Asia-Latin America Round-up — 9 Jun 2017

Highlights

South Florida tries to hold back the sea — The Economist
As the subhed says: "Denial rules in Tallahassee; Miami takes matters into its own hands.” According to the Economist, by 2030, average sea levels in South Florida are likely to be six to ten inches above the mean level seen in 1992; by 2060, between 14 and 26 inches. By 2100 the Atlantic could devastate the area because of Florida’s porous limestone bedrock and shallow water table, which allow water to well up even behind sea walls. Florida Governor Rick Scott refuses to say whether he accepts the links between human activity and global warming, despite reports that say rising waters will threaten up to $36bn-worth of Florida’s coastal property by 2050. So Miami Beach will spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the next few years on raising streets and improving drainage.

Alibaba’s bullish sales projection draws gasps — FT
Alibaba is forecasting annual revenue to grow by almost 50% this year, more than 10% above analysts’ estimates and "elicited gasps of “wow” and loud clapping from investors at the e-commerce group’s Hangzhou headquarters.” That growth is expected to be driven by the core retail business, including in newer areas such as physical supermarkets and international businesses. 

China Econ/Policy

Billionaire Anbang boss Wu Xiaohui barred from leaving China — FT
Anbang Denies China Is Preventing Chairman From Leaving Country — Bloomberg
The headlines say it all. Wu Xiaohui, the billionaire chairman of the acquisitive Chinese insurer Anbang, has been barred from leaving China, according to four people who have had business dealings with him. The claim was denied by the firm, that has been aggressive in it’s overseas investments in the past several years, starting with the purchase of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The apparent motivation, according to one unnamed finance SOE senior executive is that regulators “want to stop financial institutions from doing crazy things” that might provoke a financial crisis. Since the restraints were announced last Friday, no news on Wu has surfaced.

China's Tencent cracks top 10 'most valuable' brands list — Nikkei Asian Review
WPP and Kantar Millward Brown media agencies placed the WeChat owner 8th in their annual top 10 "most valuable" global brands. Tencent was the only non-American brand in the top 10 of the BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands 2017 ranking.  Alibaba was 14th, search engine company Baidu 39th and smartphone maker Huawei 49th.

Top U.S. Diplomat in China Quits Over Trump Climate Policy — NYT
David Rank, the chargé d’affaires (acting Ambassador) of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, has left the State Department over the Trump administration's decision to quit the 2015 Paris agreement to fight climate change, a senior U.S. official said on Monday. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, President Donald Trump's pick as the next U.S. ambassador to Beijing, is expected to take up the post later this month.

Chinese-Owned Aussie Builder Scoops Up Sydney Project for $60M — Mingtiandi
China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) bought an office tower in the heart of downtown Sydney through John Holland, a local company it bought three years ago. The 14-storey Grade B tower with 7,357 square meters (79k sqf) of office space and a small retail component sold for A$80m ($60m).

Chinese regulators tighten lending to property developers via trust company loans — SCMP
The China Banking Regulatory Commission is stepping up scrutiny on trust companies in an effort to curtail lending to the real estate sector. According to a local trade publication, officials will check whether trust companies are helping developers to circumvent CBRC-imposed leverage caps by offering additional debt or equity financing to developers. Per SCMP and Brookings, China’s trust companies are financial firms that have a flexible charter and combine elements of banks and asset managers.

China City Construction warns of debt repayment problems — Reuters
China City Construction Holding Group, a state-owned infrastructure and property developer, has warned it is facing cash flow problems and could struggle to repay debts due on June 12. CCC issued bonds worth RMB 1.5b ($220.5) in 2014; while repayment of the principle and interest is due this month, China City Construction says its "financing channels have been restricted.” China City Construction had previously failed to make interest payments on a medium term note due on March 1 this year.

SOHO China chief sues fugitive billionaire Guo Wengui in New York for defamation — SCMP
No week is complete without a new turn in the case of Guo Wengui. The chairman of property developer SOHO China says he’s filed suit against Guo in NY Superior Court for defamation. Guo alleged in a live-stream last month that the SOHO China head and other property developers in Beijing were ­involved in rigging tenders in bids for land near the National Stadium in May 2006. In an unrelated move, Guo’s wife and daughter are said to have flown to New York and joined Guo on the proviso that they would help negotiate between Beijing and Guo. They had previously reportedly been barred from leaving the mainland since Guo left in August 2014.