April 9th, 2012
09:52 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) -– If you’re a glass “half full” or a glass “half empty” kind of person, you’ll see what you want to see in China’s latest inflation number. The hard number: March CPI came in at 3.6%.

On the positive side, March is the second month in a row that inflation was below 4%. Last month, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao announced a 4% inflation target for the country. FULL POST

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March 26th, 2012
01:10 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – After a divisive and fiery campaign season, Hong Kong has a new chief executive. His name is Chun-ying Leung, or C.Y, for short. He’s a 57-year old pro-Beijing politician who made his multi-millions in Hong Kong property.

But the city native inherits the leadership mantle as his hometown faces a series of unenviable economic challenges. And it’s not just Hong Kong’s financial problems he has to address - it’s also his own popularity problems. More precisely, lack thereof.

On Sunday, Leung could be seen giving the thumbs-up for victory in Sunday’s fourth chief executive election. But he’s gotten a thumbs-down in approval. The Hong Kong Standard, a local newspaper, said Leung only mustered a 40% approval rating. Compare that to the 70% rating of the two previous chief executives.

To change that, Leung said he would address a swath of economic woes after he takes over in July.

March 14th, 2012
02:42 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – What a difference a year makes for one of Asia’s flagship airlines.

For its 2010 fiscal year, Cathay Pacific reported a record $1.8 billion in net earnings. Wednesday, it revealed a huge reversal for 2011. Its net profit slid 61% year-on-year to just about $700 million.

That multi-million dollar sum may sound good to those of us on the outside looking in, but it’s clearly a major disappointment for Hong Kong’s famous air carrier.

The reason for its big plunge in profits is two-fold.

March 12th, 2012
03:04 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) - If you look at China’s annual National People’s Congress, now in session, you might think this country is one of the richest in the world.

The NPC's 75 richest legislators - from a total of 3,000 - had a net worth of more than $90 billion in 2011. To put that in perspective, that’s more than half of Greece’s latest bailout of some $170 billion.

Zong Qinghou is the NPC’s richest member and China’s second-richest man, with a net worth of nearly $10.8 billion in cash and assets. If you’ve been to China, you’ve likely eaten or drunk something his company, Wahaha Group, manufactures.

March 6th, 2012
11:48 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – It might seem unlikely that a highly-paid NBA star and highly-caloric donuts would have anything in common. But in Asia, such a partnership could mean brand growth and better profits for both.

This week U.S. company Dunkin’ Brands - the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins ice cream stores - said it had teamed up with the NBA’s LeBron James, forward for the Miami Heat. James is now ambassador for Dunkin’ Brands to China, Taiwan, India and South Korea.

March 5th, 2012
02:23 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – U.S. insurance giant, American International Group, used to be the world’s largest insurer - until its spectacular fall in the 2008 financial crisis.

Now, AIG is inching back out of the darkness after its $180 billion bailout, the largest in American corporate history.

But the revival has come at a cost. AIG has sold bits of itself, including one of its most valuable possessions in Asia – the region’s third largest insurer, American International Assurance.


February 29th, 2012
02:23 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China – After a white knight failed to come to its financial rescue Monday, Japan’s biggest memory chip maker – Elpida – filed for bankruptcy protection.

The company's been running from a $5.5 billion specter of debt, but now lays claim to the unenviable title of being the biggest Japanese manufacturer to file for bankruptcy protection since World War II.


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Filed under: AsiaBusinessJapanTechnology

February 22nd, 2012
05:40 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – With a Greek debt deal successfully brokered on Tuesday, the world’s economic skies seem a bit less likely to fall. That new $173 billion bailout for Greece on the brink of bankruptcy is now staunching a bit of the hemorrhage of confidence in the continent.

As for the “stuff” that actually flies through those economic skies? The volume of that over our heads, homes and offices is, in fact, falling.

And Hong Kong is one of the best places to take a measure of it all.

This Asian hub of commerce boasts the busiest air cargo airport in the world. And air cargo volumes are an excellent thermometer to gauge the health of global trade.

According to Hong Kong airport data, 3.9 million tons of cargo passed through this Chinese territory in 2011. But for all that volume, the huge number actually revealed a drop of nearly 5% year on year.

Just as Hong Kong is the world’s number one cargo hub, Cathay Pacific Airways is the world’s number one air cargo carrier. In 2011, Hong’s Kong’s flagship airline transported more than 1.6 million tons of cargo around the world. But that represented a drop as well – of nearly 9% year on year.

The reason for this season of slumps is found not in Asia but halfway around the world: in the United States and Europe.

The U.S. is still clawing back from its Great Recession.

Europe, which buys 30% of all of China’s exports, is still focused on its highly-indebted nations. And for the next several months and years, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy– and yes Greece- will still be the word.

It’s a decline in demand from all these places – for cheaper Asian-assembled electronics and your Wal-Mart apparel – that led to a slump in air cargo traffic last year.

And the 2012 skies don’t look much brighter.

The International Air Transport Association, more famously known as IATA, forecasts absolutely no growth for global air cargo traffic this year.

Cathay Pacific’s CEO John Slosar predicts his company’s air cargo business might not take off again until the second half.  That’s not great news since the company relies on cargo for 30% of its annual profit.

And some oil analysts foretell of $150 per barrel ifIrantensions boil over into conflict.

All this may be conspiring for a collision course with catastrophe.  But reroutes do exist.

To offset losses, airlines have successfully booked more people into their seats. Cathay reported nearly 12% more passengers this past January, year on year.

That’s on top of rising ticket prices as any flier – frequent or not – can attest. 

And just this past December, Cathay announced it would delay the purchase of two new Boeing 747-8F freighters until 2013.

The bottom line for the air cargo industry? Despite short-term fixes, its long-term recovery will depend on the pace of improvement in the U.S. and Europe. 

Until then, better profits from global air cargo will hang on a wing and a prayer.

February 17th, 2012
03:35 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – It’s likely that lots of people in Tinseltown are pretty happy - dare I say giddily animated. That probably includes China’s Vice-President Xi Jinping, who’s widely expected to succeed Hu Jintao as president of China in 2013.

That’s because Xi, wrapping up his week-long U.S. trip in Los Angeles, is expected to announce a major $2 billion silver screen deal between two Chinese firms and Dreamworks Animations - the latter famous for its witty, highly-produced and family-friendly cartoon flicks like Kung Fu Panda, Shrek and Madagascar.

In focus is a huge joint venture with the U.S. animation studio involving major Chinese state-owned media companies. One is Shanghai Media Group,China’s second largest broadcaster. The other is China Media Capital, a fund that backs China’s entertainment industry.

January 30th, 2012
01:05 PM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) - Facebook may soon update its status from “private” to “public” in what will likely be the biggest tech IPO in history. Reports say the social network could file registration papers as soon as Wednesday, for an initial public offering this May.

The tech giant is aiming to raise a whopping $10 billion. That would eclipse the previous U.S. IPO tech record set by Google. In 2004, the search engine and e-mail provider, raked in just under $2 billion.

If that $10 billion goal is met, it would give Facebook a value of between $75 billion and $100 billion. FULL POST

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