Indonesia to restrict foreign banks; Pizza Express sold to China firm; Argentines proud, pained after soccer show

1 Indonesia to restrict foreign banks (Straits Times) A new draft of Indonesia’s banking bill has revealed that lawmakers will proceed with a plan to restrict the operation of foreign banks, setting a deadline for them to become legal entities in the form of Perseroan Terbatas (PT) and capping the level of foreign ownership.

According to the newest version of the banking bill, all foreign banks operating in Indonesia must become PT. While the clause would translate into better protection for the banking sector against banking crises overseas, it would affect the operations of many foreign banks here, some of which are still operating under branch status (KCBA), such as Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase and Standard Chartered.

By transforming into a PT, a foreign bank would operate as an independent company, meaning that its parent company offshore could not just withdraw money from Indonesia should there be liquidity issues in the bank’s overseas headquarters. The bill also stated that maximum foreign ownership in banks would be capped at 40 percent, which would effectively prevent foreigners from being controlling shareholders.

This could discourage new foreign investment in the banking sector, as the global Basel III banking regulation stipulates that any investor performing banking acquisition without acting as controlling shareholder would have to deposit a significant amount to safeguard against banking management risks.

2 Pizza Express sold to China firm (BBC) The restaurant chain Pizza Express has been sold to a Chinese firm for around £900m, following “considerable interest” in the business. The UK Gondola Group confirmed the sale to private equity firm Hony Capital. There are 436 Pizza Express restaurants in the UK along with 68 internationally – including 22 in China – employing more than 9,000 workers.

Chief executive Richard Hodgson said expansion in Asia was a “key part” of future growth strategy. Pizza Express already has 12 restaurants in Hong Kong and nine in Shanghai, as well as outlets in India, Saudi Arabia and Bali. The sale comes as The Gondola Group – which also owns UK pizza chains Zizzi and ASK Italian – opened the first Pizza Express restaurant in the Chinese capital Beijing earlier this year.

The deal is the latest example of Chinese firms buying and taking over British businesses. Last year, Chinese property and entertainment conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group completed a takeover of Dorset luxury yacht maker Sunseeker International. In 2012, China’s Bright Food bought a controlling stake in Weetabix, which owns the breakfast cereal brand as well as Alpen and Ready Brek.

3 Argentines proud, pained after soccer show (San Francisco Chronicle) Riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets late Sunday to restrain a group of vandals who disturbed a peaceful rally celebrating Argentina’s gutsy performance in a 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup finals.

Parents with small children could be seen fleeing in fear after police, who initially remained on the sidelines as jubilant fans poured into downtown Buenos Aires, began chasing down the vandals on motorcycles. Police said 20 officers were injured and at least 60 people were arrested. The vandals tore down street lights and ripped up the stone from some streets to throw at officers.

The chaotic situation marred what was an otherwise spontaneous show of support for Argentina’s national team after its best World Cup run in 24 years. The two-time world champion entered the title match as the clear underdog after Germany’s 7-1 thrashing of host Brazil. But despite complaints about lackluster play earlier in the tournament, the team led by captain Lionel Messi showed grit throughout the match, creating several opportunities to score in the first 90 minutes.

Amid the outpouring of gratitude, there was a hint of frustration that Messi, the four-time world player of the year, didn’t turn in a stronger performance. “Messi still isn’t Maradona,” said 31-year-old Eduardo Rodriguez, referring to Diego Maradona, who lifted the championship trophy for Argentina in 1986 and led the ‘albiceleste’ to its last World Cup final, also against Germany, in 1990. “But this here is a party. We’re all proud of our warriors.”


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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