local banks.

“We hope to help nurture a yuan market in Japan with the issuance,” Takahara said.

The offering comes after tension eased between China and Japan after Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month, and China’s Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei called for an “actively promoting practical cooperation with Japan in yuan bond issue” in a bilateral finance minister summit on May 6.

The issue is also linked to China’s efforts to internationalize the yuan since 2009, Takahara noted, adding that China is poised to free up capital-account dealings and to abolish a requirement to get pre-approval before exchanging yuan for other currencies.

“China wants to see issuers raising yuan debt not just locally, but in diverse locations to promote globalization,” Bloomberg News cited Mana Nakazora, chief credit analyst in Tokyo at BNP Paribas SA, as saying.

The yuan took a 2.1 percent share of worldwide payments in April, up from just 0.3 percent three years earlier, said SWIFT, a global telecommunications network for banks. Offshore issuances of yuan bonds surged 50 percent to 460 billion yuan in 2014, SWIFT added.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 19, 2015
EU relaunches common tax rules
18th June 2015

 THE European Commission yesterday relaunched plans to introduce common tax rules for multinationals, saying that public anger over tax avoidance and a new approach should win over EU member states that blocked the idea four years ago.

The commission, the European Union’s executive, said it wanted a common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) to prevent “aggressive” tax planning measures such as artificially shifting profits to the country where rates are lowest.

“What we are doing is part of a trend,” Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici told a news conference.

“During the crisis our citizens have had to contribute a lot. What they don’t want to see is that corporations, because they have sophisticated legal advice, can juggle between administrations.”

Corporate taxes have remained in the headlines because of the way multinationals can legally reduce their bills by basing themselves in low-tax centers. The EU is already investigating the tax arrangements of Apple, Starbucks and Amazon in some member states.

Moscovici said countries were working on the basis of tax rules drawn up in the 1930s and more recent ad-hoc decisions by individual member states, but said a common approach was needed.

A previous attempt to bring in CCCTB drew opposition from member states who saw it as a first step toward harmonizing tax rates, regarded as a sovereign issue.

Moscovici said that was not the plan, nor was it the commission’s intention to lay down a minimum corporate tax rate.

Under CCCTB, companies would use just one EU system to compute their taxable income rather than dealing with the rules in 28 different member states, saving businesses about 700 million euros (US$790 million) per year.

It would be designed to eliminate mismatches between national systems, which companies can currently exploit.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 18, 2015
Acquisition indicates quicker reform
17th June 2015

 SHANGHAI Pudong Development Bank plans to buy 97.3 percent of Shanghai International Trust Co for 16.4 billion yuan (US$2.6 billion) as the city accelerates financial reform.

The bank and the trust company are both held by Shanghai International Group, the city government’s investment arm.

Pudong Bank will issue 999.5 million shares at 16.36 yuan each to 11 trust shareholders to pay for the acquisition, according to a filing to Shanghai Stock Exchange yesterday.

The purchase signals the state-backed company plans to create a financial conglomerate, said Song Qinghua, president of the School of Finance at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.

Shanghai International Group, which owns 1.8 trillion yuan of assets under management, is overhauling its holdings in banks, brokerages, insurance companies and trusts.

The move also comes as the Chinese government accelerates the biggest reform of its state-owned enterprises since the late 1990s.

Lu Zhengwei, senior economist at the Industrial Bank, said commercial banks are feeling the heat from the liberalization of interest rates and eying acquisition of insurance, securities and trust firms to expand revenue stream.

Pudong Bank’s Shanghai-listed shares will continue to be suspended due to the acquisition. They last traded on June 5.

Source: Shanghai Daily
Uber’s rival to raise at least US$1.5b
16th June 2015

 CHINA’S top taxi-hailing app backed by tech giants Alibaba and Tencent will raise at least US$1.5 billion, Bloomberg News reported yesterday, as the company gears up to take on Uber in the country’s expanding transportation market.

The amount values Xiaoju Kuaizhi, which runs the combined Didi and Kuadi apps, at US$12 billion to US$15 billion and the money will come from new and old investors, Bloomberg said, without elaborating.

The popularity of private-car booking enterprises such as Uber and China’s dominant taxi-hailing apps Kuaidi and Didi has soared in the country, where taxis are criticized for poor service and routinely ignore customers on the street.

Uber takers in China were making almost 1 million trips per day with business doubling in the last month, according to a leaked company e-mail reported last week by the Financial Times.

Uber plans to invest 7 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) in China during 2015, according to the e-mail.

Many cities in China are regulating the apps used for booking taxis, including barring them during peak traffic periods or banning drivers from using them while operating vehicles out of safety concerns.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 16, 2015

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