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Bottled water, vaccines and electric vehicles propel China’s biggest earners

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October 27, 2021

By Eduardo Baptista

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Bottled water, vaccine development, short video platform TikTok and electric vehicle technology propelled the big earners on China’s rich list this year, as embattled property moguls and others facing regulatory scrutiny slipped down the rankings.

Zhong Shanshan was No. 1 on the Hurun China Rich List 2021 published on Wednesday, with personal wealth of $60.6 billion thanks to a surge in the value of his listed companies, Nongfu Spring and Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise.

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ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming, battery maker CATL Chairman Zeng Yuqun, Tencent Holdings Pony Ma, and Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group and Ant Group, rounded out the top five.

Ma, who had previously topped the rich list for three years running, dropped places following the suspension of Ant Group’s initial public offering and the slapping of a record fine on Alibaba for monopolistic behaviour.

Also falling down the list of the country’s 100 wealthiest people amid regulatory scrutiny was China Evergrande Group founder Hui Ka Yan, who lost around 70% of his net worth to be left with around $11.3 billion.

Xu’s personal finances have plummeted as the country’s second largest property developer reels under more than $300 billion in liabilities.

With the broader property sector facing a funding crunch after a regulatory crackdown on excessive borrowing and land buying, the Hurun Report said it was the first time since it began compiling the report in 1999 that a real estate developer was not in the top ten.

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China Fortune Land founder Wang Wenxue lost his billionaire status altogether, with his net worth plunging 88% from last year to $930 million.

Yang Huiyan, vice-chairwoman at and majority shareholder of real estate developer Country Garden, the highest woman on the list, fell five places to 11th.

Zhang Bangxin, founder of home-tutoring service TAL Education Group, also dropped off the list, losing 94% of his net worth after China introduced new rules banning for-profit tutoring.

Tencent’s Ma, whose wealth swelled 70% last year, saw it decrease 19% this year as his company’s video games business was rattled by new, stricter limits on gaming time for minors.

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In a country of 1.4 billion people, just 2,769 people were worth more than 2 billion yuan ($313 million) each, the report said.

The biggest mover in the top 100 was Luo Liguo, the chief executive of solar product firm Hoshine Silicon Industry Co , who multiplied his net worth 6.5 times, vaulting from 220th to 21st spot.

The Biden administration earlier this year banned U.S. imports of Hoshine’s materials, citing allegations of forced labour of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in China’s Xinjiang region. In response to the action, China said it would take “all necessary measures” to protect its’ companies rights and interests.

ByteDance’s Zhang, which owns short-video platform TikTok, tripled his wealth from last year to $52.8 billion and is likely to take the No. 1 spot next year, particularly if persistent rumours about a company listing are realised, the Hurun Report said.

Zhang “is a likely candidate to become the next Number One in China, especially if he gets to list ByteDance”, according to Rupert Hoogewerf, Hurun Report’s chairman.

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(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista; editing by Jane Wardell)

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Buying the Omicron dip

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November 29, 2021

A look at the day ahead from Danilo Masoni.

Sell first, get answers later. With stocks near lifetime peaks, the Black Friday reaction to the new fast-spreading virus strain Omicron was hardly surprising.

But a weekend later, investors look heavily engaged in buying the dip, as markets take a more balanced view of risks attached to what the WHO called a “variant of concern”.

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After their ninth biggest drop ever on Friday, gains in crude prices topped 5% earlier in Asia and stock futures point to a solid bounce across Europe and America.

A South African doctor said patients with Omicron have “very mild” symptoms and investment houses don’t look to have budged that much. Credit Suisse, for example, made no portfolio changes, staying slight overweight on equities.

Perhaps more telling is that retail traders poured north of $2 billion into U.S. stocks on Friday, setting the second biggest daily inflow on record, per Vanda Research data.

Of course there are uncertainties and that will likely make for volatile days heading into the Christmas shopping season.

Understanding the level of severity of the variant “will take days to several weeks”, said WHO. And vaccine maker BioNTech needs up to two weeks to figure out whether the shot it makes with Pfizer needs to be reworked.

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So while Omicron has spread from Australia to the Netherlands and governments ban travel and mull lockdowns, markets may also gamble on central bankers turning more patient in their path towards rates normalisation.

Lots of speakers from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are lined up for today. On Sunday, speaking about risks to the recovery, ECB’s Lagarde said: “We now know our enemy and what measures to take.”

Key developments that should provide more direction to markets on Monday:

* ECB speakers: Governor Lagarde, ECB board members AndreaEnria, Isabel Schnabel, Pentti Hakkarainen; ECB Vice PresidentLuis de Guindos * Euro zone consumer sentiment/inflation expectations * German preliminary CPI/HICP * Fed speakers: Chairman Jerome Powell, New York PresidentJohn Williams, Governor Bowman * Emerging markets: Kenya central bank meets; Turkey tradebalance and bank NPL ratios (This story refiles to fix chart)

(Reporting by Danilo Masoni; Editing by Saikat Chatterjee)

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UK regulator set to block Meta’s Giphy deal – FT

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November 29, 2021

(Reuters) -The UK competition regulator is expected to block Meta Platforms’ acquisition of online GIF platform Giphy in the coming days, the Financial Times reported https://www.ft.com/content/662c8e3f-4909-4bec-9131-c0237bb4897d on Monday.

The Competition and Markets Authority is set to reverse the deal in what would be the first time the watchdog has reversed a Big Tech acquisition, the report said, citing individuals close to the matter.

Meta Platforms and the regulator did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters sent outside working hours.

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The regulator had in October fined the U.S. social media giant Facebook, now Meta, 50.5 million pound ($67.35 million) for breaching an order that was imposed during an investigation into its purchase of the GIF platform, Giphy.

Facebook bought Giphy, a website for making and sharing animated images, or GIFs, in May last year to integrate it with its photo-sharing app, Instagram. The deal was then pegged at $400 million by Axios.

($1 = 0.7499 pounds)

(Reporting by Sneha Bhowmik in Bengaluru; Editing by Uttaresh.V)

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Evergrande shares fall after chairman cuts stake; Fantasia suspends trading

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November 29, 2021

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares in China Evergrande Group fell as much as 4.8% on Monday morning, after its chairman trimmed his stake in the cash-strapped property developer to raise about $344 million.

The group’s electric vehicle unit, China Evergrande New Energy Vehicle Group Ltd, also dropped more than 5% after it said the company was still exploring ways to pump capital into the unit with different investors.

Evergrande has been scrambling to raise capital as it grapples with more than $300 billion in liabilities and Chinese authorities have told its chairman, Hui Ka Yan, to use some of his personal wealth to help pay bondholders, sources have said.

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Evergrande failed to pay coupons totalling $82.5 million due on Nov. 6 and investors are on tenterhooks to see if it can meet its obligations before a 30-day grace period ends on Dec 6.

The developer disclosed late on Friday that Hui had sold 1.2 billion shares in the company at an average price of HK$2.23 each, lowering his stake in the Shenzhen-based real estate developer to 67.9% from 77%.

Once China’s top-selling developer, Evergrand’e troubles have hit the broader Chinese property sector with a string of debt defaults and credit rating downgrades of its peers in the last couple of months.

Fantasia Holdings suspended trading in company shares on Monday pending release of information. On Thursday, the developer said a winding-up petition was filed against a unit related to an outstanding loan.

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Stephen Coates)

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