Industry News & Trends Recap: May Week 3

Industry News & Trends Recap: May Week 3

Industry News & Trends Recap: May Week 3

This week in industry news, Blackstone launches Uniquity Bio with a robust $300m in financing, marking the latest in a series of private financings for inflammation and immunology biotech firms. In the financial services sector, our financial services recruitment consultants identified opportunities at XREX and Bank of Singapore, which announced plans to expand their teams. Some of the roles sought include relationship managers, compliance, cybersecurity, finance, and marketing. Dive into the key industry developments across different sectors below:


Table of contents

  1. Finance Industry News
  2. Investment, PE & VC News
  3. Legal Industry News
  4. Healthcare & Life Sciences News
  5. Luxury & Retail News
  6. Tech & AI News


Finance Sector News

banking industry business moves


Great Eastern Shares Surge After OCBC’s Bid to Acquire its Full Ownership

Singapore’s second-largest bank, OCBC, announced a S$1.4 billion offer to acquire insurer Great Eastern Holdings’ remaining stake, as it aims to delist the company. The move, which caused Great Eastern’s shares to surge as much as 39%, aims to strengthen OCBC’s capital optimisation and business pillars, including banking, wealth management, and insurance. The acquisition is expected to contribute to earnings, given that Great Eastern historically contributed about S$700 million annually in net profit to OCBC over the past decade.

Read the full article about OCBC’s plans to acquire Great Eastern.



UBS Contemplates Bonus for Investment Bankers’ Referral of Rich Clients

UBS Group intends to consider implementing a system to reward investment bankers who refer clients to its wealth management arm, sources familiar with the matter revealed. These incentives likely involves payouts for bankers in Asia and Europe who successfully attract new funds to the bank’s private banking unit. The potential referral fees represent a shift for UBS and echo similar strategies previously employed by Credit Suisse. However, the exact structure of these rewards is still under discussion. These considerations reflect CEO Sergio Ermotti’s efforts to grow the bank’s invested assets and narrow the gap with competitors like Morgan Stanley. Surpassing US$5 trillion in private banking assets has been the goal since the acquisition of Credit Suisse last year, a move that expanded UBS’s investment banking capabilities to provide comprehensive services to wealthy clients.

Read the full article about UBS’s client referral bonus.



BoS Optimistic about Hong Kong, to Grow RM Headcount

OCBC’s private banking arm, Bank of Singapore, bolstered its workforce by 15% in Hong Kong and mainland China amidst optimism about growth in the regions. This comes as recent market rallies have attracted clients back to the stock markets, especially in Hong Kong and mainland China, where the bank sees investment opportunities, particularly in AI. China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Dubai are target markets for expanding its family office business. The bank also intends to raise its relationship manager count to 500 by 2025 for the Singapore, Hong Kong, and Dubai markets, which will serve as its strategic hubs for growth in Asia and the Middle East.

Read the full paid article about the Bank of Singapore’s growth plans.



Digital Asset Firm XREX to Roll Out Payment Platform After Securing MAS Licence

Taiwan-based digital asset payment firm XREX secured a license in Singapore, paving the way for the launch of its remittance platform, XREX Pay, in the third quarter of 2024. The platform will cater to cross-border business-to-business payments and offer remittance solutions for migrant workers. XREX Pay will support currencies like the Singapore dollar and US dollar, along with stablecoins such as USDT and USDC. It expects to benefit small and medium-sized businesses in emerging markets. With its recent licensing, XREX Singapore plans to expand its team and partnerships to advance next-generation financial systems integrating traditional and blockchain finance. It also seeks to hire peoplefor compliance, marketing, finance, and cybersecurity roles.

Read the full article about XREX’s launch in Singapore.



Ant International Signs MOU as it Looks to Expand in Saudi Arabia

Ant International, a leading digital innovation and fintech company in China, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA). The move is part of its plans to expand in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East, where it will offer services including cross-border mobile payment, merchant payment services, and cross-border trade financial services. This expansion aims to capitalise on the growing trend of digital payments in Saudi. Under the agreement, MISA will support Ant International in establishing a presence in Saudi Arabia by assisting with licenses and certificates necessary for its operations.

Read the full article about Ant International’s agreement with MISA.



People Moves: UOB, HSBC GPB, UBP and VP Bank

UOB: UOB Hong Kong appointed Mark Tan as head of internal audit and announced plans to relocate him from Singapore to Hong Kong. Tan has over 18 years of experience in internal and external audits in Singapore and Australia’s financial sector. He previously worked for UOB’s group audit in Singapore. He will join UOB Hong Kong’s management committee.

HSBC GPB: Colvin Luk returns to HSBC Global Private Bank as the managing director (MD) of its UHNWI team, stationed in Hong Kong. Luk, a former investment banker, has over four years of experience at Credit Suisse, notably as co-head of Asia Pacific debt capital markets and leveraged finance.

UBP: Union Bancaire Privee (UBP) named Teresa Lee as the new regional head for North Asia and CEO for Hong Kong, effective early August. Lee will succeed Ivan Wong, who is retiring. She was formerly  the vice chairman for Greater China at Bank of Singapore and has also served at Standard Chartered and ABN Amro Private Bank. Lee’s appointment signals the bank’s commitment to expanding in North Asia and confidence in Hong Kong’s role in wealth management.

VP Bank: As part of its move to streamline organisational structure, VP Bank announced leadership reshuffles.

  • Pamela Phua, currently CEO of Asia, will take on the additional role of Head of the Singapore Branch from Johnny Heng, who is leaving to pursue other opportunities.
  • Current Intermediaries Team Head and 20-year industry veteran Michel Hofstetter will transition to Head of Intermediaries Singapore. In his new role, he will be responsible for expanding the bank’s intermediaries business and share of wallet.
  • UOB Private Bank’s Market Head for Indonesia, Philippines and Japan, Heng Yeow Kwang, joins as Head of Private Banking Singapore. Yeow, a 30-year wealth management veteran, will oversee the expansion of VP Bank’s reach within the private client sector across Asia. His illustrious career includes tenures at the Bank of Singapore, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Nomura Securities.

Standard Chartered: Standard Chartered welcomed three new members to its transaction banking leadership team.

  • Kini, a 30-year veteran with experience in the China, Singapore and India markets, will serve as the global head of cash management. He previously held leadership roles at J.P. Morgan, HSBC, BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank.
  • Troutman, a 30-year veteran, will be the global head of transaction banking corporate sales. He, too, served at HSBC Bank and led teams in the Dubai, Hong Kong, London, New York and Singapore markets.
  • Bajaj will serve as the global head of transaction banking financial institutions sales. He joins from Bank of America, where he served as the global head of non-bank financial institutions and APAC head of financial institutions sales for global transaction services.

Kini and Troutman are based in Singapore, while Bajaj is in Hong Kong.

MoneyHero: Fintech company MoneyHero appointed Hao Qian, an experienced executive from the e-commerce sector, as its Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Qian, formerly the CFO at Lazada, will oversee MoneyHero’s financial operations and guide its strategy aligning with business goals.

Read the full article about MoneyHero’s new CFO from Alibaba.


Investment, PE & VC News

private equity and venture capital M&A deals


Former HKEX Chief’s Micro Connect Seeks Staff Investment for Startups It Backs

Micro Connect, a small-business financing platform co-founded by Charles Li Xiaojia, former head of the Hong Kong stock exchange, is asking its staff to invest in the startups it supports. This move, confirmed in an internal email attributed to Li and his co-founder Gary Zhang, aims to transition the company from an investment platform to an exchange by leveraging market resources. Employees, dubbed “leading sheep”, will fund projects partly out of their own pockets, with some subsidy from the company. The initiative seeks to draw more capital from the market to support small businesses. Despite its success in providing funding to thousands of businesses, Micro Connect anticipates challenges in its business model transition. For instance, employees were reportedly asked to invest one million yuan each in special-purpose vehicles to support retailers planning to list on Micro Connect’s exchange, with conditions attached to their investment returns.

Read the full paid article about Micro Connect’s new investment business model.



Temasek Looks to Investments in Domestic-Focused Businesses

Singapore state-owned investor Temasek plans to focus its investments on companies with large domestic businesses to mitigate risks associated with geopolitical tensions worldwide. According to Rohit Sipahimalani, Temasek’s chief investment officer, the company will target countries with fast-growing economies and sizable domestic markets to reduce vulnerability to geopolitical disruptions. Temasek’s investment portfolio, valued at $382 billion as of March 31, 2023, includes global firms like Standard Chartered. Despite geopolitical challenges, Temasek remains heavily invested in Chinese companies, with 22% of its portfolio allocated to the nation as of March 2023. Sipahimalani highlighted Temasek’s interest in China’s consumer-focused companies, such as beverage makers and durable goods providers.

Read the full article about Temasek’s investment focus.



Henan Jinli Gold and Lead Group to Expand Into Singapore and Hire Traders

The commercial division of Henan Jinli Gold and Lead Group, a Chinese private smelter, plans to expand its commodities trading team in Singapore amidst growing optimism in the metals market, particularly for copper and aluminium. Positions include physical and derivative traders for both industrial and precious metals, and the company’s goal is to increase the team size from four to 15 to 20 members. This expansion reflects the increasing demand for metals driven by factors like renewable energy installations, AI and supply shortages. Jin Li Industrial International, the company’s Singapore subsidiary, has recently hired professionals from Mercuria Energy Group and Citigroup to bolster its team.

Read the full article about Henan Jinli Gold and Lead Group’s expansion into Singapore.



China to Launch One Trillion Yuan Bond Sale to Bolster Economy

China will launch the first portion of its one trillion yuan ultra-long sovereign bonds on May 17 to bolster its economy. The initial issuance includes 40 billion yuan of 30-year bonds, with additional bonds of 20-year and 50-year tenors to follow on May 24 and June 14, and a final batch in November. The move aims to offset the impact of protectionist tariffs and economic uncertainties. Analysts predict bond sales will boost growth by one percentage point this year. Investors reacted positively despite concerns over increased debt supply, and Chinese bonds rallied. Given the ongoing pressure on the yuan, China is expected to depend on fiscal stimulus measures to bolster domestic demand increasingly.

Read the full article about China’s bond sale.



Hong Kong Enhances Swap Connect to Support Overseas Investors Entering China

Responding to investors, financial regulators in mainland China and Hong Kong unveiled three improvements to the Swap Connect mechanism, which was introduced in Hong Kong a year ago. These enhancements aim to broaden the range of products the mechanism offers, introduce additional services such as compression and clearing backdated swap contracts, and lower participation costs. Experts believe that the continuous opening up of China’s interbank financial derivatives market and enhancements to the Swap Connect mechanism will boost international investors’ confidence in the onshore bond market and further internationalise the yuan.  An increase in transactions via Swap Connect and deepening liquidity is expected, and the domestic bond market in China is anticipated to develop more steadily as the swap mechanism matures.

Read the full paid article about Hong Kong’s Swap Connect.



People Moves: HSBC AM, Warburg Pincus, WRISE Group, Leo Wealth and Farro Capital

HSBC AM: HSBC Global Asset Management announced organisational changes in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

  • Japan: Current role as CEO of HSBC Asset Management (Japan) Masayuki Kaneko will now hold dual roles as the new head of institutional sales in North Asia. Kaneko succeeds Brenda Wong, who is leaving the firm for personal reasons. In his expanded role, Kaneko will lead the institutional sales team in North Asia, focusing on Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan. He succeeds Brenda Wong, who will exit for personal reasons.
  • Hong Kong: A new CEO role has been created to allow the APAC CEO Daisy Ho to focus on regional responsibilities. Jasmine Hung was appointed as acting CEO, while a permanent selection process is ongoing.
  • Taiwan: General manager (GM) and CEO Hsin Chiao has departed, and a successor search has begun. In the interim, Chris Lin, the local EVP and head of client coverage, will act as the GM and CEO.

Warburg Pincus: Warburg Pincus announced plans to transfer a senior dealmaker and Managing Director, Andrew Park, from New York to Singapore. Park, specialising in technology and healthcare IT investments, will now concentrate on pan-Asia tech investments. His portfolio of clients include Boomerang, GHX, Modernising Medicine and WebPT. Meanwhile, Warburg principal, Alexander Roso, will also move to Singapore to assess opportunities in Australia. The firm has been active in Asia and recently sold stakes in Indian companies like Apollo Tyres, IDFC First Bank, Computer Age Management Services and Kalyan Jewellers India.

WRISE Group: WRISE Group appointed Poly Cheung as Market Head, Greater China at WRISE Private Hong Kong. She will oversee wealth management services for clients in Greater China, targeting the rapidly growing ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) segment in Mainland China. Cheung has 29 years of banking experience in Hong Kong, especially in client relationship management and branch banking. She joins from China CITIC Bank, where she was the Head of Branch Banking. She also previously served at HSBC as a trade services manager and relationship manager for corporate and retail banking.

Leo Wealth: Jelmer Kattevilder joined LEO Wealth as a senior relationship manager and will focus on offering comprehensive financial advisory services to individuals in Hong Kong. Jelmer has 17 years of experience, including 14 years in Private Banking and Wealth Management. Previously, he served as Portfolio Director at Schroders Wealth Management Hong Kong and held various positions at ABN AMRO Bank.

Farro Capital: Multi-family office Farro Capital expanded its team with two new hires specialising in private market investments and Dubai coverage.

  • Rebekah Woo joins as MD and head of private markets and funds. She has extensive experience in finance and investments. She has also served at EDB, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Fosun and multi-billion dollar single-family offices.
  • Robin Titus was appointed as director for Farro Capital Dubai. He will focus on investor relations and UHNWI within the family office segment.

Read the full article about Warburg Pincus’s relocation of its dealmaker.


Legal News

legal industry lawyer and GC hires


People Moves: PAG, Hastings, Liu Shen, Duane Morris & Selvam and Duan & Duan

PAG: Investment management company PAG appointed private equity expert Tim Gardner as its group general counsel. Gardner joins from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where he served as the Hong Kong managing partner and co-head of its Asia PE practice. Gardner, who was among ALB’s ranking of Asia’s top 15 M&A lawyers in 2023, has 30 years of experience. He specialises in cross-border investment, including M&A, private equity, and venture capital, and has previously held roles at Latham & Watkins, Spa Capital, and Goldman Sachs. His departure from Weil leaves the firm with five partners in Hong Kong, and it’s reportedly considering closing its Shanghai office.

Hastings: Hong Kong law firm Hastings & Co. appointed disputes lawyer Milly Yuk Kwan Hung as its partner and head of the employment practice. She previously held a similar role at Stevenson, Wong & Co. Hung. Yuk has over 20 years of experience advising on employment issues, commercial fraud, aviation, transport, insurance, and personal injuries for clients, including Chinese and multinational companies. She also manages contentious and non-contentious employment matters with governmental bodies and financial institutions, drawing on her experience working in the government sector.

Liu, Shen & Associates: Intellectual property (IP) expert Zhang Huawei returns to Liu Shen & Associates as a partner in Tokyo. Zhang specialises in patent drafting, responses to office actions, patent invalidation, analysis, and litigation. He previously also served at CLS Hibiya Tokyo Law Office as a paralegal, and his return is expected to strengthen the firm’s overall practice, IP legal services, international network, and team. This marks the firm’s latest partner-level hire this year.

Duane Morris & Selvam: Duane Morris & Selvam recruited King & Wood Mallesons’s IP specialist Li Zheng as a partner. Li will join the firm’s Shanghai office. Li’s expertise lies in US patent law, particularly in patent mining, preparation, prosecution, and portfolio management. Li’s addition is expected to strengthen the firm’s IP capabilities in the Chinese and Asian markets, and the firm now has three experts in Shanghai.

Duan & Duan: Duan & Duan Law Firm expanded its Shanghai office by adding three new partners, Eric Zhang, Peter Zeng and Wu Minping.

  • Wu joins from AllBright Law Offices and specialises in corporate M&A, IP rights, and major commercial litigation.
  • Zeng focuses on labour law, compliance, and dispute resolution, advising Japanese companies in various industries such as machinery, pharmaceuticals, and electronics.
  • Zhang is a 25-year veteran in corporate and commercial matters and IP rights. His clients include prominent Japanese organisations, such as Kyowa Kirin, Sony, and Daiichi Sankyo.

Both Zhang and Zeng are part of a 13-member Japan business team under A&Z Law Firm, which completed its merger with the firm in April. The team is led by principal partner Sophie An, who is now the director of Duan & Duan.

An specialises in foreign investment, labour law, competition, antitrust, and corporate compliance. Before co-founding A&Z Law Firm, she served at Yishi Law Firm, Sinclair Roche & Temperley, the Shanghai Japanese Commerce & Industry Club, and the Japan External Trade Organisation in Shanghai. The team serves notable Japanese clients and focuses on various legal areas such as corporate law, IP rights, and labour law.

Read the full article about PAG’s GC from Weil.

Read the full article about Hasting’s disputes lawyer from Stevenson.

Read the full article about Liu, Shen & Associate’s IP partner.

Read the full article about Duane Morris & Selvam’s KWM IP expert.

Read the full article about Duan & Duan’s three partner-level hires.

Read the full article about Duan & Duan’s 13-man Japan business team.



Fountain Court’s Barrister Gearing Becomes First Ex-Solicitor Called to Singapore Bar

Matthew Gearing KC, a renowned international arbitration lawyer based in London, Singapore, and Hong Kong, became the first former solicitor to be called to the Singapore Bar. Gearing, who previously co-headed Allen & Overy’s arbitration practice, served as a counsel and independent arbitrator at the Bar before joining Fountain Court as a barrister in 2021. His extensive experience in Asia includes experience from holding roles in the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, LCIA Court and the seminal practitioner textbook Russell on Arbitration. He was also designated as Queen’s Counsel in 2014. After joining the Law Society of Hong Kong, he also became one of the few solicitor advocates with expanded rights in the jurisdiction. His admission to the Singapore Bar follows revisions to the criteria for Senior Counsel status aimed at matching future appointments with international standards. He joins Toby Landau KC and Jern-Fei Ng KC as UK appointees to the Law Society of Singapore.

Read the full article about Gearing’s appointment to the Bar.


Healthcare & Life Sciences News

global biotech and biopharma deals


Biokin Pharma Contemplates Hong Kong IPO

Biokin Pharma, currently listed on the Shanghai A-share market, announced plans to list in Hong Kong early next year and aims to raise up to US$500 million. The company has reportedly enlisted Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan to arrange the listing. Biokin intends to issue H shares and list on the Main Board of the SEHK. This move aims to accelerate the company’s capital reserve and support the global development of its innovative products in various international markets, particularly in oncology drugs. Specific details of the H-share issue are still being discussed.

Read the full article about Biokin’s potential Hong Kong listing.

Read the full Chinese analysis of Biokin Pharma’s potential Hong Kong IPO.



Novo Holdings Acquires Majority Stake in Biopharma Tools Firm

Danish investment firm Novo Holdings made another biopharma manufacturing investment by acquiring a majority stake in Single Use Support. Austria-based Single Use Support specialises in tools and services for drug substance production and offers single-use technologies for fluid medicinal products. The deal aims to bolster production for Novo Nordisk’s sought-after diabetes and weight-loss drugs. Unlike Novo Holdings’ Catalent deal, the direct impact of this acquisition on Novo Nordisk’s production capacity is not immediately clear. However, Novo Nordisk has been investing in expanding its manufacturing facilities to address the rising demand for its products, including semaglutide-based medications like Ozempic and Wegovy.

Read the full article about Novo Holding’s investment in Single Use Support.



Uniquity Bio Debuts with $300m from Blackstone, to Explore I&I

Uniquity Bio, backed by Blackstone Life Sciences with $300 million, has emerged as a new player in the biotech space focusing on inflammation and immunology. Their lead asset, solrikitug, an anti-TSLP antibody in-licensed from Merck & Co., has received FDA approval for studies in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma. Blackstone’s investment suggests potential pipeline expansion in the near future. Solrikitug is touted as a potent TSLP receptor binder with broad application potential in immunology and inflammation (I&I) conditions. The move is the latest in a series of private financing rounds supporting I&I companies. Recent examples include Attovia Therapeutics and Zenas.

Read the full article about Uniquity Bio.



Nabla Bio Scores $26m Funding and Three Partnerships Potentially Exceeding $550m

Nabla Bio, a pharmaceutical company specialising in generative protein design, has raised $26 million of funds in a Series A round with full participation from existing investors. The company has formed strategic partnerships with Bristol Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, and Takeda, potentially totalling over $550 million in upfront and milestone payments, along with royalty payments. Nabla Bio focuses on integrating AI and wet-lab technologies to design atomically precise drugs and evaluate their function efficiently. Their initial focus is on developing antibodies targeting challenging multipass membrane proteins that are difficult to treat due to their membrane-integrated nature and structural similarity across targets. Nabla’s platform aims to make hundreds of previously inaccessible targets accessible by accurately designing antibody binders.

Read the full article about Nable Bio.



People Moves: Novartis and GSK

Novartis: Novartis China President Ingrid Zhang is transitioning into a new role as the Chief Commercial Officer, International, where she will oversee all markets outside the United States. She will lead the Commercial & Launch Strategy team from the company’s Switzerland headquarters starting June 1. In her place, Novartis Japan President Leo Lee will assume the role of China president. Zhang, who has been with Novartis since 2011, has rich experience from her previous roles in multinational pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca and Pfizer.

GSK: Sherman Yu was appointed as the new GM of GSK China, starting July 1, succeeding Cecilia Qi. Yu previously served as GSK’s vice president and GM in Taiwan, and she has extensive experience from her tenure at Novartis’ subsidiary Sandoz. Qi, who has been leading GSK China since January 2020, oversaw significant advancements in key products and treatment areas during her tenure. These include the shingles vaccine, HIV treatment, and respiratory disease treatment.

Read the full article about Zhang and Lee’s promotions.

Read the full Chinese analysis of Novartis’ leadership promotions.

Read the full article about GSK China’s new GM.


Luxury & Retail News

luxury and retail industry trends


Alibaba and Tencent Post Strong Results, Signalling Brighter Market Outlook

Alibaba and Tencent, two of China’s tech giants, surpassed earnings expectations, signalling a positive trend in corporate profits amidst China’s economic recovery. Alibaba’s net profit surged by 10%, marking its strongest annual growth since 2021, while Tencent saw a 62% increase in net profit in the first quarter, exceeding Bloomberg’s consensus forecast. These robust financial results reflect increased online spending by Chinese consumers on retail goods and games. The positive earnings by these companies are crucial indicators of China’s improving corporate landscape and economic growth post-pandemic. Analysts view this as a promising sign for Chinese stocks, with increased investor interest in sectors like technology.

Read the full article about Alibaba and Tencent’s performance.



Business Moves: Jewellery

i. Jumbo Gold and Diamonds Moves from Wholesale to Retail

Jumbo Gold and Diamonds is transitioning from wholesale to retail with its new venture in Singapore, Mark Gabriel Fine Jewellers. The move aims to cater to the demand for customisable and affordable jewellery by offering personalised options, eliminating intermediaries, and making luxury jewellery more accessible. The company emphasises ethical sourcing and sustainability, ensuring proceeds benefit local mining communities and families directly.

Read the full article about Jumbo Gold and Diamond’s venture.


ii. Watches of Switzerland Acquires Roberto Coin for $130m

Luxury watch and jewellery retailer Watches of Switzerland (WOS) acquired Roberto Coin Inc., the North American division of the Italian jewellery brand, for $130 million. This deal gives WOS exclusive distribution rights and ownership of the Roberto Coin brand across North America. The acquisition was financed by a $115 million term loan facility. Roberto Coin Inc. has a strong presence in the US fine-jewellery market, with more than 400 points of sales, including 16 WOS retailers. It is the sixth-largest jewellery brand in the US in terms of retail sales value. Roberto Coin S.p.A. will continue to operate independently within the WOS Group, with the Coin family retaining a seat on the board of directors and Peter Webster remaining president. The acquisition aligns with WOS’s growth strategy and aims to capitalise on the trend towards branded jewellery in the luxury market.

Read the full paid article about Watches of Switzerland’s acquisition.



Business Moves: Fashion

i. Hoka to Launch Stores in Hong Kong to Grow in Asia’s Health and Fitness Market

Renowned running shoe brand Hoka is opening two exclusive outlets in Causeway Bay and Mong Kok. This move aligns with its plans to expand in Asia, particularly Hong Kong, as the region’s booming fitness and health market is expected to outpace global growth. The brand’s expansion strategy includes leveraging its innovative sole-fitting technology showcased at its FlyLab installation in K11 Musea, improving consumers’ brand experience and engaging with the local community. The brand also recently launched new stores in Singapore and the Philippines.

Read the full paid article about Hoka’s expansion in Hong Kong.


ii. Chanel to Restage Cruise 2025 Show in Hong Kong

Chanel announced plans to host a runway show in Hong Kong, where it has 13 retail outlets. The runway show to be held in the fall will feature its 2024-25 cruise collection. This comes after a previous attempt in 2019 fell through. The previous year, Chanel showcased its 2023-24 cruise collection in Shenzhen, China, following an initial unveiling in Los Angeles. The move reflects the brand’s consideration of China as a crucial market. Despite political and economic challenges in Hong Kong in recent years, the city is showing signs of recovery, with high-profile events returning, including fashion shows by luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior Homme.

Read the full article about Chanel’s Cruise 2024-2025 announcement.


iii. American Vintage Sets Up First Store in China, Shanghai

American Vintage, a fashion brand founded by Michaël Azoulay in 2005, opened its first physical retail store in Mainland China in Shanghai’s Reel shopping mall. This move is a significant milestone in the brand’s global expansion strategy and aim to bring it closer to its Chinese consumer base.

Read the full article about American Vintage’s expansion into China.


iv. Gucci Names Actor Song Weilong as Brand Ambassador

Gucci appointed Chinese actor Song Weilong as its newest brand ambassador, possibly to reignite consumer interest by emphasising unique narratives and tapping into local celebrity endorsements in the China market.

Read the full article about Gucci’s actor ambassador.


v. Korean Actor Son Suk-Ku Named Burberry’s Newest Brand Ambassador

Burberry enlisted South Korean actor Son Suk-ku as its newest brand ambassador, adding another key Asian celebrity to its marketing lineup. Known for his diverse roles in TV and film, Son Suk-ku gained prominence with his performances in popular series like ‘DP’ and ‘My Liberation Notes’. He received accolades for his acting skills and emerged as one of the prominent stars of 2022. This move highlights Burberry’s focus on South Korean celebrities as brand ambassadors following the appointment of actress Jun Ji-hyun in 2022. Additionally, Burberry has been expanding its ambassador lineup in Asia, with Chinese actress Tang Wei joining as a brand ambassador last year. These prominent figures also highlight the significance of Asia in the luxury sector.

Read the full article about Burberry’s Asian brand ambassadors.


vi. Burberry Wins IP Suit Against Baneberry in China

The Jiangsu Provincial High People’s Court ruled in favour of Burberry in a trademark infringement lawsuit against Xinboli Trading Shanghai, also known as Baneberry. Baneberry misused Burberry’s distinctive check pattern and logo on its products sold through Tmall and WeChat. The court ordered Baneberry to pay Burberry damages of 6 million RMB ($831,059), highlighting the severity of the violation. This ruling showcases China’s strengthened intellectual property enforcement, which is crucial for luxury brands, and it sets a strategic precedent for brands operating in the country.

Read the full article about Burberry’s IP victory in China.



Florasis Partners LVMH’s DFS to Launch First European Counter

Prominent Chinese makeup brand Florasis, known for its fusion of traditional Chinese culture and modern beauty, is collaborating with LVMH’s DFS to launch its first European counter. The counter at Samaritaine Paris Pont-Neuf will open on September 1 and be positioned among prestigious international beauty brands. DFS Senior Vice President of Beauty Amael Blain expressed DFS’s intention to monitor C-Beauty trends and bring relevant brands like Florasis to its global network of stores.

Read the full Chinese article about DFS and Florasis’s collaboration.



People Moves: Jahwa, L’Occitane, L’Oreal and Estée Lauder

Jahwa: Jahwa United appointed Lin Xiaohai, a former executive at Alibaba Group Holding, as its new chairman and CEO. Lin succeeds Pan Qiusheng, who resigned for personal reasons. The move comes after Jahwa was dethroned from its position as the leading homegrown beauty brand in China last year. Lin brings extensive experience from his roles at Alibaba and Procter & Gamble.

L’Occitane: L’Occitane Group hired Evelyne LY-Wainer as the MD of global travel retail. She has over two decades of experience in luxury brand management and travel retail and previously served as Chief Commercial Officer for Shiseido Travel Retail Asia Pacific. She also held leadership roles such as Brand General Manager for Kiehl’s and Biotherm and Marketing Director for Lancôme. The appointment comes amidst L’Occitane’s privatisation deal, with backing from Blackstone and Goldman Sachs.

L’Oreal: L’Oréal Travel Retail Asia Pacific announced Jesus Abia as a successor to Managing Director Tao Zhang, effective July 1. Zhang, who led the division since 2021, will transition to a new role within the company, which will be announced later. Her successor, Abia, has 14 years of experience within L’Oréal, and has held various roles globally. He previously served as the GM for Luxe Couture Brands in Europe, where he managed prestigious and well-known brands like Prada, Mugler, Valentino, and Viktor&Rolf.

Estée Lauder: The Estée Lauder Companies named Shane Wolf the president of global brands for Aveda and Bumble and Bumble, starting July 1. Wolf, known for his extensive experience in hair care, will oversee the growth of Aveda and Bumble and Bumble while contributing to the company’s overall hair care strategy. He has held various leadership roles at L’Oreal for brands like Pureology and Redken.

Read the full news about Jahwa’s new CEO from Alibaba.

Read the full Chinese analysis of Jahwa’s change in leadership.

Read the full article about L’Occitane’s MD from Shisheido.

Read the full article about L’Oreal’s new MD.

Read the full article about Estée Lauder’s new president of global brands.


Tech Industry News

ai development and tech trends


ByteDance Ventures Into Generative AI with Affordable Doubao Model

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok and Douyin, introduced its own generative AI model in China. Named Doubao, the AI model marks its entry into the competitive AI landscape, focusing on affordability and versatility. Doubao’s capabilities include handling large volumes of text and images at a fraction of the cost compared to other AI models in China. Leveraging its extensive user base from apps like Douyin, ByteDance aims to extend Doubao’s application beyond entertainment to sectors such as finance, science, and automotive industries.

Read the full article about ByteDance’s Doubao.



Global Data Centres’ Demand for Liquid Cooling Systems Expected to Rise Amidst AI Boom

The surge in AI is driving a substantial demand for liquid cooling systems in global data centres looking to manage temperatures and reduce energy consumption. Macquarie Capital forecasts the cooling systems market to exceed US$9 billion by 2027, with liquid cooling solutions expected to represent a significant portion. With data centres projected to consume more electricity due to AI, liquid cooling systems offer a more efficient alternative to traditional air cooling methods. While initial costs are higher, long-term savings through reduced energy bills make liquid cooling a necessity for the industry’s sustainability and growth.

Read the full paid article about the growing demand for liquid cooling systems.



Google Unveiled Enhanced AI Search and Chatbot as Competition Intensifies

At its annual I/O developer event, Google showcased advancements in its AI technology, including updates to its Gemini chatbot and improvements to its search engine. These developments come amid heightened competition in the AI space following the success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which recently released the GPT-4o. Google unveiled enhancements such as the Gemini 1.5 Flash model, Project Astra for real-time smartphone camera interactions, and search results classified under AI-generated headlines. The company also highlighted efforts in video generation with Veo and improvements to its Gemini Pro 1.5 model. Additionally, Google revealed plans for a new computing chip and AI-powered search features.

Read the full article about Google’s AI search.



Alibaba Seeks Primary Hong Kong Listing to Tap Into China Investors

Alibaba is moving forward with its plan for a primary listing of its shares in Hong Kong, aiming to tap into the capital flows from mainland China investors. This move is expected to be completed by the end of August and will allow Alibaba to participate in the Stock Connect programme, facilitating trading by mainland investors in Hong Kong. This strategic move comes as mainland investors increasingly influence Hong Kong’s stock market, with significant capital inflows observed this year. Alibaba’s inclusion in the Stock Connect programme could enhance market liquidity and attract new investors.

Read the full paid article about Alibaba’s primary listing in Hong Kong.



People Moves: General Motors, OpenAI and Moonton

General Motors: General Motors named the current vice president of global commercial operations, Steve Hill, as the executive vice president and president of GM China, effective June 1. This transition follows the retirement of Julian Blissett, who played a crucial role in guiding the company through periods of growth and transformation, including during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hill’s appointment reflects GM’s strategic focus on vehicle electrification and new technology deployment in the Chinese market, given his extensive experience in commercial strategy and customer relations. Hill has a distinguished career at General Motors and has held leadership roles in marketing, sales, and after-sales.

OpenAI: Ilya Sutskever, co-founder and chief scientist of OpenAI, is departing from the company amidst the AI boom. His departure marks the end of nearly a decade-long tenure at OpenAI, during which he played a pivotal role in developing the ChatGPT chatbot and other AI projects. Jakub Pachocki, who has led the development of GPT-4 and OpenAI 5, will succeed him as the new chief scientist. Sutskever’s exit follows his involvement in the controversial firing and subsequent rehiring of OpenAI CEO Sam Altman in November. His departure comes shortly after OpenAI announced the release of a new AI model called GPT-4o.

Moonton: ByteDance appointed Zhang Yunfan, a former executive at Perfect World, as the new CEO of Moonton Technology, the creator of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang. This decision indicates ByteDance’s intention to consolidate its video gaming business rather than sell Moonton. ByteDance has been scaling back its gaming operations in recent months to focus on core assets like TikTok and Douyin. Moonton, known for its popular MOBA game Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, remains a significant player in the global gaming market, particularly in Southeast Asia. Despite ByteDance’s previous plans to shut down some game projects, Moonton’s independence and commitment to the industry seem to persist under new leadership.

Read the full article about General Motor’s new China president.

Read the full article about the departure of OpenAI’s co-founder.

Read the full article about Moonton’s new CEO.


Keep Up with Market Trends with JC

Stay connected with the most current market trends and career opportunities by engaging with our team at JC Consulting. Our executive search firms in Singapore and China excel in mid-to-senior-level recruitment across a broad range of industries, including:

Our deep industry knowledge, experience and strategic presence in key financial hubs across APAC equips us to enhance your operations through precise market insights and tailored talent solutions.