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Investment banks argue Hong Kong’s proposed SPAC rules are too rigid -sources

By Scott Murdoch and Alun John

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Investment banks argue Hong Kong's proposed SPAC rules are too rigid -sources
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Hong Kong stock exchange sign is seen at the 2020 China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing, China September 4, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

By Scott Murdoch and Alun John

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Investment banks and corporate advisors are pushing back against Hong Kong’s proposed rules for blank check listings, arguing they are too onerous and will not make the city competitive, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Interested parties have until Oct. 31 to lodge submissions with the Hong Kong stock exchange over its proposed framework for Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs).

The criticism comes at a time when rival Asian financial hub Singapore has shot ahead with its preparations to allow SPACs, which raise money on stock markets to buy private companies, giving those businesses a quick and cheap route to a listing.

Key concerns raised include a proposed requirement that any SPAC deal be worth at least HK$1 billion ($130 million) as that excludes smaller buyout targets, said the sources who have worked on submissions.

The sources were not authorised to speak to media and declined to be identified.

The proposed rules also stipulate that there need to be at least 75 professional investors in a SPAC listing, 40% of which must be institutional while retail investors cannot participate until after the company has carried out its merger – requirements likely to make trading illiquid, the sources added.

The rules also require the merged entity to appoint a financial sponsor to carry out due diligence and meet the exchange’s existing listing requirements which could tack on another three to six months to the listing process.

“It is of the view to some practitioners that it could undermine the intention of offering the SPAC as an alternative and streamlined listing approach,” the city’s Financial Services Development Council said of the due diligence requirement in a submission lodged on Wednesday.

The Hong Kong stock exchange did not comment on whether it would be amenable to making concessions when asked for comment by Reuters.

Its SPAC consultation paper says the bourse does not want to replicate U.S. SPAC rules but instead plans to create a regime “tailored to the particular risks and requirements of the Hong Kong market”, adding that several proposals are “designed to provide a high entry point for SPAC listing applicants and De-SPAC targets.

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission told Reuters in a statement it would work closely with the exchange to take into account market feedback when finalising the new rules.

There has been nearly $137 billion worth of SPACs issued globally so far in 2021, according to Refinitiv. The pace of deals has fallen sharply https://www.reuters.com/business/finance/how-wall-streets-hottest-dealmaking-trend-fizzled-2021-09-16 since the first quarter, however, with U.S. investors spooked by the vehicles’ poor financial performance and a regulatory crackdown.

While Hong Kong is still debating its rules, Singapore last month became the first Asian market to allow SPACs to list, making concessions after the initial proposals were seen as too strict.

European asset manager Tikehau Capital is among the first https://www.reuters.com/article/tikehau-capital-listing/asset-manager-tikehau-capital-applies-to-list-spac-on-sgx-sources-idUSKBN2HH05F to plan a SPAC listing in Singapore, sources have told Reuters.

“I think there is a concern that the proposed SPAC regime for Hong Kong is less competitive than that in other jurisdictions,” said Vivian Yiu, a Hong Kong-based capital markets partner at law firm Morrison & Foerster.

“While the Stock Exchange is understandably putting in place these safeguards to prevent abuse and market manipulation, there is perhaps room for relaxation in some areas as retail investors are excluded from investing until the de-SPAC completes,” she said.

Hong Kong authorities have spent years trying to combat illegal practices linked to the formation and speculative trading of shell companies, which they say provide opportunities for market manipulation and insider dealing. Those concerns resulted in strict rules in 2019 that constrain back door listings.

Stock Markets

Global airlines prepare for Omicron volatility, agility will be key

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Global airlines prepare for Omicron volatility, agility will be key
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A notice about COVID-19 safety measures is pictured next to closed doors at a departure hall of Narita international airport on the first day of closed borders to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus Omicron variant in Narita, east of Tok

By Jamie Freed and Rajesh Kumar Singh

SYDNEY/CHICAGO (Reuters) -Global airlines are bracing for more volatility due to the Omicron coronavirus variant that could force them to juggle schedules and destinations at short notice and rely more on domestic markets where possible, analysts say.

Many travellers have already booked trips for the Christmas period, a peak season for airlines, but there are growing industry concerns over a pause in future bookings and further delays to the already slow recovery in business travel.

Fitch Ratings said it had lowered its global passenger traffic forecasts for 2021 and 2022, with the emergence of new variants like Omicron highlighting the likelihood that conditions would remain volatile for airlines.

“It feels a little bit like we are back to where we were a year ago and that’s not a great prospect for the industry and beyond,” Deidre Fulton, a partner at consultancy MIDAS Aviation, said at an industry webinar on Wednesday.

Airlines have been blaming a lack of consistent and stable health protocols as well as border restrictions for depressed international travel demand.

New protocols in the wake of the Omicron variant are expected to add to their headache.

The United States https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/us-cdc-urges-americans-avoid-travel-niger-poland-over-covid-19-2021-11-30, for example, is moving to require that all air travellers entering the country show a negative COVID-19 test performed within one day of departure.

All non-EU travellers to mainland France, where the Omicron variant has not been detected yet, will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test, regardless of their vaccination status, a government spokesman said on Wednesday. Ireland and Portugal are also demanding that travellers produce a negative test.

Airlines are currently using a range of apps to verify test results. Delta Air Lines (NYSE:) said it would comply with Washington’s directives, but did not say if the new testing requirement would need the carrier to make any changes to its verification app.

Omicron’s impact will vary by country and region due to each government’s response and the diverse nature of global airlines as well as their business models.

Japan Airlines and ANA Holdings on Wednesday suspended new reservations for international flights arriving into Japan until the end of December as the country tightens border controls.

Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways (OTC:), which lacks a domestic market and is operating at only 10% of pre-pandemic capacity, said it was too early to assess Omicron’s impact on demand.

Airlines in countries with large, strong domestic markets like the United States, China and Russia are better shielded from the greater uncertainties of international travel.

An analysis by UBS shows U.S. carriers have not yet changed their scheduled capacity, which is running at 87% of 2019 levels in December and is expected to reach 92% of pre-COVID capacity in January.

United Airlines is launching its Newark-Cape Town route on Wednesday despite a U.S. ban on non-citizens entering from South Africa and Delta Air is expecting strong bookings over the Christmas period.

“In the past year, each new variant has brought a decline in bookings, but then an increase once the surge dissipates. We expect the same pattern to emerge,” said Helane Becker, an analyst at Cowen and Co.

Travel booking website Kayak said international travel searches from the United States were down only 5% on Sunday – a stark contrast to a 26% fall in searches from Britain, which had tightened testing requirements for arrivals.

Major European airlines are far more dependent on international travel than their U.S. counterparts, placing them more at risk of fallout from the Omicron variant.

In Asia, countries like Australia, Japan, Singapore and Thailand had only begun to cautiously lift border restrictions in recent weeks and passenger numbers remained at fractions of pre-pandemic levels before the Omicron variant was discovered.

John Grant, chief analyst at travel data firm OAG, said moves by Japan and Australia to delay entry to some foreigners due to Omicron were “sad and frustrating” but the proportionate impact on travel was “relatively insignificant.”

Airlines globally have been more agile about quickly adjusting their schedules and destinations during the pandemic and that is expected to continue, he said.

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Stock Markets

Wall Street bounces back from Omicron, inflation jitters

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Wall Street bounces back from Omicron, inflation jitters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Wall Street sign is pictured outside the New York Stock Exchange amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

(Reuters) – U.S. stocks jumped at the open on Wednesday, recovering from a sharp sell-off triggered by concerns over rising inflation and the new Omicron coronavirus variant.

The rose 195.22 points, or 0.57%, at the open to 34,678.94.

The opened higher by 35.82 points, or 0.78%, at 4,602.82. The gained 214.58 points, or 1.38%, to 15,752.27 at the opening bell.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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Stock Markets

Germany stocks higher at close of trade; DAX up 2.47%

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Germany stocks higher at close of trade; DAX up 2.47%
© Reuters. Germany stocks higher at close of trade; DAX up 2.47%

Investing.com – Germany stocks were higher after the close on Wednesday, as gains in the , and sectors led shares higher.

At the close in Frankfurt, the gained 2.47%, while the index climbed 1.29%, and the index added 0.99%.

The best performers of the session on the were Infineon Technologies AG NA O.N. (DE:), which rose 5.32% or 2.123 points to trade at 42.053 at the close. Meanwhile, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (DE:) added 4.23% or 3.600 points to end at 88.675 and Daimler AG NA O.N. (DE:) was up 4.17% or 3.470 points to 86.620 in late trade.

The worst performers of the session were HelloFresh SE (DE:), which fell 3.49% or 3.12 points to trade at 86.28 at the close. Sartorius AG VZO O.N. (DE:) declined 3.03% or 18.400 points to end at 588.600 and Qiagen NV (DE:) was down 2.06% or 1.005 points to 47.895.

The top performers on the MDAX were AUTO1 Group SE (DE:) which rose 5.65% to 26.20, Deutsche Lufthansa AG (DE:) which was up 5.07% to settle at 5.633 and Jungheinrich AG O.N.VZO (DE:) which gained 4.87% to close at 43.540.

The worst performers were Wacker Chemie O.N. (DE:) which was down 3.69% to 146.88 in late trade, Carl Zeiss Meditec AG (DE:) which lost 2.20% to settle at 173.050 and LEG Immobilien AG (DE:) which was down 1.94% to 121.100 at the close.

The top performers on the TecDAX were Infineon Technologies AG NA O.N. (DE:) which rose 5.32% to 42.053, Jenoptik AG (DE:) which was up 5.09% to settle at 37.600 and Aixtron SE (DE:) which gained 4.65% to close at 18.620.

The worst performers were Sartorius AG VZO O.N. (DE:) which was down 3.03% to 588.600 in late trade, Carl Zeiss Meditec AG (DE:) which lost 2.20% to settle at 173.050 and Qiagen NV (DE:) which was down 2.06% to 47.895 at the close.

Rising stocks outnumbered declining ones on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange by 536 to 187 and 51 ended unchanged.

Shares in Jenoptik AG (DE:) rose to 3-years highs; up 5.09% or 1.820 to 37.600.

The , which measures the implied volatility of DAX options, was down 12.27% to 24.17.

Gold Futures for February delivery was up 0.61% or 10.90 to $1787.40 a troy ounce. Elsewhere in commodities trading, Crude oil for delivery in January rose 2.10% or 1.39 to hit $67.57 a barrel, while the February Brent oil contract rose 2.20% or 1.52 to trade at $70.75 a barrel.

EUR/USD was down 0.15% to 1.1319, while EUR/GBP fell 0.22% to 0.8503.

The US Dollar Index Futures was down 0.04% at 95.972.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.

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