MarketLine Blog

Posts written in March 2015

Agriculture takes center stage again in PRCs 2015 policy portfolio

MarketLine

China once again placed agricultural reform at the top of its policy agenda in its latest No.1 Central Document, released in February. The No.1 Document is released annually and outlines key policy priorities for the year ahead. For the twelfth year running, agricultural reform has taken center stage. The reason for this is simple: as one official puts it, “China has to feed about one fifth of world’s population from less than 10 percent of the arable land.” There are two key issues facing Chinese agriculture. The first is productivity…. Read more

The New Cars Market in 2015

MarketLine

In the international spectrum China will remain the main driver for a global growth in the sales of new passenger cars. The forecast for automotive industry is still optimistic despite the slowdown in the major European markets, such as France and Italy. The second place on the podium is occupied by, dethroned a few years ago, the USA. Americans bought 7.7m of new passenger cars in 2014. In order to maintain a sustainable growth, manufacturers will have to look for new customers in rural areas of developing countries like China… Read more

ChemChina move into the fast lane with Pirelli tires purchase

MarketLine

The announcement of the proposed acquisition of Italian tire maker Pirelli by China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina), a state owned chemical company, on March 23rd marks a significant move in the global tires industry. While Pirelli is an attractive business in itself, recording net profits of $414m in 2014 and boasting a strong balance sheet, there are a three key reasons motivating ChemChina’s takeover. Firstly, Pirelli’s focus on high performance car and motorcycle tire segments means the business has a wealth of technological knowledge and research and development (R&D) capability… Read more

The US is poised to become a net exporter of fracked gas in 2015

MarketLine

The US has now moved to a position where it can export fracked natural gas. Cheniere Energy, a company which initially spent $2bn building a natural gas import terminal is now building an export terminal, expected to be finished this year, allowing it to sell liquefied natural gas to other countries. The company’s Sabine Pass facility got the first approval from the Department of Energy to export to any country in the world. CEO Charif Souki said, “It’s a revolutionary thing, absolutely astonishing, that America will be an exporter of… Read more

Sabadell’s TSB takeover sparks wave of optimism

MarketLine

On Friday (March 20), Spanish banking group Banco Sabadell announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire UK high street bank TSB, sparking talk of a potential wave of M&A activity. The cash offer of 340p ($5.60) per share represents a premium of 30% on the June 2014 flotation price of 260p ($4.28) and a slight premium on the current share price of 333p ($5.48). The advantages for all parties are clear. For its part, Banco Sabadell is prepared to pay a premium for what it sees as growth… Read more

Lloyds success to pave way for RBS sale?

MarketLine

The UK government has sold another tranche of the shares it owns in the Lloyds Banking Group – one of the banks controversially bailed out during the financial crisis. The latest round of sales, aimed to capitalise on prices close to the 12-month high, have coincided with Lloyds’ announcement that it will commence paying dividends for the first time since the bailout on the back of a fourfold increase in the group’s underlying profit. UK Financial Investments (UKFI), the entity set up to manage government stakes in bailed-out banks, had… Read more

Holistic intelligence and the limits of Big Data

MarketLine

Big Data has been heralded as a ground-breaking technology that will transform the way that businesses operate. As such, major organizations have been quick to understand and implement Big Data analytics in a number of different ways. The most common implementations have to date been limited to internally-focused information, through fairly standardized techniques. There are therefore a number of externally-focused areas in which Big Data technologies could be further utilized, as well as the potential for stretching the industry towards ever more complex analytics. Nevertheless, there must also be some… Read more

Launch of Virgin Trains East Coast tightens Stagecoach’s grip on UK long distance passenger transport

MarketLine

March 1st 2015 saw the launch of Virgin Trains East Coast, operating the UK East Coast passenger rail franchise, awarded to a consortium of Stagecoach Plc. (90% holding) and Virgin Group (10% holding). Stagecoach Group Plc., a large multi-modal transport group, will run the East Coast Main Line ( connecting major cities such as London, Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh) franchise through to April 2022, together with the West Coast Main Line franchise through Virgin Trains , a 50:50 venture with Virgin. This will mean that the group effectively controls both… Read more

Smartwatches – Samsung wise to stop the clock? Apple et al to gain advantage?

MarketLine

2015 promises to be an exciting time for the tech industry. Not least because it is being heralded as the year of the smartwatch, which is something 2014 could not achieve. 2014 did, however, witness many glimpses of technological advancement in the wearable technology industry, with many manufacturers turning their attention to smartwatches. There are fundamentally two types of smartwatch, a stand-alone smartwatch which houses a sim-card (and therefore requires a contract plan) and needs no connectivity to a smartphone in order to work, and a smartwatch that operates only… Read more

Joie de VIVE: Valve announces VR headset

MarketLine

Entertainment software company Valve Corporation has unveiled its new virtual reality (VR) headset, manufactured jointly with smartphone and tablet manufacturer HTC. The product has been announced just in time for the game developers’ conferencing commencing 2-6 March 2015, where it promises to give developers the chance to test the software.  A developer version is being released in spring 2015, with the consumer ready version aiming to be available by the end of the year. Further details are to be released at the conference. Valve is renowned for producing critically acclaimed… Read more