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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.

WINNERS

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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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Apple starts legal action against Russian regulator in App Store dispute -RIA

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December 6, 2021

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Apple has started legal proceedings against Russia’s anti-monopoly regulator in a dispute concerning alternative payment options on its App Store platform, the RIA news agency reported on Sunday citing court filings.

Russia opened an antitrust case against Apple in late October, accusing it of failing to allow app developers to tell customers about alternative payment options when using its App Store. It said Apple could face a fine based on its revenue in Russia if found guilty.

In documents published on Dec. 1, the Moscow Arbitration Court listed Apple as a claimant and Russia’s Federal Anti-monopoly Service (FAS) as a defendant in “economic disputes over administrative legal relations.”

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Apple, which did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment, demanded that additional documents be added to the case on Dec. 2, RIA reported.

Forbes Russia cited a FAS representative as saying that the proceedings related to a warning it issued on Aug. 30 over Apple’s alleged failure to inform users they could also pay for purchases outside the App Store.

The FAS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple faced pushback over its App Store rules in the United States in September when a federal judge issued a ruling forcing the company to allow developers to send their users to other payment systems.

(Reporting by Alexander Marrow; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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Weaker foreign demand sinks German industrial orders in October

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December 6, 2021

By Michael Nienaber

BERLIN (Reuters) -Weaker demand from abroad drove a much bigger than expected drop in German industrial orders, including cars, in October, data showed on Monday, further clouding the growth outlook for manufacturers in Europe’s largest economy.

A pandemic-related scarcity of microchips and other electronic components has caused massive supply bottlenecks and production problems in Germany’s mighty automobile industry and other important sectors of the economy.

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Orders for goods ‘Made in Germany’ dropped 6.9% on the month in seasonally adjusted terms after a revised rise of 1.8% in September and a plunge of 8.8% in August, figures from the Federal Statistics Office showed.

A Reuters poll of analysts had pointed to a smaller decline of 0.5% on the month in October.

“After incoming orders climbed to an all-time high in mid-2021, the index has lost more than 16 points in recent months,” the economy ministry said, adding that the second sharp decline within three months put a further damper on the economic outlook.

Excluding distorting factors from bookings for big ticket items such as planes, industrial orders were still down 1.8%, the data showed.

The drop was driven by a decline in foreign orders of more than 13% on the month, with demand from countries outside the euro zone such as China particularly weak. Orders from domestic clients rose 3.4%.

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“New lockdowns in Asia are slowing industry in Germany,” VP Bank analyst Thomas Gitzel said. He added that the current wave of coronavirus infections across the globe was putting a renewed burden on the world economy.

Gitzel said that domestic demand should remain strong, helped by the new ruling coalition’s commitment to massive investment in the green economy.

“The decarbonization of the economy requires major investments in new technologies. German industry can and will benefit from this,” Gitzel said.

The weak orders data suggest that manufacturing will hamper overall economic growth in the coming months, with analysts expecting stagnation at best in the final quarter of this year.

(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, editing by Kirsti Knolle and Philippa Fletcher)

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Marketmind: Chasing the Omicron dip

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December 6, 2021

A look at the day ahead from Julien Ponthus.

Buying the dip triggered by the Omicron COVID-19 variant across global markets has proven a costly strategy so far. But some investors seem determined to have another go.

European and U.S. stocks futures are trading sharply higher after ending last week on a sour note and notwithstanding a dismal day in Asia where an MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan lost about 0.9%.

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The region has seen a series of corporate setbacks after ride-hailing giant Didi decided to withdraw from the New York stock exchange last week.

Shares in China Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer, plunged 14% after it said there was no guarantee it would have enough funds to meet debt repayments.

Another giant, Alibaba dropped 5% after announcing it would reorganise its international and domestic e-commerce businesses. And U.S. regulatory opposition to the sale of Softbank-owned chip firm Arm pushed the Japanese conglomerate 8% lower.

But the mood is lighter already across Europe, allowing 10-year Treasury yields to claw back some of Friday’s falls which took them below 1.4% for the first time since late September.

There are five trading sessions left before Friday’s U.S. consumer price report which some reckon will provide the green light for the Federal Reserve to accelerate its tapering of bond purchases.

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Oil prices too rose by more than $1 a barrel after Saudi Arabia raised prices for its crude sold to Asia and the United States.

And if the market mood is perking up, there is no sign of that in Bitcoin which has fallen further and is now at $48,244 — some $20,000 below peaks hit a month ago.

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

-Vivendi is open to discuss with Rome over state control on TIM’s network

-Alibaba overhauls e-commerce businesses, names new CFO

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-Swiss National Bank Vice Chairman Zurbruegg to retire in July 2022

-Weaker foreign demand sinks German industrial orders in October

-CBI cuts UK economic growth forecasts on supply chain hit

-Euro zone finance ministers to discuss 2022 draft budgets, euro summit

– Russian President Vladimir Putin visits India

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– UK construction PMI/new car sales

-Euro zone finance ministers to discuss 2022 draft budgets, euro summit

BOE deputy Governor Broadbent, ECB Governor Lagarde and board member Panetta speak:

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus; editing by Sujata Rao)

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