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Deloitte China acquires Hong Kong architecture company

Deloitte China has acquired Hong Kong architecture company WCWP International Limited for an undisclosed amount, reported the South China Morning Post. The move will enhance Deloitte’s advisory services in real estate, infrastructure and reorganization. “More than ever, our clients are looking for a one-stop shop experience, especially when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, infrastructure investment and real-estate projects,” Edmund Yeung, Financial Advisory Managing Partner at Deloitte China, told the SCMP. The deal points financial advisory services and architecture “to an innovative new direction to create a totally new field,” said Barry Will, Executive Director at WCWP.

Krain Heinz brings back former CFO

Kraft Heinz Co. replaced its chief financial officer David Knopf with the more “seasoned” Paulo Basilio, amid the food giant facing accounting problems and falling sales. Basilio had been Heinz’s finance chief when it merged with Kraft in 2015 and remained in the role in the unified company until October 2017. Under Knopf, Kraft Heinz has this year written down the value of two marquee brands by US$15.4 billion and withdrawn its financial outlook. Basilio, currently the Chief Business Planning and Development Officer for Kraft Heinz, will take over from 1 September. Knopf will return to his role as a partner at private equity firm 3G Capital, Kraft Heinz’s second-largest shareholder.

Ex-Walt Disney accountant blows whistle on company

A former Walt Disney accountant has claimed that the company materially overstated revenue for years in a series of whistleblower tips filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. According to a MarketWatch report, Sandra Kuba, a former senior financial analyst in Disney’s revenue operations department, alleged in the filings that employees working in the parks and resorts business overstated revenue, sometimes by as much as US$6 billion, by exploiting weaknesses in Disney’s accounting system that allowed the inaccuracies to remain undetected. A Disney spokesperson said the whistleblower’s claims were “utterly without merit.”

London Stock Exchange to buy Refinitiv for US$27 billion

London Stock Exchange Group is in talks to buy financial data provider Refinitiv for US$27 billion. The exchange said it would pay for the deal with newly issued LSE shares as currency, turning Refinitiv’s existing investors into LSE shareholders who would own 37 percent of the combined company and hold less than 30 percent of the voting rights. The purchase would make the US$2.8 billion exchange become a US$8.4 billion exchange and market data giant, 68 percent larger than its nearest exchange rival, Intercontinental Exchange, and second only to Bloomberg in terms of market data revenue. Thomson Reuters, which still has a 45 percent stake in Refinitiv, rose 4.3 percent after the Financial Times reported talks between LSE and Refinitiv.

Alphabet’s cash holdings now at US$117 billion

Google’s parent company Alphabet has overtaken tech giant Apple to become the most cash-rich company in the world. The company holds US$117 billion in liquid reserves, compared with Apple’s US$102 billion, as of the second quarter of this year. The iPhone manufacturer’s reserves have fallen by U$61 billion from its US$163 billion peak since 2017, while Alphabet’s cash reserves rose by US$20 billion over the same period despite heavy investment in real estate as the company buys up space for offices and data centres.

China M&A unlikely tp improve until 2020, says PwC

The value of Mainland China’s mergers and acquisitions (M&As) fell by 18 percent in the first six months of 2019 to US$264 billion, the largest single-period decline over the last decade, according to a recent report by PwC. The decline was driven by steep falls in outbound and private-equity deals, mitigated by some rise in domestic M&A. “Multiple factors are weighing on outbound M&A from China,” said David Brown, PwC Deals Leader for Asia Pacific. “If there are favourable developments on these factors, we do anticipate some rebound in 2020 as the fundamental drivers of Chinese outbound M&A remain in play.”

U.S. and France reach deal on digital tax

The United States and France have reached a compromise on a new French tax on services provided by large Internet companies. France would repay companies the difference between its digital taxes and the taxes based off a planned framework drawn up by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The new agreement has potentially eased the threat of a trade conflict, which saw the two nations lock horns during last month’s G7 meeting, with the U.S. noting that the originally proposed tax would unfairly target big American companies such as Facebook and Google.

Ex-HSBC banker convicted of laundering money

The former chief executive officer of HSBC Holdings Plc’s Swiss private bank has pleaded guilty in France to helping wealthy clients hide almost €1.8 billion worth of assets. Peter Braunwalder was fined €500,000 and given a one-year suspended jail sentence. The crimes took place between 2006 and 2007, when Braunwalder opened Swiss bank accounts, set up offshore trusts and provided fake loans to help his clients evade taxes. The investigation is part of a French crackdown on tax fraud and money laundering operated through Switzerland.  

7 in 10 young job seekers prefer freedom to job security

Seven out of 10 young adult job seekers in the United States believe that the freedom of being their own boss is worth more than the job security of being employed by someone else, according to the MAVY Poll conducted by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The study surveyed millennials who have either graduated from university within the last two years or will graduate within the next year. More than half of those surveyed stated that they are likely to start their own business in the future.

Chinese AI company files for HK IPO

Megvii Technology, one of Mainland China’s largest artificial intelligence (AI) companies, has filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong. If the listing gets approved, it would make the company the first Chinese AI stock to trade on the Hong Kong stock market. The latest funding round, which took place in May, valued Megvii Technology at US$4 billion. The company is the developer of Face++, a facial recognition software used in online identity authentication, and caters to Chinese technology giants such as Alibaba, Huawei and Lenovo.

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