Live news: Record low Mars election win for pro-Beijing camp in Hong Kong

Kaisa shares fall after financial advisor named to ease debt restructuring

Shares of Kaisa, the Chinese developer that failed to make a $400 million bond payment, fell on Monday after the company revealed it had appointed a financial advisor to evaluate it. how to deal with liquidity problems.

The group’s shares plummeted as much as 12% in the morning after it said it had appointed Houlihan Lokey, an American investment bank, as its financial advisor. It also appointed Sidley Austin as its legal counsel.

Appointing a financial advisor will help it “assess the capital structure of the group, assess the liquidity of the group, and explore all possible solutions to alleviate the current liquidity problem and achieve it.” obtain the optimal solution for all parties involved as soon as possible,” Kaisa said in a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The announcement comes as liquidity problems sparked by the struggles of Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer, are rife in China’s property sector. This is also one of the first official announcements from Kaisa since it was announced by default restriction by rating agency Fitch earlier this month.

Kaisa added in the announcement that it had defaulted on some of its obligations and that it was in discussions with bondholders about a “comprehensive debt restructuring plan”.

Mars election victory goes to record low for pro-Beijing camp in Hong Kong

Record low turnout was recorded for Hong Kong’s first “patriots-only” legislative elections on Sunday, in which the pro-Beijing camp claimed victory. sweeping victory, dealing a blow to efforts to promote government involvement.

Only 30.2% of the nearly 4.5 million voters are eligible to vote, according to official figures, while many pro-democracy advocates boycott the poll, which some critics have called a “scam”. fake”. Voter turnout was the lowest since the city’s handover from Britain to China in 1997.

Nearly all of China’s de facto parliament 90 seats are won by pro-Beijing candidates, preliminary results show that, although around 10 people call themselves “democratic members of ” or “leaning to the opposition” to run for office.

People enter a polling station in the Quarry Bay area of ​​Hong Kong Island on Sunday
People enter a polling station in the Quarry Bay area of ​​Hong Kong Island on Sunday © Getty Images

Voter turnout is low though costly efforts of the government to promote elections, including providing free public transportation throughout the city and campaigns by some companies to encourage employees to vote, such as providing an extra day rest.

Beijing overhauled Hong Kong’s electoral system in March, cutting the number of seats directly elected and forcing all candidates to go through a “patriotic” vetting process in response to the calls. Pro-democracy protests spread in 2019.

The reforms effectively removed most pro-democracy politicians from the legislature. Dozens of activists, including former lawmakers, have been jailed, disqualified or fled abroad since the enactment of sweeping national security legislation in June.

Oil prices fall as Omicron travel restrictions weigh on sentiment

Oil prices fell on Monday as worries about the imposition of worldwide travel restrictions to combat the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus weighed on sentiment.

Brent crude for February delivery fell 2% to $72.06 a barrel, while Brent futures also fell 2% to $69.42 a barrel. Traders have responded to growing warnings by governments to react to the new variant, particularly measures to restrict international travel.

European countries are tightening restrictions to reduce the spread of this variant after the Netherlands re-imposed strict nationwide lockdown on Saturday. The Dutch government has closed all bars, non-essential shops, guest venues, cinemas and gyms until at least January 14.

Germany set new input required for those arriving from the UK and several other European countries, Berlin on Sunday designated the UK a “virus variant area”, causing the country’s toughest travel regulations. country.

Austria, which has just emerged from a national lockdown, said it would only allow vaccinated tourists from Monday. Those who have not had a booster shot will have to take the test. Last week, France also said it would block entry for UK tourists, tightening its border restrictions.

What to see in Asia today

Loans from China: The People’s Bank of China will review its lending prime rate, which is the de facto standard for new loans. According to a Reuters poll.

Politics: The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress convened a five-day meeting today, where they will discuss laws including the draft trade union measure, the anti-crime law, and the anti-crime law. organizations and measures on women’s rights.

Market: US stocks fell on Friday into the weekend, with several major central banks acknowledging the threat posed by high inflation and the Omicron coronavirus variant. In New York, the benchmark S&P 500 index fell 1%. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite also ended the trading day slightly lower. Australian stocks fell while futures in Japan fell on Monday morning.

KPMG blocks referrals to former insolvency because of Silentnight scandal

KPMG will not mention any work related to restructuring its former business as Interpath Advisory in the latest scandal from the sale of bed maker Silentnight to a holding company. private.

The decision is part of an effort by KPMG to fix its image following a series of fines and investigations.

It has also sought to remove the threat of a bidding ban for UK government consulting work by temporarily withdrawing from pitches for new public contracts, the Financial Times revealed today. Friday.

KPMG sold its 550-person bankruptcy and restructuring unit, now renamed Interpath Advisory, to private equity fund HIG Capital in May for more than £350 million.

Three months later, the Big Four company was fined £13m by an industry court for a conflict of interest in its former restructuring business when it advised Silentnight to start operating in 2009. 2011.

KPMG’s sale of Interpath allowed the restructuring firm to win work from Big Four corporate audit clients because it eliminated the possibility of a conflict of interest.

However, KPMG has now decided not to recommend any work to Interpath, although there aren’t any barriers to doing so under the terms of the sale, according to people familiar with the matter. .

Read more about KPMG.

Dominic Barton appoints Rio Tinto president

The ambassador to leave Canada in Beijing has been appointed president of Rio Tinto, the global miner that derives most of its revenue from supplying iron ore to China’s steel industry.

Dominic Barton, who is known for leading the management consulting firm McKinsey for nine years through 2018, will replace Simon Thompson after the company’s AGM in May.

In a statement, Barton said he looks forward to working with Rio’s board to execute on a strategy that puts “decarbonization at the heart of our business” and focuses on “building and sustaining trust” trust with host communities”.

Rio cited his close connections to China, his experience chairing Vancouver-based mining company Teck Resources and his “proven leadership of a Board of Directors” as reasons. due to his appointment.

A composite photo showing Juukan Gorge before and after its destruction

A composite photo showing the Juukan Gorge before and after its demolition © PKKP Aboriginal Corporation / AFP via Getty Images

The Anglo-Australian group launched its search for a new chair in March after Thompson announced he would not run for re-election at the organization’s AGM in 2022. He said he was “ultimately responsible for the failures” resulting in the destruction of a mascot. Aboriginal site in Australia.

“The tragic events at Juukan Gorge are a source of personal sadness and profound regret, as well as a clear violation of our values ​​as a company,” Thompson said. Thompson said at the time.

Rio’s board has faced a storm of criticism for its original decision not to fire any executives following the incident in May 2020.

Pressure from Australian pension funds and other investors eventually forced chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques and two other senior executives to step down. The miner tried to repair his relationship with the native groups.

Read more about Chair Rio.

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