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LONDON TO “THINK ASIA, THINK HONG KONG”

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LONDON TO "THINK ASIA, THINK HONG KONG"

Signature Event to Promote Hong Kong’s Advantages for UK Enterprises Doing Business in Asia and China

logoWith the global economy increasingly driven by the dynamic markets of Asia, particularly the Chinese mainland, and capitalising on Hong Kong’s status as Asia’s international trade and financial centre, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) brings its flagship “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” event to London on 21 September 2017.

Supported by 16 key Hong Kong partners and more than 60 UK organisations, the event aims to attract companies to use Hong Kong as the starting point for their expansion to Asia. It will bring together business and related government communities from Hong Kong and the UK to discuss recent developments and trends and explore business opportunities.

UK and Hong Kong: long-standing, strong and growing trade links

Hong Kong’s special relationship with the Chinese mainland and its long-established links with the UK have consistently made it a preferred platform for British companies seeking new business opportunities in the region. Today, the UK is Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner in Europe, as well as the fourth-largest foreign direct investment (FDI) destination and eighth-largest FDI source in the world. The UK’s inward investment in Hong Kong surged 115 per cent to HK$256.4 billion (GBP 25 billion) at end-2015 compared with end-2010, before the first “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” symposium. Additionally, Hong Kong’s inward investment in the UK grew 30 per cent to HK$248.5 billion (GBP 24 billion) at end-2015 from five years earlier.

“I am delighted that we are back in the UK, where we launched our first event six years ago,” said Vincent HS Lo, Chairman of the HKTDC. “Given our historic links, I believe there is great potential to broaden our collaboration in many areas. Much of this potential comes from the Belt and Road Initiative, which will need a global network of open, commercial hubs to facilitate the complex cross-border transactions required for financing and building physical infrastructure in many of the 60-plus countries involved.” He added that Hong Kong and the UK are well positioned to be these hubs, with businesses from the latter looking to the huge potential offered by these prospective markets for the upcoming post-Brexit era.

The event has been designed to provide an opportunity for networking and exploring potential partnerships and strategic alliances. Chinese investors, ICT business professionals and Hong Kong service providers from various sectors including legal, accountancy, consultancy services, insurance and technology will be in the UK to connect with their British counterparts through business matching meetings.

More than 40 heavyweight speakers from Hong Kong and the UK including Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People’s Republic of China and Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade of the UK will share their insights and experience of making use of the Hong Kong platform at the main symposium and a series of thematic sessions on 21 September.

The main symposium in the morning will be structured around two discussion topics: Asia in the New Economic Order and The Belt and Road Initiative: Partnering for Prosperity. The first will discuss the economic outlook, risks and opportunities in Asia which accounts for 60 per cent of global economic growth. The Belt and Road Initiative session will provide practical insights into how commercial sectors can unleash the full potential of these opportunities.

The afternoon is grouped around four thematic seminars, each followed by a networking session:

— Doing Business in China and throughout Asia – This session will provide a quick guide to the start-up scene in Asia which has rocketed in the past few years and will highlight the support available including fund raising. In addition, this theme will explain more about Asia’s burgeoning middle-class consumers, the development of online shopping and cross-border e-commerce, and the new approach of marketing, branding and customer engagement using technology and new media.

— Hong Kong: Gateway to Belt and Road Opportunities – Infrastructure financing experts in this panel will share their insights on what China’s Belt and Road Initiative means and how Hong Kong, in particular the recent establishment of the Infrastructure Financing Facilitation Office (IFFO) by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), can help UK businesses to connect with the vast opportunities arising from this.

— FinTech – The session will see governmental bodies, financial regulators and FinTech professionals explaining why global FinTech companies are attracted to Hong Kong, as well as sharing their vision for the future of Hong Kong – already an international financial centre with highly developed ICT infrastructure – as a global FinTech hub.

— UK-Sino Investment Partnerships in Innovation and Technologies Programme – While British enterprises expand to Asia, Asian and mainland companies are also looking for international investment and business opportunities. Hong Kong is the ideal facilitator to help both sides find the right partners, matching relevant businesses together and providing professional services throughout the process. Business leaders and Hong Kong professionals will share their visions of overseas investments, as well as the challenges and opportunities of managing the overseas portfolios.

This year’s “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong” programme will kick off with a Hong Kong Dinner, an exclusive event to be officiated by HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Philip Hammond, Chancellor of the Exchequer and attended by senior government ministers and business leaders from both the UK and Hong Kong on 20 September.

For more information about “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong”, please visit: http://www.thinkasiathinkhk.com/2017.

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Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March – Bloomberg News

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Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March - Bloomberg News 1

(Reuters) – Online brokerage Robinhood, at the centre of this year’s retail trading frenzy, is planning to file confidentially for an initial public offering as soon as March, Bloomberg News reported late on Friday, citing sources.

The California-based brokerage has held talks in the past week with underwriters about moving forward with a filing within weeks, Bloomberg said.

Robinhood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported last year that Robinhood has picked Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead preparations for an initial public offering which could value it at more than $20 billion.

Robinhood was at the heart of a mania that gripped retail investors in late January following calls on Reddit thread WallStreetBets to trade certain stocks that were being heavily shorted by hedge funds.

The online brokerage tapped around $3.4 billion in funding after its finances were strained due to the massive trading in shares of companies such as GameStop Corp.

(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies 2

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – When President Joe Biden on Wednesday stood at a lectern holding a microchip and pledged to support $37 billion in federal subsidies for American semiconductor manufacturing, it marked a political breakthrough that happened much more quickly than industry insiders had expected.

For years, chip industry executives and U.S. government officials have been concerned about the slow drift of costly chip factories to Taiwan and Korea. While major American companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp dominate their fields, they depend on factories abroad to build the chips they design.

As tensions with China heated up last year, U.S. lawmakers authorized manufacturing subsidies as part of an annual military spending bill due to concerns that depending on foreign factories for advanced chips posed national security risks. Yet funding for the subsidies was not guaranteed.

Then came the auto-chip crunch. Ford Motor Co said a lack of chips could slash a fifth of its first-quarter production and General Motors Co cut output across North America.

“It brings home very clearly the message that the semiconductor is really a critical component in a lot of the end products we take for granted,” said Mike Rosa, head of strategic and technical marketing for a group within semiconductor manufacturing toolmaker Applied Materials Inc that sells tools to automotive chip factories.

Within weeks, automakers joined chip companies calling for chip factory subsidies, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden both pledged to fight for funding.

Industry backers now aim to be part of a package of legislation to counter China that Schumer hopes to bring to the Senate floor this spring. Still, all agree it will do little to solve the immediate auto-chip problem.

Headlines about idled car plants resonated with the public that had shrugged off abstract warnings in the past, said Jim Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Lawmakers, already worried that a promised infrastructure bill will not materialize this year, decided to push for quick solution.

“Nobody wants to be seen as soft on China. No one wants to tell the Ford workers in their district, ‘Sorry, can’t help,'” Lewis said. “It was one of those moments where everything aligned.”

The package includes matching funds for state and local chip-plant subsidies, a provision likely to heat up competition among states including Texas and Arizona to host big new chip plants that can cost as much as $20 billion.

The subsidies could benefit a factory in Arizona proposed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and one in Texas eyed by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, even though those factories would be geared toward high-end chips for smartphones and laptops, rather than simpler auto chips. And those factories would not come on line until 2023 or 2024, according to plans disclosed by the companies, the world’s two largest chip manufacturers.

In the longer term, a raft of U.S. companies are also poised to benefit. Any chipmakers that build factories will source many tools from American companies such as Applied, Lam Research Corp and KLA Corp.

Intel Corp, Micron Technology Inc and GlobalFoundries – which already have U.S. factory networks – will also likely benefit.

Smaller, specialty chip factories also could benefit.

“The recent chip shortage in the automotive industry has highlighted the need to strengthen the microelectronics supply chain in the U.S.,” said Thomas Sonderman, chief executive of SkyWater Technology, a Minnesota-based chipmaker that makes automotive and defense chips. “We believe that SkyWater is uniquely positioned due to our differentiated business model and status as a U.S.- owned and U.S.- operated pure play semiconductor contract manufacturer.”

Even with subsidies, the U.S. companies still must compete with low-cost Asian vendors over the long run, and the immediate auto chip troubles will probably persist.

Surya Iyer, a vice president at Minnesota-based Polar Semiconductor, which makes chips for automakers, said his factory is booked beyond capacity and has started to speed some orders up while slowing others down, to meet automakers’ needs as best it can.

“We are expecting this level of demand to continue at least for the next 12 months, maybe even longer,” he said.

(This story has been refiled to add attribution to quote in paragraph 9, add dropped words in paragraphs 10 and 17)

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Alexandra Alper in Washington. Editing by Jonathan Weber and David Gregorio)

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks 3

By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Atlantia said on Friday an offer by a consortium of investors led by state lender CDP for its 88% stake in Autostrade per l’Italia fell short of the mark and asked its top managers to see if the bid could be sweetened.

“The offer falls below expectations,” the Italian infrastructure group said in a statement, adding it had mandated the chief executive and the chairman to assess “the potential for the necessary substantial improvements” to the bid.

Italian state lender CDP, together with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, has presented a proposal valuing all of Autostrade per l’Italia at 9.1 billion euros ($11 billion).

The consortium also requested Atlantia guarantee up to 700 million euros in potential damage claims and another roughly 800 million euros for a pending legal case, making the bid less attractive than previously expected.

One source said the consortium estimated overall pending legal claims against Autostrade at 3 billion to 4 billion euros, adding the 700 million euro cap did not mean the amount would be detracted from the offer price from the start.

Earlier on Friday Atlantia’s minority investors TCI and Spinecap had called on Atlantia’s board to reject the offer, saying it undervalued the asset.

“No deal is better than a bad deal, especially a bad deal and a wrong price,” TCI Advisory Services partner Jonathan Amouyal said in a emailed comment to Reuters.

TCI, which holds an indirect stake of around 10% in Atlantia, repeated that the value for 100% of Autostrade should be no less than 12.5 billion euros.

The board will hold a further meeting in order to take a final decision on the offer in due time, Atlantia said.

The negotiations between Atlantia and the CDP-led consortium are part of an effort to end a political dispute over Autostrade’s motorway concession triggered by the collapse of a motorway bridge run by the unit.

(GRAPHIC – Atlantia share performance: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qzjpqggjdpx/image-1614331237501.png)

The bid expires on March 16, but the deadline could be extended in case Atlantia calls an extraordinary shareholders meeting (EGM) on the issue, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.

Shares in the group ended down 0,7%, after recovering some losses, as investors waited for the decision of the board.

Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, owns 88% of Autostrade, with Germany’s Allianz and funds DIF, EDF Invest and China’s Silk Road Fund holding the rest.

The group also kept open an alternative plan to demerge and sell its stake in Autostrade per l’Italia unit and called an EGM on March 29 to extend to end-July a deadline for offers for the demerged stake.

(Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei, editing by Louise Heavens and Steve Orlofsky)

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