As the global retailer Toys ‘R’ Us files bankruptcy protection in the US, its businesses in Asia remain unaffected.
The Asian operations of Toys ‘R’ Us are not affected by the bankruptcy
The global retailer has filed for bankruptcy protection, strangled by heavy debt and a tough environment for physical stores. In Asia, Fung Retailing holds 15% stake in Toy ‘R’ Us while the global company owns the remaining.
There are 11 Toy ‘R’ Us stores in Singapore and it runs more than 220 outlets in East and Southeast Asia, with another licensed outlets in the Philippines and Macau.
Read the full story here.
Mobike marks its first US entry with the debut in Washington D.C.
China’s Mobike dockless bicycles are now seen on the street of Washington D.C., as the company debuts its entry to North America.
The United States is Mobike’s first destination in North America and its seventh overseas market, following Britain, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia. It is also determined to cultivate bike-sharing culture by working with cities across the globe.
Before entering the United States, Mobike partnered with U.S. telecom giant AT&T, and Qualcomm to better serve local riders.
Read the full story here.
Alibaba establishes live entertainment business group
Alibaba announced the founding of its live entertainment business group to step up in ticketing, content creation, and live experience.
These roles will be managed by Damai, MaiLive, and Maizuo respectively. Damai is one of China’s largest event ticketing platform and is fully owned by Alibaba.
Following Tencent, braving into the entertainment industry is said to be Alibaba’s plan to go beyond ecommerce. Tencent’s music affiliate claims over 75% of China’s online music streaming market.
Read the full story here.
How will oil prices shape the Covid-19 recovery in emerging markets?
– After falling significantly in 2020, oil prices have returned to pre-pandemic levels
– The rise has been driven by OPEC+ production cuts and an improving economic climate
– Higher prices are likely to support a rebound in oil-producing emerging markets
– Further virus outbreaks or increased production would pose challenges to price stability
A combination of continued production cuts and an increase in economic activity has prompted oil prices to return to pre-pandemic levels – a factor that will be crucial to the recovery of major oil-producing countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Brent crude prices rose above $60 a barrel in early February, the first time they had exceeded pre-Covid-19 values. They have since continued to rise, going above $66 a barrel on February 24.
The ongoing increase in oil prices, which have soared by 75% since November and around 26% since the beginning of the year, marks a dramatic change from last year.
Following the closure of many national borders and the implementation of travel-related restrictions to stop the spread of the virus, demand for oil slumped globally.
In the wake of the Saudi-Russia price war in early 2020, Brent crude prices fell from around $60 a barrel in February that year to two-decade lows of $20 a barrel in late April, as supply increased and demand plummeted. The value of WTI crude – the main benchmark for oil in the US – fell to record lows of around $40 a barrel last year on the back of a lack of storage space.
While global demand for oil remains low, one factor credited with reversing the trend is the decision to make significant cuts to oil production, which subsequently tightened global supplies.
How the Rural-Urban Divide Plays Out on Digital Platforms
It is one thing for entrepreneurs, whether urban or rural, to create and operate an online store, as some digital platforms have made it relatively easy to manage an e-store – even by using just a smartphone.
Will South-east Asia’s tech giants turn to SPACs to boost post-pandemic growth?
– The vehicle is widely used to help tech start-ups go public
– Both Singapore’s and Indonesia’s exchanges are set to allow SPACs
– Several South-east Asian tech unicorns may use SPACs to list publicly
South-east Asia is seeing a wave of interest in special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, with various major tech players considering them as a means to fast-track public listings. In parallel to this, several exchanges in the region are moving to allow SPAC listings, with a view to boosting post-coronavirus growth.
SPACs are shell companies set up by investors and then listed on a given stock exchange. Their sole function is to acquire a private company, enabling it to go public without having to go through a traditional initial public offering (IPO).
A SPAC does nothing beyond its essential function – it neither produces nor sells anything, and a SPAC’s only assets are the funds raised from its own IPO.
Crucially, people who buy into a SPAC do not know what its eventual acquisition target or targets will be. This is why SPACs are often referred to as “blank cheque companies”: they give the founders a free rein to back their choice of private company. A key feature of SPACs is that they are often headed by big-name business executives or fund managers, who trade on past successes to inspire trust in investors.
While they are far from a novel phenomenon, SPACs have become a hot button topic in recent times: SPAC initial offerings quadrupled last year, with the vehicles raising a record $80bn.
Merging with a SPAC enables a company to go public and raise capital more quickly and painlessly than with a traditional IPO, circumventing some of the volatility that Covid-19 unleashed on global markets. At the same time, they function rather like venture capital, helping investors to buy into high-growth start-ups on the ground floor.
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