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OFFICE RENTS:

MIND THE GAP PLEASE

EURO BURNS AS ASIA FIDDLES

ASIA’S

HYPERSENSITIVE INFLATION RICHARD BRANSON

HOW TO THROW THE PERFECT PITCH

TOO MANY IPHONES NOT ENOUGH 4G HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 1


2 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012


FROM THE EDITOR

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With unemployment in Hong Kong at just 3.3% most new job takers will have jumped ship from a previous employer, leaving them with the struggle to fill that position from a limited pool. Add in the demand for higher wages due to inflation and you have a recipe for a difficult time recruiting and keeping talent. Across the board wages are expected to rise by between 4 and 6 percent this year, but the big gains are to be made in the areas of compliance and risk where salaries could easily rise 20% or more as regulatory burden keeps financial firms solidly underfoot and understaffed. Six out of ten firms surveyed by Michael Page International, a recruitment firm, reckon they will have to raise wages by more than inflation this year. Firms also expect to be paying out higher bonuses – 5.3% - which will be welcome news for workers. About the only people not doing better are the investment bankers who face capped cash bonuses and a decreased fee pool from 2011. Whether you are an employer or an employee, this will be a relatively benign year for wages.

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HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 3


CONTENTS

10

30

40 feature Asia’s hypersensitive inflation

COVER STORY SALARY SURVEY 2012

COVER STORY 30 Employers bear the brunt of

skill shortage

A stark skill shortage leaves employers with no choice but to increase the benchmark salary to attract and retain highly skilled workers.

FIRST

OPINION 14 The chief dilemma 17 How to throw the perfect pitch

ANALYSIS 26 Too many iPhones, not enough

24 Wagers on minimum wage 38 China staggers more than what

record shows

44 China real estate unravels

FEATURE 40 Asia’s hypersensitive inflation

4G capacity

The massive takeup of iPhones in Asia saw telcos spending huge sums of money to upgrade their networks to 4G capacity.

20 Refuge of rascals

10 HK Property a 4 tier market 11 Office Rents: mind the gap please

FIRST HK Property a 4 tier market

39 Lies, damn lies, and Chinese

statistics

Divergence between China’s manufacturing PMI leaves investors baffled.

REGULAR 48 Life & Style 50 Numbers

Published Bi-monthly on the Second week of the Month by Charlton Media Group Pte Ltd, 19/F, Yat Chau Building, 262 Des Voeux Road Central, Hong Kong 4 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

For the latest business news from Hong Kong visit the website

www.hongkongbusiness.hk


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 5


News from hongkongbusiness.hk Daily news from Hong Kong Hong Kong’s economy still uncertain? most read RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY

Nature and modernity blend in Swire Properties’ Opus Hong Kong The Frank-Gehry designed building is comprised of double-level garden apartments and 6,000-6,900 sq ft apartments with panoramic views of the city. In a news release, Swire Properties has unveiled the show apartment for Opus Hong Kong, the highly anticipated first residential project in Asia by legendary architect Frank Gehry. ECONOMY

Chan says world financial markets to remain volatile Hong Kong will remain imperiled in 2012. Capital flows will remain highly unpredictable and financial markets could be very volatile in 2012, Monetary Authority Chief Executive Norman Chan said. He noted the outlook for 2012 is still fraught with uncertainty as the U.S. and European governments grapple to restore their economies to the path of growth.

Opus Hong Kong goes green

Its Q1 Asia Pacific Office Index Report in 27 key markets in Asia Pacific found that in Q1 2012, compared to Q4 2011, rents increased in 13 markets, were static in three markets and fell in 11 markets. The Index monitors grade A net effective rents. On a year-on-year basis, Beijing and Jakarta saw the strongest rental growth across the region (around 50%). ECONOMY

Government posts $73.7 billion operating surplus Hong Kong’s govern-

ment expenditures and revenues for the year ending March 31 was $7 billion higher than the revised estimate. Revenues hit $437.7 billion while expenditures came to $364 billion. Fiscal reserves stood at $669.1 billion. The Financial Services & the Treasury Bureau said the provisional surplus of $73.7 billion was $7 billion higher than the revised estimate. HOTELS & TOURISM

Hong Kong targets Japan with huge tourism campaign Hong Kong’s larg-

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY

Hong Kong office rent increases slowing Professional real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle said rents in top tier markets aren’t increasing. 6 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

HKMA’s Chief Executive, Mr Norman Chan

Hong Kong to face risks in growth

est promotional campaign in Japan will launch in Osaka beginning May 13. “Think Global, Think Hong Kong” (TGTHK), a brainchild of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), will highlight Hong Kong’s role as Asia’s services centre and gateway to China business opportunities. A delegation of more than 120 Hong Kong government officials and business leaders from 15 sectors will take part in the week-long program that is expected to attract more than 2,000 Japanese corporate leaders, government representatives, heads of small- and medium-sized enterprises, services providers, academics and opinion leaders with a special interest in Asia.

RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY

Interest in new property projects in HK waning? Outcome of property transactions over the Golden Week public holiday seems to reflect the market’s cautious outlook on projects by local developers. There are significantly fewer mainland buyers compared with last year. ECONOMY

Hong Kong business conditions improve but only slightly Analyst says the economy’s sails have yet to pick up wind even as sufficient new business continues to support job creation. Donna Kwok, Economist, Greater China Economic Research, HSBC, said: “A marked contraction in Mainland orders underscores that down-side risks to growth remain, especially with Western demand so weak.”


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 7


8 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 9


FIRST Over the next five years estimated land supply is expected to provide a total of about 114,000 units, or 22,900 units per year.

HK Property: A four-tier market

W

hether now is a good time to buy or sell a residential property in Hong Kong may well depend on what sort of property tier you happen to sit in. Mass market prices, for example, have fallen 7% since the peak in 2011 whilst luxury properties have barely budged, thanks largely to the continued influx of wealthy mainland buyers. This could show that Hong Kong has two property markets which are operating independent of each other. Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, reckons that there are four tiers to this market and the price of properties will vary greatly depending on which tier they are in. According to them, the new four-tier market comprises luxury residential that caters to local high income earners and affluent mainland Chinese; mass-end private residential developments; various kinds of for-sale government subsidised units; and finally, rental units from government and other quasi-government bodies such as the Housing Society that cater to the lower income groups. Five-year perspective Over the next five years, estimated land supply is expected to provide a total of about 114,000 units, or 22,900 units per year. Of these, the largest are the two MTRC/West Rail projects which will provide 10 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

about 42,000 units, or 37% of the total land supply, and Kai Tak Development which will amount to 29,000 units (or 25%). The bank estimates that 16,000 units were earmarked for private housing use. Since the government abolished the HOS scheme (government forsale subsidised housing) in 2002, the housing supply in Hong Kong came mainly from two sources: private developments which were mostly for sale, and public housing which was mostly for rent. The scale of those for-sale subsidised housing from quasi-government bodies and luxury housing from private sector tended to be very small. Nevertheless, the strong purchasing power of the affluent mainland Chinese in the past four to five years has prompted many developers to skew their development efforts to higher-end housing. This includes developments in the conventional luxury districts and developments in mass-end locations packaged as high-end products. Luxury rises Interestingly, notes the bank, the share of luxury housing within the new supply in private developers’ construction pipeline is rising. Since late 2010, the resumed government efforts in building for-sale subsidised housing is set to create one more layer which can potentially compete with the lower

end of the private housing developments. This may lead developers to invest even more in luxury housing to avoid potential competition with government-subsidised housing. One thing that may hold the mass market back from going any higher is the fact that the affordability ratio for first-time buyers is at near 10year record high. Goldman Sachs reckons that the current debt service ratio for first-time homebuyers is at around 50% of their monthly household income, based on a 560-square foot apartment. Also, housing affordability is not about to get any better with mortgage interest rates at near record lows. “While we expect the government’s efforts to increase land and subsidised housing supply to check the mass market price rise and forecast a 5% price decline in the mass market for 2012E (i.e., 10% fall for the rest of the year), we believe steady demand from affluent mainland Chinese and the limited supply will continue to support the luxury segment,” noted the bank.

Housing affordability and government measures Exhibit 10 : Housing affordabi lity a nd go vernment me as ures

So urce: HK MA, R& VD, Ce ntaline Property A gency, C ens us a nd Sta tisti cs D epartment, Goldma n Sach s Re se arch esti mates.

Source: HKMA, R&VD, Centaline Property Agency, Census and Statistics Department, Goldman Sachs Research estimates.

Changes in property price/rents assumptions Exhibit 4: Change s in pro perty pri ce/ rents a ssu mption s

So urce: Goldman Sa chs Re se arch es timates, R& VD , Ce ntaline Property Agency, Jo nes La ng LaSalle .

Source: Goldman Sachs Research estimates, R&VD, Centaline Property Agency, Jones Lang La Salle


FIRST turned positive in March. Secondly, the overall market vacancy rate has declined to 3.8% in March 2012 from 4.2% in December 2011 (thanks to steady take-up in non-core districts especially Kowloon East). Thirdly, although recent surveys by Hudson, a human resources consultancy firm, still showed weak hiring expectations by employers in Hong Kong, we have seen some improvement in the trend,” noted the bank. “For the Central office market, we continue to look for a 20% rental decline between 2012E and 2013E (of which a 6% decline already materialized year-to-date). We believe many financial institutions will continue to put their expansion plans on hold amid the backdrop of slower global economic growth. Despite a tight supply outlook, the slow demand may continue to drag on the Central office rents in the near term,” the bank continued.

Outlying offices could see rents rise by as much as 10% through 2014.

Office Rents: Mind the gap, please

T

ime was being forced to move from its plush offices into the backwaters of Quarry Bay or, worse, Kowloon. This was a major cost-saving exercise on behalf of lower tier companies. Continuous infrastructure development, together with a sharp decline in vacancy, especially in Kowloon East, is set to strengthen the pricing power of the office landlords in non-core districts, reckons Goldman Sachs. In fact, outlying offices could see rents rise by as much as 10% through 2014 whilst rents in Central are expected to decline as much as 20% by 2013. Banks feel the squeeze This time it is the banks, which are prime Central landlords, that are feeling the squeeze which explains why Central rents are easing. Office rents

in the Central district have shown a meaningful correction, with average rents declining by 6.3% year-to-date, whilst the non-Central market rent was up 3.2%, or 12.4% since the peak in 2011.

Rental gap For the non-Central districts, the huge rental gap against their peers in Central, plus the fact that these submarkets are less affected by financial market turbulence, have lent significant support to their rental value. The non-Central office rentals have outperformed the Central office rentals since mid-2010. “With the vacancy rate of non-Central districts heading to low-single digit and the take-up rate remaining stable, we believe the pricing power of the office landlords outside Central is set to strengthen much earlier and faster than that of the Central landlords.”

Rents in the outskirts Non-Central office rental has been much more resilient, with various districts still delivering positive growth of 0.5% - 2.8% in 1Q2012 (except for Wanchai/Causeway Bay which has recorded a 0.5% rental decline). “There are some signs suggesting an improvement in the office leasing market. Firstly, the rate of rental decline has slowed on the back of a healthy increase in take-up in March. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, net office take-up, which was negative in January and February, has

Pulled IPO’s: Diamonds may be forever but not for now To lose one billion dollar-plus IPO may look like bad luck, but to lose more than that looks like coincidence. And so it is that Asia’s bankers are getting a case of the jitters as planned IPO’s are getting shelved. Graff Diamonds pulling its $1 billion IPO was just the latest IPO to make it to the starting gates but get scratched before the barrier jump. To June this year there was an estimated $1.7 billion via four new listings that were withdrawn/postponed from Hong Kong. And it’s no better in Singapore, where the equally sexy business of

Formula1 decided to halt its $3 billion IPO citing bad markets. Still, it’s not as bad as last year, with globally withdrawn or postponed new listings volume having totalled $13.6 billion to June 2012, down 51% from the $27.6 billion withdrawn in the same period last year, according to Dealogic. Still that will be little comfort for bankers trying to keep their fee income up and their jobs intact through a rather jittery time for major IPO’s. Global new listings volume has reached $54.5 billion via 343 deals so far this year, almost half the $100.1 billion via 654 deals raised in the same period last year, adds Dealogic.

Global New Listings^ volume* YTD Comparison $bn

120.00 100.00

80.00 60.00 40.00 20.00 0.00 2008

2009 Priced

2010

2011

2012

Withdrawn/Postponed

Source: 2012 Dealogic Holdings Plc

HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 11


opinion

WANDER MEIJER Better lose your wallet than your mobile

I

t takes just a few minutes for people to realize they have forgotten their mobile phone after leaving home; but it takes in general much longer for people to notice that their wallet is missing. Six billion people own a mobile phone, while the number owning or using a wallet is certain to be lower – even people with hardly any money have (access to) a mobile phone. Mobile phones have changed the way people live and interact and gradually mobile has been changing the way we do business as well, with companies aligning core business processes, from retail to service delivery, via mobile. As more people have access to smart phones and infrastructure continues to rapidly improve, mobile is now relevant to brands targeting consumers across every industry. Businesses have to develop strategies that will direct them towards growth – whether through engaging consumers more effectively and converting that engagement into sales, or evolving new business models that introduce new behaviours – such as mobile banking. TNS’ annual Mobile Life study – which explores mobile usage amongst 48,000 people in 58 countries – shows that one fifth of people around the world now use mobile banking. As usual with mobile trends, Asia is leading the way; the top 3 countries in the world using mobile banking are Korea (48% of all mobile phone users), Singapore (47%) and Hong Kong (46%). In Hong Kong another 29% say they are interested in using mobile banking which means that three quarters of all Hong Kong people will use this service in the near future. Mobile can address a number of core consumer needs – convenience, relevance, experience, transparency and independence. Brands can leverage

Wander Meijer Global Head International Research for TNS, a WPP company

Hong Kong mobile banking users avoid the queues

Hong Kong mobile banking users avoid the queues Mobile banking drivers

Global

Hong Kong

56

It is convienient

I can do it from any location

It is quick

There are no queues

Can do it any time

56

49

55

48

44 39

64 59

Source: IMF Statistics

banking in Hong Kong (see graph below), helping people avoid queues for example, particularly during the lunch break when everyone seems to try and do their banking duties. Mobile provides a perfect way to offer convenience though its innate immediacy and availability; fewer Hong Kong consumers expect to contact their bank via fixed telephone in future, declining from 47% to 35%; or physically visit a bank branch, down from 53% to 36%. Even on-line contact via PC declines from 67% to 58%. And all these changes are caused by the increase of mobile phone banking which goes up from 20% to 41%. Clearly, banks need to adjust accordingly. The good news for them is that they may need less (expensive) branches, but it can also mean that the relationship becomes more transactional, which is especially worrying for the banks with the most customers and branches in Hong Kong (read HSBC and Hang Seng Bank). In addition to offering a mobile platform, “Six billion people own a mobile phone, while banks need to understand how to provide the number owning or using a wallet is certain value through mobile without being too intrusive or breaching privacy laws. to be lower” Addressing the core consumer needs of experience, relevance, transparency, independence this and link their campaigns with one or more and convenience will help companies maintain their of these needs. Convenience is the first and most presence on peoples’ phones, and build a relationship important one in Hong Kong; consumers used to with it customers. spend time to save money, now they spend money And just as people have a relationship with their to save time. The mobile holds the potential to make mobile phone, this must be nourished. Where banks consumers’ lives easier in a huge number of ways. get it right, they will see significant rewards in terms of Saving consumers time, effort, and delighting them engagement and loyalty. If not, customers will switch with simple solutions is key for brands to maintain to other banks. If you lose their heart, you will lose their position. their wallet. Convenience is also the key driver of mobile 12 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

61

“Asians say goodbye to long queues”


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 13


ECONOMICs

Ian Perkin The chief dilemma

H

ong Kong SAR’s Chief Executive-Elect Leung Chun-ying may be in for a rough ride. With global growth still fragile due mainly but not solely to the ongoing sovereign debt crisis in the Euro-zone, the Hong Kong SAR’s Chief Executive-Elect, Leung Chun-ying, will face a steep learning curve when he formally takes up his position in July. His first priority will no doubt be to address domestic issues, especially bedding down his new administration, looking to enhance economic growth, and addressing the key public issue of land supply and property prices. It will still be a challenge given the SAR’s relatively paltry economic growth. His biggest longer-term challenge though may be maintaining and enhancing Hong Kong’s position in an increasingly competitive world that is focused more than ever on the Mainland’s huge economy and increasingly its main commercial city, Shanghai. International profiles In this broader global context, Leung starts with the disadvantage of being little known on the regional and global stage. Both his predecessors, Tung Chee Hwa and Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, came to the job with relatively high international profiles. Tung, although a surprise choice by Beijing as Chief Executive, was close to China’s leaders (he would not have gotten the job otherwise). He was also known to global businesses and political leaders because of his family’s company, OOCL, that has worldwide shipping interests. Tsang, a high-level and high-profile Hong Kong civil servant for many years (he served as Financial Secretary) was also known to regional and world leaders. His economic knowledge, thoughtfulness, and presence (including his trademark bow tie) also helped establish quick recall. These international links matter because the HK SAR

IAN PERKIN Independent Economic Consultant perkin888@hotmail.com

IMF Asian Growth Forecasts (%) Economy

2011 Actual

World

2012 Forecast

2013 Forecast

3.5

4.7

Asia

5.9

6.0

6.5

China

9.2

8.2

8.8

HKSAR

5.0

2.6

4.2

Taiwan

4.0

3.6

4.7

Singapore

4.9

2.7

3.9

Korea

3.6

3.5

4.0

India

7.1

6.9

7.3

ASEAN

4.6

5.2

6.0

is related to domestic issues, the incumbent’s contacts on the world stage may seem inconsequential. But at a time when the global economy is fragile, it could be vital. The brighter side A positive for Leung, as he makes his debut on the world stage, is that the global economy is improving, albeit slowly. The dark clouds of Europe are still obscuring the medium-term outlook. The latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook issued last month (April) forecast global growth of 3.5% for 2012 (up from 3.25% in its earlier forecast) and 4.7% in 2013. The Asian forecast, also issued last month in Kuala Lumpur, was also positive with regional GDP growth expected to be 6%, up slightly from last year’s 5.9%

Risks and opportunities The IMF report added that a further stabilisation of global economic and financial conditions over the course of 2012 would provide a boost to the whole region. However, it could also revive the “The IMF said that the best way for Asian threat of inflation. It said that the key risk to growth is still the prospect of escalating economies to protect themselves against external and spreading financial turmoil, from shocks is to strengthen domestic sources of growth.” Europe to Asia. The IMF said that the best way for Asian economies to protect themselves against external shocks is to Chief Executive is the human “face” of Hong Kong to strengthen domestic sources of growth. Leung might the world and the key representative of the SAR in a be sympathetic to that view. He still has to grapple with variety of regional and world forums, both economic Hong Kong’s relatively slow growth – 2.6% in 2012, and otherwise. It is little consolation that his rival for Chief Executive, according to the IMF, down from 5% in 2011 and 7% in the recovery year of 2010 – but that will be made easier Tang, also had a relatively low international profile. if the global economy and trade continue to improve. Leung at least has close ties to Beijing which will help Hong Kong’s GDP figures for 2012’s first quarter will enhance his standing on the global stage. Because give a better outlook of the immediate future. about four-fifths of the HK SAR Chief Executive’s job 14 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

Table 1: Will Hong Kong be able to compete in the Asian market?


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 15


16 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012


opinion

richard branson How to throw the perfect pitch

Y

“Overcoming adversity is the mark of a true entrepreneur.”

ou have an idea for an interesting new business that you believe will make waves in your industry and beyond. You have checked out your prospective competition, drawn up a business plan, and assembled a team – you’re ready to take the leap. At this point, securing investment for a venture is a hurdle almost all entrepreneurs face, and often with some trepidation. There is no “one-size-fits-all” formula when you are preparing a pitch for potential investors, but here are a few tips that I have picked up over the years. 1. KEEP IT SIMPLE One of my first presentations did not go well. Investors had asked to see me about Student magazine, which my friends and I launched as teenagers. I talked at (not with) our potential backers, telling them about my ideas for extending the Student brand beyond publishing to travel, hotels, and music -- and scared them off. They did not invest in our magazine. Twenty years later, when I was hoping to launch Virgin Atlantic, I was much more aware of my audience as I pitched the idea to my fellow directors at Virgin, and then to a Boeing executive. I had learned the valuable “KISS” strategy: “Keep it simple, stupid.” It is important to present a clear plan that investors can easily understand and repeat to their own colleagues and advisers – avoid baffling people with jargon or complicated presentations. 2. DO YOUR RESEARCH The most important difference between those two presentations was that I put myself in

my audience’s shoes. Before you meet an investor, do your research: Has he or the company he represents made similar investments? Does he understand your sector or have experience with companies similar to the business you are in? Tailoring your presentation to that person’s knowledge of your industry will keep him interested. 3. BE THOROUGH Attention to detail is critical. Long before the day of the presentation, make sure you go over every claim, statistic, and projection in your business plan, check them over thoroughly, and commit them to memory. Know the markets you are going to target, your competition and how you plan to make your mark, and be prepared to defend your argument. What are its weaknesses? 4. HAVE A TEST RUN Before you pitch, it is best to do a practice run with trusted colleagues and advisers so that they can provide feedback. Get each person to play devil’s advocate and point out the issues you haven’t thought of and problems not yet on your radar. Try to make sure your colleagues aren’t telling you what you want to hear, but are telling you what you need to know. Were your listeners persuaded? What did they find memorable? Could they repeat your message back to you? 5. STICK TO THREE POINTS If you’re preparing for a short meeting, pick three key points that will stick with potential investors. These should be things like: What makes your

product or service different? Will it improve your customers’ lives? Why would people buy it? Write these points down on a piece of paper or even your shirt cuff, and then be sure to keep your message focused. With luck, your potential backer will be intrigued enough to call you back for a second meeting. 6. DRESS TO IMPRESS Dress to make a good first impression. The success of companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter means that not every prospective investor expects – or would be impressed by – a suit and tie. However, being on time and well-dressed will help build early rapport. 7. LISTEN As you make your presentation, how you listen can be just as important as what you say. Pay attention to your audience’s reactions and take the time to ask if they have questions. If it appears that you are not getting through, try to adapt your pitch to focus on the areas that interest them. 8. ASK FOR FEEDBACK If your proposal is rejected, ask for feedback. Did the investors understand the idea? Do they have suggestions for improving your product or service? While their comments may be negative, it is important to keep in mind that their criticisms are not indicative of your chances of future success. Remember, finding investors to provide the sum you need for a launch can be a long process. So make changes to your pitch if necessary, then move on to the next meeting, because overcoming adversity is the mark of a true entrepreneur. HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 17


Company Snapshot: Henderson Land

When will the next launch be?

Henderson eyes long-term growth Though fund raising risks in FY12 seem low due to slow land replenishment progress, analysts are worried over Henderson Land’s lack of new launches.

T

he company has not been aggressive on the acquisition of old buildings for redevelopment in recent months and JPMorgan analyst Lucia Kwon thinks it is unlikely to change significantly soon. Its capex requirements in 2H12, however, are expected to increase in 2H12 when the company gets close to confirming the land premium with the government on converting the land use of Wo Shang Wai site in Yuen Long and North Point industrial sites, reckons Kwon. Lacking new launches The company seems to be up for calm months in terms of its residential sales. Henderson Land’s two large-scale HK projects - the Lok Wo Sha residential project in Wu Kai Sha and Tai Tong Road project - will not come to the market until the second half of 2012, says Kwon. “For China, though there are 11 projects in the pipeline, we do not see management keen to clear them quickly. Hence, we expect there will be a few quiet months on residential sales for Henderson especially after strong inventory sales in FY11,” she adds. Henderson Land owns a 41.9m sq ft of agricultural land reserves in New Territories, which is the largest portfolio among peers, and Maybank Kim Eng analyst Ivan Cheung says that two key projects converted from agricultural land, though not launching soon, will be the key market focus this year. “The key launches for this year in this segment are Lok Wo Sha and Tai Tong Road projects, which provide 928 and 18 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

2,580 residential units, with GFA of 462k and 1,027k sq ft, respectively. The land costs of the projects are HK$3.5k and HK$2.4k psf of GFA. The management revealed that they could be launched for pre-sales in mid-2012, subject to issuance of pre-sale consent,” Cheung said. Apart from the absence of new launches soon, analysts are disappointed at Henderson Land’s FY11 financial results. Its HK$5.56b core net profit in FY11 was lower than expectations. Cheung notes that the growth in rental income was offset by a drop in property development margin. But despite the disappointing figure, Cheung still sees some positives in Henderson Land’s set of results: Net debt reduced by 26.3% YoY to HK$27.8b, thanks to the exercise of bonus warrants by Chairman Lee with proceeds of HK$10b. Net gearing dropped by 8.7 ppts to 15%. There is strong gross rental income growth of 19% to HK$5.8b and an extra HK$550m of dividend receivable from listed associate, HKCG, from regular full-year dividend of HK$1.1b. Slated for long-term growth Cheung believes that

Henderson Land provides a long-term growth story in the local developers segment upon unlocking of its full potential in urban redevelopment projects of 2.88m sq ft and agricultural land conversion of 41.9m sq ft in site area. Despite the lack of new project launches, the company will source revenues from three local development projects due for completion this year. Cheung expects revenues of HK$2.6b to materialize this year. He adds that on top of 202 completed residential units for sale, the group planned to launch 7 projects in HK for sale this year, with a total of 3,895 units and attributable GFA of 1.77m sq ft. According to Cheung, landbank from redevelopment projects may reach 8m sq ft in medium-term from 2.88m currently. “The number of redevelopment property portfolio increased from 23 during the year, to 37 with 80%+ ownership. The attributable GFA rose 62% YoY to 2.88m sq ft of developable GFA. The land costs are relatively low at HK$4,096 psf of GFA, versus target ASP of HK$8-12k across various districts. HL is continuing its effort in further consolidating the ownership of 47 more projects in medium term, to bring total developable GFA to over 8m sq ft,” he added.

HK Development segment FY12F launching pipeline: 1.77m sq ft

Source: Company data, Kim Eng Securities

HK Development launching pipeline: 2012-2014 and onwards: 7.26m sq ft

Source: Company data, Kim Eng Securities


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 19


OPINION

Hemlock

by hemlock www.biglychee.com Email: hemlock@hellokitty.com

Refuge of rascals

I

t’s that time of the year again. Water spontaneously oozes from every concrete pore of every building, leaving an embarrassing damp patch stretching all the way from Pokfulam to Quarry Bay. Battalions of cockroaches push and shove their way out of drains and alleyways, pausing briefly to blink in the daylight before executing their giant annual pincer movement around the whole city. And -- by far the worst of all -- tiresome clichéd self-interest masquerading as public-spiritedness spouts from the mouths of scoundrels and wastrels. Former government officials insist on ‘serving the community’, whether the community wants it or not. Legislator Regina Ip has been loudly proclaiming her determination to ‘serve’ us for a while now, daydreaming of being Chief Executive, and now angling for a post in the next government. She is not alone. It is hard to see how someone who manages to spectacularly lose a rigged makebelieve election can be of much help to anyone, except maybe a writer of tragic comedy. But there he is: Henry Tang, announcing with a straight face that after all his basement/wife and other disasters, he wishes to ‘serve the public’. Emotional blackmail Meanwhile, that old spurious, hypocritical, whining, lame attempt at emotional blackmail ‘civil service morale’ rears its head again, with the inevitable price tag attached. The government actually takes ‘civil service morale’ into consideration when deciding on what it blandly calls the bureaucracy’s pay adjustments. Does anyone -- anyone working in the private sector, perhaps -- notice something missing here? Such as ‘performance’? As numerous commentators have noted over the years, no one else in Hong Kong seems to have morale, or at least morale problems. Not the population as a whole, nor socio-economic or geographical groups within it. So far as we see or hear, elderly men condemned to living in cages

“...no one else in Hong Kong seems to have morale...” or families having to bring up kids in subdivided slums somehow manage to keep their spirits up. But enjoy job security, allowances, salary levels shockingly higher than private-sector equivalents, plus free pensions on full salary for life, and you become a psychological wreck unless you are pampered and worshipped and spoon-fed and reassured every hour of the day. No wonder they can’t drag themselves away from ‘serving the community’. 20 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

The airline example Actually, one segment of our capable, determined, can-do, non-state-employed citizenry suffers from self-centred, infantile poor-pitiful-me syndrome: Cathay Pacific flying staff. On the radio one morning, the news team gave CX management around 10 seconds to explain why they were offering cabin crew voluntary unpaid leave followed by what seemed like an hour of some union leader droning away about how awful it would be if such a scheme were compulsory, oblivious to the fact that it wasn’t. CX crew have their own equivalent of ‘civil service morale’ emotional blackmail. The stress and strain, she insists, could jeopardize passenger safety. No, what is really at jeopardy here -- we might conjecture because we’re nasty that way -- is cabin crews’ overnight allowances, which are hefty and paid in cash so the Hong Kong tax authorities don’t know about it.In today’s Standard the awful truth comes out: some of the poor pilots travel between duty stations on cargo flights, and even sleep on the floor! I’ve been on one of these freighters. People hitching a ride on one do not get shoved down in the cold, dark metallic bottom of the fuselage, squatting between containers of electronics and shipments of seafood. The bubble behind the cockpit has low-density business-class seating, with restroom and, if I recall, a small galley. It’s nicer than a passenger flight. And, yes, that means you can stretch out on the floor. But the pilots’ union is talking of taking the airline to court. If the poor, highly sensitive and vulnerable wretches have to take positioning flights without a choice between fish and chicken, 25 movie channels and a neck massage, there will be tantrums, foot-stamping, and ‘questions about flight safety’. Then you’ll all be sorry.

Government considers ‘civil service morale’


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 21


GAME CHANGERS

CF-Aircraft2

Sunseeker Manhattan 64SG Evening

Ultra-luxurious PALY packages unveiled Nicolas Chemin, Senior Manager at Chapman Freeborn, talks about the Private Aircraft and Luxury Yacht packages launched in partnership with Aqua Voyage. HKB: What makes PALY travel different from other travel packages? Chemin: PALY travel is very unique because it is the first in Asia. It’s a one-of-a-kind ultimate luxury travel experience jointly brought by the leading companies in aircraft charter and luxury cruise and yacht management. PALY travel features a combination of luxury yacht and private jet or helicopter travel experiences designed for the discerning and well-heeled traveller who is looking for exclusive journeys to islands in the region. The destinations are usually the main highlights for most holiday excursions. But with PALY travel, Chapman Freeborn and Aqua Voyage level it up by turning the getaway into an exquisite indulgence. PALY travel offers first-class accommodation and services from the time clients step out of their homes, hop into a limousine, board an exclusive yacht, laze within premiere island accommodations, and finally fly back in a private aircraft and drive straight home on board a limousine. The PALY travel packages were unveiled last April, with Batam and Tioman islands being the first destinations. HKB: Why did you decide to partner with Aqua Voyage? Chemin: Aqua Voyage has emerged as a leading provider of luxury yacht management and private cruise services 22 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

in yachting destinations across Asia. There is synergy between our companies in terms of clientele base, branding, and high level service standards. Aqua Voyage has acquired a proven reputation in offering luxury cruising services for groups; the recent inclusion of golfing legend Jack Nicklaus’ Westport 130 luxury cruise liner only adds to it. HKB: What is the market size and trend for both private planes and yachts? Chemin: The market size for private planes versus yacht charters differ greatly in the same manner as when we compare the chartering cost for a private aircraft and a yacht. Yacht charters are mostly purchased for leisure. Its market also has a higher purchasing inclination compared with the air charter market. In Asia, private air chartering has a very niche market -- one that comprises high net worth individuals or the ultra-rich. However, we have been seeing an increase in companies who turn to air charters for executive travels, especially for multi-city and time-sensitive itineraries or remote destinations. HKB: How many bookings have you received through your iPhone app and what’s the total value of these bookings? Chemin: It has been slightly over a year since the launch of Chapman Freeborn’s Private Jet app. The company has recorded over 5000 downloads of the app and hundreds of enquiries. However, we are unable to disclose the value of the bookings. HKB: What are the challenges you foresee and how do you intend to face these challenges? Chemin: The main challenge in Asia with regards to aircraft chartering is educating the market. There is a clear distinction between private air charter and a firstclass air ticket. When the market acknowledges that private air charter and first-class tickets are two completely different products, it will reduce price sensitivity and increase appreciation for the benefits that only air charters can deliver – convenience, flexibility, and discretion.


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 23


opinion

Tim hamlett

tim hamlett Former Editor of Sunday Standard and Associate Professor of Journalism

Wagers on minimum wage

E

conomics seems to be a frisky lady, willing to hop into bed with anyone who wants a cuddle and a bit of moral support. Nobody is too ugly or neglected. Every interest group, down to and including organized crime, can find economic arguments to suggest that its activities are not only harmless but beneficial. I am reminded sometimes of those theological arguments in the 17th century in which the participants used to beat each other over the head with rival quotations from the Bible. “Even the Devil can quote scripture,” it was said, without anyone apparently moving on to the question whether an authority so versatile and ambiguous was worth quoting at all. Consider the question of the statutory minimum wage. Now that we have got this thing, there is clearly going to be a running fight over when and how much it should be increased. That there will be increases should not be in doubt; inflation is a fact of life. A minimum which is not occasionally increased will gradually become meaningless. Before the minimum wage was introduced, we heard a great deal about the iron laws of supply and demand. These dictated, apparently, that if the price of labour was increased, then the quantity of its demand would fall. So the minimum wage would lead to unemployment. The people who deployed this argument have now reluctantly accepted that they can hardly use it again, because the predicted fall in employment has not happened. The Sword of Damocles remains tethered to its string, the sky has not fallen, yet recorded unemployment remains in the vicinity of zero. There have been some suggestions that employers have switched to younger staff in an effort to get their money’s worth, but this is a difficult point to substantiate – after all, in the normal course of events, you would expect new employees to be on average younger than retiring ones – and in any case, is hardly what we were told to expect. The domino effect The new horror story goes like this: If the minimum wage is increased, then workers who are already paid more than the minimum wage will ask for an increase to keep up the difference. Well, of course they may ask for it but will they get it? Because according to the line we were given, last year’s wages were not determined by what the workers asked for, or what kept them ahead of other workers. Wages are determined by supply and demand, and the fact that people in other jobs are getting more money should have nothing to do with the supply and demand applicable to a particular case. I suppose this line of argument is a sort of vindication for those of us who supposed all along that the determination of wages was a much more fragmented and complicated thing than the economic fundamentalists supposed. And in fact, a good many economists now recognise that the classical formulations, while an imposing intellectual edifice with some important implications, involve so many simplifications that they can rarely provide much help in dealing with the real world. 24 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

This has led to a rather chaotic and entertaining cacophony of late: with practitioners of business complaining that economics is fiction, psychologists pouring scorn on the notion of people pursuing their interests rationally, and academic economists complaining that they are a misunderstood bunch because they are aware of the problems and are working on them. Well, perhaps they are. Also wearing the “economist” label, though, are all those ladies and gentlemen producing self-serving predictions for their employers, suggesting that the long-term prospects for their particular industry are rosy, or that short-term deficiencies in its performance are due to external factors beyond the management’s control. Then there are the official crew, producing long-term predictions which they should know are worthless. What is the point of the government offering us predictions for the economy in 30 years’ time when their predictions of revenue in the coming year are regularly and wildly wrong? I note that though economics is routinely described as a profession, there appears to be no ethical code for it. Sometimes the profession it most resembles is the oldest one. This is a pity, because there is interesting stuff out there if you look for it. Consider the question of risk. If you ask people to choose between a certain gain of $900,000 and a 90% chance of $1 million, they overwhelmingly go for the certainty. This is a robust finding you can easily confirm – I tried it on a group of journalism students – and it is a problem for traditional economic theory because the value of the two alternatives is exactly the same. Choosing the lesser evil Even more of the problem is what comes next. If you change the signs so that the choice is between a certain loss of $900,000 or a 90% chance of losing $1 million, then the choice goes entirely the other way. Everyone opts for the gamble and the 10% hope of losing nothing. It offers some explanation for a rather common phenomenon: people whose businesses are in trouble resort to palpably risky, or indeed criminal, behaviour in an effort to escape their problems. If success means survival, then a possible extra penalty for failure is not much of a deterrent. It also reinforces my suspicion that negotiating over wages is a game in which the employee is at a serious disadvantage. He can accept the first offer, or try for more, with the possible penalty of failure to get the job at all. The risk-averse option is to accept the offer. From the employer’s point of view, though, whoever he takes on is going to cost him money. Refusing one applicant just means another chance to spin the roulette wheel. I recognise that this may not be a complete explanation in Hong Kong, where haggling is part of the culture. The employer may expect his first offer to be rejected and the potential employee may feel he is not just allowed to make a counter-offer but will be dismissed as a bit of a wimp if he doesn’t. Clearly there is room for a bit of research here. Until it has been conducted, all predictions should be taken with a pinch of salt. Waging the war for minimum wage


Co-published corporate profile

The payment principle - improving cash flow with effective debt collection The priority must be ‘getting paid’

W

herever you trade and whatever the nature of your business, one thing is certain: you’ll want to get paid. Ultimately, it’s cash that enables companies to develop new products, explore new markets and take on high quality staff, as well as providing the funds to grow. And, of course, cash enables you to pay suppliers, ensuring that you not only have continuity of supply but also maintain a good credit rating, which is vitally important - especially when accessing loans and other funding routes. Effective trade debt collection is an essential part of the credit management process, whether this is handled in-house, externally by a global specialist such as Atradius Collections, or through a hybrid solution combining both resources. Collecting debts – what are the options? Essentially, there are only two key strategies for collecting a debt: the amicable approach or the legal route. Dealing with the legal route first, it is universally recognised that embarking on any approach that involves lawyers and the courts, in any country, is likely to be costly and drawn out. The complexity of the legal approach varies dramatically from country to country, as each has specific regulatory requirements and procedures that have to be followed to the letter. What’s more, as there is no absolute guarantee of success, this approach is generally regarded as a last resort by professional debt collection agencies and most businesses that have explored this option. While Hong Kong’s legislative framework may be regarded as comparatively straightforward and certainly familiar to most Hong Kong businesses, this is not true of many other export destinations. For example, in the USA each state has its own specific laws, while China’s 34 administrative provinces all have their own individual approach to dealing with the legal process. As a consequence, before embarking on any legal path, it is always best to seek advice from professional commercial debt collection agencies, such as Atradius Collections. The benefit of doing so is that

we have a global reach and the combined expertise of an integrated team of more than 300 collectors operating in 19 offices worldwide, dealing with more than 120,000 cases each year. Amicable collection solutions International business regulations and financial legislation also influence the procedures that can be used within key markets but, as long as the legislation is not contravened, amicable collection is a much more costeffective route to obtaining payment. While businesses in Hong Kong and other Asian markets have been relatively stable over the past 3 years or so, the global credit crisis has had a severe impact on almost every other market, prompting high levels of insolvency and encouraging businesses to hold on to cash for longer. Whether collecting domestic or international debts, good credit management is absolutely vital to maximise the potential for receiving payment and minimising disruption to your cash flow. Trade debt collection should never be regarded as an isolated process but as an integral part of the credit management chain. Interestingly, the results of our regular survey of worldwide debt collections processes - the Global Collections Review - show that in Hong Kong 40% of companies that use a debt collections agency are focusing only on international collections. Effective trade debt collection is not just about picking up the telephone or sending letters to your customers. It’s about understanding the customer’s local operating conditions, and ensuring that the debt collection procedure itself is planned and sustained. Knowledge of the customer’s market, payment history and the current state of its business can all be influencing factors on the

“At the end of the day it’s about the internal branding that is as important as the external branding we pursue.”

Tony Au, Head of Atradius Collections, Asia

best approach to achieve success. Within Atradius, we have up-to-date information on 100 million companies worldwide, enabling our collections processes to be highly robust - and to deliver results. To help companies in Hong Kong and around the world, we regularly publish an updated guide called the ‘Atradius Collections International Debt Collections Handbook’, a free publication that explains the amicable and legal routes available in each of 32 countries. Only with local expertise can businesses ensure they are following a professional and successful approach, which is where the International Debt Collections Handbook/ Atradius Collections can really help. So, if you’re putting tremendous effort into developing your business, look at the effectiveness of your collections procedures to ensure your effort is rewarded and that your debts get paid.

Atradius Collections and Atradius Credit Insurance can be contacted at: General Line: +852 3657 0700 Email: hkenquiry@atradius.com www.atradius.com.hk HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 25


ANALYSIS: ASIAN TELCOs

Too many iPhones, not enough 4G capacity The massive takeup of iPhones in Asia saw telcos spending huge sums of money to upgrade their networks to 4G capacity.

T

he last ten years have been something of a trying time for Asian telco operators, with massive capital expenditures met with fierce competition and generally dropping call rates or worse, all-you-can-eat buffets. This has made telecoms a substandard investment, and hence operators have been loathe to spend ever more sums of money to upgrade their networks to 4G. The shift to smartphones brought about by the Apple iPhone has only increased consumers’ desire for data, but if you have ever had a poor signal or found your mobile service slower than advertised, you will realize that too many customers trying to download too much data in one area is not a good outcome.

26 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

“The shift in focus away from ‘unlimited’ to ‘tiered’ data tariffs in Asia with the introduction of 4G has been encouraging.”

The capacity crunch Smartphones now account for more than half of all new handsets sold in Asia, and with data usage growing by up to 200% a year, there is a real danger of a capacity crunch which will require operators to reinvest in capital and perhaps raise prices whilst they are at it. The only thing holding back the market is the availability of super cheap smartphones, which would extend them to the masses especially in poorer countries such as India and Indonesia. Handsets will need to come down to around $100 to really take off in these markets, while an iPhone still starts at $500. Hindering the growth of smartphones in Asia is also the lack of consumer credit and the adoption of the pre-paid model in many countries which accounts for the vast number

of subscribers. This effectively limits an operator’s ability to subsidise a handset. HSBC notes that with the introduction of 4G, also known as LTE, carriers are now introducing tiered pricing on data. “The shift in focus away from ‘unlimited’ to ‘tiered’ data tariffs in Asia with the introduction of 4G has been encouraging. The crux of our view is that the growth in data demand is increasing exponentially, while operators’ ability to supply capacity can only increase at a linear rate. Given this situation, operators will need to ration usage using price, and re-link usage to revenues via tiered data tariffs.” But Asia telcos are reluctant to introduce tiered data plans. This is happening more slowly in the Asian telco sector than in the US and Europe, reckons HSBC, primarily as the result


ANALYSIS: ASIAN TELCOs of a more interventionist approach to wireless regulation in the region. “This is most evident in Korea, where politicians demanded large tariff cuts, despite escalating operator capex to support data demand. Korean campaign platforms in April 2012 suggest that further tariff cuts are likely.” So whilst operators are expected to invest billions in upgrading to LTE, the problem is that whilst LTE is faster than 3G, it is only 1.3 times more efficient than 3G, which means that capacity limits remain a big issue. The big picture in Asia is therefore one of getting more spectrum in which to offer new LTE services. HSBC’s take is that with recent or pending spectrum awards, operators such as Telstra, SoftBank, and SmarTone all have significant advantages relative to peers. “We expect spectrum costs and wireless capex to continue to rise as data volumes continue to surge. In 2011, we saw the capacity crunch thesis play out in Australia, where Telstra posted strong wireless growth, while rival Vodafone Hutchison Australia lost ground as a result of network issues – some of which were the result of overloading. In China, we believe that the window of opportunity for China Unicom to take share from China Mobile is closing more rapidly than the consensus expects. We expect China Mobile’s TDSCDMA outlook to improve, with the announcement of a TD-SCDMA compatible iPhone a key catalyst in 4Q12 or 1Q13.” Ovum meanwhile believes that there are two major factors that will drive the uptake of LTE in South Korea. Firstly, Ovum expects South Korean operators to abolish unlimited 3G/3.5G plans in 2012 in an effort to reduce network congestion. This will

result in a number of users opting to take advantage of the faster speeds offered by LTE services. Secondly, Ovum believes that the South Korean government is expected to call for further tariff cuts in 2012, which will result in a reduction in the price of LTE services. The regulators burden Perhaps one of the biggest determinants of the success, or otherwise, of an Asian telco in the LTE world is the approach of regulators to pricing. In Hong Kong, greater data demand has been a boon for operators, where the smartphone market has effectively been an oligopoly of SmarTone, Hong Kong CSL, and Hutchison Hong Kong. In Taiwan, the popularity of the iPhone has effectively marginalised the two smaller operators (Vibo and APBT) which lack the scale to commit to the minimum volume of handsets required by Apple. In both markets, the operators have seen strong gains from upgrading existing customers to higher value contracts, resulting in less value-destructive competition. In Hong Kong, the regulator holds the view that prices are not part of its mandate. Pricing for smartphones has been relatively sensible, although the operators bungled an opportunity to move away from flat-rate in February 2012. In Taiwan, data is still priced on a flat-rate basis, but the low levels of smartphone adoption (and network traffic) mean that operators have seen a substantial benefit from migration to smartphones in terms of additional revenue. So how will mobile phone operators introduce a new pricing scheme? LTE still the most likely pricing catalyst, notes HSBC, but that this

Telco revenues as a % of GDP in Asia

ves revenue growth

3,000

70%

2,500

60% 50%

2,000

40%

1,500

30%

1,000

20%

500

10%

-

0% Jun-08

Dec-08

Jun-09

Dec-09

Wireless Serv ice Rev enues, HKDm

Jun-10

Dec-10

Jun-11

Dec-11

5.0% 4.0% 3.0% 2.0% 1.0% 0.0% 2007a

Source: Company data. Note smart device adoption is proportion of post-paid customer base.

2008a Region

Smartphone adoption, %

Source: Company data. Note smart device adoption is proportion of post-paid customer base.

change is likely to be gradual, and take place after users have become used to significant data allowances for smartphones. “Consequently we do not expect a step-change in revenues, although long-term capex budgets should be protected. Korea and Japan (both markets that have already launched LTE) offer a good example of how we expect LTE data pricing to play out. In both markets operators offer a significant data allowance in the standard package – as much as 5GB in some cases.” Ovum analyst Nicole McCormick meanwhile advises that operators should look to avoid launching their LTE services with unlimited data offerings as it is highly likely that they will have to move to volume-based pricing at a later stage. “Operators should take the opportunity to launch LTE as a new, premium service with a new pricing model rather than rolling over unlimited data tariffs from existing 3G/3.5G services,” she said. McCormick cited Australia’s leading mobile operator, Telstra, as a good model for mobile services provider planning to launch LTE. The operator, she says, adjusted its mobile broadband tariffs less than a week before it launched its LTE service, increasing the price of its high-end tariff by $10.40 per month and the data allowance from 12GB to 15GB. It then announced that these tariffs and data allowances would apply to all its 3G and LTE users, meaning that LTE users would be used to its tariff structures and data allowance. In contrast, McCormick tags M1’s approach of altering its tariffs and data allowances after the launch of LTE ‘disruptive’ to customers. “Abolishing unlimited LTE tariffs after launch can present considerable challenges for operators, even when

Telco revenues as a % of GDP in Asia

Smartphone adoption and impact on service Smartphone adoption and impact on service revenue growth revenue growth SmarTone: migration to smartphones dri

“Operators are expected to invest billions in upgrading to LTE, the problem is that whilst LTE is faster than 3G, it is only 1.3 times more efficient than 3G”

2009a India

China

2010a Indonesia

Japan

2011e

2012e

Korea

Source: Company data, HSBC estimates

Source: Company data, HSBC estimates

HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 27


ANALYSIS: ASIAN TELCOs the rollout is limited to a small service area and enterprise customers as is the case with M1,” she said. Learning from Singapore Telecommunications case According to Ovum, when transitioning to volume-based pricing models, operators should look to avoid introducing, complicated pricing structures for LTE -- a mistake that Singtel did. SingTel launched Singapore’s second commercial LTE network in December 2011 without offering unlimited data plans. SingTel’s LTE service is accessed using a dongle, and is initially available in high-volume data regions such as the central business district, Orchard, and some shopping areas. The service falls back to SingTel’s 21Mbps HSPA+ network when a user moves out of a LTE coverage area. In an industry first, SingTel has split its monthly data allowance into two buckets – one for 3G and one for LTE. The combined allowance is 60GB, with excess data usage charges capped at $73. While SingTel has limited LTE data usage to 10GB per month, this is a generous allowance by Asia-Pacific standards. SingTel’s LTE package costs 16.7% more than its unlimited 21Mbps HSPA+ dongle service. According to Ovum, splitting the data allowance into two separate buckets for 3G and LTE will add a layer of complexity for consumers, and SingTel will need to provide tools that enable subscribers to easily monitor their 3G and LTE data usage. However, sending multiple SMS alerts on data usage, it said, could become annoying for subscribers.

According to McCormick, operators should instead focus on educating their customers on data requirements and usage limits so as to limit the possibility of bill shock.“To better manage the transition from unlimited plans to volume-based tariffs, operators should introduce measures such as maximum excess usage charges. They should also introduce affordable entry-level tariffs and generous data allowances to ease the transition from unlimited data tariffs. In addition, operators must look to exploit the upsell opportunities that will be presented by the shift to alternative pricing models,” said McCormick. But it has not been easy for Asian telcos to start restricting customers who had been used to an all-youcan-eat data plan. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo back- tracked from its original model of tiered data plans for LTE, and began to offer flat-rate plans also, saying that this was what customers were used to. Pressured by fierce competition, DoCoMo was forced to match the price of its unlimited LTE data plan with Softbank Mobile’s unlimited 3.5G iPhone 4S plan, launched free LTE-to-LTE voice calls to other DoCoMo subscribers and family discounts, and even plans to eliminate its excess data charges by introducing throttling. Most mobile service providers believe that throttling customers’ speeds will encourage them to upgrade to larger data plans. However, Ovum doesn’t believe that a throttled customer is more likely to upgrade to a larger data plan than a customer that pays excess data charges. Also, McCormick notes that while DoCoMo’s

“To better manage the transition from unlimited plans to volume-based tariffs, operators should introduce measures such as maximum excess usage charges. ”

major rivals may launch their LTE services with unlimited plans, Ovum does not believe that they will be able to keep offering them indefinitely. “Japanese mobile operators are under considerable pressure to alleviate the congestion on their 3G networks, which has largely been caused by unlimited data pricing,” she said. What should Asian telcos do? Meanwhile in Korea, usage on 3G smartphones is growing so rapidly (and is priced on a flat-rate basis) that operators have had to increase capex significantly to manage the surge in volumes. But then again, as demonstrated by Ovum, It is possible for operators in markets with well-entrenched unlimited 3.5G data offerings to make the transition to LTE without flat-rate data plans. Even after originally offering unlimited data tariffs for LTE, a number of operators in the US and Hong Kong have successfully transitioned to alternative pricing models. So should Asian telcos adopt a tiered data plan as is common in Europe and the US, where typically 2GB is the entry level allowance, and additional capacity sold in 1GB units? That would be an optimal strategy, but it’s proving difficult to take to market. In South Korea, Japan, and Singapore telcos have begun to offer 5GB or higher data allocations as the starting price. Pricing structures matter if telcos are to affordably finance LTE development and network rollouts. China does not yet offer an all-you-can-eat data plan but then again they only have two operators, so competition is not as intense.

Smartphone penetration levels in Asia Smartphone penetration levels in Asia Country

Singapore

Population (000s)

4.9

Smartphones (000s)

4.4

Penetration (%)

89.8%

Hong Kong

8.0

4.9

61.3%

South Korea

48.6

16.4

33.7%

Malaysia

28.1

5.2

18.5%

Thailand

65. 0

10. 0

15. 4%

Japan

126.9

18.1

14.3%

Indonesia China Philippines India

229.0

18.1

7.9%

1,360.0

77.1

5.7%

95.0

4.8

5.0%

1,220.0

33.2

2.7%

Source: TomiAhonen Consulting, Wired.com, “42 Major Countries Ranked by Smartphone Penetration Rates”, 16 December 2011; HSBC estimates

28 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012


Co-published corporate profile

Ageas brings heritage golf event to town Ageas helps revive the Hong Kong PGA Championship after a six-year hiatus.

A

geas Insurance Company (Asia) Limited – one of the largest insurers in Hong Kong was again the title sponsor of this year’s No. 1 local golf event, the Ageas Hong Kong PGA Championship, which just took place from May 21-23 at the Hong Kong Golf Club, Discovery Bay Golf Club and Jockey Club Kau Sai Chau Public Golf Course. It was the third year running that Ageas has backed the tournament. The prize money for 2012 was increased by 25 per cent to HK$400,000, attracting top golfers from a number of countries. Among them were the US PGA 1990 Championship winner Wayne Grady, long-hitting Singaporean Lam Chih Bing, two-time Hong Kong PGA Order of Merit winner Dominique Boulet and 2001 champion Derek Fung; as well as last year’s third-placed Timothy Tang. Sponsorship allows HK Golfers to show their drive The support from Ageas has enabled the Hong Kong PGA Championship – which played a pivotal role in golf’s development in Hong Kong from the mid-1970s onwards – to return to the calendar in 2010 after a six-year hiatus. “Everyone in Ageas is excited about our role as the Hong Kong PGA title sponsor. It provides Hong Kong with the impetus to produce a quality field of players, and it gives local professionals the chance to gain more exposure in stroke play championships, so that more of them can progress to senior regional tours,” explains Stuart Fraser, the Ageas Hong Kong CEO. “The decision to increase the prize money reflects the tournament’s growth in the past two years, as well as our commitment to professional golf in the city. It also offers us an opportunity to build awareness of the Ageas brand and reach out to our target customers. So it’s a win-win situation for everybody,” adds Fraser. Sponsorship creates a win-win situation Ageas is living up to its motto “We love the future” by devoting considerable resources to encouraging healthy living in the city, especially by promoting the development of sports. As part of their strategic marketing plan to enhance brand awareness, the company already had a sporting presence in football through

Hong Kong PGA Championship’s title sponsor, Ageas HK CEO - Stuart Fraser (2nd left) with 2010 champion – C.J.Gatto, Hong Kong PGA Chairman – Daniel Liu and two-time Order of Merit winner - Dominique Boulet.

Kitchee Escola, the junior football programme to reach the mass public. Definitely, golf is perfect for business communication, as it promotes ideals of level competition, fair play and sportsmanship, and players can mix informally and build relationships outside the office. In addition, the availability and accessibility to courses in China has contributed to this trend. By sponsoring Hong Kong PGA Championship since 2010, Ageas has raised its brand awareness to the affluent market. 2012 Champion Unho Park This year, Australia’s Unho Park drained an 18-footer for birdie on the last to seal a onestroke victory at the HK$400,000 Ageas Hong Kong PGA Championship. The Singapore-based 38-year-old had come to the par-four 18 that the Kau Sai Chau Golf Course locked in the lead at three-over par with Guido van der Valk but showed no nerves as he drained his birdie putt – from distance– to put all the pressure on his playing partner. The Dutchman had left his own approach

“The support from Ageas has enabled the Hong Kong PGA Championship...to return to the calendar in 2010 after a six-year hiatus.”

2012 Ageas Hong Kong PGA Champion – Unho Park

shot on the last about 16 feet and to the right above the hole and then hit his birdie chance wide to hand Park the HK$72,000 first prize thanks to a three-round final score of two-over par 216. “From the Hong Kong Golf Club, to Discovery Bay and then to here today you really have to be on your game as the conditions change so it tests you every inch of the way. Winning today has given me a real lift and now I hope I can continue with confidence for the rest of the year.” said Park who turned pro back in 1997 and had 10 titles to his name coming into the Hong Kong event. Third place went to local golfer Wong Woon Man at four-over 218 while Australia’s 1990 US PGA Championship winner Wayne Grady had to leave the course content with a share of sixth place after finishing on sevenover 221. HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 29


SALARY SURVEY 2012 plans this year, regulatory requirements mean there will be continued demand for staff with compliance, governance, internal audit, and legal skills. Matthew Bennett, Managing Director of Robert Walters, also spots some hiring opportunities in banks, primarily in commercial, consumer/private and transaction banking. “On the buy side, asset management, hedge funds, and private equity firms are also growing as Chinese and Western investors look for gain exposure in Asian markets,” he said. A net 69% of senior financial services leaders in banking and financial services in Hong Kong plan to increase the number of permanent accounting and finance staff in the first half of 2012, according to the survey findings released as part of the 2012 Robert Half Banking & Financial Services Salary Guide. Robert Half director Pallavi Anand adds that even within the commercial sector in Hong Kong, a net 20% of the chief financial officers and finance directors surveyed indicated that they are planning to increase the number of permanent accounting staff this year.

Employers bear the brunt of skills shortage

A stark skills shortage leaves employers with no choice but to increase the average salary levels by up to 20% to attract and retain highly skilled workers.

T

his year’s salary survey reveals that salary levels are expected to rise above the inflation rate due to a massive skills shortage. According to a survey by Michael Page International, 72% of employers plan to increase the salaries of their employees by 4-6% over the next 12 months. Compliance and risk professionals are still in high demand due to tighter regulations and system upgrades in the financial services sector, and they are also projected to see the largest compensation increase. The average salaries of these professionals are expected to rise 20% over 2011 levels, according to Robert Half. Firms also report shortage of 30 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

“Record unemployment creates a pure supply and demand issue.”

technology staff with 28% of them planning to increase their permanent IT headcount. Steady employment growth According to Anthony Thompson, Senior Managing Director of Michael Page International, Hong Kong and Southern China, employment growth in Hong Kong is expected to remain steady over 2012. This comprises front line and revenue-generating roles. Also, with continued investment in infrastructure across Asia, individuals with technical skills in engineering, IT, and construction will stay in high demand. Though some banks announced some restructuring

The search for skills But as the demand for talent is exceeded by the supply, a skills shortage is slowly becoming rampant in Hong Kong. As Brien Keegan, Director of Randstad Hong Kong, puts it: “Record unemployment creates a pure supply and demand issue. Interestingly because the world is in a global slowdown, this drives a perception that talent is easier to find in Hong Kong than it actually is.” Keegan warns that Hong Kong’s employment landscape continues to be characterised by strong pockets of skills shortage in a noticeably shallower talent pool. “With unemployment remaining low at 3.3%, many employers will need to re-focus their human capital strategies to sustain advantage in a heavily competitive marketplace,” he said. According to Randstad’s World of Work report, 30% of business leaders say that attracting talent for the next phase of growth is the single biggest human capital challenge they face, with 51% saying they would rate their organisation’s


SALARY SURVEY 2012 ability to meet this challenge as average or poor. Wanted: skilled bilinguals, and compliance and IT experts In a highly interconnected business environment, candidates with exceptional communication and interpersonal skills are the most sought-after. Irrespective of sector or industry, there is a demand for candidates who can communicate effectively in Chinese and English and have the capacity to operate successfully in multicultural environments, says Thompson. Tighter regulations, business expansion, and system upgrades also leave the financial services sector short of the skills they need to handle all the workload. Hence, risk and compliance professionals are also in demand as Thompson notes that individuals who specialise in treasury, internal audit, compliance, and other areas of corporate governance continue to be in short supply. Anand adds that employers are often willing to go the extra mile to attract and retain these professionals and that, as such, average salaries for compliance and risk professionals are expected to rise 20% over 2011 levels. Still, in the financial services sector, demand for technology staff also remains high. “Chief technology officers and chief information officers surveyed in Hong Kong are expected to be active in their hiring plans with a net 28% of them indicating that they plan to increase their permanent IT headcount. The main reasons cited for increasing technology staff are to facilitate business growth and expansion, and to implement IT systems upgrades,” said Anand. Bonus boost Thompson reckons that, overall, skills shortage is expected to force an upward pressure on salaries, with 62% of respondents to the Hong Kong Salary & Employment Forecast 2012 survey predicting that salary levels will rise above the inflation rate in 2012. However, employees in Hong Kong seem far from being cash-strapped as findings from Michael Page’s Hong Kong Salary & Employment Forecast 2012 reveal that 72% of respondents intend to increase the

salaries of their employees over the next 12 months, with most pay rises set to be between 4% and 6%. A good 75% of employers surveyed also plan to offer bonuses to their business’s top performers on the basis of individual, team, and company performance. Anand notes that more than half of the business leaders in financial services are looking to increase salary and bonus levels this year. A good 63% of them cited that they are looking to increase bonus levels -- and of those planning to increase bonus levels, the average increase is expected to be 5.3% in Hong Kong. “Risk and control positions within financial services, as well as accounting positions within the commercial sector, are projected to see the largest increase in base compensation among all fields covered in the salary guides,” added Anand. On the flip side, Keegan does not discount the employer caution in Hong Kong. Hence, he believes companies are likely to feel hesitant in the current environment about increasing salaries for 2012. But he warns employers that this mindset could pose a threat to talent retention plans especially that 34% of employees surveyed plan to leave their jobs within the next 12 months primarily due to a lack of opportunity for growth and advancement. “Most importantly, they need to look at their total employee value proposition and engage with current employees to set clear expectations on their total

employment offer,” he said. Bennett concurs and adds that businesses looking to hire will also need to keep track of what their competitors are paying as high performers will continue to be in demand. Anthony Thompson

Brien Keegan

Pallavi Anand

Matthew Bennett

Retaining recruits Employers, employees, and job seekers alike are up for a challenging year ahead. Skills shortage and staff retention strategies, plus the proper handling of business costs that go along with it, should be the focus of employers to weather the recruitment frenzy. “Business costs therefore remain a focus and employers are continuing to evaluate the make-up of their teams, in particular the number of international transfers and overseas hires and the cost of these hires compared with hiring local talent,” said Thompson. Employees will have to step up and prove themselves worthy of an increase or bonus -- or even retention, for that matter. According to Anand, with the talent pool of skilled finance and accounting professionals tightening in Hong Kong, organisations are finding it increasingly challenging to attract suitable candidates. “Many of the top finance and accounting candidates who are in demand are receiving multiple offers, so companies need to act quickly or potentially lose top talent to other employers. Companies looking to hire should ensure that they evaluate salaries and staff benefits to ensure that they remain competitive.”

Skills shortage placing Skills shortagepressure placing upwards upwards on pressure salarieson salaries Skills shortage placing 6% pressure on salaries upwards 6%

Salaries will rise

32%

Salariesabove will rise inflation rate above inflation rate 32%

will SalariesSalaries will increase in increase in line with inflation line withrate inflation rate 62%

62%

The skills shortage will not impactThe salaryskills levels shortage will not

impact salary levels

Source: Salary & Employment Forecast, Michael Page International HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 31


SALARY SURVEY 2012 ENGINEERING Role

Director Experience

HK$ ‘000

15+ yrs

920–1,300

Manager

10+ yrs

Assistant Manager

6–8+ yrs

Mechanical/Chemical/Electrical

Engineering Director/VP

1,500+

Analyst

1–3 yrs

400–750

Associate

3–6 yrs

700–1,300

610–920

Vice President

6–9 yrs

1,100–1,600

460–620

Director

9+ yrs

1,600+

4–7+ yrs

350–620

Private Equity/Direct Investment

15–20+ yrs

1,300–1,800

Manufacturing/Operations Chief Operations Officer

9+ yrs

Structured/Project Finance

Analyst

1–3 yrs

500–900

Associate

3–6 yrs

900–1,400

Director/Vice President

15+ yrs

900–1,500

Vice President

6–9 yrs

1,300–2,000

Plant/Factory Manager

10–12+ yrs

610–1,100

Director

9+ yrs

1,800+

Production/Assembly Manager

7–10+ yrs

500–720

Analyst

1–3 yrs

450–800

Quality & Lean Manufacturing Quality Director/Vice President Quality Manager Continuous Improvement Director

15+ yrs

1,000–1,500

Associate

3–6 yrs

750–1,400

6–10+ yrs

510–1,000

Vice President

6–9 yrs

1,000–1,800

Director

9+ yrs

1,600+

Analyst

1–3 yrs

300–600

Associate

3–6 yrs

500–800

Vice President

6–9 yrs

900–1,400

Director

9+ yrs

1,500+

15+ yrs

900–1,200

6–10+ yrs

500–820

Project/Program Director

8–15+ yrs

810–1,000

Project/Program Manager

5–8+ yrs

410–820

Six Sigma Leader

Portfolio & Fund Management

Projects

COMMERCE & INDUSTRY (FINANCE) Finance & Accounting

Market Risk Management

Credit Risk

Assistant Accountant (Part Qualified/Qualified)

2–5 yrs

220–320

Analyst

1–3 yrs

300–600

Accountant (Part Qualified/Qualified)

3–7 yrs

320–440

Associate

3–6 yrs

500–800

Financial Analyst/Business Analyst

3–8 yrs

320–520

Vice President

6–9 yrs

900–1,400

Senior Accountant (Qualified)

5–10 yrs

420–580

Director

9+ yrs

1,500+

Senior Financial Analyst

5–10 yrs

470–670

Quantatative Analysis

Country Finance Manager

8+ yrs

620–870

Analyst

1–3 yrs

300–600

Regional Finance Manager

10+ yrs

720–930

Associate

3–6 yrs

500–800

Financial Planning & Analysis Manager

10+ yrs

720–930

Vice President

6–9 yrs

900–1,400

Regional Business Unit Controller

12+ yrs

840–1,200

Director

9+ yrs

1,500+

Plant Controller

12+ yrs

840–1,300

Transaction Banking Relationship Manager

Country Financial Controller

12+ yrs

840–1,000

Analyst

1–3 yrs

300–400

Regional Financial Controller

15+ yrs

950–1,200

Associate

3–6 yrs

400–700

Country Financial Director

15+ yrs

950–1,300

Vice President

6–9 yrs

800–1,400

Head of Financial Planning & Analysis

12+ yrs

980–1,500

Director

9+ yrs

1,200+

Group Financial Controller (Listed Group)

15+ yrs

1,000–1,500

Corporate/Transaction Banking (Product)

Head of Mergers & Acquisitions

12+ yrs

1,000–2,000

Analyst

1–3 yrs

300–550

Regional Finance Director

15+ yrs

1,200–2,200

Associate

3–6 yrs

500–650

Chief Financial Officer (Established Company)

18+ yrs

1,800–3,000+

Vice President

6–9 yrs

600–1,000

GLOBAL MARKET/FRONT OFFICE (FINANCIAL SERVICES)

Director

9+ yrs

900+

Investment Research (Equity & Fixed Income)

Institutional & Retail Sales (Buyside) Vice President

6–9 yrs

600–1,000

Director

9+ yrs

900+

Experience

HK$ ‘000 plus bonus*

Entry-level

140–260

0–3 yrs

180–420

Analyst

1–3 yrs

450–800

Associate

3–6 yrs

750–1,200

Vice President

6–9 yrs

1,200–1,800

Director

9+ yrs

1,600+

LEGAL SUPPORT ROLES Role

Investment Banking/Corporate Finance Analyst

1–3 yrs

500–900

Associate

3–6 yrs

900–1,400

Vice President

6–9 yrs

1,300–2,000

32 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

Paralegals & Legal Support Roles – Private Practice Law Clerk (eg litigation & conveyancing) Paralegal


SALARY SURVEY 2012 Senior Paralegal Translator

Librarian

Role

4–7 yrs

360–600

8+ yrs

600+

Entry-level 1–5 yrs

10–15 yrs

400–600

Company Secretarial Manager

15+ yrs

500–800

132–180

Company Secretary

20+ yrs

800–1,400+

156–360

PROPERTY & CONSTRUCTION Experience

HK$ ‘000

5–10+ yrs

300–780+

Role

Entry-level

132–180

Consultancy

1–5 yrs

156–420

Project Director

15+ yrs

1,200+

5–10+ yrs

300–600+

Senior Project Manager

10+ yrs

800–1,000

Project Manager

7–10 yrs

620–800

Project Manager

5–7 yrs

370–620

Project Engineer

3–5 yrs

250–310

Experience

HK$ ‘000

Paralegals – In-house Financial Services Paralegal

0–5 yrs

216–480

Contracts Administrator/Quantity Surveyor

3–7 yrs

310–490

6–10 yrs

420–720

Senior Contracts Manager

5–7 yrs

460–680

11–15 yrs

600–840

Design Manager

5–7 yrs

490–740

15+

960+

Operations Manager/Construction Manager

5–7 yrs

430–800

Senior Leasing Manager

7–10 yrs

560–740

0–5 yrs

180–432

Leasing Manager

5–7 yrs

370–560

Paralegals – In-house Corporate Legal Assistant/Executive/Officer

Assistant Company Secretarial Manager

Legal Assistant/Executive/Officer

6–10 yrs

360–600

Leasing Associate

3–5 yrs

310–430

Legal Officer/Manager

11–15 yrs

480–720

Senior Property Manager

10+ yrs

740–1,100

15+ yrs

540+

Property Manager

7–10 yrs

560–930

Property Manager

5–7 yrs

370–560

3–5 yrs

250–370

Legal Manager Legal Secretaries – Private Practice & In-house Junior Legal Secretary

1–3 yrs

130–264

Property Officer

Legal Secretary

4–8 yrs

240–360

Corporate Real Estate

Senior Legal Secretary

9–14 yrs

336–420

Regional Head of Corporate Real Estate

10+ yrs

1,600–2,500

Partner Secretary

12+ yrs

420+

Country Head of Real Estate

10+ yrs

1,000–1,400

Legal Support Manager

7+ yrs

600–840

Regional Head of Facilities

10+ yrs

860–1,500

Country Head of Facilities

7–10 yrs

740–1,000

Experience

HK$ ‘000 plus bonus*

Facilities Manager

3–7 yrs

540–570

Regional Head of Engineering

10+ yrs

1,000–1,700

Chief Engineer

7–10 yrs

620–800

CORPORATE SECRETARIES Role

Private Practice Entry-level

120–190

Building Services Engineer

3–7 yrs

400–560

1–3 yrs

180–260

Regional Head of Projects/Design

10+ yrs

1,000–1,600

Senior Company Secretarial Assistant

4–6 yrs

220–310

Project Director

7–10 yrs

800–1,100

Company Secretarial Supervisor I/II

7–10 yrs

300–420

Project Manager

5–7 yrs

430–800

Company Secretary Manager

10+ yrs

400–650+

Regional Head of Strategy/Transactions

10+ yrs

1,200–1,600

Leasing Manager

7–10 yrs

800–1,000

Clerk (Search & Filing) Company Secretarial Assistant

In-House Company Secretarial Assistant

1–3 yrs

180–260

Leasing Associate

5–7 yrs

430–800

Company Secretarial Officer

3–6 yrs

220–310

Regional Head of Security

10+ yrs

1,000–1,600

Senior Company Secretarial Officer

6–8 yrs

310–420

Country Head of Security

7–10 yrs

740–1,000

Assistant Company Secretarial Manager

8–10 yrs

380–480

Developer

10–12+ yrs

500–900

Head of Development

15+ yrs

1,500–2,600

12+ yrs

600–1,000+ (may have options entitlement)

Head of Development

10+ yrs

1,200–1,500

Project Director

20+ yrs

1,500+

Senior Project Manager

15+ yrs

1,200–1,500

Project Manager

10+ yrs

860–1,200

Project Manager

7–10 yrs

740–930

Project Manager

5–7 yrs

550–740

Company Secretarial Manager Company Secretary

Named Company Secretary

15+ yrs

1,000–1,800 (may have options entitlement)

Financial Services Company Secretarial Assistant

1–3 yrs

180–280

Project Engineer

3–5 yrs

370–560

Company Secretarial Officer

4–7 yrs

280–320

Contracts Administrator/Quantity Surveyor

3–5 yrs

370–500

Senior Company Secretarial Officer

7–10 yrs

300–420

Senior Contracts Manager

5–7 yrs

490–740

HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 33


SALARY SURVEY 2012 Contracts Manager

7–10 yrs

740–1,000

General Manager

Design Manager

5–7 yrs

560–740

Media/Entertainment

12+ yrs

1,400–1,900+

Senior Design Manager

7–10 yrs

740–930

Operations/Construction Manager

5–7 yrs

490–930

Assistant Sales Manager

2–4 yrs

480 – 600

Assistant Marketing Manager

2–4 yrs

480–600

Operations/Construction Supervisor

3–5 yrs

Senior Leasing Manager

7–10 yrs

370–500

Circulation/Direct Marketing Manager

4–6 yrs

520–730

590–930

Online Marketing Manager

4–8 yrs

480–780

Leasing Manager Property Director

5–7 yrs

30–590

Event Manager

4–8 yrs

480–780

15+ yrs

990–1,200

Marketing Manager

4–6 yrs

540–840

Senior Property Manager

10+ yrs

800–990

Sales/Business Development Manager

4–6 yrs

620–900

Property Manager

7–10 yrs

590–990

Advertising/Media Sales Manager

4–8 yrs

620–900

Property Manager

5–7 yrs

430–590

Circulation/Marketing Director

7–11 yrs

720–960

Property Officer

3–5 yrs

310–430

Sales/Business Development Director

8+ yrs

780–1,200

SALES, MARKETING & RETAIL

Advertising/Media Sales Director

8–12 yrs

780–1,200

Manufacturing/Industrial

Marketing Director

6–10 yrs

780–1,100

10+ yrs

1,300+

Sales Engineer/Senior Sales Engineer

3–5 yrs

280–400

General Manager

Marketing Specialist

3–5 yrs

240–420

Advertising

Product Marketing Manager

4–8 yrs

330–660

Account Manager

5–8 yrs

360–540

Marketing Manager

5–8 yrs

420–720

Account Director

8–10 yrs

480–720

Sales Manager/Business Development Manager

6–8 yrs

420–720

Group Account Director

10–12 yrs

660–900

General Manager/Director

12+ yrs

1,000–1,600

Business Director

10–15 yrs

930–1,200

Managing Director/General Manager

5+ yrs

1,200+

Retail Operations & Store Management Visual Merchandiser/Senior Merchandiser

3–5 yrs

200–350

PR Agencies

Visual Merchandising Manager

5–7 yrs

400–700

Account Manager

5–8 yrs

360–540

Sales Supervisor/Assistant Manager

3–5 yrs

250–320

Account Director

8–10 yrs

480–720

Store Manager

3+ yrs

320–650

Director

10+ yrs

660–1,000

Retail Operations Manager

7+ yrs

450–600

Executive Director

10–15 yrs

900–1,200

Country General Manager

8+ yrs

850–1,200

Managing Director/General Manager

15+ yrs

1,200+

Regional Retail Operations Manager

8+ yrs

550–750

IT & Telecommunications

Regional General Manager

10+ yrs

1,200+

Assistant Marketing Comm. Manager

3–5 yrs

360–540

Channel Account Mngr./Account Mngr.

3–5 yrs

420–660

Merchandiser/Buyer

2–5 yrs

200–300

Senior Product Manager

5–8 yrs

480–720

Senior Buyer/Assistant Manager

3–6 yrs

300–400

Comm. Mngr./Public Relations Mngr.

5–8 yrs

540–900

Manager

6–8 yrs

400–650

Marketing Manager

6–8 yrs

540–900

General/Divisional Manager

8–10 yrs

650–950

Sales Manager/Global Account Director

6–12 yrs

600–1,200

Director/Vice President

10+ yrs

950–2,000

Sales & Marketing Manager

8–11 yrs

600–1,400

Public Relations Director

9+ yrs

1,000–1,400

Assistant Brand Manager/Assistant Product Mngr.

2–3 yrs

300–400

Marketing Director

10+ yrs

1,200–1,600

Brand Manager/Product Mngr.

3–4 yrs

380–520

Managing Director/General Manager

12+ yrs

1,500+

Senior Brand Manager/Senior Product Mngr.

4–6 yrs

520–730

Business Development Director

12+ yrs

1,000–1,800

Assistant Key Account Manager

1–3 yrs

300–450

Financial Services

Key Account Manager

3–6 yrs

400–650

Event Planner

2–5 yrs

300–480

Public Relations Manager

6–8 yrs

520–830

Philanthropy/Corporate Social Responsibility

4–8 yrs

500–900

Trade Marketing Manager

4–6 yrs

450–700

Internal Communications Manager

6–8 yrs

520–900

Marketing Manager

6–8 yrs

620–830

Event Manager

6–8 yrs

600–900

Mngr. –Research, Product Development & Planning

6–10 yrs

720–930

Media Relations Manager

6–8 yrs

600–840

Business Manager

7–10 yrs

820–1,000

Product Development Manager

3–6 yrs

480–660

General Sales Manager

7–10 yrs

820–1,000

Marketing Communications Manager

4–9 yrs

520–930

Public Relations Director

8–12 yrs

820–1,000

Market Research Manager

4–8 yrs

570–930

Marketing Director

8–12 yrs

930–1,400

Internal Communications Director

10+ yrs

900+

Sales Director

10+ yrs

1,000–1,400+

Market Research Director

10+ yrs

900+

Buying & Merchandising

Consumer Products

34 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012


SALARY SURVEY 2012 PR/Corporate Communications Manager

4–8 yrs

720–1,000

Business Analyst

3–5 yrs

400–600

Corporate Sales Manager

5–8 yrs

830–1,400

Senior Business Analyst

5–8 yrs

600–700

Marketing Communications Director

10+ yrs

840–1,500

IT Manager

8–12 yrs

660–840

Head of Events

10+ yrs

1,000+

IT Manager

12–15 yrs

840–1,200

Media Relations Director

10+ yrs

1,000+

IT Director

15+ yrs

1,200+

Product Development Director

10+ yrs

1,200+

Chief Information Officer

15+ yrs

1,300+

PR/Corporate Communications Director

8–12 yrs

900–1,300

Support/Administration 1st Level Helpdesk Analyst

1–3 yrs

150–264

Professional Services Marketing Executive

3–5 yrs

310–520

1st Level Helpdesk Analyst

3–5 yrs

264–300

Business Development Executive

3–5 yrs

310–520

2nd Level Desktop Support Analyst

1–3 yrs

250–320

Marketing Manager

6–8 yrs

660–780

2nd Level Desktop Support Analyst

3–5 yrs

320–420

Media Communications Manager

6–8 yrs

660–780

3rd Level Support Analyst

5–8 yrs

450–540

Research Manager

6–8 yrs

620–830

Unix Administrator

3–6 yrs

360–540

Business Development Manager

6–8 yrs

620–880

Network Administrator

3–6 yrs

360–540

Marketing Director

10+ yrs

1,100+

Helpdesk Manager

8–12 yrs

600–840

Business Development Director

10+ yrs

1,100+

Service Centre Manager

12+ yrs

840–1,000+

COMMERCE

BANKING & FINANCIAL SERVICES (TECHNOLOGY)

Development, Design & Architecture

Development, Design & Architecture

Programmer

1–3 yrs

180–264

Analyst Programmer

1–3 yrs

240–360

Analyst Programmer

3–5 yrs

264–360

Analyst Programmer

3–5 yrs

360–540

Systems Analyst

5–8 yrs

360–480

Lead Analyst Programmer

5–8 yrs

540–850

Applications, Solutions, Systems, Data

8–12 yrs

480–800

Applications, Solutions, Systems, Data

8–12 yrs

850–1,000

Enterprise Architect

12+ yrs

800–1,200+

Enterprise Architect

12+ yrs

1,000–1,400+

Application Development Manager

12+ yrs

720–1,000+

Application Development Manager

12+ yrs

850–1,300+

Testing

Database Management

QA Engineer

1–3 yrs

216–300

Database Administrator

1–3 yrs

360–480

Test Analyst

3–5 yrs

300–456

Database Administrator

3–5 yrs

480–600

Team Lead – Testing

5–8 yrs

456–600

Senior Database Administrator/Data Analyst

5–8 yrs

600–780

Test Manager

8+ yrs

600–840+

Data Warehousing/Modelling Specialist

5–8 yrs

650–780

Data Architect

8+ yrs

780–900+

1–3 yrs

216–264

Infrastructure/Network

Database Administrator

3–5 yrs

264–360

Network Support – 1st/2nd Level

1–3 yrs

240–360

Senior Database Administrator/Data Analyst

5–8 yrs

360–540

Network Support – 1st/2nd Level

3–5 yrs

360–500

Data Warehousing/Modelling Specialist

5–8 yrs

540–720

Network Engineer

5–8 yrs

500–700

Data Architect

8+ yrs

720–900+

Network Architect

8–10+ yrs

700–1,000+

Security Analyst/Consultant

3–5 yrs

450–600

Network Support – 1st/2nd level

1–3 yrs

180–264

Security Analyst/Consultant

5–8 yrs

600–800

Network Support – 1st/2nd level

3–5 yrs

264–360

Security Manager

8+ yrs

800–1,000+

Network Engineer

5–8 yrs

360–540

Infrastructure Manager

8–12 yrs

700–1,000

Network Architect

8–10+ yrs

540–900+

Senior Infrastructure Manager

12+ yrs

1,000–1,200+

Security Analyst/Consultant

3–5 yrs

360–540

Project Coordinator

1–6 yrs

300–540

Security Analyst/Consultant

5–8 yrs

540–720

Project Manager

6–10 yrs

700–1,000

Security Manager

8+ yrs

720–900+

Senior Project Manager

10–15 yrs

1,000–1,300

Infrastructure Manager

8–12 yrs

660–900

Project Director

15+ yrs

1,300–1,500+

Senior Infrastructure Manager

12+ yrs

900–1,100+

Business Analyst

3–5 yrs

480–700

Senior Business Analyst

5–8 yrs

700–1,000

Database Management Database Administrator

Infrastructure/Network

Project & General Management Project Coordinator

1–6 yrs

180–420

IT Manager

8–12 yrs

700–900

Project Manager

6–10 yrs

600–800

IT Manager

12–15 yrs

900–1,300

Senior Project Manager

10–15 yrs

800–920

IT Director

15+ yrs

1,300+

Project Director

15+ yrs

920–1,100+

Chief Information Officer

15+ yrs

1,500+

Source: Salary & Employment Forecast, Michael Page International

HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 35


legal briefing

Hong Kong imposes first revocation of IPO sponsor’s licence SFC’s action to Mega Capital signifies the regulating body’s expectations of sponsors’ due diligence work and the consequence of failing to meet them.

What are the facts? April 22, 2012 marked a historical ruling in Hong Kong when the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) revoked the licence of Mega Capital (Asia) to advise on corporate finance and fined it HK$42 million for failing to discharge its duties as a sponsor in the listing of Hontex International. Not only was this the largest fine ever handed down by the SFC but also the first time a sponsor’s licence has been revoked. Hontex was listed on the Main Board of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on December 2009, but shares were suspended from trading just over three months after listing amid allegations of disclosing materially false or misleading information in its prospectus. What are the findings of SFC against Mega Capital? According to Herbert Smith partner Mark Johnson, SFC found Mega Capital a failure in five areas. First, the Group failed to conduct adequate and standard due diligence work. SFC found that material information such as transaction figures with the Group was missing from the questionnaires that suppliers and customers filled in during due diligence, but Mega Capital failed to follow up on the missing information. Moreover, it rushed certain telephone interviews with suppliers and customers on the day that the listing application was filed. Finally, it did not verify franchisees’ information provided by Hontex, or obtain transaction records between franchisees and the Group. Secondly, the group failed to act independently and impartially. SFC found that Mega Capital agreed to Hontex’s request not to approach the Group’s customers, suppliers, and franchisees directly, and instead conducted all the relevant interviews, which Hontex arranged, in the presence of Hontex’s representatives. Mega Capital also accepted at face value and without question Hontex’s claim that some of the customers and suppliers refused to have face-to-face interviews with Mega Capital. It then attended Hontex-arranged telephone interviews with those customers and suppliers. Mega Capital also obtained through Hontex written confirmations from franchisees confirming that they were independent from Hontex. Third, SFC found that the Group failed to perform adequate due diligence audit trail. There were no records to prove what background or other searches Mega Capital had conducted on the Group’s customers, suppliers, and franchisees. Fourth, SFC found that Mega Capital faild to conduct adequate supervision of staff. Most of the due diligence work was handled by junior and inexperienced staff, 36 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

Chan Freeman

without adequate supervision. Further, Mega Capital’s responsible officers who were the sponsor principals for the IPO denied that they were responsible for the listing application. Finally, SFC found that Mega Capital breached its sponsor’s undertaking to ensure that all the information provided to the SEHK during the listing process, including the information in the prospectus, was true in all material respects and did not omit any material information. What does the ruling signify? Johnson noted that the revocation of Mega Capital’s licence is a “clear” signal that the regulating body has sponsors’ responsibilities high on its regulatory agenda.

Mark Johnson

“We can expect greater regulatory scrutiny of sponsors and the integrity of the listing process going forward.” This disciplinary action, he added, also precedes a widely-anticipated SFC consultation on tightening sponsors’ liability which is expected to commence shortly, and a hearing scheduled for June 4 at which the SFC will ask the court for an order to require Hontex to return its IPO proceeds to the relevant investors. “In light of these developments, we can expect greater regulatory scrutiny of sponsors and the integrity of the listing process going forward. Financial institutions which undertake sponsorship work should examine/revisit relevant systems, controls, and supervision covering such work, in particular due diligence work,” he said. Cleary Gotlieb Steen & Hamilton partner Freeman Chan shared the same view, adding that the ruling confirms the SFC’s determination to continue along a path and is perhaps evidence that the SFC has now given sponsors enough time to prepare themselves for the regulatory environment ahead. “The SFC already has wide powers to fine sponsors and their licensed representatives, and may also suspend or revoke their licences effectively forcing them out of the industry. It is also widely acknowledged that listing standards in Hong Kong are strict, even by international standard. But given the HKSE’s position as the world’s largest IPO market for a third year running in 2011, its inherent weighting towards Chinese-related businesses and the recent adverse publicity (not just in Hong Kong but globally) involving Chinese issuers, it is perhaps no real surprise to see the SFC broadcasting the message to IPO sponsors in no uncertain terms,” he said.


Co-published corporate profile

The Charterhouse Causeway Bay accredited as a Manpower Developer The Charterhouse Causeway Bay Hotel’s corporate culture of prioritizing manpower training and development receives recognition from the Employees Retraining Board.

Miss Angel Lau, Senior Business Development Manager of ERB, Mr Tony Wong, Executive Assistant Manager and Mr. Bernard Rodrigues, General Manager of The Charterhouse Causeway Bay Mr. Bernard Rodrigues, General Manager of The Charterhouse Causeway Bay (left), receiving the “ERB Manpower Developer Award” from Mr. Matthew Cheung, GBS, JP, Secretary for Labor and Welfare (right).

L

ocated between two major business and shopping districts, The Charterhouse Causeway Bay Hotel is one of the most preferred hotels in Hong Kong. It sits at an ideal distance from Causeway Bay and Wanchai which makes the Times Square, Causeway Bay subway station and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre just a few minutes away. Business areas such as Central, Admiralty and Quarry Bay are easily accessible as well. The Charterhouse Causeway Bay in Hong Kong prides itself as a Member of the Great Hotels of the World, an online booking assistance provider that offers global hotel reservation, sales and marketing services for an exclusive portfolio of primarily independent hotels and resorts worldwide. The Charterhouse as an MD. But apart from a wide range of facilities and great amenities, The Charterhouse is also home to competent and knowledge-

able employees. Through collaborations with credible training institutions, management executes different initiatives for staff training and development in keeping with the hotel philosophy, “The people make the difference. And in recognition of its outstanding performance in manpower training and development, The Charterhouse has been awarded the “Manpower Developer Award” by the Employees Retraining Board (ERB). The ERB’s Manpower Developer Award Scheme recognizes organizations’ outstanding accomplishments in manpower development in accordance with a set of objective and stringent assessment criteria established by a professional

“At the end of the day it’s about the internal branding that is as important as the external branding we pursue.”

consultant. It was launched in December 2009 and has since awarded a total of 192 public and private organisations (28 of which are SMEs) from 30 industries. It is the first and only award scheme to assess the level of maturity of manpower training and development strategies and practices of organizations in Hong Kong. Mr. Bernard Rodrigues, General Manager of The Charterhouse Causeway Bay, reckons that this recognition shows their efforts in enhancing their employees’ competency and building a better corporate culture. “At the end of the day it’s about the internal branding that is as important as the external branding we pursue. And by creating a culture of learning and development - one of the attributes of the internal brand-building exercise - we hope to achieve a sustainable workforce.” he said.

The Charterhouse Causeway Bay 209-219 Wanchai Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong +852 2833 5566 www.charterhouse.com HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 37


OPINION

zarathustra

China staggers more than what record show

by ZARATHUSTRA www.alsosprachanalyst.com

A

nyone who has the experience in working with Chinese economic data would be frustrated by the ways data are presented to us and the inconsistency that comes with it. Not to mention that some of the data simply makes no sense to a point that we don’t quite understand why the National Bureau of Statistics and other government agencies are producing those garbage. For instance, we never quite believe the nonperforming loans ratios in China as reported by the officials. Likewise, the GDP figures are always questioned to a point that we have to resort to something else like electricity output and consumption (and we don’t know if these are reliable either). Even the closely watched Chinese manufacturing PMI is showing a spectacular divergence from the actual industrial production to a point that one can declare that China’s official PMI is totally useless. And among the more usual complaints is the fact that inflation in China as experienced by the people seems to be invariably higher than the official numbers (but then, this happens everywhere isn’t it?). Not to mention that we don’t even have any reliable indicators of real estate prices that are freely available. Extraordinary measures The problems with Chinese data have led us to resort to something else, stuff that we normally wouldn’t call “evidence”: walking around the cities and taking pictures, looking at anecdotal evidence, or talking to local people (which many of us would loathe). Observing windows without lights in the evening has been one of the tools that I and many others have been

And fair enough: you cannot possibly visit all the cities in China that have flats without lights and empty shopping malls in a day.

Looking beyond the records But the truth is that it is important to look beyond the data produced by the National Bureau of Statistics in order to get a better picture of the Chinese economy. And the clues I have been collecting are very clear: that the real estate bubble is very serious, and it is going to be very bad for economy when it bursts, and “The real estate bubble is very serious, and it is going the that is not what data alone can tell to be very bad for the economy when it bursts, and you. Reuters has an excellent video that is not what data alone can tell you.” following of Nicholas Zhu of ANZ Bank walking around and taking using as an indication of vacancies in the real pictures of some ridiculously large empty estate market (or in other words, over-building. warehouses, huge metals inventory and many Visiting empty properties, construction sites, others, suggesting that the Chinese economy is or shopping malls are some of the other ways slowing more than the data is suggesting (as if to know what is happening. the data are not disastrous enough). 38 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

What’s the real deal in China?


analysis: CHINESE MANUFACTURING

Lies, damn lies, and Chinese statistics Divergence between China’s manufacturing PMI leaves investors baffled.

I

t’s hard to believe a lot of the statistics coming out of China, but that may not be because officials are fudging the figures. New research from Fitch, suggests that the difference in figures may have to do with whether the figures are based on official results which mainly measure state owned enterprises, or from private surveys which primarily rely on privately owned companies. A case in point is the all-important purchasing manager’s index, or PMI, which measures whether managers of inventory are purchasing more or less goods for their manufacturing operations. A number greater than 50 represents an increase, and hence an expansion in manufacturing, whilst a number below 50 means factories are slowing down and hence, manufacturing is contracting. Given that manufacturing represents a sizeable proportion of China’s economy, and a very large part of its exports, the manufacturing PMI is very important. And here, it has often been the case that the official government index is reporting growth whilst a private index, in this case compiled by HSBC, suggests a contraction.

“For nine out of the last 10 months HSBC has shown a contracting economy, whereas the government figure has remained above the important 50-level”

Credit differences This divergence between two versions of China’s manufacturing PMI is baffling investors about the current state and outlook for corporates in China. Fitch believes the difference may be explained by tighter credit conditions facing China’s private sector companies in contrast to the state-owned entities. For example, according to the official government index of China’s Manufacturing PMI, manufacturing activity continued to expand in April with the index reaching a 13-month high of 53.3 from 53.1 in March. However, the HSBC index remained below 50, which signals a contraction

at 49.3 in April, although this was an improvement from 48.3 in March. For nine out of the last 10 months HSBC has shown a contracting economy, whereas the government figure has remained above the important 50-level, only dipping below in November 2011 but then expanding again in the last five months. Fitch notes the official PMI figure reflects positive returns from large state-owned enterprises in particular, whereas the HSBC index covers only private sector entities excluding the large number of public sector entities. The divergence of the indicators may reflect differential ease of access to credit, with the contracting HSBC index representing the tighter credit conditions for private companies whereas the expanding official index reflects China’s large state-owned entities, which enjoy support for growth and expansion and have easier access to funding. So which figure is a more reliable gauge of the health of China’s manufacturing economy? The HSBC figure of China’s PMI looks to be more in line with South Korea’s 4.7% yoy fall in exports in April, which marked its second consecutive monthly drop. Korean government officials explained that a slowing Chinese economy along with Europe’s deepening recession and the weaker Japanese yen all currently pose downside risks for Korean exports. Fitch reckons that the divergent indices reflect the conditions prevailing for many private sector entities in the current economic climate in China, compared to those conditions for the many state-sponsored entities. This is perhaps not surprising from a credit perspective when considering a centrally directed economy trying to integrate a growing capitalist business sector.

Manufacturing PMI is forecast to fall in May NBS PMI

60

HSBC/Markit PMI

60

NBS PMI

HSBC/Markit PMI

55

55 50

50 45 Forecast

45 40 35 May-06

Forecast 40 May-07

May-08

Source: CEIC, Barclays Source: CEIC, Barclays ResearchResearch

May-09

May-10

May-11

May-12

35 May-06 May-07 May-08 May-09 May-10 May-11 May-12

Source: CEIC, Barclays Research

HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 39


economic insight

Asia’s hypersensitive inflation Economists explain why the region’s headline inflation rates are particularly reactive to local food and energy price changes.

W

hile the world is focused on growth, HSBC economist Frederic Neumann is more worried over inflation. As price pressures remain elevated despite the economic slowdown, Neumann is convinced that for a given growth rate, inflation is nowadays higher and for a given pick-up in growth, inflation now rises even more sharply than before. And if we’re talking about inflation, food and energy matters are undoubtedly inevitable as they comprise a big chunk of local CPI basket. According to DBS chief economist Dave Carbon, perhaps around 85% of Asia’s headline inflation has been driven by food prices. “This is very different from the US and Europe, where inflation has been driven mainly by oil and gasoline prices,” says Carbon. In China’s case alone, food makes up 40 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

“Around 85% of Asia’s headline inflation has been driven by food prices”

a third of the CPI, notes Alaistair Chan, an economist from Moody’s Analytics. “Food makes up a bigger portion of household budgets, so they are deeply affected by higher food and energy prices.” According to Shikha Jha, a principal economist at Asian Development Bank, energy and food price increases affect consumer price indexes directly through their large share in consumption baskets, but also indirectly by raising production costs of goods that use commodities and food as inputs. Jha notes that across subregions, higher food and fuel prices drove up inflation in developing Asia to 5.9% in 2011 from 4.4% in 2010. In Central Asia, South Asia, and the Pacific, average inflation rates reached around 9% in 2011 while it was more moderate in East and Southeast Asia, where inflation continued to be contained at

around 5%. “Among the five subregions, though still at a relatively higher level at 9.4%, South Asia was the only subregion that managed to avoid the hike last year. This was due to India’s sustained monetary tightening (at a cost to economic growth) to combat persistent high inflation, which damped inflation from 9.6% in 2010 to 9% 2011 and managed to offset the climb in Maldives and Pakistan,” adds Jha. Sensitivity of inflation Neumann explores the sensitivity of headline inflation to changes in global and local food and energy prices. But global and local increases in food and energy costs are differentiated as Neumann notes that global food prices might be well-behaved while a local crop failure pushes up domestic prices. “Similarly, a change in


economic insight global oil prices may have little impact on local headline inflation if, for example, extensive subsidies are in place. But a rise in local energy costs could have a major impact on headline CPI, even if global oil prices remain wellbehaved,” he adds. Across the region, local sensitivities to global price swings vary enormously, partly owing to subsidies and price controls, but also because the import share in consumption differs between countries, says Neumann. Jha concurs and notes that the sensitivity of one country to changes in global price swings varies across the region because of government price interventions in terms of subsidies and price controls and because of differences in the import share of consumer goods among countries. “Exchange rate movements may also interfere with the transmission of commodity shocks into domestic inflation.” Neumann argues that local food price changes matter most for headline inflation, although, surprisingly, in China and India global food price changes matter as well, even if the import content in local consumption is relatively low. According to Jha, higher local oil prices have both direct and indirect effects on consumer prices whereas higher local food prices have a more direct effect as oil is used both for final consumption and as a productive input while food is mostly consumed directly. She notes that an increase in oil prices will increase the cost of production because oil is a universal input needed in the production and transport of almost all goods and services. “On the

other hand, as food accounts for a substantial part of the consumption basket in developing countries, an increase in food prices has a sizable impact on the overall consumer price level.” Local price swings and inflation So to which does headline inflation react most sensitively to - local or global price swings? According to Neumann, headline inflation reacts most sensitively to local food price changes in all countries. Alicia Garcia-Herrero, chief economist for emerging markets from BBVA, reckons that since food items are usually produced locally, global food inflation has relatively limited impact on Asia’s inflation. “Energy prices, particularly oil prices, have a major impact on Asia’s headline inflation. Most Asian countries are net energy/oil import countries. Energy prices affect domestic transportation costs and push up production costs for both food and nonfood intermediate and final products,” she adds. According to BBVA estimations, Herrero notes that a 10% hike in global oil prices may increase India’s headline inflation by 0.5 percentage points, China by 0.2 percentage points, and Indonesia by 0.25 percentage points. On the other hand, Neumann reveals that for a 1 percentage point rise in food or energy prices, whether global or local, headline inflation reacts in different ways in various countries. “Local energy price changes contribute significantly to headline inflation as well, but note that in China, the effect of global food price swings is more important than changes in

Impact on y-o-y headline inflation of a 1ppt increase in local food, local energy, global food, and oil

local energy prices. Pass-through from local energy-price inflation to headline inflation is largest in India, followed closely by the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, and Singapore,” he adds. Jha notes, however, that the speed and size of this passthrough into other prices and wages vary across countries and sectors of the economy. She also notes that the correlation between headline and core inflation is high for many Asian countries. As Jha puts it: “According to the Regional Economic Outlook of April 2011 from the International Monetary Fund, a 1 percentage point increase in local food and energy prices induces on average an increase of core inflation by 0.2 percentage points in emerging Asia, but only about half that amount in Japan or Australia. This high correlation suggests that the pass-through is fast.” However, these coefficients can be misleading, warns Neumann, as there is a significant difference in the underlying volatility of these variables. But then again, after adjusting for volatility, local food prices still remain a major inflation driver in China, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, and Singapore. The inflation impulse from rising local food prices tend to fade usually in less than three months. But the impact of higher global food prices on local inflation tends to persist for some time as it lingers for about six months. “On this basis alone, the inflationary impulse from the recent rise in commodity prices in the first quarter will likely linger a little longer,” concludes Neumann.

“Exchange rate movements may also interfere with the transmission of commodity shocks into domestic inflation”

Volatility-adjusted ppt impact on y-o-y headline inflation of a 1% increase in local food, local energy, global food, and oil

Chart 4. Impact on y-o-y headline inflation of a 1ppt increase in local food, local energy, global food, and oil

Chart 5: Volatility-adjusted ppt impact on y-o-y headline inflation of a 1% increase in local food, local energy, global food,

2.0

and oil



2.6



1.5



1.0

 

0.5



0.0

%*

CH*

HK*

IN* Local food

ID*

KR* Local energy

MA* Global food

PH* Oil

SG*

TA*

*-

+0

+&

.QE CNHQ QF

. QECN GPG TI[

-4

/ #

2 *

5)

6#

6 *

TH* ) NQD CNHQ QF

1 KNRTK EG

5QWTEG*5$% KPFKECVGUVJCVVJGEQGHHKEKGPVKUUKIPKHKECPVCVNGCUVCVNGXGN

 Source: HSBC. * Indicates that the coefficient is significant at least at 10% level.

Source: HSBC. * Indicates that the coefficient is significant at least at 10% level.

Source: HSBC. * Indicates that the coefficient is significant at least at 10% level.

HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 41


Regional EConOmy Briefing: INDONESIA Oil Price, Subsidy Bill, And Budget Deficit

What about Indonesia’s public debt?

Rethinking Indonesia’s energy subsidies Indonesia’s public debt has declined steadily in the past decade, but the country’s sizable energy subsidies still weigh on public finance.

According to Standard & Poor’s (S&P), Indonesia’s deficits averaged less than 1% of GDP per year even with a fairly low revenue intake of 18%. That is due to low deficits coupled with nominal GDP growth of 15%-20% which allowed the country to lower its public debt to an estimated 23.7% of GDP in 2011 from 74% in 2001. S&P notes, however, that this favorable fiscal trajectory has been much more vulnerable to Indonesia’s entrenched subsidy regime until recently. Subsidies in general are blamed for unpredictable budget outcomes and higher risk premiums on government funding. Blame it on subsidies According to S&P analyst Agost Benard, the lingering vulnerability was highlighted when the oil price assumption in the initial 2012 budget had to be revised to US$105 from US$90 and, with it, the energy subsidy amount to IDR225 trillion from IDR169 trillion or comprising just 2% of GDP. Even this larger subsidy bill, he says, would have entailed a 33% rise in fuel prices. Following parliament’s refusal to allow the fuel price adjustment, combined with the earlier abandonment of a planned 10% electricity tariff rise, the government now expects its energy subsidy to be close to IDR270 trillion, comprising 3.1% of GDP. This necessitates cuts in other areas -- most likely capital spending -- to keep the fiscal deficit below the legal cap of 3% GDP, says Benard. Moody’s Analytics echoes the same view, adding that 16% of the total expenditure of the government on the average has been spent on subsidies in the last 10 years. Whilst this has helped tame some inflation pressure, rising global oil and food prices have prompted the government to spend more to keep prices regulated. “The issue is that these funds could have been diverted to much-needed 42 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

IDR-- Indinesia rupiah. Source: Ministry of Finance and Bloomberg. © Standard & Poor’s 2012

infrastructure and capital development. The government is aware of this and had recently proposed to limit fuel subsidies, but threats of political backlash and widespread protest caused an about face,” said Fred Gibson, an analyst at Moody’s. Indonesian subsidy woes Fuel and electricity subsidies make up by far the largest part of Indonesia’s total subsidy bills at 73%. Over the past several years, the government has floated numerous initiatives and time frames for subsidy reforms, some calling for the complete elimination of fuel subsidies or a drastic reduction in their availability. Most of these initiatives however have not come to fruition, says S&P. “Recent history suggests that when global fuel prices and subsidy expenditures stay at levels that the government finds tolerable and do not threaten a fiscal deficit blowout above the legally mandated 3% of GDP, the urgency for finding a long-term solution to the subsidy problem dissipates,” noted S&P’s Benard. He adds that the problem is even made more complicated by fuel smuggling to neighboring countries where subsidies are either lower than Indonesia’s or nonexistent. Moody’s Gibson notes that Indonesia’s widespread corruption might also be part of the problem. Anecdotal evidence, he says, suggests that the public is aware that more needs to be spent on infrastructure but that many have little faith in the government’s ability to allocate funds appropriately. “Consequently, many feel that public funds should be aimed at reducing the growing cost of living instead of being siphoned by corrupt officials,” said Gibson. Subsidy bias According to Gibson, fuel subsidies tend to favour higher income earners given they consume more energy. Data from the World Bank, he says, show that the top 50% of income earners in Indonesia consume 84% of the subsidy. “From a welfare perspective, removing these subsidies could hurt the poor in the short run as a higher proportion of their incomes are spent on fuel, but the savings from removing the subsidies would free up funds for the government to spend on much-needed infrastructure, capital development, and welfare service, These could allow the government to better target those on lower income levels,” noted Gibson.


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OPINION

Patrick Chovanec China real estate unravels

by PATRICK CHOVANEC www.chovanec.wordpress.com

A

s a prelude to a broader analysis of China’s GDP, and the accuracy of its official GDP figures, I want to start by examining its national real estate statistics for the first four months of 2012. This discussion feeds into the broader GDP picture, but the property story that has been unfolding is important and interesting enough to be worth taking a close look at on its own. Complicated calculations Getting an accurate view of the property sector is complicated by the fact that neither the official price index, nor the Soufun price index, nor the average price/square meter that can be calculated from the investment numbers seem to track very well with each other or with point-of-sale impressions of steep developer discounts over the past eight months. Developers and local governments also enjoy a great deal of discretion in deciding what to count as a “start” or a “completion.” Monthly data releases are never revised, which often gives rise to huge corrections that are simply lumped into the end-year December data release, giving a distorted impression of how trends are unfolding (for instance, the 19% drop in property that started in December 2011 was probably not as sudden as it appears, and it more likely reflected an unreported decline spread over several preceding months). All that being said, I’m seeing some rather striking patterns in the data that tell us two main things: First, the market is not poised to recover, but will continue to see greater downward pressure on prices; and second, real estate investment is likely to flatten out or start falling, erasing several percentage points of GDP growth. Records vs reality Last month, many observers took comfort from reports that overall real estate investment in Q1 rose 23.5% compared to the same period the previous year. To be sure, this was a comedown from 2011, when property investment rose 27.9%, or from 2010, when it rose 33.2%. But it still seemed to reflect resilient growth: hardly a collapse in market, more like the kind of modest slowdown consistent with “soft landing.” Very few people paused to ask where this investment growth was actually coming from. After all, the market was clearly struggling. Year-on-year sales in Q1, for all real estate, was down

“The market is not poised to recover, but will continue to see greater downward pressure on prices” -14.6%. The decline was even steeper, -17.5%, in residential property, which accounts for about 80% of the market. Office sales were down -10.2%, while growth in “commercial” property sales, which saw a boom in 2011, decelerated to +10.5%. Although many people were touting a month-on-month sales recovery in March, compared to the Chinese New Year period, March sales were still down -7.8% from the year before, for the sector as a whole, and -9.7% for residential properties. 44 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

Examining China’s real estate stats

New property stalls Given this consistent fall-off in sales, it’s not surprising that new property starts began to stall. I already mentioned that the 19% drop in new starts in December may have been a bit of a statistical aberration. Starts, measured in floor space, in Jan-Feb were up 5.1%, although the gains came entirely from office and retail — housing starts were flat. But overall starts fell by -4.2% in March, with housing starts down -9.8%, ensuring that overall starts for Q1 were flat (+0.3%) with residential starts down -5.2%. Land sales for Q1 were also flat, with sales proceeds rising 2.5% but land area sold down -3.9%. In March, they were negative (-3.6% sales revenue, -8.5% area sold). Questionable growth So if sales were down, and starts were either flat or down, where was the 23.5% investment growth coming from? Developers, burdened by 70% leverage ratios and loans threatening to come due, were rushing to complete whatever projects were already in their pipeline, in order to put those units onto the market and raise cash. Completions (measured in floor space) were up 39.3% in Q1, compared to last year (residential completions were similarly up 40.0%). But, of course, those completed units weren’t selling like last year, so unsold inventories expanded. At the close of Q1, the total amount of floor space “for sale” was up 35.5%, compared to the same date last year, while the floor space of residential units “for sale” grew 47.4%. (That’s just the floor space that developers admitted as for sale. There are plenty of tricks they can use to hold units off the market, in order to massage the official data and avoid spooking buyers. At the end of 2011, total floor space “under construction” was roughly 4.6 times the floor space sold that year. Assuming it typically takes three years to build a unit, from start to finish, that suggests about a year and a half worth of excess inventory hidden somewhere in the pipeline. The ratio for residential property was 4.0, which suggests that, while there may be about a year’s worth of unsold inventory in the housing market, the overhang


in commercial real estate is even steeper. Although in absolute terms, it’s the housing overhang that matters). Prisoner’s dilemma China’s developers are playing out a kind of prisoner’s dilemma: rush to complete, in hopes of cashing out. But while supply keeps going up, demand is going down. In late March, a central bank (PBOC) survey reported that only 14.1% of Chinese consumers were looking to buy a house in Q2, the lowest level since 1999. Only 17.7% expected home prices to rise in Q2, and 62.9% said they still consider prices to be too high. So all those rushed completions only add to the glut which is already on the market, driving prices further down and giving buyers — investors and aspiring residents alike — all the more reasons to hold off for a better deal. Perhaps this is why Qin Hong, Deputy Head of Research for the Ministry of Housing and UrbanRural Development (MOHURD), told the Oriental Morning Post in late March that she doesn’t expect housing prices to rebound significantly for the rest of the year. A strong rebound is impossible, she said, due to the continued property tightening policy and high housing inventory. Non-resilient growth The second implication of the dynamic I’ve just described is that the “resilient” growth in real estate investment that seemed to promise a “soft landing” is not very resilient at all. It’s more like the last gasp of a market that’s running out of steam. Once the surge in completions plays out, the declining number of new starts will become the pipeline, and growth in property investment will flatten or go negative. Property investment accounts for roughly a quarter of gross Fixed Asset Investment (FAI), and net FAI accounts for over half of China’s GDP growth. As I noted in January, in a back-ofthe-envelope thought exercise, if property investment plateaus (growth falls to zero), it could shave as much as 2.6 percentage points off of real GDP growth. If it fell 10% (in real, not nominal terms) it could bring GDP growth down to 5.3%. Real-time repercussions At the time I first saw this dynamic in the data, when the Q1 numbers came out, I figured it would take several months to begin playing out. But the April numbers suggest it is already happening. In April, overall completions rose only 2.8% year-onyear (down from 39.3% in Q1), and housing completions flatlined at 0.8% (down from 40.0% in Q1). As completions petered out, growth in real estate investment decelerated markedly, to just 9.2%, with residential investment growing just 4.0%. Investment actually fell month-on-month, in absolute terms, by -10.7% overall and -9.5% in housing. It only grew year-on-year at all because of a low base set last April. If you plugged this year’s April versus last year’s May, you’d get a year-on-year drop of -9.1% for property investment overall, and -11.0% for housing. (In this context, it’s worth noting that, according to the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Statistics, overall property investment growth in the capital already went negative in January-February, for the first time in three years, dropping -4.6%). If there’s one bright side to the plateau in completions, it was that unsold inventories advanced less rapidly over the year before. Floor space “for sale” did rise in April, in absolute terms, but not by much. It’s important to remember, though, all the unsold inventory that remains held back and hidden in the pipeline, as noted before. Assessing April Meanwhile, the contraction in sales, new starts, and land sales deepened even further in April. Although the decline in sales

appeared to moderate slightly for the sector as a whole (-4.5%) and for housing (-2.9%), this was again largely due to a lower base effect from last April, when sales contracted month-onmonth by nearly RMB 100 billion. This year’s April sales also registered a significant month-on-month decline, by -17.2% for all property and -15.5% for housing. The more striking news, perhaps, is that commercial property sales, which have been much more resilient until now, also plunged, with office sales falling -23.4% year-on-year and -34.4% compared to March, and retail property sales falling -9.5% year-on-year and -22.7% month-on-month. April was the first month in which all three categories were in year-on-year decline. New starts in April fell -14.6% year-on-year and -27.0% month-on-month, for property as a whole. Housing starts fell -14.4% year-on-year and -23.4% month-on-month. Office and retail starts, which had remained quite strong through Q1, also plunged. Office starts fell -21.0% year-on-year in April, and -45.1% compared to March. Retail property starts fell -18.7% year-on-year, and -36.8% compared to March. (The year-onyear April comparisons for office and retail rely on a reverse calculation to isolate April 2011 figures, which NBS did not provide in its earlier releases). In short, the trendline in starts has dipped into negative double digits across all categories. Land sales bungee-jumped Land sales, meanwhile, fell off a cliff. Land sale revenues in April (RMB 27 billion) were down -54.7% compared to April last year (RMB 60 billion), and -47.0% compared to March (RMB 51 billion). Total area sold was down -52.5% compared to last April, and -43.4% compared to March (the year-on-year comparison here relies on a similar reverse calculation as before). It should be no surprise, then, that foreign investors are pulling back from China’s property sector. Foreign funding for property development was down -91.4% in March and -80.8% in April, compared to the same months last year. I think most readers will agree, this is pretty powerful stuff. At least one major sector of the Chinese economy (10-13% of GDP), which had been a leading growth driver, is undoubtedly in contraction. More importantly, the dynamics behind these numbers suggest that the market has not bottomed out, but is still in the process of unraveling. The Dynamics Driving China’s Real Estate Downturn (Prof. Patrick Chovanec, Tsinghua University, May 16, 2012)

Nominal rate of growth year-on-year, same period

2012

2010

2011

Property Sales (in RMB)

18.3%

12.1%

-14.6%

-11.8%

Residential only

14.4%

10.2%

-17.5%

-13.5%

Office

31.2%

16.1%

-10.2%

-14.0%

Retail

46.3%

23.7%

10.5%

1Q

YTD

Jan-Feb

Mar

Apr

-20.9%

-7.8%

-4.5%

-24.7%

-9.7%

-2.9%

-23.5%

5.9%

-23.4%

4.2%

17.2%

4.5%

-9.5%

Property sales are falling...

...leading to a deepening decline in new starts... Floor Space Started

40.7%

16.2%

0.3%

-4.2%

5.1%

-4.2%

-14.6%

n/a

12.9%

-5.2%

-7.9%

0.0%

-9.8%

-14.4%

Land Sales Revenues (in RMB)

65.9%

-1.9%

2.5%

-13.7%

5.8%

-3.6%

-54.7%

Total Land Area Sold

28.4%

2.6%

-3.9%

-19.3%

-0.5%

-8.5%

-52.5%

Residential only ... which is driving down land sales.

Financially pressed developers rushed to cash out whatever was already in their pipeline... Floor Space Completed

4.5%

13.3%

39.3%

30.2%

45.2%

32.4%

2.8%

Residential only

2.7%

13.0%

40.0%

30.1%

47.9%

31.4%

0.8%

... but in the face of slowing sales, this only added to the stock of unsold inventory. Floor Space “For Sale”

n/a

26.1%

n/a

n/a

39.4%

35.5%

33.4%

Residential only

n/a

35.8%

n/a

n/a

52.0%

47.4%

44.1%

As burst of completions peters out, and new starts drop, investment growth noticeably decelerates... Investment in Real Estate

33.2%

27.9%

23.5%

18.7%

27.8%

19.6%

9.2%

Residential only

32.9%

30.2%

19.0%

13.9%

23.2%

15.2%

4.0%

66.0%

2.9%

-22.4%

-42.9%

24.4%

-91.4%

-80.8%

... and foreign investors pull back Foreign Investment in Property Development

Source: Lorem IPSUM HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 45


ANALYSIS: cORPORATE LENDING

The Euro burns as Asia fiddles

Asian corporates have been on a debt-fuelled frenzy over the last few years with access to lots of cash at record-low interest rates. But that may be about to change.

T

he saying used to be that when America sneezes, the world gets a cold. But these days, it is the influenza infecting Europe’s banking system that could really start to affect Asia’s major corporates. The reason is that over the last decade, European banks have become the biggest lenders to Asia, outstripping the US. Data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) show that European banks have the largest presence among foreign banks in the Asia-Pacific region. Their total exposure was $841 billion in December 2011, which was about 4.3% of the total GDP of the Asia-Pacific region. Economic mayhem in the Eurozone, however, has led European banks to scale back their lending to Asia. And what has started as a flood of funds could well dwindle into a trickle if the crisis deepens. Data just released for the fourth quarter of 2011, the latest avail46 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

“European banks could cut their total assets by another EUR2 trillion, about 7% of their current holdings, by the end of 2013.”

able, shows another steep drop in European lending to Asia. Nearly USD100 billion was chopped off, with aggregate lending to emerging Asia now down to USD1.3 trillion. That still leaves total exposure at an impressive level, of course. The point, however, according to HSBC economist Frederic Neumann, is that even USD100 billion in lending reduction can put a real squeeze on Asian markets. Neumann noted that the markets already saw an acute dollar shortage occurring across the region in the fourth quarter: interbank rates rose, credit sold off and exchange rates came under pressure. He also reckons that in the first quarter, though data are not yet available, deleveraging from European banks likely slowed, but it didn’t stop the process entirely. In its latest Global Financial Stability Report, the IMF estimates that European banks could cut their total assets by another EUR2 trillion

(about 7% of their current holdings) by the end of 2013. Ritesh Maheshwari and Naoko Nemoto of Standard and Poor’s say that while Asia-Pacific financial markets have so far avoided a significant disruption from deleveraging by European banks in 2011 (because the regional banks have solid liquidity and European banks have limited exposure in local-currency denominated lending), the large cutbacks by European banks could significantly affect Asia-Pacific financial markets due to their sizable presence in specific areas and markets such as foreign-currency denominated loans. The financial markets in Asia have already sounded the alarm bells starting last year, said the S&P analysts, as a result of the European banks’ decision to apply stringent lending standards on overseas markets due to higher funding costs and tighter liquidity—in particular for U.S. dollar funding. The rise in offshore dollar funding costs in the latter half of 2011 also choked the market for a while, as it constrained funding flexibility and boosted funding costs for AsiaPacific banks relying on wholesale dollar funding. The worst-case scenario Clearly, the crisis in Europe looks set to drag on for years, according to Fitch Ratings analyst Andrew Steel, what with little or no decisive action being taken to resolve the issues surrounding Greece, and the country remains in political flux. “Fitch has been forecasting a slow and anaemic recovery for Europe since the crisis began back in 2008, and continues to use that as the basis for producing all its rating case forecasts,” he says. Steel adds that what makes the crisis harder to solve is the lack of a general consensus or concerted political momentum behind the various solutions discussed to address the broader issue of future financial stability across the monetary union as a whole. So how will Asia fare in the face of a prolonged crisis? S&P analysts say that in a worst-case scenario, they may consider negative rating actions if stresses in the Eurozone cause a market dislocation and


ANALYSIS: cORPORATE LENDING result in funding difficulties for Asia-Pacific banks. HSBC’s Neumann, meanwhile, says that in the short run, Asia will feel an immediate squeeze if Eurozone tensions re-erupt. He warned that Asia would feel “a real pinch” should the EU bank deleveraging accelerate and prompt banks from other regions to cut back. Cashing in on the crisis While the crisis has caused European banks to be more cautious and review their usual lending practices, Fitch’s Steel believes there’s a bright side to the crisis, especially for Asian banks. Most Asian banking systems have better funding structures and as a result benefit from surplus liquidity. This has meant that they have managed to step into the void left by the European banks to support the financing needs of the Asian corporates. The main beneficiaries, according to Steel, have been the Japanese mega banks, particularly HSBC and Standard Chartered, and to a lesser extent, the Singaporean banks. Asian banks looking to expand their regional exposure have also bought assets from the departing Europeans. Countering the European pullout is the fact that Asia’s domestic banks are still lending and the first quarter of this year saw a pick-up, especially in China where the reserve ratio was lowered. A survey by the Institute of International Finance suggests that banks in emerging Asia remained relatively cautious in the first quarter compared to other emerging market regions, leaving their overall lending conditions largely unchanged from

the fourth quarter of 2011. Neumann noted that bank funding conditions improved rapidly despite the decline in the lending activity of European banks, suggesting that credit growth will continue to accelerate in the second quarter and possibly beyond. “This should provide the region some resilience in the face of European bank deleveraging that will likely continue for another couple of years, if not longer,” he says. The analyst adds that although it is difficult to say how much of the European banks’ deleveraging will occur in Asia, there are some buffers in place for the likely dip in the assets of European banks in the region. “For one, not all European banks in the region will necessarily reduce their assets: some may even grow them further, thereby partly offsetting deleveraging by others. Moreover, US and Japanese banks are stepping up their presence, thus helping to fill the void left by departing Europeans,” Neumann says. In addition, tighter credit supply could present a chance for Asian banks to charge proper risk premiums for liquidity and credit risks. S&P has observed various cases in which local players were well-positioned to fill the gaps created when foreign banks cut their credit lines. For example, Singapore banks recently saw robust growth in U.S. dollar-denominated loans and they have been actively participating in syndicated loans. One of Japan’s big banks, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc., acquired the aircraft leasing assets of The Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. rose in its ranking

International bank lending to emerging Asia (USD bn)

in the global league table of project finance to second in 2011 from eighth in 2010, at the same time when banks in Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong increased their presence in the interest rate derivatives market.

“Asia will feel an immediate squeeze if Eurozone tensions re-erupt”

Credit risk enhancement : A must But S&P analysts cautioned that while such opportunities could boost the banks’ market positions and increase their revenue diversification, some may need to rely more on wholesale funding to take advantage of the opportunities—which in turn would expose them to volatility in global markets. If there’s one lesson that Asia-Pacific banks are quickly learning in the face of the troubles in the Eurozone, it is the importance of enhancing their credit risk and liquidity risk management. The crisis has shown that banks cannot just recklessly gobble up the new business opportunities left by retreating European banks because they will be faced with a doublefaced dilemma when they do: their stand-alone credit profiles could come under pressure if they become more aggressive in increasing lending, while growing their credit rapidly could cause ratings agencies to lower its assessments of their risk positions or to lower the results for their of funding and liquidity positions. So while Asian banks can blunt the blow from the economic slowdown in Europe by picking up where the European banks have left off, they still need to become more cautious in their lending activities and tone down the appetite for risk because the crisis isn’t ending anytime soon.

European bank lending to individual Asian economies (USD bn) Chart 2: European bank lending to individual Asian economies (USD bn)

1440

450 400 350 300 250 200 150 100

1170 900 630 360 90 Mar-04

Mar-05

M ar-06

Mar-07 Japan

Mar-08 US

Mar-09 Europe

Mar-10

M ar-11

Consolidated foreign claims of European banks - immediate borrower basis (USD bn)

50 0 CN

HK

IN

ID

SK

MA 4Q-2007

Source: BIS, HSBC

PK 1Q-2011

PH

SG

SL

TW

TH

VT

AU

NZ

4Q-2011

Source: BIS, HSBC

Source: BIS, HSBC

Source: BIS, HSBC

HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 47


LIFE & STYLE

Go for gold with these fitness fines London Olympics gear up for record-breaking action. Ride the momentum and aim for gold with these sporting essentials, from great gear to workout trends. KettleBlock

Shop 323 – 324, Prince’s Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, +852 2525 7881 Kettle bells have made their way from a fringe workout for Russian veterans and somewhat eccentric fitness enthusiasts to a mainstay at modern gyms. Fans tout the efficiency of the workout which targets core strength, cardiovascular fitness, and flexibility in record time. The KettleBlock™ from Powerblock offers a clever solution to these problems. The smaller KettleBlock™ can be adjusted up to 20lb (HKD 1,250), with the larger block adjustable to 40lb (HKD 2,500). Visit http://www.powerblock.com/ Kettleblocks.php for more information. Speedo FASTSKIN3 Racing System

UG14, Pruton Prudential, 216 – 228A Nathan Road, Jordan, +852 2730 4770 Speedo has graced the physiques of many Olympian swimmers, including Michael Phelps during his medal sweeping performance at Beijing 2008. He wore a Fastskin3, the preferred piece for many elite swimmers. Speedo has consulted with professional athletes and coaches from around the world, scanned swimmers in motion, and even ran computer simulations to create a design that minimises drag for maximum hydrodynamism. The Fastskin3 retails well over the price of ordinary swim wear, with the men’s design going for over HKD 2,000 and the women’s for over HKD 3,000. NIKE+ FuelBand

L1 – 02, Festival Walk, Kowloon Tong, +852 2265 7708

Vibram Five Fingers

1F Merlin Building, 30 – 34 Cochrane Street, Central, +852 2851 0769 Have you noticed those weird-looking shoes with toes slotted like fingers into gloves? This is the modern minimalist footwear that takes its cue from barefoot runners who claim that the more natural gait reduces common injuries suffered by those wearing conventional shoes. Vibram Five Fingers follows the same modern design. It was originally developed for yacht racers but quickly gained ground among minimalist fans for their versatility and comfort. Of the various models, the Bikila (HKD 1,080) is the top choice for runners as it is expressly designed with them in mind, providing a 3mm polyurethane insole for underfoot protection and traction without compromising the barefoot experience. Vibram Five Fingers don’t follow regular shoe sizes and must be fitted in-store. 48 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012

Used by the likes of Lance Armstrong, the NIKE+ FuelBand (HKD 499) wraps up a personal trainer (providing targets, assessment, and motivation) into one sleek, ergonomic band worn on your wrist. For athletes of all stripes, the band offers a new metric to set time, calorie, step, or NikeFuel goals and track physical achievements with its innovative technology. You can select the NikeFuel target for the day, then earn it through your levels of activity as displayed via the band’s LED lights. Your results sync with the Nike+ website via its built-in USB . ViPR

Optimum Performance Studio, 2F, World Trust Tower, 50 Stanley Street, Central, +852 9862 9851 ViPR (Vitality, Performance, and Reconditioning) is a fitness trend that’s been reshaping London since 2010. The ViPR looks like a rubber tube notched for grip. During any given workout session, this is “lifted, shifted, flipped, tilted, dragged, and thrown”, with weights ranging from 4kgs (HKD 1,700) to 20kgs (HKD 3,200) for every ability level. And unlike bulky exercise machines, ViPR can be used inside the gym and outdoors.


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 49


numbers

Consumer confidence rebounds; signs point to stability Which country/region in Asia is likely to be a significant growth market for your company?

Are you planning new investment in your business in the next 12 months? Not at all likely 1% Definitely Not very likely

1%

32%

Very likely

25%

32%

Quite likely

Source: Ipsos Business Consulting online survey Note: Data are from responses by business executives across all industries

Source: Ipsos Business Consulting online survey Note: Data are from responses by business executives across all industries

Perceptions of job prospects in Singapore over the next 12 months

Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index: Singapore

Perceptions of job prospects in Singapore over the next 12 months

Bad

1LHOVHQ&RQVXPHU&RQILGH QFH,QGH[6LQJDSRUH 







Not so good

 



Good





4

38

45



Excellent

4

4

6

46

64

 

50

44 

42

 4

 4

 4

 4

 4

6RXUFH7KH1LHOVHQ*OREDO6XUYH\RI&RQVXPHU&RQILGHQFHDQG6SHQGLQJ,QWHQWLRQV4

Source: The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, Q1 2012

Hong Kong consumer confidence turns around after two consecutive quarters of decline Hong Kong consumer confidence turns around after

two consecutive quarters of decline

101 100

60

3

Macro economic indicators highlight stability in HKstability economy.in Macro economic indicators highlight

HK economy 12

10.5

110

70

5

Source: The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions Q1 2012

120

80

3

Source: The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions, Q1 2012

Consumer Confidence Index

90

2

SG Q1'12

 4

SG Q4'11

 4

SG Q3'11



SG Q2'11

21

95 89 77

93

104

99 100 87

82

108

92

109 104 101 93

103 90

108 100 99

107 92

107 105 89

90

86

110 104 104 88

99 103 89

%

7.3 6.5

6 4

4.3

2.6

Q4 2009

Q1 2010

Global Average

Q2 2010

Q3 2010

Q4 2010

Hong Kong

Q1 2011

Q2 2011

Q3 2011

Q4 2011

China

Sources: Nielsen Consumer Confidence & Personal Finance Behavior, Q1 2012

Q1 2012

0

2010

3.7

3.4

Q1 2011 GDP

4.5

5.7

3.8

2

Q3 2009

6.5

5.1

94

79

Q2 2009

9.2

9.1

8

108

70 Q1 2009

10

Q2 2011 CPI

3.4

Q3 2011

3.1

3.3

Q4 2011

Q1 2012

Unemployment Rate

Source: Census & Statistic Department, HKSAR Sources: Nielsen Consumer Confidence & Personal Finance Behavior, Q1 2012

For more information contact: Ipsos, Kellie Ko (kellie.ko@ipsos.com) &Tim Hill (tim.hill@ipsos.com); Nielsen, Maika Randini (maika.randini@ipsos.com); Nielsen 50 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012


HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012 51


52 HONG KONG BUSINESS | JUNE 2012


Hong Kong Business