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  • Singapore’s MRT starts road show

    Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT), the city state’s underground rail operator, commenced the road show for its slated S$250 million ($145 million) IPO this week. UBS Warburg is lead managing the sale. Owned by government institution, Temasek, MRT is selling 30 percent of the company, valuing the rail operator at approximately S$930 million.

    UBS Warburg has also been mandated, with Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (MSDW), to sell up to 25 percent of Port of Singapore Authority, to raise nearly S$3.75 billion.
  • DBS’s S$20 billion war chest

    Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) has an excess liquidity of S$20 billion ($11.51 billion) plus an unknown amount of excess capital. This puts it in a strong position to make a major acquisition such as The Chase Manhattan Bank’s retail banking business in Hong Kong, says Tony Raza, regional banking analyst with Prudential-Bache Securities Asia Pacific.

    Oversea-Chinese Banking (OCBC), another Singaporean bank that is bidding for Chase’s retail business, with its slightly stronger financial position will be as aggressive as DBS, he says.

    The presence of DBS in Hong Kong, through Kwong On Bank, is not yet significant and a major deal, such as the acquisition of Chase Manhattan’s retail operations, will help it strategically boost its operations in Hong Kong, he says.

    Five banks are reportedly bidding for Chase’s retail business — DBS and OCBC of Singapore, Standard Chartered, Citibank and Bank of East Asia, Hong Kong.

    Another bank analyst has tipped DBS as the likely winner as it has reportedly offered a purchase price of more than HK$10 billion ($1.28 billion), although other bidders are said to have made similar offers. Chase declined to confirm or deny these reports.

    DBS currently has operations in Hong Kong, the Philippines, Thailand, a small presence in Malaysia, and is looking to establish itself as a world-class regional bank with a strong retail focus, says Raza. “It has recently looked at opportunities in India and Taiwan, but in the end didn’t invest there,” he says.
  • Hong Kong stocks end above 17,000, powered by property gains

    Hong Kong, July 10 -- Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index crashed through the key resistance level of 17,000 points Monday morning, powered by big gains in the property sector.

    Property stocks benefited from a strong showing at a property sale over the weekend after the government formally announced last week the scrapping of its annual housing supply target, dealers said.

    The Hang Seng Index ended the morning 374.66 points or 2.23% higher at 17,204.62.

    The index opened sharply higher above the key 17,000 mark, and hit an intra-session high of 17,221.62. Brokers said if the index can stay above 17,200 points in the afternoon, the next resistance level would be 17,500.

    "The strong response to Villa Esplanada III over the weekend, plus the formal announcement by the government late last week that it had abolished its annual housing supply policy helped improve sentiment toward the property sector," Louis Tse, executive director with Standard Capital Brokerage, said.

    The Hang Seng property sub-index ended 3.78% higher in the morning. Villa Esplanada III, a project jointly developed by Sun Hung Kai Properties, Cheung Kong (Holdings) and China Resources, was reportedly nearly 90% sold over the weekend.

    Benign U.S. employment data Friday also indicated the U.S. rate rising cycle may have nearly reached its peak, brokers said.

    Hong Kong rates tend to follow those in the U.S. owing to the local dollar's peg to its U.S. counterpart. Rate-sensitive banking shares rose across the board in response to the U.S. data, brokers said.

    Heavyweight HSBC Holdings ended the session at $90.5, 1.1% higher from Friday's close.

    Bellwether technology stock Pacific Century CyberWorks (PCCW) ended the session 6% higher at 15.00, following the rise in the U.S. Nasdaq Friday and news of an asset sale, brokers said.

    PCCW announced in a statement to the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Monday that PCCW Properties -- a wholly-owned subsidiary -- is to sell its 75% stake in Quinliven Pte Ltd. to Singaporean-based Pacific Century Regional Developments (PCRD) -- PCCW's holding company -- for a total consideration of $89.2 million. The announcement also boosted buying in the PCCW shares Monday, brokers said. -- Bridge News

    Good luck on all your Trades!

  • MacroAsia signs jv agreement with Lufthansa Technik

    MANILA (AFX-ASIA) - MacroAsia Corp said it has signed a joint venture and share purchase agreement with Lufthansa Technik AG to form Lufthansa Technik Philippines Inc.

    In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, MacroAsia said Lufthansa Technik will hold 51 pct of LTP's shareholdings and MacroAsia the remaining 49 pct.

    MacroAsia gave no other details.

    In June 1999, MacroAsia signed a letter of intent with Lufthansa Technik to establish a joint venture company to operate an aircraft maintenance and overhaul facility in the Philippines.

    MacroAsia rose 0.10 peso to 3.55.
  • UBS Agrees to Buy Paine Webber Group for About $16 Billion

    Zurich, July 12 (Bloomberg) -- UBS AG, Europe's third- largest bank, agreed to buy Paine Webber Group Inc. for about $16 billion, giving the Swiss company control of the No. 5 U.S. retail brokerage.

    Shareholders in Paine Webber will receive about $12 billion in the biggest foreign takeover of a U.S. securities firm. They'll get $73.50 per share in cash and stock, 47 percent above yesterday's closing price. UBS also will assume $4.3 billion of Paine Webber's debt.

    UBS has lost customers and its stock has fallen 17 percent since forming in a merger two years ago. The company has trailed its biggest European rivals in U.S. investment banking. Buying Paine Webber would give UBS 8,500 brokers in the world's biggest capital market, helping bolster its underwriting and asset- management businesses.

    ``This gives UBS a very large retail distribution system,'' said Steve Eisman, an analyst at CIBC World Markets. ``There are very few retail systems this large.''

    Paine Webber, founded in Boston in 1879 and now one-fifth owned by General Electric Co., caters to clients with at least $500,000 to invest. It also owns Mitchell Hutchins Asset Management Inc., which oversees $73 billion, including pension funds for the employees of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank.


    The purchase underscores the global consolidation that's driving the biggest financial companies to expand and could make independent firms, with a narrower range of products, takeover targets.

    As a European firm trying to make headway in the U.S., UBS is hoping the acquisition will help it win the business it needs to be competitive with rivals such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Merrill Lynch & Co. Its U.S. equities business is limited mostly to selling non-U.S. stocks.

    UBS, the No. 15 U.S. securities underwriter, has said it wants to break into the top five. The company was formed in June 1998 by the $29 billion merger of Union Bank of Switzerland and Swiss Bank Corp.

    Paine Webber, which bought Kidder, Peabody Group Inc. in 1995, has about 140 investment bankers, a fraction of the number at Merrill Lynch., the nation's largest brokerage or Morgan Stanley, the No. 2 firm. In 2000, Paine Webber ranked 60th advising on mergers in the U.S.

    Acquisition Target

    And as competitors diversified their operations in the last five years, largely through acquisitions, Paine Webber concentrated on providing brokerage services for its wealthy clientele, making it difficult to fend off competition from discount brokers, such as Charles Schwab Corp.

    Paine Webber has been mentioned as a possible acquisition target because it's small -- its $7 billion market value is less than one-fifth that of Goldman Sachs.

    Another reason Paine Webber was considered a target: the firm's 65-year-old Chairman Donald Marron, who has run the firm since 1977, hasn't designated a successor. Analysts have said that when he was ready to retire, Marron would sell the company.

    The companies today said an $875 million three-year incentive plan comprising stock and cash will be set aside to retain Paine Webber staff.

    When the transaction is completed, Joseph Grano, Paine Webber's president, will manage the company's combined private client and asset-management businesses. Marron will continue as Chairman of PaineWebber Inc. He also will assume a new role as chairman of UBS North America.

    Paine Webber shares rose 3 13/16 to 49 15/16 in New York Stock Exchange trading, while trading in the company's call options surged in the afternoon, suggesting word of the takeover leaked out. Call options to buy shares at $50 each rose 1 1/2 to 2 1/8 in trading of 1,953 contracts, compared with an average daily turnover of 80. The options expire July 22.

    While about 152 million diluted shares are outstanding, Paine Webber has about 12 million options and warrants that also figure in the takeover, bringing the total to about $16 billion, when including debt.

    Book Value Premium

    UBS will pay about three-and-a-half times Paine Webber's book value -- assets minus liabilities -- per share. The price is in line with those paid by banks for brokerages recently, including U.S. Bancorp's acquisition of Piper Jaffray Cos. and Bank of America Corp.'s purchase of Robertson Stephens, both in 1997.

    John Costas, chief operating officer of UBS Warburg, the company's investment bank, said in a recent interview the firm would likely make more acquisitions. ``We're on the hunt,'' said Costas. ``We've reached a critical mass, but we need to add to our portfolio to complement weakness.''

    In May, UBS became the first Swiss bank to trade on the New York Stock Exchange, further fueling expectations the firm would buy a U.S. investment bank. The New York listing means UBS can use American shares to pay for the transaction.

    Since forming in the summer of 1998, Zurich-based UBS has sought to expand abroad and raise its profitability levels closer to firms in the U.S., which were typically double or triple its own.

    In the years before the merger was announced, UBS and SBC had returns of equity of less than 7 percent on average. That compared to 19 percent for what was then Citicorp, and 23 percent for Merrill Lynch.

    The bank is run by Marcel Ospel -- known as a cost-cutter and credited with making SBC an international investment bank -- and dominated by employees of Ospel's former company.

    Ospel is expanding his U.S. business as American banks are capturing a bigger share of the European markets.

    In 1999, Goldman and Morgan Stanley were the biggest advisers in mergers involving European companies. Goldman arranged $709 billion in transactions, and Morgan was involved in transactions worth about $655 billion, according to Thomson Financial Securities Data.

    Along with its brokers, Paine Webber brings a top flight stock research business. The firm has more than 40 analysts who follow industries, 19 of whom were voted among the best in their field in the 1999 Institutional Investor magazine survey, ranking Paine Webber eighth.

    For UBS, having highly ranked analysts will help. Companies want well-known analysts following their stock. UBS's investment banking unit was put together by the purchases of S.G. Warburg & Co. in 1995 and Dillon Read & Co. in 1997.

    General Electric is Paine Webber's largest shareholder, holding 31.5 million shares, about 22 percent, after Paine Webber's purchase of brokerage Kidder, Peabody.

  • NTT DoCoMo, KPN to Buy 35% of Hutchison U.K. Unit (Update1)

    Hong Kong, July 12 (Bloomberg) -- NTT DoCoMo Inc. and Royal KPN NV agreed to pay 2.1 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) for 35 percent of a Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. unit that owns a license to provide faster Internet access through mobile phones in the U.K.

    DoCoMo, Japan's No. 1 wireless company, will pay 1.2 billion pounds for a 20 percent stake, and KPN, the biggest Dutch phone company, will pay 900 million pounds for 15 percent, DoCoMo said. DoCoMo, KPN and Hutchison, Hong Kong's biggest conglomerate, also plan to cooperate in various ways to buy new wireless licenses in Germany, France and Belgium.

    Telecommunications companies are trying to share the cost of new mobile-phone licenses, networks and international expansion. European countries are selling licenses for Universal Mobile Telecommunications System technology so users can surf the Web and see video on phones at speeds 40 times faster than today.

    Hutchison bought the U.K. license for $6.7 billion in April with Canada's Telesystem International Wireless Inc.

    KPN and Hutchison will form a joint venture in Germany to offer the UMTS services. KPN said earlier this week its E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH unit, Germany's third-largest mobile-phone company, sought to bid for a German license as part of a group. DoCoMo won't be directly involved.

    All three companies will bid together in France, which is selling five licenses for $19 billion.

    KPN and Hutchison will bid together for a license in Belgium, where KPN aims to buy out the half of its venture with Orange Plc it doesn't already own. France Telecom SA is buying Orange, and already owns a Belgian mobile-phone company.

    The three companies are connected through DoCoMo. The Japanese company, which pioneered putting the Internet on mobile phones with its i-mode service, agreed in May to buy 15 percent of KPN Mobile, a unit of Royal KPN, for $4.5 billion. DoCoMo also owns 19 percent of Hutchison's Hong Kong mobile phone company, Hutchison Telephone.

    NTT DoCoMo rose as much as 50,000 yen, or 1.6 percent, to 3.17 million yen after the announcement. Hutchison Whampoa rose as much as HK$6.5, or 5.9 percent, to HK$117 in Hong Kong.

  • Yahoo! Posts 2nd-Qtr Profit; Sales Beat Forecasts (Update2)

    Santa Clara, California, July 11 (Bloomberg) -- Yahoo! Inc., the top Web-navigation company, reported a second-quarter profit after breaking even a year earlier as its audience grew and revenue more than doubled, beating analyst forecasts.

    The company reported net income of $65.5 million, or 11 cents a share. Revenue more than doubled to $270.1 million from $128.6 million. That beat the First Call/Thomson Financial average forecast of $240 million.

    Yahoo shares, which have fallen 29 percent in the past three weeks amid concern about the earnings outlook, rose following release of the higher-than-expected revenue number. They were recently quoted at 114 5/8, up 8.7 percent from a Nasdaq close of 105 1/2.

    Yahoo has spent the past year introducing products and entering new markets to increase its audience and persuade users to spend more time on its network. While the company's shares have fallen 51 percent so far this year amid worries that they'd risen faster than justified by the company's earnings prospects, today's results show the strategy is paying off, investors said.

    ``It's good to see that they beat the numbers. Just think what would have happened if they had just come in line (with estimates,'' said Alan Lowenstein, vice president and assistant portfolio manager of the $2.8 billion John Hancock Technology Fund.

    The John Hancock Technology Fund sold its holdings in Yahoo during March and April as the stock fell tumbled amid worries that profit growth will slow as the business matures and an Internet advertising slowdown will hurt revenue. After today's results, Lowenstein said he's considering buying the stock again.

    In a conference call with investors, Yahoo incoming Chief Financial Officer Susan Decker said that ``financially questionable'' clients account for less than 10 percent of Yahoo's revenue. She also said that 25 percent of revenue comes from business services and international advertising, neither of which are at risk because of the recent troubles affecting some Internet companies.

    Monica Logani, an Internet analyst with Federated Investors, which manages $23 billion in equities and holds Yahoo shares, said she's also thinking it may be time for her firm's fund managers to boost their stakes in Yahoo.

    ``If you're a long-term investor, this is an exciting time to get in,'' she said. ``But with this market, you just don't know.''

    Before amortization costs and payroll taxes on employee stock option gains, Yahoo's profit was $73.99 million, or 12 cents a share. That's up from $27.06 million, or 5 cents, a year earlier. The results from the most-recent quarter were above 10 cents a share, the average estimate from First Call/Thomson Financial. Estimates ranged from 10 cents to 11 cents, according to First Call.

    Shares of Santa Clara, California-based Yahoo today fell 4 1/2 to 105 1/2 in regular U.S. trading.

    Today's decline was sparked by a CNBC report that Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. analyst Mary Meeker said that Yahoo's earnings margin could narrow as it boosts spending to develop new products designed to work on wireless devices such as cell phones.
  • Hi. I'm back. Let's suppose I'm interested in foreign market trading, how can I go about it? :)

  • Good Morning PExers!

    Happy Trading today!

  • KuyaDannyKuyaDanny Moderator PEx Moderator
    manabs, the typical approach is to open an account with an international broker (Merrill Lynch, etc). These outfits, though, have very large minimum balance requirements.
  • Asian Stocks: Japan Rises, Led by Kyocera; Korea's Kepco Down

    Tokyo, July 14 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stocks rose, led by computer-related companies such as Kyocera Corp., as faster-than- expected profit growth of their U.S. counterparts raised optimism for better earnings in the global industry.

    The Nikkei 225 stock average gained 118.79, or 0.7 percent, to 17,155.69, while the broader Topix index added 7.00, or 0.4 percent, to 1,581.62. Tokyo Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co. gained following a report Japan's three biggest utilities will merge their telecommunications units to provide a fiber-optic Internet network for corporate clients.

    ``Strong earning reports from the U.S. show that information technology will continue to be a leading industry,'' said Shinichiro Takaya, general manager at Kankaku Securities Co.'s equity department.

    In other markets, Korea's Kospi index fell 0.4 percent, paced by Korea Electric Power Corp. as investors bet the stock's 30 percent gain in the last four months was overdone. Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.02 percent, led by JIT Holdings Ltd. after its customer Motorola Inc. said its phone business is becoming more profitable, fueling optimism for more orders. Taiwan's TWSE Index rose 2.2 percent, led by the nation's biggest companies such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., after investors said recent declines have made shares attractive.

    Kyocera, the world's leading manufacturer of ceramic microchip packages, gained 2.2 percent to 16,600. Sony Corp., the maker of the PlayStation 2 video game console, added 2.7 percent to 10,840. Advantest Corp., the world's No. 1 maker of memory-chip testing equipment, gained 2.2 percent to 22,490.

    Yesterday, the computer-laden U.S. Nasdaq Composite Index gained 1.8 percent, paced by Applied Micro Circuits Corp., the maker of chips for communications equipment, and others which announced better-than-expected earnings.

    Tokyo Electric, Japan's largest power provider also known as Tepco, gained 1 percent to 2,520. Chubu Electric added 0.8 percent to 1,874. Kansai Electric climbed 0.5 percent to 1,895. The three power companies will ask the country's other utilities to join the plan to merge telephone units, which is expected to take place in November, the Nihon Keizai reported.

    Calsonic Kansei Corp. rose 59 yen, or 19 percent, to 375. Delphi Automotive Systems Corp., the world's largest auto-parts maker, will buy 33.4 percent of the Nissan Motor Co.'s largest parts supplier, the Nihon Keizai newspaper reported.

    Sogo Co., the bankrupt retailer, plunged 43 yen, or 81 percent, to 10 yen, after falling as low as 7 yen. Sogo filed for court protection on Wednesday after the government pulled the plug on a proposed 198 billion yen ($1.83 billion) taxpayer-funded bailout. The stock was the biggest loser in percentage terms and the most active with 46 million shares traded.

    The Tokyo Stock Exchange and Osaka Stock Exchange will delist Sogo on Oct. 13.

    Korea, Singapore

    Korea's Kospi index fell 3.76 to 842.12. Korea Electric Power Corp., or Kepco, fell as investor bet the stock has risen too far in the last four months.

    ``Financial institutions think this is a good time to sell and cash in their gains,'' said Kim Joon Kie, a market analyst at SK Securities Co.

    Kepco, Korea's monopoly power supplier, fell 1.6 percent to 33,800.

    Hyundai Electronics Industries Co. rose, leaving the market mixed, as investors bet rising product prices will spark greater demand for memory chips.

    The spot price for 64 dynamic random access memory chips, which act as the main memory for personal computers, rose for the first time in three days to $8.96, up 39 percent in the last two months, an indication of tightening supply in the market. Hyundai Electronics gained 1.3 percent to 23,800.

    Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.87 to 2085.88. Electronics makers whose customers include Motorola Inc., the No. 2 cellular-phone maker, rose after the U.S. company said its phone business is becoming more profitable and earnings will match analyst forecasts. That may lead to an increase in orders.

    JIT Holdings Ltd., the fourth-largest electronics manufacturer by market value, added 1.3 percent to S$3.08. It also gained as another customer, Kulicke & Soffa Industries Inc., the biggest maker of semiconductor-assembly equipment, said it's considering building a second manufacturing plant in Singapore. This may signal more orders for JIT. Omni Industries Ltd. Singapore's third-largest contract electronics manufacturer, rose 1.9 percent to S$3.26.

    Limiting gains, DBS Land Ltd. fell for a second day, down 2 percent to S$2.49 on concern profit at Singapore's second-largest property developer may slip after it merges with government- controlled developer Pidemco Land Ltd.


    Taiwan's TWSE Index rose 151.73 to 8419.39, led by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's largest customized computer chipmaker, and financial companies. The index's down 18 percent from its Feb. 18 year high of 10,393.59.

    ``A lot of institutions have a lot of cash and if stocks and trading volumes go up they will be encouraged to buy,'' said Simon Chao, who helps manage $38.8 million in Taiwanese equities at President Investment Trust Corp. in Taipei.

    Morgan Stanley Dean Witter maintained TSMC and United Microelectronics Corp. as two of its Taiwan stocks in its Asia- Pacific model portfolio. Analysts surveyed by IBES International forecast TSMC's earnings per share will rise to NT$5.062 in 2000 and NT$7.50 in 2001.

    TSMC rose 0.7 percent to NT$146.00. United Microelectronic Corp., its biggest rival, gained 0.6 percent to NT$82.50.

    China Development Industrial Bank, the biggest bank in Taiwan by market value, rose 2.9 percent to NT$42.20. First Commercial Bank, the second-biggest bank on the island by market value, rose 5.7 percent to NT$34.40.

    ``It's a good opportunity to buy banks as depositors are moving their money into the better banks whose cost of money is coming down,'' said Sophia Cheng, an analyst at Merrill Lynch Taiwan Ltd.

    Evergreen Marine Corp. rose 2.3 percent to NT$22.40 after China's chief negotiator on political relations with Taiwan welcomed a proposal by Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's government to open direct sea links with the mainland for the first time in half a century. Evergreen is one of the top three marine transport companies in the world.

    In other markets: see TNI ASIA MOV for detailed coverage:

    Australia's ASX200 index rose 0.01 percent to 3306.90. News Corp. fell 0.8 percent to A$22.25, while its preferred shares dropped 0.3 percent to A$18.90, on concern poor returns from its Fox Studios subsidiary will crimp earnings. Broken Hill Proprietary Corp., Australia's largest resources company, dropped 1 percent to A$19.33. Minera Escondida Ltd., the world's largest copper miner, said production of fine copper in June was 14 percent lower than a year BHP. Escondida is 57.5 percent owned by BHP. Rio Tinto Ltd. gained, leaving stocks mixed, on optimism Ri will win it's A$2.8 billion hostile takeover bid for North Ltd., the world's No. 4 iron ore producer. Rio gained 1.5 percent to A$27.16.

    New Zealand's Top 40 Index fell 0.2 percent to 2120.85. Telecom Corp., the nation's dominant phone company, fell 1.1 percent to NZ$7.50, after start-up phone company Jump Capital Ltd. entered the bidding for radio frequency for the next generation of mobile phone and data services. Fletcher Challenge Ltd.'s forest division rose 2.4 percent to 86 New Zealand cents, recouping its loss yesterday after Citic New Zealand Ltd., the company's partner in New Zealand's largest plantation forest, denied a newspaper report their long-running dispute was nearly settled.

  • Good morning PExers!

    How was everyone's weekend? Mine was great!
    Good luck in your trades :)

  • General Mills Agrees to Buy Diageo's Pillsbury for $10.5 Bln

    Minneapolis, July 16 (Bloomberg) -- General Mills Inc., the No. 2 U.S. cereal maker, agreed to pay $10.5 billion in cash, debt and stock for Diageo Plc's Pillsbury unit to add faster-growing breakfast foods to its lineup, a person familiar with the situation said.

    Both boards approved the transaction today and an announcement is expected tomorrow, the person said. Diageo is to get a 33 percent stake in the combined company and the right to name two board members, the person said.

    Officials at General Mills and Diageo declined to comment.

    The move adds Pillsbury's refrigerated dough and Hungry Jack pancake mixes to General Mills' Cheerios cereal. That could help General Mills cut costs and gain clout with grocers as sales of breakfast cereals, which generate about 60 percent of profit, decline.

    Diageo shares fell 2 pence to 597p in London on Friday. Minneapolis-based General Mills fell 11/16 to 36 5/16 on the New York Stock Exchange.


    Asia’s long-suffering internet stocks were given a break this week with the uplifting news from the US. On July 12, Yahoo! — the world’s second largest internet company — released its second-quarter financial statement in which it reported a doubling of revenue, to $270.1 million. The figure beat analysts’ most optimistic estimates by a wide margin and investors took Yahoo!’s share price up 18 percent that day.

    Yahoo!’s charmed second quarter wasn’t the only good news: Ariba, which makes e-commerce software, reported a 27 percent increase in revenue for its latest quarter. The Nasdaq Composite Index has risen in anticipation of more positive earnings reports from the internet sector, generally ending July 13 at 4,174.86 — up five percent for the week and the highest level for over three months.

    As word on Yahoo!’s numbers came out, Tom.com announced the launch of 12 vertical portals aimed at the China market. The dozen websites imitate services and information that are already on offer at the Tom.com website, but the new portals are rendered in simplified Chinese characters used on the mainland and the content is more China-oriented.

    Tom’s latest offerings include the usual sports, finance, news and entertainment bumph, but include a few out-flyers such as Tom’s Military Square. Here the portal, in its words, has “joined forces with the People’s Liberation Army to provide the most authoritative, up-to-date and professional military news, analysis and review”.

    On June 27 Tom.com pressed the button on a series of Chinese language portals that focus on news, finance, video games, technology, movies, music, travel and leisure. The offerings underwhelmed — analysts carped about the quality and creativity of the portals, and Tom.com’s share price fell one percent on the day of the launch.

    What’s different about Tom’s recently unveiled vortals? Not much, except for fortuitous timing. At the time of Tom’s latest launch, Yahoo!’s news was just filtering through to Hong Kong, prompting investors to think again about the possibilities for consumer portals that focus on advertising. Tom.com’s share price rose 20 percent in the week.

    “The Yahoo! result has an impact on the [regional] markets. The Asian tech market follows quite closely the movements on Nasdaq,” says Tim Sun, director of internet research for BNP Prime Peregrine. “Ariba also came out with very strong numbers. These positive results get investors thinking that the internet is actually real and that there is actually money to be made.”

    Hong Kong’s Growth Enterprise Market (Gem) had an unusually active week, with the debut of Digitel, Greencool, AcrossAsia, Grandmass and Henderson Cyber. Digitel Group, which performs “system integration” on broadband networks, listed on July 12.

    AcrossAsia, a broadband content and infrastructure provider listed on Gem on July 13 along with Greencool. July 14 saw the Gem launch of Henderson Cyber, an internet services provider, and Grandmass Enterprise Solution, a software provider (see Equity Capital Markets Digest).

    The issues combined raised net proceeds of HK$2.236 billion ($286.66 million) — a strong week for the little board that could. Perhaps even more remarkable, for Gem, was the fact that three of these stocks finished the week above their issue price (Digitel, AcrossAsia and Grandmass) and Henderson Cyber and Greencool finished only fractionally below their respective launch prices.
  • Good Morning PExers!

    Happy Trading! Any hot tips?

  • Excite, Chello to Merge Non-U.S. Assets, Person Familiar Says

    Redwood City, California, July 17 (Bloomberg) -- Excite At Home Corp., the biggest U.S. provider of high-speed online service, will merge its international assets with those of European rival Chello Broadband NV, a person familiar with the transaction said.

    Chello will make an announcement at 2:30 a.m. New York time, said Jim Carlson, a spokesman for UnitedGlobalCom Inc., which controls United Pan-Europe Communications NV, the owner of Chello. Carlson declined to comment further. Earlier today, the Financial Times' online edition reported the merger and valued it at about 5.5 billion euros (US$5.1 billion).

    Excite and UPC will each invest 100 million euros in the new company, which will be called Excite Chello, the person said. Liberty Media Group, a major shareholder in UnitedGlobalCom, will invest 200 million euros, the person said. Chello will cancel its initial stock sale, which had twice been delayed, and instead may sell shares in Excite Chello later this year or next, the person said.

    Excite At Home spokeswoman Melissa Walia declined to comment. Chello couldn't be reached immediately to comment.

    Chello and Redwood City, California-based Excite both provide high-speed Internet access over cable-television lines, helping cable operators sell a package of TV, online and telephone service over one connection. The combined company will have 300,000 subscribers in 15 countries.

    UPC, based in Amsterdam, is Europe's No. 2 cable-television provider.

    UnitedGlobalCom is based in the Denver area, also home to Liberty Media. Liberty agreed on June 26 to boost its voting stake in UnitedGlobalCom to 82 percent.

    Excite Shares

    Excite shares have fallen 57 percent in the past year on concern that its subscriber growth could slow if AT&T and other cable operators that use Excite exclusively were forced to open their lines to rival Internet service providers. Excite stock had risen 82 percent in the previous year on investor optimism for providers of high-speed Internet service to homes.

    Excite shares today fell 3/8 to 19 9/16 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Liberty, the cable-TV programming arm of AT&T Corp., fell 1 5/16 to 24 15/16 in New York Stock Exchange trading. UPC rose 1.46 euros to 31.66 euros ($29.63) in Amsterdam.

  • Lycos wants more Indian portals

    Internet portal company Lycos, which launched its Indian portal this week, is open to acquiring more Indian portals with solid content says Lycos Asia chief executive officer Mary Ong. While she did not specify any company, the announcement is sure to boost the hopes of many portals that are finding the going tough as advertising revenues and e-commerce run short of expectations. “We are certainly open to either acquisition in part or whole,” said Ong in an interview with a news agency.

    Lycos Asia, a nine-month old joint venture between Lycos Inc and Singapore Telecommunications, launched its Indian portal (www.lycosasia.co.in) on July 18, in collaboration with local partners to give it a strong domestic flavour.

    Lycos is in the process of being acquired by Terra Networks, the internet arm of Spanish telecom giant, Telefonica.

    Lycos’s Indian portal is its sixth in Asia and thirtieth in the world. Meanwhile Lycos Asia has announced plans to launch a local portal in the Philippines in about six weeks and expand into Thailand and Indonesia thereafter.
  • Gem update

    The internet company 36.com Holdings, which offers a number of Chinese-language vertical portals, listed on Hong Kong’s Growth Enterprise Market (Gem) on July 28. Worldsec Corporate Finance sponsored the issue of 280 million shares, which raised HK$110.52 million ($14.17 million). 36.com ended its first day’s trade down 19 percent.

    This listing capped another busy week for Gem, which also saw the IPO of Beijing Beida Jade Bird Universal Sci-Tech (on July 27), Neolink Cyber Technology (on July 25) and FlexSystem Holdings (on July 24).

    Coming up on Gem next week: portal operator hkcyber.com is scheduled to list on July 31 and the software firm ePRO on August 2.

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