in In The News

In the newsBefore we dive into the weekend, let’s take a look at several major events that made headlines this week in Asia. You’ll read about the Filipino Billionaire who want’s top accelerate mall expansion in China. In India they are issuing two new bank licenses for the first time in a decade. You’ll also read about Volkswagen’s plan to set up operations in Southeast Asia and the $1 coffee at 7-Eleven in Japan that sells like crazy and has boosted the store’s overall sales.

  • Filipino Billionaire to Accelerate Mall Expansion in China

SM Investments Corp. (SM), Filipino billionaire Henry Sy’s holding company, will speed its expansion in China and build more shopping centers within the country. SM Prime Holdings Inc. (SMPH), the company’s mall unit based in Manila, plans to build two shopping centers every year beyond 2016, up from one project a year currently, said SM Prime Chief Finance Officer Jeffrey Lim. SM Prime, which currently has five malls in China, will open a shopping center in Shandong’s Zibo city this year and its biggest in Tianjin in 2015. It operates 48 malls in the Philippines. (Bloomberg)

See also Asia shopping malls: The ‘must-have’ investment?

  • India Issues First Bank Licenses in a Decade

India said it was issuing two new bank licenses for the first time in a decade as it accelerates a push to bring more Indians into the formal banking system. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) announced “in-principle” approval for Mumbai-based IDFC, a major infrastructure project lender, and microfinance company Bandhan Financial Services, located in eastern India, to establish banks. Under their licenses, the new banks must open 25 percent of their branches in rural areas that have no banking services. (Channel NewsAsia)

  • Volkswagen to Tap High-Growth Southeast Asian Market
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Volkswagen has joined a rush by Western carmakers to tap fast-growing Southeast Asian markets to take on Japanese rivals in a region where a burgeoning middle class has money to spend. Volkswagen is seeking to set up operations in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries where the German group has one of the few remaining gaps in its global factory network that encompasses more than 100 facilities. VW has reportedly applied to do this expansion in Thailand, seeking to take advantage from tax breaks that already attracted investment from Ford and General Motors. (Fox Business)

  • LivingSocial Pulls Out of Southeast Asia

LivingSocial is selling off the last of its operations in Southeast Asia for $18.5 million, an arrangement that executives said will add money to its reserves as the company looks to get back on a path of growth. Singapore-based online deals company iBuy Group will pay cash for LivingSocial’s operations in the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, known collectively as Ensogo Holdings. Those outposts were focused primarily on selling daily deals and consumer goods, both lines of business that LivingSocial has sought to move away from in the past year. (Washington Post)

  • 7-Eleven Gets Sales Boost from Coffee Drinkers in Japan

Double shot? Soy milk? Extra foam? Forget it. These coffee shops don’t even have baristas. Japanese coffee drinkers don’t seem to mind. In a little more than a year after 7-Eleven started installing automatic coffee dispensers at its convenience stores across Japan, it sold almost half a billion cups of coffee. “It’s freshly ground, but we managed to provide customers with the price tag of ¥100 (96 cents), which is attractive to everyone,” said Noritoshi Murata, president of Seven & i Holdings Co., the parent of the 7-Eleven chain. (The Wall Street Journal)

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Here are our summaries of noteworthy news events of the week. Today, we turn the spotlight on Japan as the country braces for its first sales tax hike in 17 years. To offset its impact, Japan’s biggest banks have agreed to raise salaries for the first time in 19 years. The world’s third largest economy also anticipates a rise in travel demand when Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games in 2020. Find out what its biggest airline is doing to prepare for the big event.