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Daily Dispatches – SE Asia CFOs upbeat

The Wall Street Journal reports that CFOs in South East Asia are the most bullish in Asia when it comes to earnings and revenue growth forecasts for 2013, according to a survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

The poll, which surveyed 604 chief financial officers across 12 Asian countries, showed that 81% of executives in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines expect revenue at their companies to grow while 72% forecast expansion in net profit,  higher than the Asia Pacific average of 71% and 62%, respectively.

“Resilient domestic demand in Southeast Asia is key to explaining the optimism we are seeing,” said Percy Batliwalla, head of Treasury sales for Asia Pacific at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Pricing in a rate cut

Bloomberg reports that Australia’s dollar is approaching three-year lows against the US dollar ahead of a decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia on policy today.

The Aussie declined against all its major counterparts, as traders and economists predicted a record low for the benchmark interest rate.

An RBA rate reduction today “almost looks like a done deal, so it’s all about forward guidance, and the urgency they have in delivering another cut,” Stan Shamu, a Melbourne-based market strategist at IG Markets, told Bloomberg.

PE gets costly in Indonesia

Finance Asia reports that rising investor interest in Indonesia is pushing up private equity valuations in that country, with some local food and beverage companies trading at higher multiples than the likes of Coca Cola.

Emerging markets drag

The Financial Times reports that HSBC’s underlying profit in more than half of its 22 key growth markets dropped in the first six months of the year, as cost cuts failed to offset the impact of slowing economies in Asia and Latin America.

Brazil and Mexico posted the steepest profit declines as bad debt charges increased and economic growth decelerated.

HSBC also reported lower underlying profits in several key Asian markets, including China, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

No diplomatic immunity

The BBC reports that HSBC has set the cat among the pigeons by telling more than 40 diplomatic missions in London that it will close their accounts. The move is part of the bank’s risk reduction programme.

The Vatican’s ambassadorial office in Britain, the Apostolic Nunciature, is among those said to be affected.

The head of the UK’s Consular Corps told the media that the decision has created “havoc”.

HSBC said embassies were subject to the same assessments as its other business customers. They need to satisfy five criteria – international connectivity, economic development, profitability, cost efficiency and liquidity.

A spokesman said: “HSBC has been applying a rolling programme of “five filter” assessments to all its businesses since May 2011, and our services for embassies are no exception.


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