SoftBank’s China strategy wobbles as key bets disappoint

HONG KONG/BEIJING (Reuters) – For SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T), financial technology firm OneConnect’s IPO should have been a vindication of an aggressive China investing strategy.

FILE PHOTO: Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp Chief Executive Masayoshi Son attends a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, November 5, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Instead, embarrassed bankers had to slash the offering size and cut its price as investors baulked at a business model seen too reliant on majority owner Ping An Insurance (601318.SS). The IPO valued OneConnect at $3.7 billion, about half its worth last year when SoftBank’s Vision Fund invested $100 million, and its stock finished flat in its debut on Friday.

OneConnect Financial Technology (OCFT.N) is just one of many China bets placed by the Japanese investment giant or its massive Vision fund which have run into trouble. That’s added to global woes for SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, under fire for bad judgement and insufficient due diligence, exemplified by U.S. office-space startup WeWork’s disastrous IPO attempt and subsequent bailout.

In ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance Co Ltd’s (6060.HK) 2017 IPO, for example, SoftBank ploughed in $550 million as a cornerstone investor. But the deal was seen by some investors as way overvalued and now trades at about half its IPO price.

Its unlisted portfolio has also had problems. The Vision Fund in February invested $1.5 billion in, valuing the second-hand car dealing platform at more than $9 billion.

But a $500 million funding round for in the first half of the year failed to get off the ground, people with knowledge of the fundraising said.

The people, who were not authorised to speak to media and declined to be identified, said potential investors thought it was too pricey and were put off by its lack of profits in a sector where sales have been declining. said in a statement that talks for new funds were advanced, investors included the Vision Fund and other top international investment institutions and that it expected to be profitable in the fourth quarter.

In fairness to SoftBank, many China IPOs have stumbled, hurt by a sharp slowdown in economic growth and trade tensions with the United States.

But investors and some bankers looking at China-related deals say SoftBank’s involvement, once a sign of promising prospects, was now viewed as a red flag that a company was likely overvalued.

“SoftBank has become a signal that the market has peaked,” said one person involved in the OneConnect IPO.

SoftBank declined to comment on its investments in Chinese companies for this article.


Other big bets like TikTok owner ByteDance and artificial intelligence firm Sensetime are threatened by the fallout from the U.S.-China trade conflict. The Vision Fund has invested roughly $1 billion in both, sources have said.

ByteDance is entangled in a U.S. national security review over how it handles U.S. customer data.

Sensetime in October was added to the U.S. “entity list” which bars it from buying U.S. components without U.S. government approval, over its alleged involvement in human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang.

Sensetime has countered it abides by all relevant laws of jurisdictions in which its operates and that it has been actively developing an AI code of ethics.

Ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing, one of SoftBank’s biggest China bets with $11.8 billion invested, appeared to have a bright future after U.S. rival Uber (UBER.N) traded its China business for a stake in Didi.

But the rape and a murder of a Didi passenger by her driver has dented the company’s image, and its IPO timetable remains unclear after Uber valuations slid.

The Vision Fund opened a China office this year led by former Silver Lake managing director Eric Chen. Two sources familiar with the operation told Reuters that the pace of hiring for the China team has been slow, though SoftBank says the team has grown a lot since March to include about 20 investment professionals.

One source said Chen had scaled back the size of the deals he was looking at, now focusing on investments of around $50 million compared to those of $200 million-$300 million.

SoftBank declined to comment.

It’s all a far cry from just two years ago, when SoftBank and the Vision Fund were ramping up. Son had made a killing with an early investment in Alibaba (BABA.N) – a stake now worth $140 billion – and the China tech business was booming.

Then, Son’s penchant for splashy checks to help startups grow fast and quickly vanquish rivals was in full force – as evidenced by a meeting with Chinese online medical platform Ping An Good Doctor (1833.HK) in late 2017 to discuss pre-IPO fundraising.

“How much do you want to raise in the pre-IPO round and via IPO? “ Son asked Good Doctor’s CEO Wang Tao, according to sources.

Wang told him it would be $300 million and $1 billion respectively.

“How about I give you $1 billion and you drop the listing plans?” Son said.

Wang later decided not to take him up on the $1 billion, receiving instead $400 million from the Vision Fund in a pre-IPO round before listing in Hong Kong last year.

In contrast to some of SoftBank’s other China investments, its stock has made progress after a rocky start, however, climbing and mostly staying above its IPO price since October.

(This story refiles to correct SoftBank Group Corp, not SoftBank Group Inc in paragraph one)

Reporting by Kane Wu and Julie Zhu in Hong Kong and Yang Yingzhi in Beijing; Additional reporting by Sam Nussey in Tokyo and Clare Jim in Hong Kong; Writing by Kane Wu; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Edwina Gibbs

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IFF to merge with DuPont’s $26.2b nutrition unit

International Flavors & Fragrances Inc on Sunday said it will merge with DuPont Inc’s $26.2 billion nutrition & biosciences unit in a deal that will create a new consumer giant valued at more than $45 billion.

Under terms of the agreement, DuPont shareholders will own 55.4% of the shares of the new company and existing IFF shareholders will own 44.6%, IFF said in a statement.

The deal has been unanimously approved by both boards, New York-based IFF said.

Industrial materials maker DuPont will also receive a one-time cash payment of $7.3 billion upon closing of the deal, IFF added.

IFF Chief Executive Officer Andreas Fibig will run the combined company and will also continue to be chairman of the board.

Ireland’s Kerry Group was also negotiating with DuPont for its nutrition unit, Bloomberg had previously reported.

“We conducted a very thorough process leading us to the selection of IFF as the preferred strategic partner for N&B,” DuPont Executive Chairman Ed Breen said.

IFF, which creates flavors and fragrances, works with global brands to develop scents and tastes for products that are household names.

“Together, we will create a leading ingredients and solutions provider with a broader set of capabilities to meet our customers’ evolving needs,” IFF’s Fibig said.

The combination will be executed using a tax-efficient structure called a Reverse Morris Trust, IFF said. Such transactions let a company avoid a big tax bill by spinning off a unit that it wants to divest and simultaneously merging it with another company.

After the deal closes, IFF expects cost savings of about $300 million on a run-rate basis by the end of third year.

The companies said they have obtained fully-committed debt financing from Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse.

IFF also said its largest shareholder, Winder Investments, has agreed to vote in favor of the deal.

Greenhill & Co and Morgan Stanley advised IFF while Credit Suisse Securities (USA) and Evercore served as DuPont’s advisers.


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India: BRICS’ NDB pledges $100 m to NIIF’s Fund of Funds

New Development Bank (NDB), earlier known as the BRICS Development Bank, has committed $100 million to India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund’s (NIIF) Fund of Funds, two people aware of the development said.

NDB is a multilateral development bank that was created by governments to leverage capital for development purposes, especially infrastructure projects. Founded by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (collectively the BRICS countries) in July 2014, the bank was launched a year later with an initial authorized capital of $100 billion.

Earlier in August, NIIF Fund of Funds (FoF) received a commitment of 667 crore (close to $100 million) from the Asian Development Bank (ADB), according to a disclosure on ADB’s website.

NIIF’s Fund of Funds, according to the disclosure, is looking to raise about $1 billion to invest in up to 10 private equity funds managed by fund managers in India. Its portfolio funds are expected to provide primarily growth capital to firms across sectors, including green infrastructure, affordable housing, manufacturing and services.

“Of the targeted corpus, the fund has so far received commitments worth $700 million, including investments from NDB and ADB,” one of the people cited above said.

In June 2018, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) had approved an equity investment of $100 million as part of FoF’s initial closing, committing a further investment of $100 million as part of phase II for the final closing.

Emails sent to NIIF and NDB remained unanswered till press time.

Envisioned in the Union budget 2015, NIIF was launched as an alternative investment fund in December 2016 with a target corpus of 40,000 crore.

Its investments are diversified across its three funds— Master Fund, Fund Of Funds and Strategic Fund, across which it manages $4 billion of capital commitments.

In 2017, Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund—Abu Dhabi Investment Authority—committed to invest $1 billion, becoming the first institutional investor in NIIF’s Master Fund and a shareholder in NIIF Ltd, its investment management firm.

NIIF is a quasi-sovereign wealth fund, in which the government of India holds 49% equity with the rest held by foreign and domestic investors, is mandated to invest in infrastructure and related sectors that could help fuel economic growth in the country.

Its Fund of Funds is mandated to invest as an anchor investor in third-party fund managers. It can also selectively form joint ventures with fund managers.

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UPDATE 2-IFF to merge with DuPont’s $26.2 bln nutrition unit

(Reuters) – International Flavors & Fragrances Inc (IFF.N) on Sunday said it will merge with DuPont Inc’s (DD.N) $26.2 billion nutrition & biosciences unit in a deal that will create a new consumer giant valued at more than $45 billion.

FILE PHOTO: A DuPont logo is pictured on the EMEA (Europe, Middle East & Africa) and Du Pont de Nemours International SA building in Grand-Saconnex near Geneva August 4, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

Under terms of the agreement, DuPont shareholders will own 55.4% of the shares of the new company and existing IFF shareholders will own 44.6%, IFF said in a statement.

The deal has been unanimously approved by both boards, New York-based IFF said.

Industrial materials maker DuPont will also receive a one-time cash payment of $7.3 billion upon closing of the deal, IFF added.

IFF Chief Executive Officer Andreas Fibig will run the combined company and will also continue to be chairman of the board.

Ireland’s Kerry Group was also negotiating with DuPont for its nutrition unit, Bloomberg had previously reported.

“We conducted a very thorough process leading us to the selection of IFF as the preferred strategic partner for N&B,” DuPont Executive Chairman Ed Breen said.

IFF, which creates flavors and fragrances, works with global brands to develop scents and tastes for products that are household names.

“Together, we will create a leading ingredients and solutions provider with a broader set of capabilities to meet our customers’ evolving needs,” IFF’s Fibig said.

The combination will be executed using a tax-efficient structure called a Reverse Morris Trust, IFF said. Such transactions let a company avoid a big tax bill by spinning off a unit that it wants to divest and simultaneously merging it with another company.

After the deal closes, IFF expects cost savings of about $300 million on a run-rate basis by the end of third year.

The companies said they have obtained fully-committed debt financing from Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse.

IFF also said its largest shareholder, Winder Investments, has agreed to vote in favor of the deal.

Greenhill & Co and Morgan Stanley advised IFF while Credit Suisse Securities (USA) and Evercore served as DuPont’s advisers.

Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Daniel Wallis

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Uber all set to sell UberEats’ India business to Zomato – TechCrunch

Uber is in advanced stages of talks to sell its food delivery service UberEats’ India business to local rival Zomato, as the American ride-hailing giant looks to cut its spending globally, three people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The deal values UberEats’ India business at around $400 million, one of the sources said. As part of the deal, Uber may invest between $150 to $200 million in Zomato and get a sizable stake in the 11-year-old Indian firm, people said.

A spokesperson for Uber declined to comment on Saturday. A text to Zomato founder and chief executive Deepinder Goyal, who met Uber executives mid-last week, remained unanswered.

The deal comes at a time when Zomato is in final stages to close a new financing round of $600 million, Goyal told news agency PTI earlier this month. TechCrunch reported earlier that China’s Ant Financial was close to leading a financing round of up to $600 million in the 11-year-old firm.

Uber and Zomato are still negotiating the terms but the deal could finalize before the end of the year, people said. Indian newspaper Times of India first reported about Zomato and Uber’s talks last month.

If the deal goes through, it would mark the end of a year-long struggle for the U.S. giant that has had multiple conversations with both Zomato and Prosus Ventures-backed Swiggy to offload UberEats’ India business.

Uber launched its food delivery service UberEats in India in mid-2017. Even as the ride-hailing giant offered significant discount to customers, UberEats never posed a real threat to Zomato and Swiggy, both of which process more than 1 million orders each day.

In comparison, UberEats’ daily volume of orders peaked under 600,000, said one of the sources. Furthermore, recent quarters have been tough for UberEats, which saw two key executives — Bhavik Rathod (UberEats’ India and Southeast Asia head), Deepak Reddy (head of central operations for UberEats in India) — leave the firm.

During his visit to India in October this year, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said the company remains committed to India, but avoided a question surrounding UberEats’ future in the nation.

In recent earnings call, Khosrowshahi has acknowledged that UberEats is facing tough competition in India but said that the company would continue to operate in the food delivery space.

“Right now the market is very, very competitive. There are a few very strong competitors there. Generally, I would tell you that we want to be the #1 or #2 in every single market. Right now in India, we’re the #3. And so the team knows there’s a big lift ahead of them, but we’re on the game,” he said in August.

The ride-hailing giant projected a negative revenue of $107.5 million for its UberEats business in India for the period between August and December of this year.

Offloading UberEats India would help Uber reduce its losses. The company, which has cut hundreds of jobs this year, reported a quarterly loss of more than $1 billion in in November. In the prior quarter, it lost about $5.2 billion.

In recent months, Zomato has focused on reducing its burn rate on food delivery. The company, which as of last year was losing more than $40 million each month, has cut its monthly losses to $20 million, Info Edge, one of the investors in Zomato, told analysts in an earnings call last month.

Meanwhile, Swiggy continues to expand to more cities and explore delivery beyond food category. In a recent interview with TechCrunch, Prosus Ventures executives said they believe in long-term bets — a strategy — and the fact that it contributed $716 million in a $1 billion round in Swiggy late last year — that has helped the food delivery startup expand to more than 500 cities, up from fewer than a dozen cities three years ago.

Like Zomato and UberEats, Swiggy is also not profitable.

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Sustainable investors face squeeze as larger firms move in

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Reuters) – Specialized fund managers who pioneered green investing for decades are missing out on some of the spoils as the sector goes mainstream and large firms move in.

So-called sustainable funds, which pick stocks based on environmental, social or governance (ESG) criteria, are on track to take in more than $16 billion in net new deposits this year, triple last year’s record of $5.5 billion, according to fund tracker Morningstar Inc.

But the new money has largely gone to top asset managers like BlackRock Inc (BLK.N) and Vanguard Group, which were late to the sector. BlackRock’s iShares ETF line had the most inflow, with $3.75 billion for the nine months ended Sept. 30, with Vanguard in third place with $2 billion of new money.

Meanwhile, several well-known socially responsible investment firms that began developing the sector as early as 1971 have had net customer withdrawals from their mutual funds this year, Morningstar found.

Those included Parnassus Investments and Pax World Funds. Another, Boston Common Asset Management, had net outflows through September but turned things around in October in its mutual funds, which account for only about 10% of its assets.

The main reason for the pattern is structural: the top firms have the scale to handle big institutional deposits, often in low-cost passive funds that track indexes and do not require active stock-picking.

“We’re not getting those same kinds of flows and yes, that’s a little frustrating,” said Pax World Senior Vice President Julie Gorte.

She spoke during a sustainable-investing conference in Colorado last week, The SRI Conference, which drew a record attendance of about 900 people. Sustainable investing still represents just a small fraction of the $21 trillion U.S. mutual fund market but lately has proven popular, especially with young investors concerned about climate change and social issues.

To differentiate themselves, Gorte’s firm and others say they are better activists and press harder for corporate policy changes compared with the index shops, which do not file shareholder resolutions, rarely single out companies for attention and hold oil and gas companies widely in their portfolios.

For instance, Pax World last week refiled a shareholder proposal asking Oracle Corp (ORCL.N) to report on gender pay equality, and Parnassus in September swore off investments in fossil fuel companies. For its part, Boston Common touts how it held talks with retailers like Costco Wholesale Corp (COST.O) and Kroger Co (KR.N) on nutrition and food waste.

“That’s our core message, that we’re an advanced authentic sustainability player,” said Lauren Compere, Boston Common’s director of shareholder engagement.

BlackRock and Vanguard argue that their approach resonates with clients. “Sustainable investing has moved from a satellite allocation to the core of a portfolio for financial advisers and institutional investors,” a BlackRock spokesman said.

Vanguard executives said the firm offers a wide range of products aimed at clients with many different views and financial needs. Some may want only to have certain sectors screened out of their index funds, while others “may desire a more active approach,” said spokeswoman Carolyn Wegemann.

To be sure, Morningstar found other sustainable firms took in money this year, including Green Century Capital Management and Trillium Asset Management. They had $35.4 million and $16.6 million in net new deposits respectively through September, small amounts compared with the index firms.

Traditionally, socially minded funds had poorer performance. But that penalty has faded as top companies, including Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and Walmart Inc (WMT.N), took steps like using more solar power, allowing sustainable funds to invest in them and to participate in the steady rise of their stock prices.

The $3.8 billion Parnassus Endeavor Fund (PARWX.O), for instance, was up 29% this year through Nov. 15, 2.27 percentage points better than its benchmark Russell 1000 index. Over the past five years its total annualized return of 11.75% beat 95 percent of peer funds, according to Morningstar.

FILE PHOTO: Traders work on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., October 18, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Like other active funds, however, it has had some down years, which has steered investors to passive products with more consistent performance like the $6.7 billion Vanguard FTSE Social Index Fund.(VFTNX.O) It is up 28% so far this year, 1.76 percentage points better than the benchmark Russell 1000 index. Its 5-year total annualized return of 12.07% beat 97 percent of peer funds.

Parnassus Chief Marketing Officer Joe Sinha said flows can return if markets turn choppy while managers use sustainability as a marker to pick well-run companies. Until then, his firm and rivals may face headwinds.

“We’re not immune to the trend into passive investing,” he said.

Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Alden Bentley and Dan Grebler

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Xi visits Macao, Chinese corporate debt and Rouhani in Japan

Welcome to Nikkei Asian Preview, a list of the most important business, economic and political events happening in Asia each week.

How can we make this newsletter better? Give us your feedback here.

Here’s what we’re watching, plus scroll down for a sneak peek of our next cover story:


Pressure and propaganda

The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, will release a report on mainland China’s efforts to influence the media and disseminate information vetted by Beijing.

The report comes as unrest in Hong Kong reaches its sixth month, and a few weeks before Taiwan’s presidential elections.

Background: From Hong Kong to the NBA, how China is losing the media war


Carrie Lam wraps annual Beijing visit

Troubled Chief Executive Carrie Lam will return to Hong Kong on Tuesday after briefing Beijing on the state of the city. Central government officials are expected to give Lam guidance on handling the protests, and to discuss further integrating Hong Kong into national development plans.

Opinion: Our contributors on whether Hong Kong has more to gain from carving out its own path, or from Beijing’s plan to create a tech region to rival Silicon Valley.

Protesters in Hong Kong criticize Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s close ties to Beijing.    © Reuters

Masayoshi Son speaks at government event

After keeping the government at arm’s length, SoftBank Group CEO Masayoshi Son is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the Moonshot International Symposium in Tokyo.

Moonshot Research and Development Program, a newly established government initiative to fund “radical solutions”, possibly including artificial intelligence, which Son has famously invested in.


Thailand’s central bank meets

After two cuts to balance the strength of the baht, the Bank of Thailand is expected to hold the rate steady at its last meeting of the year.

Thailand’s currency is hovering at its most expensive level against the dollar since 2013.

Taro Kono meets defense counterpart in China

Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono is scheduled to meet in China with his counterpart, Wei Fenghe. It will be the first visit to China by a Japanese defense minister since Yasukazu Hamada in 2009.

On the agenda: Establishing a hotline between senior officials to prevent accidental sea and air clashes will be the main topic, as well as the Chinese military’s participation in naval reviews with Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.


“China’s LVMH” stares down a default

Fashion giant Shandong Ruyi, which as recently as last year was referred to as China’s LVMH, faces a bond repayment deadline.

Bad reviews: Moody’s Analytics cut the company’s rating last week, citing its ability to service offshore and onshore debt maturities over the next 18 months. Earlier this month, S&P withdrew from rating the company.

Why it matters: Any delays will add to fears of offshore bond defaults as China’s economic growth drops to a three-decade low. Earlier this month, investors in commodities trader Tewoo Group’s dollar-denominated bonds took heavy losses in what is considered the first offshore default in two decades by a Chinese state-owned company.

Honda leans on motorbike business

As the automobile market enters a slump, Honda Motor will announce its strategy to increase its Southeast Asian market share in alternative forms of transport.

Motorcycles are the new cash cow, and Honda showed off its electric models at the Tokyo Motor Show last month.


A message from Macao

Chinese President Xi Jinping will be on hand in Macao as the city observes the 20th anniversary of its return from Portuguese to Chinese rule.

Ho Iat-seng, previously the legislative president, will be inaugurated as Macao’s new chief executive.

With Beijing keen to play up Macao as a role model amid Hong Kong’s continuing protests, Xi will reportedly announce measures to support Macao’s development as a yuan securities hub.

Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2014, celebrating the Macao handover anniversary.   © Xinhua/Kyodo

Rouhani and Abe meet in Tokyo

Amid a deadlock with the parties in the Iran nuclear deal, President Hassan Rouhani is expected to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday in Japan. Abe is expected to liaise between Rouhani and the U.S.

Safe passage along the Persian Gulf is a critical issue for Japan, which depends on oil from the Middle East. During their last meeting at the United Nations in September, Abe urged Rouhani to play a constructive role in stabilizing the region.


A tale of two rallies

The southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung, where Kuomintang presidential candidate Han Kuo-yu was elected mayor last year, will see two opposing protests on Saturday.

Critics of Han will protest his deserting the city to run his national campaign. In response, Han has mobilized his supporters across the country to come to Kaohsiung.

The city’s police department will maximize manpower to guard the rallies, especially when the two sides cross paths at a local train station.

Taiwan’s election: A battle over identity with ballots, not bullets

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The $100bn ceiling Japanese companies cannot shatter

TOKYO — At the end of 1989, with Japan’s bubble economy blindly approaching the cliff’s edge, Japanese companies made up about half the world’s 100 most valuable corporations.

Now the country’s only representative on that list is Toyota Motor.

The biggest factor behind Japanese companies’ lackluster market performance is corporate chiefs’ inability to make tough calls and focus resources on strategically important businesses. They are falling behind even as technological innovations and strategic acquisitions drive brisk corporate expansions across the world. 

The remarkable rise of Procter & Gamble’s market value compared with such Japanese companies as Fast Retailing and Rakuten serves as a prime example.

The American multinational consumer goods company has sold off its Pringles potato chip and Duracell battery brands and instead focused on laundry detergent, skin care and eight other core businesses over the past 20 years. Shareholders rewarded the company by lifting its value to $300 billion from $100 billion in that time. 

On the other hand, the operator of the Uniqlo casual clothing brand has not been able to hit $70 billion, and Rakuten, Japan’s leading e-commerce company, has lost steam after reaching $20 billion.

Similarly, the market value of Kao, a major Japanese consumer goods maker, has doubled, but just to $39 billion during the same period.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange is planning an overhaul of its market categories to bring back investors. It aims to create a “prime” market for selected blue chips, a category reserved for companies with strong investor appeal.

The move would remake TSE’s swollen first section into a board for elite companies that can power the market’s advance.

But such superficial changes may not be enough to lure back capital.

The exchange already has an index tracking the cream of the crop: the Topix Core 30 Index. It is composed of 30 of the first section’s largest companies in terms of sales or market capitalization. The stocks constituting the index are reviewed annually to ensure that only high-growth companies are on the list.

Despite being made up of the bluest of chips, however, the Topix Core 30 has actually underperformed other indexes.

Currently, the Core 30 is slightly below 80% of the value it held on April 1, 1998, while the Topix is 40% higher. The Topix Small Index, composed of first section issues not among the 500 largest ones, is 120% above its April 1998 level.

The data leaves little doubt that the principal factor behind the Japanese stock market’s failure to climb has been the wobbly performance of the leading stocks.

Japanese companies tend to stop growing earlier than their Western and Chinese rivals. Many of the country’s corporate giants struggle to rise past 10 trillion yen ($100 billion) in market capitalization.

According to data from QUICK-FactSet from 1985 onward, of the companies that exceeded $10 billion (approximately 1 trillion yen), 20% reached $50 billion in Japan, but only 3. 9% of the companies reached $100 billion.

Only eight Japanese companies have ever cleared the $100 billion bar. This is far below the 86 in the U.S., 53 in Europe and 18 in China.

Japanese companies tend to mature early, according to a return on assets analysis conducted by a researcher group led by Hiroshi Shimizu of Waseda University. The results show Japanese companies’ average return on assets, or ROA, an indicator of a company’s profitability relative to its total assets, peaks at slightly above 10% about 10 years after it is founded, then starts dropping.

The ROA picture at Japanese companies stands in sharp contrast to that of their U.S. counterparts, which keep ROA figures at 10% to 12% for extended periods.

Shimizu says the biggest factor behind the difference is that Japanese companies are unable to shift resources away from unprofitable ones toward strategically important businesses.

Kazushige Okuno, chief investment officer of Norinchukin Value Investments, says growing companies can maintain momentum by concentrating resources on core competencies and shooting for overwhelming dominance in the market.

There are some encouraging signs. Sony‘s stock has surged to a 17-year high as the company has invested in its highly competitive image sensor business while scaling down its consumer electronics operations.

Keyence makes automation sensors, measuring instruments and other industrial-use products. It has excelled in its ability to meet detailed customer needs and is approaching the 10 trillion yen threshold.

Dynamic management that can make strong businesses even stronger is the only way to escape the doldrums Japanese companies remain stuck in.

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‘Project Qatar Mobility’: shuttles autodirigíveis posicionados para elevar o transporte público local de Doha para um novo patamar em 2022

Hoje, no Fórum de Doha em Catar, na presença de sua excelência o vice-primeiro-ministro e ministro de Relações Exteriores, Xeique Mohamed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, representantes da Volkswagen AG e da Autoridade de Investimento do Catar (QIA – Qatar Investment Authority) assinaram o Projeto de Mobilidade de Catar (“Project Qatar Mobility“). A assinatura foi testemunhada por diversos ministros do Catar, dignitários e altos representantes do Catar e da Alemanha.

Pela primeira vez, uma frota avançada de shuttles elétricos autodirigíveis, de nível 4, irá prenunciar uma nova era de mobilidade urbana na capital do Catar em 2022: Mais cedo, hoje, no Fórum de Doha no Catar, na presença de diversos dignitários do Catar, representantes da Volkswagen AG e da Autoridade de Investimento do Catar (QIA – Qatar Investment Authority) assinaram o Projeto de Mobilidade de Catar (“Project Qatar Mobility“).

O objetivo é desenvolver um projeto revolucionário de transporte autônomo e transformar o futuro da mobilidade urbana para o emprego sustentável e comercial de serviços de shuttles AD e de ônibus – para além de 2022. Promovendo uma colaboração intermarcas como modelo para futuras soluções de AD, a Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, a Scania, a MOIA e a AID-Autonomous Intelligent Driving irão exercer um papel importante nesse projeto. Durante o maior evento esportivo do mundo, o Catar será o palco do primeiro sistema de transporte público urbano elétrico, autônomo e sem emissões do mundo.

O contrato foi assinado hoje pelo presidente-executivo da QIA, Mansoor Al-Mahmoud, e pelo presidente do conselho do Grupo Volkswagen, Dr Herbert Diess, em uma cerimônia em Doha. A iniciativa, que é conhecida como “Projeto de Mobilidade do Catar” (“Project Qatar Mobility“), ressalta o compromisso mútuo das tecnologias inteligentes e do transporte verde:

A QIA e a Volkswagen vão trabalhar juntas para desenvolver a infraestrutura física e digital requeridas para integrar, com perfeição, a frota de veículos autodirigíveis com a rede de transporte público existente em Doha. Os shuttles elétricos e autônomos ID. BUZZ AD da Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles irão transportar até quatro passageiros na área de Westbay em rotas semifixas, enquanto os ônibus Scania de alta tecnologia irão transportar grupos maiores. As unidades do Grupo Volkswagen AID e MOIA irão fornecer o conhecimento de SDS e o software do aplicativo para operar o serviço. Pela primeira vez, quatro marcas do Grupo Volkswagen trabalham juntas em um projeto de mobilidade urbana.

Esse projeto histórico irá criar um ecossistema holístico para a direção autônoma, incluindo a criação de estrutura jurídica apropriada, infraestrutura de cidade inteligente e transferência de conhecimentos, que pode ser usado como um modelo para transformar a mobilidade urbana, tanto em Catar como em outros países. Os testes fechados dos veículos shuttle e dos ônibus deverão começar em 2020 e as experimentações irão começar ainda em 2021. O projeto entrará em operação em 2022, fornecendo uma amostra técnica da direção autônoma no futuro.

O presidente do conselho da Volkswagen, Dr Herbert Diess, disse: “O Projeto de Mobilidade do Catar irá exercer um papel muito importante em nossa “Estratégia Juntos 2025+” (“Strategy Together 2025+“). Lidar com o crescimento econômico, desenvolvimento social e dificuldades da gestão ambiental, identificados como parte de nossa visão, e acentua nosso compromisso de investir na mobilidade de próxima geração. Iremos experimentar aprendizagens do mundo real e usar o projeto como degrau – por gerações por vir”.

Dentro do Grupo Volkswagen, a Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) é responsável pela Direção Autônoma, Mobilidade como Serviço (MaaS – Mobility as a Service) e Transporte como Serviço (TaaS – Transport as a Service), devido ao fato de que os primeiros casos de uso são planejados no setor comercial. No futuro, a VWCV irá, portanto, desenvolver e produzir veículos para propósitos especiais (SPV – Special Purpose Vehicles) correspondentes, tais como táxis-robô e vans-robô. O presidente do conselho da VWCV, Dr Thomas Sedran, explicou os objetivos do projeto: “Utilizando o Bulli de amanhã, com o sistema de direção autônoma sendo desenvolvido atualmente pela AID, adicionando o compartilhamento de transporte (ride pooling) inteligente da MOIA e habilitando a reserva via aplicativo – iniciando, portanto, o futuro do transporte urbano: mobilidade com CO2 neutro combinado com tecnologia do SDS garantem eficiência e segurança máximas. Dessa maneira, estamos transportando toda uma sociedade, com todas suas exigências de mobilidade limpa, inteligente e sustentável. A VWCV está se tornando uma provedora integrada de mobilidade. A direção autônoma é um ponto essencial para a transformação de nossa principal atividade”.

O presidente e presidente-executivo da Scania, Henrik Henriksson, disse: “Na Scania, nosso propósito é promover a mudança para o transporte sustentável. Nos próximos anos, os progressos em tecnologia e infraestrutura dos veículos elétricos e autônomos serão fatores essenciais nessa mudança. Com relação ao transporte de pessoas, um grau maior de compartilhamento também é importante e através de avanços em transporte autônomo será mais simples introduzir mais flexibilidade em transporte compartilhado de pessoas. É estimulante poder exercer um papel em projetos de vanguarda como esse do Catar”.

Ao comentar o anúncio, o presidente-executivo da QIA, Mansoor Al Mahmoud, disse: “Para nossas cidades progredirem, precisamos de uma nova onda de inovações. Tecnologias de transporte sem emissões, habilitadas por inteligência artificial (IA), irão ajudar a promover a mobilidade urbana, ao mesmo tempo que diminui congestionamentos e aumenta a eficiência energética”.

O presidente-executivo da QIA, acrescentou: “Estamos orgulhosos da parceria da QIA com a Volkswagen, que irá colocar o Catar na linha de frente dessas novas tecnologias. O desenvolvimento de uma solução de transporte inteligente irá ajudar a transformar o futuro da mobilidade humana, domesticamente e em todo o mundo”.

A estratégia de investimento da QIA se baseia na responsabilidade de gerar retornos fortes e sustentáveis e nossa capacidade de identificar valor de longo prazo dentro de uma grande empresa global é uma impulsionadora essencial de nosso sucesso.

Como tal, a QIA mantém um estreito relacionamento com as empresas de seu portfólio e está profundamente concentrada em sua visão. A QIA é há longo tempo investidora no Grupo Volkswagen e tem dois representantes altamente conceituados em seu Conselho Supervisor de Administração. A QIA continua dando suporte ao crescimento do Grupo VW, incluindo sua expansão em andamento e a posição de liderança que assumiu na produção em massa de veículos elétricos.

Sobre a marca Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles:

“Nós transportamos o sucesso”. Como marca autônoma dentro do Grupo Volkswagen, a Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWCV) é responsável pelo desenvolvimento, construção e vendas de veículos comerciais leves. Eles incluem os veículos das séries Transporter, Caddy e Amarok, que são produzidos em Hannover (Alemanha), Poznań (Polônia), Września (Polônia) e Pacheco (Argentina). Nossos veículos transportam trabalhadores de construção, famílias e aventureiros, pães, pacotes e pranchas de surfe. Todos os dias eles ajudam inúmeras pessoas, de todo o mundo, a fazer um bom trabalho, operam como oficinas ambulantes e conduzem paramédicos e policiais para onde for necessário. Em 2018, a marca Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles comercializou cerca de 500.000 veículos. Nas unidades da empresa no mundo, trabalham mais de 24.000 empregados, incluindo cerca de 15.000 na fábrica de Hannover.

Informações sobre a unidade de Hannover podem ser encontradas em: 

Sobre a marca Scania:
A Scania é uma provedora de soluções sustentáveis de transporte e é parte do projeto que está explorando oportunidades para o transporte autônomo de pessoas, no contexto das soluções de mobilidade em Doha, Catar.

Sobre a MOIA:
A MOIA, subsidiária do Grupo Volkswagen, desenvolve serviços de mobilidade e trabalha em parceria com as cidades e operadores de transporte público local. Atualmente, a MOIA está desenvolvendo e implementando o sistema de transporte compartilhado (ridepooling), para reduzir o tráfego de carros individuais e usar a infraestrutura viária de forma mais eficiente. As cidades têm menos congestionamentos, barulho e emissões. O serviço de ônibus a pedido (on-demand) da MOIA começou nas cidades alemãs da Hannover e Hamburgo.

Sobre a AID-Autonomous Intelligent Driving:
A AID é o Centro de Excelência para o desenvolvimento de direção autônoma de nível 4 em ambientes urbanos para todo o Grupo VW. A empresa reúne os melhores talentos do mundo em software, robótica, IA e tecnologia automotiva para construir sistemas autodirigíveis capazes de melhorar a vida de milhões de pessoas. Com sede em Munique, a equipe da AID tem, atualmente, mais de 260 especialistas, de 47 nacionalidades diferentes. Para a empresa, o futuro não é apenas fabricar veículos mais autônomos, mas tornar as pessoas mais autônomas.

Sobre a Autoridade de Investimento do Catar (QIA – Qatar Investment Authority):
A Autoridade de Investimento do Catar é o fundo soberano do Estado do Catar e uma grande contribuinte para a realização da Visão Nacional do Catar para 2030. A QIA foi fundada em 2005 para fortalecer a economia do país, promovendo a diversificação em novas classes de ativos. Estruturando-se na tradição de investimentos do Catar, de mais de três décadas, o crescente portfólio da QIA de investimentos de longo prazo ajudam a complementar a riqueza do Estado do Catar em recursos naturais. Com sede em Doha e subsidiária em Nova York (QIA Advisory), a QIA é estruturada para operar nos níveis mais altos do investimento global. Como investidora de classe mundial, a QIA adere às mais rígidas disciplinas financeiras e comerciais. A QIA tem um forte histórico de investimentos em múltiplas classes de ativos, incluindo valores mobiliários registrados, propriedades, ativos alternativos e participações privadas em todos os principais mercados do mundo. A QIA faz investimentos socialmente, economicamente e ambientalmente responsáveis e contempla além de investimentos de curto prazo, porque a QIA busca crescimento equilibrado e sustentável para maximizar retornos de longo prazo.

Aviso de isenção
Algumas das declarações neste press release podem ser declarações prospectivas ou declarações de expectativas futuras, baseadas em informações disponíveis atualmente. Tais declarações são naturalmente sujeitas a riscos e incertezas. Fatores tais como o desenvolvimento de condições econômicas gerais, condições futuras do mercado, eventos de perdas catastróficas incomuns, mudanças nos mercados de capitais e outras circunstâncias podem fazer com que os eventos ou resultados reais sejam substancialmente diferentes dos que foram previstos em tais declarações. A QIA não faz qualquer representação ou dá garantias, expressas ou implícitas, no que se refere à precisão, inteireza ou status atualizado de tais declarações. Portanto, em nenhum caso, de forma alguma, a QIA ou qualquer de suas empresas afiliadas respectivas, serão responsabilizas por quem que que seja por qualquer decisão ou ação tomadas em combinação com as informações e/ou declarações neste press release ou por qualquer dano relacionado.

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Contatos com a mídia 

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles:


AID-Autonomous Intelligent Driving:

Qatar Investment Authority (QIA):

FONTE Qatar Investment Authority (QIA)

SOURCE Qatar Investment Authority (QIA)

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