The launch of virtual banks in Hong Kong in early 2020 is set to disrupt the traditional banking model and blur the lines between different sectors, according to KPMG’s Hong Kong Banking Outlook 2020. At the same time, banks are expected to adopt more technology solutions to manage costs and achieve operational efficiency amidst a rapidly evolving and increasing competitive banking industry landscape.
Paul McSheaffrey, Partner, Head of Banking & Capital Markets, Hong Kong, KPMG China, said, “Reflecting first on 2019, we expect to see muted financial results across Hong Kong’s banking industry this year, with ongoing market uncertainty around the US-China trade tensions and the low interest rate environment being the key drivers. The recent events and business disruption in Hong Kong have also impacted retail investor confidence. Despite a challenging year, we continue to see opportunities for investment and growth for banks in 2020.”
The arrival of virtual banks is expected to have a greater impact in the SME space, with many in Hong Kong currently underserved and hungry for credit. SMEs may be tempted to switch their accounts as they will likely start to see an improvement in their ability to open bank accounts and obtain access to finance through the new virtual banks. In response, many traditional banks will seek to accelerate their IT and systems transformation, invest in new technologies and upgrade their digital platforms to compete.
At the same time, with margins continuing to be squeezed and macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty set to carry over into 2020, managing costs will continue to be a key focus for banks in Hong Kong. Leading banks will take greater strides in the year ahead to adopt AI and related digital solutions and collaborate closely with FinTech players to achieve longer-term savings.
The year 2020 may also see an increased focus on customer intimacy in the corporate market. Banks that are able to leverage the data to predict behaviour and create personalised experiences for their customers will give themselves a chance of long-term survival.
Terence Fong, Partner, Financial Services, KPMG China, said, “Innovative mainland Chinese banks will continue to actively invest in developing their big data application and advanced technology capabilities to improve customer experience. Leading banks will also explore and identify the appropriate data governance approach.”
Mainland China continues to open up its financial services sector to foreign investment, and ongoing developments and reforms in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) will continue to create increasing demand for financial services in the region in 2020, presenting a number of business opportunities for banks in Hong Kong.
Fong continued, “China based state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and privately-owned enterprises (POEs) – many with multi-jurisdictional operations – continue to look at expanding overseas, especially into the ASEAN region. With Hong Kong the most internationalised city in the GBA, more SOEs in the region would prefer to set up a regional corporate treasury centre in the city.”
While the industry rapidly evolves, risks also continue to change. Apart from the LIBOR transition and emerging financial and regulatory risks, a greater focus on non-financial risks is expected.
Given the launch of many virtual banks in Hong Kong next year, as well as traditional banks’ embrace of AI and cloud technology, cyber and third-party risk will continue to increasingly come to the fore.
With a climate crisis potentially just around the corner, investors’ increasing demand for integrating Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) into investment decisions will extend into Hong Kong’s banking sector next year. We also expect the cost of capital to increase for corporates – including banks – that do not actively manage ESG matters, in particular climate-related matters. The flow of capital will be directed more towards a low-carbon economy and industries and companies that are setting themselves up for this.
McSheaffrey concluded, “As we look into 2020 and the Future of Banking one thing is certain: change will be the new constant. The broad themes our experts are predicting are around the changing nature of risks, a more competitive environment and increasing digital transformation all underpinned by a focus on data. We predict that 2020 will not be a boring year for the Hong Kong banking sector.”
SOURCE KPMG China
Valens expands Exclusive Licence Agreement to Bring Leading Cannabis-Infusion Technology to New International Markets
Valens GroWorks Corp. (TSXV: VGW) (OTCQX: VGWCF) (the “Company” or “Valens“), a cannabinoid-based product company with industry leading extraction, next generation cannabinoid delivery formats and an ISO 17025 accredited analytical lab, is pleased to announce that it has entered an amended manufacturing and sales licence agreement with SōRSE Technology Corporation (“SōRSE“) which grants Valens an exclusive licence for Canada, Europe, Australia and Mexico to use the proprietary SōRSE emulsion technology (“the Technology“) to produce, market, package, sell and distribute cannabis-infused products (the “Agreement“).
“This Agreement shows Valens’ commitment to invest and broaden its IP portfolio and enable its customers to bring differentiated, next generation products to market,” said Jeff Fallows, President of Valens. “As we move into “Cannabis 2.0” in Canada, we believe the products that offer consistent, high quality and predictable user experiences, like those we are able to create with SōRSE, will capture the lion’s share of attention and be the hallmark for brand development in a strict regulatory environment. With this expanded agreement in place, we have extended this opportunity for our existing customers to key international markets and at the same time established a platform for international consumer brands to add high quality, cannabis infused products to their portfolios.”
The SōRSE Emulsion Technology
The SōRSE emulsion technology transforms cannabis oil into water-soluble forms for use in beverages, edibles, topicals and other consumer products without the burden of cannabis taste, colour or smell. The Technology allows these cannabis infused products to maintain potency when heated, chilled or frozen and provides a number of other key advantages as well, including: (1) a faster observed onset time compared to other infused beverages and edibles, (2) a significant reduction of offset time, (3) an ability to use lower doses of cannabinoids due to the enhanced bioavailability provided by the Technology, and (4) increased consistency and stability with some product formulations achieving more than one-year shelf stability with no evidence of separation.
“We are proud to expand our partnership with Valens and leverage their near-term access to various global markets,” says Howard Lee, CEO of SōRSE. “Over the last year, our team of more than 40 plus professionals has continued to actively focus on creating and developing innovative, desirable products and formats of consumption for cannabis consumers. As emulsion technology becomes more popular through new delivery methods such as ingestion, transdermal, topical and more, it is imperative that quality and safety in consumption leads all innovation in this sector. This is a shared value and mandate that our teams at SōRSE and Valens both prioritize. We look forward to continuing this working relationship with Valens and introducing our award-winning emulsion technology to the global markets.”
The Agreement grants Valens an exclusive licence to use the Technology in Canada, Europe, Australia and Mexico (except in respect of medical applications requiring clinical trials) during the initial 5-year term, subject to certain performance milestones. This increases the addressable market from 37 million in the current Canada only agreement to 700 million people in the new Agreement, an increase of almost 20x. Furthermore, the Agreement provides a framework for Valens to obtain rights to establish non-exclusive agreements to sell cannabis-infused products using the Technology in the U.S. market and other markets, globally.
Bolstering “Cannabis 2.0” Platform
With the expanded exclusivity, Valens and its white label clients are positioned to not only succeed in the Canadian market, but also in the rapidly emerging legal cannabis and hemp-derived CBD markets in Europe, Australia, Mexico and beyond. The Agreement adds to the Company’s leading white label product offerings across numerous “Cannabis 2.0” categories such as beverages, edibles, transdermal products and more, enabling Valens to better serve its current and future partners.
“We have seen incredible interest from our current and potential clients regarding the SōRSE emulsion technology and we are thrilled to finalize the expanded licence agreement with SōRSE,” said Tyler Robson, CEO of Valens. “We expect the expanded exclusive territory will provide our clients with improved visibility and greater opportunity as they look to build global businesses around cannabis-infused products over the long term.
This is an exciting time in the evolution of ingestible cannabis products such as beverages and edibles. Historically, ingestible products have been lacking the necessary technology to provide a consistent, predictable experience, ultimately giving little reason to consume in this manner. At Valens, we expect that properly formulated, extract-based cannabis products, and infused beverages in particular, could disrupt many established beverage categories such as soft drinks, sports drinks, value-added water and alcohol, the latter of which has a monthly spend per capita that is roughly 16 times higher compared to legal cannabis spend in Canada. We believe the ability to plan an occasion and predict the outcome of use will be a game changer in the market and be the catalyst to bring about the full market potential of cannabis infused beverages and edibles, globally.”
Future White Label Services
The Agreement furthers the existing relationship between Valens and SōRSE and enables Valens to produce and sell SōRSE’s portfolio of branded products in Canada and the other exclusive markets at the option of the Company. These branded products include Happy Apple, a cannabis-infused sparkling cider and Major, a cannabis-infused fruit drink, both recognized as top selling cannabis beverages in the State of Washington, Pearl20, a cannabis-infused food and beverage mixer, and the Utopia line of cannabis-infused sparkling water, among others.
The consideration at closing for the exclusivity in the expanded geography was US$10 million, comprised of US$6 million in cash and US$4 million to be issued in common shares of the Company (the “Common Shares“). The Agreement carries an initial 5-year exclusive term with a 2-year renewal of the exclusivity, subject to certain performance milestones related to operational and financial achievements (the “Milestones“). As part of the Agreement, Valens will transfer to SōRSE royalty payments calculated as a percentage of sales (the “Royalty Payments“) and the Royalty Payments will be subject to an annual minimum of $2 million over the 5-year term. The Agreement also provides for a continuation of the Agreement on a non-exclusive basis after the 2-year renewal, subject to annual minimum royalty payments.
All Common Shares pursuant to the Agreement were issued at an indicative price of CDN$3.0471, being the volume-weighted average price of the Common Shares on the TSX Venture Exchange (“TSXV“) for the ten (10) trading days ending December 9, 2019. The Agreement remains subject to approval from the TSXV. All Common Shares issued in connection with the Agreement will be subject to a restricted period of four months and one day. There are no finders’ fees payable by the Company in connection with the Agreement.
SOURCE Valens GroWorks Corp.
Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C. Reminds Investors That Class Action Lawsuits Have Been Filed Against Energy Transfer LP, Grubhub, Aurora Cannabis, and The RealReal and Encourages Investors to Contact the Firm
Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C., a nationally recognized shareholder law firm, reminds investors that class action lawsuits have been commenced on behalf of stockholders of Energy Transfer LP (NYSE: ET), Grubhub, Inc. (NYSE: GRUB), Aurora Cannabis, Inc. (NYSE: ACB), and The RealReal, Inc. (NASDAQ: REAL). Stockholders have until the deadlines below to petition the court to serve as lead plaintiff. Additional information about each case can be found at the link provided.
Energy Transfer LP (NYSE: ET)
Class Period: February 25, 2017 to November 11, 2019
Lead Plaintiff Deadline: January 20, 2020
On November 12, 2019, the Associated Press reported that Energy Transfer’s Mariner East pipeline project was under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”). Citing interviews with current and former state employees, the Associated Press reported that the FBI’s investigation “involves the permitting of the pipeline, whether [Pennsylvania Governor Tom] Wolf and his administration forced environmental protection staff to approve construction permits and whether Wolf or his administration received anything in return.”
On this news, Energy Transfer’s stock price fell $0.81 per share, or 6.77%, over the following two trading sessions, closing at $11.16 per share on November 13, 2019.
The complaint, filed on November 20, 2019, alleges that throughout the Class Period, defendants made materially false and/or misleading statements, as well as failed to disclose material adverse facts about the company’s business, operational and compliance policies. Specifically, defendants made false and/or misleading statements and/or failed to disclose that: (i) Energy Transfer’s permits to conduct the Mariner East pipeline project in Pennsylvania were secured via bribery and/or other improper conduct; (ii) the foregoing misconduct increased the risk that the Company and/or certain of its employees would be subject to government and/or regulatory action; and (iii) as a result, the Company’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all relevant times.
SOURCE Bragar Eagel & Squire, P.C.
iX Biopharma secures Australian cannabis manufacture licence
Specialty pharmaceutical company iX Biopharma Ltd (SGX:42C) (“iX Biopharma” or, together with its subsidiaries, “the Group”) is pleased to announce today that its wholly-owned subsidiary, iX Syrinx (“Syrinx”), has been awarded a cannabis manufacture license from the Australian Office of Drug Control under the Narcotics Drugs Act 1967. Under the said licence, the Group is permitted to manufacture and supply extracts and tinctures of cannabis and cannabis resins.
This marks a significant milestone for the Group. Syrinx operates a TGA cGMP certified facility and holds import and export licences for cannabis and State poisons licences; together with the newly granted cannabis manufacture licence, the Group is now able to fully participate in the global medicinal cannabis business.
Importantly, the Group will be able to manufacture and distribute its newly formulated Xativa™ sublingual cannabis wafers in Australia through the Australian Special Access Scheme and in overseas markets. Xativa™ leverages on iX Biopharma’s novel and patented WaferiX™ technology to improve the speed and level of absorption and predictability of effect of medicinal cannabis. Xativa™ provides patients with a more elegant and discreet way to consume medicinal cannabis compared to existing dosage forms for cannabis such as joints, vapes and tinctures, and hence offers a superior user experience. The Group has received feedback from physicians in Australia that the advantages of Xativa™ and its differentiation from the rest of the market offerings are clear and highly desired.
Produced via iX Biopharma’s proprietary freeze-drying technique, the porous and amorphous WaferiX™ matrix holding the active CBD molecules is designed to collapse quickly within the sublingual space. The actives are then transported rapidly across the sublingual membrane into the blood vessels for a rapid onset of action.
“Globally, the use of cannabis for the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions has been growing at an exponential pace. The grant of the cannabis manufacturing licence has come at a most opportune time, allowing us to manufacture, distribute and promote Xativa™ as the gold standard in medicinal cannabis delivery, thereby charting a new growth trajectory for the Group,” said Ms Eva Tan, Director of Corporate and Commercial Strategy of iX Biopharma.
SOURCE iX Biopharma Ltd
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