Saturday, March 4, 2017

China PM sees global upheaval ahead; How Aramco IPO will redefine Saudi Arabia; China growth target cut to 6.5%

1 China PM sees global upheaval ahead (Tom Phillips in The Guardian) China’s prime minister has warned the world is entering a period of profound political and economic upheaval as the spectre of Donald Trump hung over the opening day of the country’s annual national people’s congress.

Li Keqiang urged China to brace itself for “more complicated and graver situations” ahead, as a result of developments’ “interwoven risks and dangers both at home and aboard”. Addressing about 3,000 delegates in the Tiananmen Square auditorium, Li sought to contrast China with Trump’s increasingly inward-looking America.

“We will ... oppose protectionism in its different forms [and] become more involved in global governance,” Li aid. Kerry Brown, a professor of Chinese politics at King’s College London, said Trump’s election meant the world was looking to Beijing for leadership like never before.

“Now China is a stabiliser rather than a destabiliser. Suddenly these congresses are not just about domestic issues – they are actually a global power doing global things because of the space that America, Brexit and others have opened up around it. So they have a much bigger potential impact.”

2 How Aramco IPO will redefine Saudi Arabia (Matein Khalid in Khaleej Times) The $100 billion Saudi Aramco IPO, four-time bigger than the Alibaba offer, is a historic event in world finance and politics. The choice of its investment banking advisors, underwriters and listing exchange reflects the House of Saud's historic political and economies relationships with American oil supermajors and money centre banks.

The House of Morgan was to international banking what the House of Saud is to global oil. So it is natural that JPMorgan is the lead underwriter of the Saudi Aramco IPO. The choice of Morgan Stanley is governed by its historic role in the Eurobond market and its armies of private client wealth management advisors, inherited from Jamie Gorman's Smith Barney deal.

HSBC also makes strategic sense since it was the joint venture partner of the Saudi British Bank and has built a dominant franchise in trading GCC securities via its own subsidiaries and HSBC Amanah.
Though I heard Saudi officials visited London, Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong to discuss listing options, only the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) can provide the planet's deepest pool of investor liquidity for the world's largest oil and gas IPO. The Saudi Aramco IPO will be a complex 

international deal, given the colossal size of the kingdom's reserves, output and downstream empires.
The Saudi Aramco IPO is designed to lessen the kingdom's dependence on black gold and kick-start the Saudi capital markets. Saudi Arabia has realised that reliance on bank financing alone is a systemic threat to its economic future since it amplifies local credit boom-bust cycles.

The kingdom, like every other GCC state, needs to shift to an "asset securitisation" model to finance its corporate sector. The Saudi Aramco IPO is thus a bellwether for the kingdom's new financial renaissance.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's deputy crown prince, estimates Saudi Aramco is worth between $2 trillion and $3 trillion. This makes Saudi Aramco the most valuable company in the history of the world, let alone the Middle East.

3 China growth target cut to 6.5% (BBC) The Chinese growth target for this year has been cut to around 6.5%, down from 6.5 to 7% last year, Premier Li Keqiang has announced. He was addressing the country's rubber-stamp parliament, the National People's Congress which has gathered in Beijing for its annual session.

The Chinese economy expanded at its slowest pace in 26 years in 2016. Mr Li said he would tackle state "zombie enterprises" producing more coal and steel than the market needed. Similar pledges in the past have proved hard to fulfil.

NPC leaders are tolerating slightly slower economic growth this year to give them more room to push through some painful reforms to deal with a rapid build-up in debt, Reuters news agency reports.

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