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Hong Kong and Singapore succumb to the lure of dual-class shares

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FOR Charles Li, Alibaba was the one that got away. The head of the Hong Kong stock exchange (HKEX) courted the Chinese e-commerce giant when it sought a venue for its listing five years ago, but he could not push through rule changes wanted by Alibaba to keep control of the company in its leaders’ hands. It opted instead for an initial public offering (IPO) in New York. “Losing one or two listing candidates is not a big deal for Hong Kong,” he wrote at the time. “But losing a generation of companies from China’s new economy is.” Since then he has been determined to make the next big catch.It is finally within his grasp. After a debate that has trundled on for several years HKEX is, in the coming weeks, poised to allow companies to issue shares with different voting rights. Known as dual-cl

Russia’s credit rating rises; Brazil’s falls

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BRAZIL and Russia, the third- and fourth-biggest emerging economies, have much in common beyond their size. Each boasts annual GDP per person of around $10,000, which depends more than either would like on natural riches. After commodity prices tumbled in 2014, their economies shrank and their currencies sank. Their central banks have fought hard against the ensuing inflation, driving it below 3%. That has allowed both to cut interest rates, contributing to modest economic recoveries.But their fiscal fortunes have diverged. Brazil’s credit rating was cut by Fitch on February 18th, making its sovereign bonds even “junkier” (ie, more speculative). Russia’s rating, by contrast, was raised a few days later by S&P Global, which became the second agency to rate Russian sovereign debt as “investm

Two oil majors face trial over a controversial deal in Nigeria

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Better uses for $1.1bnRESOURCE-RICH Nigeria has long ignited interest from oil firms, but it can be a dangerously combustible environment when it comes to the risk of corruption. Two firms caught up in scandals are Royal Dutch Shell and Eni, Italy’s state-backed energy group. In 2010 both entered into deferred-prosecution agreements with America’s Department of Justice after being implicated in separate Nigerian bribery schemes. But those pale beside a case involving the two companies that is set to go to trial in Milan on March 5th.The case centres on the purchase of a big offshore oil field known as OPL 245, and touches the top ranks of both firms. In the dock will be, among others, Eni’s current CEO, Claudio Descalzi, and Shell’s former exploration chief, Malcolm Brinded. Also on trial

Labour-monitoring technologies raise efficiency—and hard questions

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BOSSES have always sought control over how workers do their jobs. Whatever subtlety there once was to this art, technology is now obliterating. In February Amazon received patents for a wristband apparently intended to shepherd labourers in its warehouses through their jobs with maximum efficiency. The device, were Amazon to produce and use it, could collect detailed information about each worker’s whereabouts and movements, and strategically vibrate in order to guide their actions. Using such technology seems an obvious step for firms seeking to maximise productivity. Whether workers should welcome the trend, or fear it, is harder to say.Workplace discipline came into its own during the Industrial Revolution. As production came to depend ever more on expensive capital equipment, bosses, n

American companies snub the National Rifle Association

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FOR all the controversy that the National Rifle Association (NRA), America’s gun lobby, arouses, Americans of all political stripes have tended to regard it as nearly unassailable. The NRA and its 5m members have therefore been valued customers for companies, too. But after the latest school shooting, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida on February 14th, that has started to change. Not only has the political discussion shifted, but corporate America has reacted.Snubs from big business began just a week after the shooting. On February 22nd First National Bank of Omaha, a bank, said “customer feedback” prompted it to stop issuing NRA-branded credit cards. Angry customers and riled-up activists, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas foremost among them, have pushed a campaign

China starts unwinding Anbang, its would-be financial giant

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Terminal velocity“WHEN it comes to the meaning of life, we will all return to zero one day.” So philosophised Wu Xiaohui, a Chinese tycoon, as he reflected on his success in 2015. Little did he realise how soon his words would be proved true. He founded his firm, Anbang, as a small car-insurance company just over a decade ago. By 2017 it ranked among the world’s biggest insurers, with some $300bn of assets, including stakes in hotels and financial firms in America, Europe and Asia. But then, even more vertiginous than its ascent, came its fall. On February 23rd China’s government said it had taken over Anbang and would prosecute Mr Wu for economic crimes.Rarely in corporate history has a giant grown and collapsed so quickly. But Anbang’s tale is also interesting for what it reveals about C

Are China’s state giants reformable?

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AMONG investors it is fashionable to say that China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) do not matter much any more and that entrepreneurs now power the world’s second-largest economy. But China’s SOEs are still hard to avoid. They account for 40% of its stockmarket and a third of its investment, and they dominate heavy industry. On the global stage, SOEs’ appetites sway commodity prices and many are expanding abroad.These empires of men and machines account for 45 cents of every dollar of debt in China, so their health determines whether the country’s financial system will escape a crisis or blow up. And SOEs have become a loaded gun on the negotiating table between China and America. Treasury officials argue that China has broken the promises it made upon joining the World Trade Organisatio

Borno Apc Chairman Welcomes Extension Tenure, Urges, His Colleagueswho Want To Aspire For Elective Positions To Tender Their Resignation

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The Chairman of the ruling All Progressive Congress in Borno State, Hon. Ali Bukar Dalori has yesterday applauded the outcome of the National Executive Committee (NEC), where members unanimously agreed and endorsed extension tenure of all elected ...Powered by WPeMatico