|Bid||0.00 x 0|
|Ask||0.00 x 0|
|Day's Range||18.12 - 18.45|
|52 Week Range||12.72 - 28.49|
|Beta (5Y Monthly)||1.31|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||6.80|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|Ex-Dividend Date||May 01, 2019|
|1y Target Est||25.53|
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Hong Kong to be no longer autonomous from China Wednesday, a move that further increases U.S.-China tensions and could pave the way for changes to U.S. policy toward Hong Kong that could have massive ramifications for the Hong Kong, Chinese and American economies.
When it comes to where millionaires live in America, the rich keep getting richer.Market research firm Phoenix Marketing International notes that although the total number of millionaire households rose for the 11th straight year in 2019, the gains were disproportionately seen in states that already had more than their fair share of millionaires."While the total number of high-net-worth households grew, these increases were largely seen in the wealthiest states, reinforcing the broader ongoing wealth-gap issues the country faces," says Carl Uttaro, VP of financial services research at Phoenix MI. How Many Millionaires Are in the U.S.?Phoenix MI is tracking the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which could make for a very different landscape going forward. But last year, at least, the good times continued to roll. Indeed, a record 6.71% (or 8,386,508 out of 125,018,808 total U.S. households) can now claim millionaire status. That's up from 6.21% in 2018 and just 5.81% in 2017.Note well that to be considered a millionaire by the standards of wealth research, a household must have investable assets of $1 million or more, excluding the value of real estate, employer-sponsored retirement plans and business partnerships, among other select assets.Although California and New York have a great deal of millionaires in terms of raw numbers, they don't have the highest concentrations of rich households. It turns out there are numerous states with higher percentages of well-off households, several of which probably will surprise you.And don't forget that between living costs and taxes, a million dollars goes much further in some states than others.Here's a look at the millionaire rankings for all 50 states (plus the District of Columbia), based on the percentage of millionaire households in each. Just for good measure, we're also providing important tax and cost-of-living information. SEE ALSO: The Berkshire Hathaway Portfolio: Latest Buffett Stock Rankings
A New Jersey used car dealer was criminally charged on Tuesday with exploiting the coronavirus pandemic by trying to defraud and price gouge New York City into buying N95 respirator masks he was not authorized to sell, in a roughly $45 million scheme. The U.S. Department of Justice said Ronald Romano, 58, sought quick riches in late March when his Performance Supply LLC tried to sell 7 million of the 3M-branded masks to New York City's Office of Citywide Procurement for about 500% above the typical list price. Prosecutors said the Manalapan, New Jersey, resident created a bogus letter falsely showing that 3M Co authorized the sale.
(Bloomberg) -- Follow Bloomberg on LINE messenger for all the business news and analysis you need.Farmers in Cameron Highlands, a cradle of Malaysia’s agricultural industry, dumped hundreds of tons of produce in March after Covid-19 lockdowns shuttered wholesale markets and restaurants across the nation. They also gave Alibaba a chance to crack a difficult arena.Lazada Group SA, the Southeast Asian subsidiary of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., opened a virtual store to link farmers and homebound Malaysians. The uptake surprised even the e-commerce giant: consumers bought an average of 1.5 tons of cabbages, carrots and spinach each day. On the fourth day, 3.5 tons of veggies were sold in less than half an hour. By the third week, about 70 tons had been delivered from farms to doorsteps across the country.Fresh groceries -- now one of the top three categories on Lazada Malaysia -- weren’t even an option there three months ago. Before the novel coronavirus, Lazada had dedicated grocery arms only in Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines; after the outbreak, it’s expanded to Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia. It’s keen to maintain that momentum, backed by 30 fulfillment centers across 17 cities in the region.“Covid-19 is a catalyst of digital transformation in Southeast Asia,” Lazada Group Chief Executive Officer Pierre Poignant said in an interview. “When consumers build a habit, it doesn’t easily go away. E-commerce will become a way of life.”Read more: Southeast Asia’s Internet Economy to Top $100 Billion This YearDemand for fresh groceries has surged globally, but the spike in Malaysia opened a window in particular for China’s largest online commerce company into a lucrative market after years of building one of the region’s largest delivery networks. Since March, more agricultural entrepreneurs, fisheries and local businesses have started to pivot brick-and-mortar business to e-commerce, according to Lazada Malaysia Chief Operating Officer Shah Suriye Rubhen. The festive period of Ramadan, in a country where more than half the population is Muslim, has also galvanized demand and farmers have responded by increasing their assortment of goods on offer.“Local SMEs are realizing that digitizing their business is the way forward to remain sustainable in the long-term, diversify their revenue stream, and market to the increasingly growing internet economy,” Shah said.Alibaba’s unit may have scored in Cameron Highlands, but the wider Southeast Asian market remains heavily contested.Read more: New Alibaba Chief Explains Why He Wants to Kill His Own BusinessLazada, started in 2012 by Rocket Internet before Alibaba eventually bought full control of the company, was the first e-commerce outfit to serve six countries in Southeast Asia. But its fiercest rival Shopee, a unit of Singapore’s Sea Ltd., has expanded aggressively in the past year and overtaken Lazada as the most visited website in 2019, according to research firm iPrice Group.In Indonesia, the largest and most promising market in the region, Alibaba-backed Tokopedia ranks as the top e-commerce company based on web traffic, followed by Shopee, Bukalapak and Lazada. Blibli is the online grocery leader, while “Shopee, Tokopedia and Lazada are playing fast catch-up,” said Roshan Raj, a Singapore-based partner at research firm RedSeer Consulting.It’s not just the e-commerce giants -- the resurgence in online grocery has attracted new entrants from adjacent industries. Singapore’s Qoo10 Pte was particularly swift to act when the government ordered bubble tea shops to temporarily shut along with other non-essential services, offering DIY bubble tea kits. Even meal delivery firm Foodpanda started grocery delivery.At home in Singapore, Lazada’s Lazmall, where brands sell directly to consumers, has recently attracted big names like Under Armour Inc. in Singapore and Thailand, Starbucks Corp. and 3M Co. in Indonesia and department store chain Robinsons, which is shutting one of its three Singapore outlets in August.“There are brands that I would not have imagined would come to e-commerce,” Poignant said.The 41-year-old Frenchman, a co-founder who took the helm last year, says Lazada is interested in grocery deals, including acquisitions and joint ventures, in Southeast Asia. “We are very open to that,” he said, adding the company isn’t in concrete discussions at the moment. His firm last month teamed up with Indonesia’s Rumah Sayur Group to source vegetables from 2,500 farmers in West Java.Lazada acquired Singaporean e-grocer RedMart in 2016. It struggled to meet demand and had to temporarily suspend new grocery orders in April to make adjustments. Poignant said changes made to RedMart helped the company serve 50% more customers each day a month later.“Southeast Asia’s e-commerce market is likely to move from a subsidy game to a quality game,” said Lai Chang Wen, CEO of Singapore-based Ninja Van, which helps e-commerce clients deliver more than a million packages daily in the region. “This shift will be pivotal and have a lasting impact.”Read more: Alibaba Bets on Frenchman to Lead High-Stakes Southeast Asia ExpansionPoignant argues Alibaba’s technologies will help differentiate Lazada, starting with live-streaming. He said Lazada is the only player in Southeast Asia that allows consumers to immediately buy items they see on a stream. By the end of June, Lazada plans to host more than 1,000 daily sessions, up from 4,000 per week now. In April, some 7,000 new live stream accounts were created, up 70% from the pre-pandemic era.Alibaba’s artificial intelligence technology is another asset. Lazada has more than 100 people working on personalizing its experience, part of Lazada’s 9,000-strong workforce across six countries.For the Chinese e-commerce behemoth, Lazada is the single most important piece of its globalization strategy. It aims to serve 300 million Southeast Asians by 2030, up from 65 million now, according to Poignant.Underscoring that ambition, Alibaba last week struck a deal to buy half of Singapore’s AXA Tower, valued at S$1.68 billion ($1.2 billion). Poignant says the 50-story landmark, already home to 3,000 Lazada staff, has very good feng shui. The cylindrical structure was inspired by a stack of coins and originally built as the country’s Treasury Building in 1986. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong once had an office in the building, Poignant added.“Southeast Asia is an absolutely critical market for Alibaba,” he said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
National governments must help provide insurance cover for future lockdowns, the industry's European Union regulator said on Monday, as the private sector cannot afford to provide such broad coverage on its own. Countries have introduced lockdowns to fight the coronavirus pandemic, forcing companies to close and furlough staff. Businesses are fighting to get insurers to pay business interruption claims as a deep recession beckons.
(Bloomberg) -- Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has bought a 50% stake in a Singapore office tower in a deal valuing the property at S$1.68 billion ($1.2 billion).The agreement was struck with a consortium led by Perennial Real Estate Holding Ltd., with the sale expected to close around June, according to a statement Wednesday.Alibaba and Perennial will then create a joint-venture to redevelop the 50-story building, AXA Tower, located in the city’s financial district.Approval has already been granted to increase the building’s floor space to 1.24 million square feet from 1.05 million square feet. Alibaba is an anchor tenant of the building.“Singapore is an important market for Alibaba,” a spokesman for the company said. “This investment will help fulfill our projected business needs across the Alibaba digital economy as we continue to strengthen operations in Singapore.”(Adds comment from Alibaba spokesman in fifth paragraph. A previous version of this story corrected the value of the property.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
AXA SA (EPA:CS) shareholders should be happy to see the share price up 16% in the last month. But that doesn't help...
Insurance broker Willis Towers Watson on Friday estimated general insurance losses between $32 billion and $80 billion across key classes in the United States and UK from the novel coronavirus, surpassing claims from the 9/11 attacks. A report by the broker showed early estimates for U.S. and UK business interruption, contingency, U.S. Directors & Officers, U.S. employment practices, liability, U.S. general liability, U.S. mortgage, trade credit and surety and U.S. workers' compensation.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- There’s always been a whiff of hypocrisy surrounding the World Economic Forum’s annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, where the global elite congregates in a ritzy ski village to debate topics such as hunger and global warming, and basically tell the world how to manage itself better. In a world blighted by a pandemic, the event risks looking completely inappropriate.The organization celebrated its 50th anniversary in January, with an attendance list featuring 2,000 guests representing about 100 countries. Among them were at least 119 billionaires, according to calculations by my Bloomberg News colleague Tom Metcalf. Moreover, while the gender imbalance has improved in recent years, more than three-quarters of the attendees were male which is, frankly, still pathetic. Davos Man looks increasingly anachronistic.Those optics have raised misgivings for one of the Alpine gathering’s regular attendees. “When people are struggling and unemployment is soaring, the very idea of a global elite meeting in a Swiss ski resort is divisive at a time when we need unity of purpose,” Standard Life Aberdeen Plc Chief Executive Officer Keith Skeoch told the Daily Mail newspaper last week. So he decided to pull his company out of Davos. “It is very apparent that we are heading into a significant global recession that will create real hardship in our communities,” Skeoch said in a memo to staff last week. The 3 million pounds ($3.7 million) that would have been spent on the conference, including hosting a whisky bar where a traditional Scottish bagpiper would serenade guests, will instead be donated to “community projects” in the regions where Standard Life Aberdeen operates. The nature of such shindigs means Davos is often caught napping, missing the breaking news that should dominate its agenda. It reflects a basic flaw in human nature: We’re programmed to look for the next banana, and pretty terrible at long-term planning.So when asked about the biggest risks facing the world, respondents to the WEF’s 2020 survey rated extreme weather events, the failure of climate-change mitigation, major natural disasters, loss of biodiversity and human-triggered environmental damage highest. It was the first time climate concerns had dominated the list in the survey’s 14 years, reflecting the prevailing news agenda in the months before the conference.Chronic diseases haven’t made the top 10 of most likely outcomes since 2010, after being rated the second most-probable risk in 2007. Pandemics haven’t featured since ranking as the fourth and fifth highest-impact dangers in 2007 and 2008, respectively.While the world was aware that a virus was spreading outside of China in January, the danger it posed seemed minimal, with fewer than 30 deaths reported by the time delegates gathered. The looming epidemic did make a brief Davos appearance. In a Bloomberg Television interview, Thomas Buberl, the CEO of French insurer Axa SA, said “new viruses will pop up” because of mankind’s encroachment into more regions of the world. But Pascal Soriot at drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc said that while the virus “must be taken seriously,” his personal opinion was that global warming was a much bigger threat.Adapting Davos to respect the strictures of social distancing may prove impossible when the whole point is to rub shoulders with influential people from the globe’s four corners. If the show does go on, you could argue that companies would have a fiduciary duty to keep their senior managers away: I suspect there’s not a single insurance company that would pay out on a Key Person Protection policy if a CEO caught the new coronavirus, or even Covid-20, at a Davos breakfast or sipping cocktails at the Piano Bar.The potential hazards of attending the WEF’s conclave have occurred to at least one member of the financial aristocracy. “I had this nightmare that somehow in Davos, all of us who went there got it, and then we all left and spread it,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. CEO Jamie Dimon said in February. “The only good news from that is that it might have just killed the elite.”There’s also the growing awareness of the climate crisis as a real and present danger to act on. The pandemic has already had a beneficial, if potentially short-lived, effect on the environment, with lockdowns around the world curbing pollution by closing factories and slashing travel. Jellyfish have been spotted floating in the canals of Venice (although, sadly, not dolphins), and whales are enjoying swimming in quieter oceans without the low-frequency noise generated by ships.With the average Davos attendee generating about 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, the bulk of which is emitted by the plane flights there and back, a trip to the conference looks less and less justifiable. If the organizers want to get ahead of the curve by announcing something, they should declare that the 2021 gathering will be held via Zoom. For once, Davos would truly reflect the zeitgeist.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Mark Gilbert is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering asset management. He previously was the London bureau chief for Bloomberg News. He is also the author of "Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
European stock markets headed lower on Friday, erasing meagre gains for the week, as more companies flagged a hit to business from the coronavirus pandemic, foreshadowing a deeper earnings recession ahead of the reporting season. The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.2% at 0705 GMT, with energy stocks tracking a slide in oil prices as investors grew doubtful about a Saudi-Russia deal that U.S. President Donald Trump said he had brokered. Zurich Insurance Group AG, AXA SA, Munich Re and Prudential fell between 1.9% and 4.2% after the European Union's insurance regulator asked insurers and reinsurers to temporarily suspend dividends and share buybacks.
(Bloomberg) -- Marie-Pascale Schuller started feeling sick last week. The 57-year-old doctor specializes in respiratory illnesses, and she had a strong suspicion as to what her fever, cough and aches meant. She wanted to keep seeing patients without the risk of exposing them to Covid-19, so she turned to Qare, a telemedicine app backed by French insurer Axa SA that she’d started using part-time a year ago which allows her to meet with patients via video. The French government is now reimbursing people who use Qare -- usually a private service -- to cope with a surge in demand for doctor appointments.“I am not the only one. Many of my fellow pneumologists -- all of those I know at least -- are 100% telehealth now,” Schuller said in an interview from her home in the Paris suburb of Montgeron. “This is a sanitary measure, as much to protect themselves as the patients.”Telemedicine apps can be anything from text-based services to video chats with doctors. Their use had been growing before the arrival of Covid-19, and the virus is likely to push adoption higher. KRY, which offers telemedicine services in Germany, the U.K., Norway and Sweden, said it’s seen a 47% increase in the number of doctors working for its service in the last two weeks.People who are exposed to the virus are advised by groups like Britain’s National Health Service and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control to self-isolate for at least 14 days. Those who develop symptoms have to stay home for at least seven days. With such a contagious disease -- a sick person spreads the illness to an average of 2 to 2.5 people -- large numbers of health-care workers will get exposed or become sick.Schuller has recovered from what she suspects was Covid-19. She worked through the illness for two hours at a time, resting for an hour between sessions and seeing about 12 patients a day. About a third of those are potential coronavirus sufferers, and all have been able to monitor their conditions from home.“It’s certain that more patients will be using telemedicine after this crisis because they will have gotten used to it, because it’s comfortable,” Schuller said. “We will continue to have our face-to-face meetings but -- especially in respiratory diseases -- what matters is to have long-term contacts with our patients to adjust the treatment, and telemedicine is very useful in this.”Read more: Virus Drives Patients to Virtual Doctors and Buoys TelemedicineThe European Commission in 2018 estimated that the global telemedicine market would grow by 14% a year to reach 37 billion euros ($40.5 billion) by 2021. Those numbers may now be surpassed as virus concerns boost demand, making such consultations more routine and widely accepted.Low-Grade FeverLondon-based Babylon Healthcare Services Ltd., one of the biggest providers which got $550 million in funding from investors including the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia last year, declined to give exact figures but said its user base has grown since the outbreak began.Janaki Thakerar is a doctor of general medicine with the NHS. Her oncologist husband came home from a night shift last week feeling unwell. The couple suspected it was the coronavirus and decided to stay home. By Sunday, Thakerar developed a low-grade fever. After taking an over-the-counter painkiller, she felt well enough to work.Thakerar started using Babylon five months ago to see patients remotely a few days a week, splitting her time between the app and NHS practices. While she’s in quarantine, she’s added more Babylon sessions and is helping with the NHS’s 111 service, a phone line people can call to discuss their symptoms. A lot of diagnoses are based on someone’s medical history, she said, so “you don’t always need to see patients.”And doctors are getting creative about some of the tests they’d typically do in person. For example, there’s the Roth test, which helps doctors estimate a person’s oxygen levels remotely. Patients take a deep breath, start counting to 30, and see how far they get before they need another one.“Things are really challenging,’ said Thakerar. “We’re not managing in the same way we were two weeks ago. It’s difficult for primary care, and all the other health conditions haven’t gone away. We’re all trying to be as resourceful as we can.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
A Native American tribe on Tuesday sued a group of insurance companies, asking a court to declare that losses it is incurring from shutting down its casinos during the coronavirus pandemic are covered by its business insurance. The Chicksaw Nation is among a number of Oklahoma tribes that have temporarily shut down casinos they own in order to curb the spread of the disease. Lawyers for both insurers and policyholders anticipate a wave of litigation over whether various insurance policies for so-called "business interruption" will cover coronavirus-related shutdowns.
(Bloomberg) -- The new coronavirus that’s forcing lockdowns and roiling economies is spurring a silent revolution in the field of telemedicine.As COVID-19 spreads across Europe, leaving new patients in its wake, the fear of infection and a saturated health-care system are driving large numbers of people online for medical consultations. Startups like General Atlantic-backed Doctolib and insurer Axa SA-supported Qare in France, Swedish Kry International AB’s unit Livi, the U.K.’s Push Doctor and Germany’s Compugroup Medical SE that offer up virtual doctors are raking it in.“It’s unfortunate, but the current epidemic is pushing patients to make the leap, and it can accelerate a change in habits,” said Olivier Thierry, chief executive officer of Qare, a French platform that offers video consultations with its team of doctors. “Forecasts on growth are changing by the day.”The business of connecting doctors and patients through video consultations has had a slow start in Europe because of patient reticence, an unfriendly regulatory environment, disparities in health-care systems and insurance rules. Now, with hospitals struggling to cope with the virus, patients are turning to such services and governments are setting aside reservations about the risks of “couch consultations” to ease regulations.The European Commission in 2018 estimated that the global telemedicine market would reach 37 billion euros ($42 billion) by 2021, with an annual growth rate of 14%. Those numbers may now be surpassed as virus concerns boost demand, making such consultations more routine and widely accepted.Qare’s CEO sees telemedicine representing about 10% of France’s 400 million annual medical consultations by the end of 2021 from negligible numbers now. Qare, which takes a 20% fee for consultations, said that in the past couple of weeks it added 25% more bookings than usual. Last year, it had 80,000 appointments, up from 8,000 in its first full year of operation in 2018.For Sweden’s Kry, consultations for virus-related infections -- like colds, flu, cough and fever -- and other general demands has jumped 41% week-on-week in markets outside its home base, Johannes Schildt, its co-founder said. The startup, which raised 140 million euros in January from the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, also operates in Norway, the U.K., Germany and France.The jump came “as health-care systems in our core markets struggle to cope with the Coronavirus-related strain,” he said.Doctolib, the top French startup helping set up medical appointments, says it saw a 40% increase in bookings last week. It clocked up 130,000 video consultations in its first year in that business last year.The startups that manage to broaden their customer base during the virus crisis will find themselves in an increasingly crowded race.In France alone, the market is spread between Qare, Livi, Mesdocteurs, HelloConsult, Medaviz, Hellocare, DoctoConsult and Doctolib. In the U.K. the business is shared by Babylon Health, which got funding from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Push Doctor, askmyGP and Livi.The current epidemic will show which players are “equipped, scaled and have the ability to face the crisis,” said Wais Shaifta, the CEO of Push Doctor, whose backers include Partech and Draper Venture Network. The U.K. company, which works with the NHS, has added 20% more consultations since the start of the year, with a bump since last week. Shaifta expects the virus to push numbers even higher.Telemedicine includes consultations not only with general practitioners but also in specialized areas such mental health, cardiology, dermatology and others, depending on local regulations. Dutch startup Ksyos has invested in the business in the Netherlands, Italy and Austria, and helps patients with long-term ailments to consult doctors on a regular basis.For all its growth, though, telemedicine is not without its detractors.In April, PWC cited an American pediatric doctors’ analysis report, that “telemedicine may benefit patients by making care more convenient and accessible, but new data suggests it may also contribute to the over-prescribing of antibiotics by physicians who aren’t able to physically examine their patients.”“Health care is a serious thing and reliable treatments cannot be traded for the comfort of consultations from a couch,” said Jean-Paul Hamon of the French doctors’ federation. “Telemedicine must be used with more judgment and authorities must make sure it’s not spreading into a business.” He said the coronavirus shouldn’t be “the excuse” to market telemedicine.At the December congress of the industry group called Telemedicine Society, Nicolas Revel, who heads France’s state health-insurance system, said he wasn’t comfortable with the rise of “patient-consumers.”Countries like Switzerland and Estonia have long used the system, initially with telephone consultations. Switzerland is starting to test video medicine with connected self-measurement devices that patients can use in their homes.In the Netherlands, the government says people who want “care and support at home should be able to communicate with their care provider 24 hours a day via a screen.” A startup called BeterDichtbij, better-closer in Dutch, offers a Whatsapp-type consultation with doctors.In Germany, the state has started relaxing rules on remote treatment, but the national culture around privacy and data protection remains a barriers. Doctolib, which entered the market with its appointment-booking offer, has yet to try telehealth in Europe’s biggest market, while Kry’s Livi is starting to make inroads.Governments have been cautious about the spread of the practice, putting the brakes mainly through what they’re willing to reimburse and what is covered by health insurance. The French state, for instance, has been concerned about what it sees as the emergence of a parallel “private health-care” system.“It’s not about our growth, but the government has put limits that don’t allow people to access telemedicine in some remote areas,” said Qare’s Thierry, calling such regulations a “straitjacket.”The coronavirus may be changing that.French Health Minister Olivier Veran this week said the government has published a decree easing reimbursement rules for patients using telemedicine.To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Vidya RootFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, says it will cut exposure to companies linked to thermal coal, among other climate-friendly measures. It’s a powerful signal. Unfortunately, it only scratches the surface. If BlackRock CEO Larry Fink is serious about helping to eliminate coal while reshaping finance, his outfit can use its holdings of sovereign debt to tackle governments, too.Coal power generation has fallen steeply in Europe and the U.S. in the past year or so, thanks to cheap natural gas, higher carbon prices and green pressure. Yet in Asia, once you iron out some local peculiarities, demand for the black stuff remains remarkably resilient. That suggests that even if global appetite peaks soon, as most analysts estimate, it could well remain at high levels for years to come. Analysts at UBS Group AG estimated last July that on current trends the last coal-fired power station may close only in 2079. To blame are the likes of China, India and Vietnam. Their fleet is young, still growing and often state-backed; Western money managers selling out of public securities won’t change that. There is good news. BlackRock is an investment giant, with $7.4 trillion of assets under management, so Fink’s call to arms last week marks a significant move. Cutting off funds for coal producers and driving up their cost of capital is key to suffocating a sector that is the single largest cause of increased global temperatures.BlackRock’s strategic shift is also driven by self-interest. That’s encouraging, as such initiatives tend to outlast moral outrage. Heat from activists, like the BlackRock’s Big Problem campaign, helped, but Fink argues he is making sustainability the new standard because it makes financial sense. The surge of inflows into the firm’s environmentally friendly funds last week will encourage that view.The devil, as ever, is in the detail. BlackRock’s aim to divest thermal coal equity and debt will apply to its actively managed funds. Yet those amount to only under a third of the money it manages. As worrying is the threshold to be used to determine what has to go: The fund manager will sell out of any company where 25% of revenue or more is derived from thermal coal. That gets at narrowly focused producers like Australia’s Whitehaven Coal Ltd., but leaves untouched stakes in diversified heavyweights, like BlackRock’s 6% holding in Glencore Plc, the world’s top producer of seaborne thermal coal, or other sprawling conglomerates. It also tackles primarily miners, not utilities that consume the fuel.It’s possible to aim higher: Axa SA last year vowed to reduce its exposure to the thermal coal industry to zero by 2040.The bigger problem is that while such moves are necessary, they aren’t sufficient. That’s firstly because of the haven offered by private markets. If a large investment fund divests a stock or bond, or pressures companies into selling out of coal projects, what next? BlackRock investors may feel better, but will global production reduce overall? Quite possibly not. Will the world be greener? Also, possibly not, if the pit is sold to owners out of the public eye. Arguably, it may become harder to monitor. That suggests a more effective pressure point is demand, and that means tackling governments and state-backed firms still funding and supporting the fuel. Indeed, real impact will require a change in policy in Asian markets like Vietnam where coal is still a major employer and seen as a driver of economic growth. As a major investor in sovereign debt, even if much of it is in passive funds, BlackRock has enough leverage for meaningful dialogue at least.The challenge is significant. Consider China, which wants to reduce its reliance on coal. At least 200 million tons of coal capacity were ready to start production in 2019, while another 409 million tons of government-approved capacity are under construction, according to Bloomberg Intelligence numbers published last September. Together, that’s almost a quarter of China's up-and-running thermal coal capacity. In Indonesia, coal consumption may grow at the world’s fastest pace. Earlier this month, Jakarta ordered coal miners to slash production after record output last year. Prices immediately turned higher.Policy, then, is the lever to significantly reduce coal use in the region where it’s still growing: Asia. Go back to the UBS numbers. On current trends, the last coal-fired power station closes in six decades. But a red alert scenario where leaders accelerate closures would shutter the last plant in 2058, according to the bank, closer to the 2050 target set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.Indonesia’s tussle with JPMorgan Chase & Co. in 2017 — when Jakarta temporarily severed business ties over a negative research report — is a reminder of just how much emerging market governments care about perception. BlackRock can make that count. To contact the author of this story: Clara Ferreira Marques at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Matthew Brooker at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Clara Ferreira Marques is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities and environmental, social and governance issues. Previously, she was an associate editor for Reuters Breakingviews, and editor and correspondent for Reuters in Singapore, India, the U.K., Italy and Russia.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Isabelle de Gavoty joined AXA IM in 1998, initially as a small-cap analyst and later becoming portfolio manager. After a brief one-year stint at a competitor, she returned to AXA IM in November 2008. On the one hand, she progressively reduced her portfolio management activities outside of this strategy by giving up two French equity funds in 2015 (AXA France Opportunités) and 2019 (AXA France Actions) and removing herself as back up manager of a micro-cap fund.
Last month, Gary Cohn, former director of the National Economic Council and former president and COO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE: GS), joined Hoyos Integrity, a secure mobile telecommunications company focused on the scaling of secure payment solutions. The company aims to reshape the future of payments with an impenetrable digital wallet, founder Hector Hoyos said during a conversation with Benzinga. Hoyos provides secure mobile communications solutions for the United States and its NATO allies.
AXA SA is stepping up its investment in artificial intelligence and data analytics in Hong Kong to improve health outcomes and lower medical costs, latching on to the city's proximity to many technological advancements in mainland China.The insurer expects to spend HK$220 million on technology, such as AI and big data applications by the end of this year, a 10 per cent increase from 2018, according to Ashok Krishnan, chief data officer and head of customer experience at the local unit of the Paris-based insurance group. Hong Kong makes an interesting platform for health insurers to put their tools to work, he said."The uniqueness of Hong Kong is that it is a large market [concentrated in a] small geographic area, which makes it easier to pilot something," Krishnan said in an interview. High-level of smartphone and social media usage, as well as access to new technologies being developed in China, make Hong Kong a "a very interesting" test-bed for new AI and data analytics tools, he added.That appeal has not been diminished as Hong Kong continued to post headline revenue growth in Asia and Hong Kong, according to its latest nine-month results, amid anti-government street protests and an economic slump. Health revenues contributed 1.6 billion euros, or more than a fifth of AXA business in Asia, on the back of higher volumes and positive price effects mainly from Hong Kong. Hong Kong and Beijing scientists use gene editing to find cure for superbugEarlier this month, AXA hosted its first health-related "hackathon" in the city to scour for new ideas and talents to help the firm in its digital and data strategy push to future-proof its business. It underlines AXA's strategy to move from being a traditional "payer of claims" to a proactive "health partner" to its customers, with the aim of improving their health outcomes and medical bills."Traditional insurance is, if something happens to you, we pay for the medical treatment," Krishnan said. "The new way is, how do we prevent you from falling ill in the first place. If you lead a healthy life, it also benefits us." Ageing Hong Kong's grim cancer numbers will rise, survival rates are improvingAbout 100 participants from 10 nations, comprising mostly students and start-up entrepreneurs in the medical, data science, software and business fields, formed 19 teams to brainstorm ideas and prototypes in the 48-hour hackathon. Foreign start-ups eye China's digital health care market in search for revenue modelFacial and object recognition technology would be embedded in the mobile app to help ensure data authenticity, which aims to monitor and raise patients' adherence to medical instructions. The Pill Pal app aims to track timeliness and accuracy of medication taking, and enable patients to share their experiences on side effects."About half of patients with chronic illnesses do not adhere to medication instructions, often due to a lack of motivation, forgetfulness and worries about side effects," according to Cynthia Lam Sin-nga, a member of the winning team comprising mostly senior medical students. Hospitalisation caused by such situations is estimated to have cost US insurers some US$290 billion a year, she noted. Mining and analysing data in the pill Pay app could help insurers devise incentive schemes to reward positive behaviours and reduce medical costs, she added.AXA has already launched insurance products that offer premium rebates to customers who successfully quit smoking, or completed a year-long health management programme if they suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or obesity, Krishnan said. Rivals are also tapping into the value of health data. AIA Group offers premium discount to Hong Kong customers who go through its health screening and healthy living programmes. It also hosted a hackathon last year to generate health-related digital innovation ideas.This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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