From the Disney-Reliance merger to domestic helpers in Hong Kong – Here are today's Headlines

Disney and Reliance Industries are now teaming up to create a massive media company.

From the Disney-Reliance merger to domestic helpers in Hong Kong – Here are today's Headlines
Robert Iger, Chairman and CEO at The Walt Disney Company speaks to the Economic Club of New York in Manhattan, New York, U.S., October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

To start off, we're looking into:

The Disney-Reliance merger

Disney and Reliance Industries are now teaming up to create a massive media company valued at around US$8.5 billion. By joining Star India and Viacom18, they plan to reach around 750 million viewers. This partnership also secures exclusive rights to distribute Disney content in India, which is a major win for Reliance's streaming service, Jio Cinema. But before it's all official, they still need the green light from regulators and shareholders, which they expect to get by the end of this year or early 2025. Here's the backstory.

"India is the world's most populous market and we are excited for the opportunities that this joint venture will provide to create long-term value for the company," said Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger.

Country Garden faces liquidation petition

Country Garden
The company logo of Chinese developer Country Garden is pictured at the Shanghai Country Garden Center in Shanghai, China August 9, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Country Garden just got hit with another blow. One of its creditors, Ever Credit Limited, filed a winding-up petition for the company's liquidation earlier this week for not paying a loan of HK$1.6 billion (US$204.4 million). Country Garden has said it plans to fight the petition and take legal action. Here's the backstory.

"Country Garden was once considered a safe name, even as peers like Evergrande and Sunac China went bankrupt around them. Its default shows there really aren't any safe names in this sector left," said John Bringardner, head of Debtwire.

China resellers slash iPhone prices

China Apple iPhone
People look at the new iPhone 15 Pro as Apple's new iPhone 15 officially goes on sale across China at an Apple store in Shanghai, China September 22, 2023. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

Resellers of Apple products in China are slashing prices of the iPhone 15 models by up to 1,300 yuan (US$180), showing that sales are not improving for Apple in its China market. But, Apple stores still have the iPhone 15 at its original price. Apple sales dropped 13% in the quarter ending in December, which was much more than analysts had predicted and the weakest numbers the tech giant had seen in China for that period in years. Here's the backstory.

"Apple is offering a short-term promotional price to third-party channels as an early promotion for International Women's Day," said Ivan Lam of Counterpoint Research. "We observed that iPhone sales in the Chinese market are becoming increasingly dependent on promotions."

To end, we'll look into:

The impact of domestic helpers in Hong Kong

domestic helpers Hong Kong
Source: Wikimedia Commons/McyJerry

People in Hong Kong, both local and foreign, rely a lot on the work of domestic helpers – and so does the city's economy. The Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department says there are almost 400,000 foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong, making up around 6% of the city's population, with the majority hailing from the Philippines and Indonesia. And almost all of them are women. Click here to learn more about how these helpers are impacting Hong Kong's economy and society.

In other news ...


Bitcoin was priced at US$60,814.60 as of 5:36 a.m. Hong Kong time.

📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks close at record highs with the Nasdaq composite reaching its first closing record since November 2021.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks closed lower on Thursday as investors waited for US inflation figures.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Snowflake fell over 18% after announcing the retirement of its CEO and disappointing revenue guidance.
  •, an AI software company, rose over 24% after posting a smaller-than-expected loss.
  • Okta jumped about 23% after its quarterly results beat expectations.
  • Shares of WW International tumbled over 18% after the company announced that Oprah Winfrey would be leaving the board and donating her shares. 
  • In Hong Kong: Baidu, and Alibaba fell by over 6%, 2.4% and 1.8%, respectively, while Meituan and Xiaomi rose by over 1%.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: US personal income rose by 1% in January, beating the expected increase of 0.3%.
  • Pending home sales unexpectedly dropped by 4.9% in January, more than the expected 2% increase.
  • In Hong Kong: China will release key data like the official PMI and Caixin manufacturing PMI later today.

📅To check out our economic calendar for this week, click here.

More headlines ...

📰Middle East update: According to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 100 people were killed and 750 injured as Palestinians gathered for aid distribution in Gaza on Thursday. There are contradictory versions coming out about what happened. Witnesses say Israel fired on people approaching the aid trucks, causing a panic, and more people were killed after being run over by the trucks trying to move away. Israel says two incidents occurred – people rushed the aid trucks and were run over and killed in the chaos, and in a separate incident, Israeli soldiers fired on people approaching their checkpoint after they ignored warning shots and were deemed a threat. This came a few hours before the health ministry's announcement that the death toll since the start of the war in Gaza had passed 30,000 people, including 21,000 children and women. Some videos have surfaced that appear to show protestors holding Israeli flags blocking aid trucks from passing through a border crossing. The UN has also said famine is near in the north of Gaza, as people have little food or clean water.

🗞️Russia/Ukraine update: Earlier this week, French President Emmanuel Macron suggested the possibility that NATO could send troops to fight alongside Ukraine, but Germany, Britain and other European countries rejected this idea on Tuesday. In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned NATO members that they risk starting a nuclear war if they send troops to fight against Russia, underscoring that Russia has weapons that can reach targets in the West.  

🥼South Korean doctor update: Last week, two-thirds of South Korea's young medical interns and doctors walked off their jobs to protest a government plan to increase medical degree quotas at universities. The plan is meant to deal with a doctor shortage in one of the world's fastest-aging societies. On Monday, the government said the doctors have until the end of February to return to work, but most of them have chosen to continue protesting and now risk having their medical license suspended as a consequence. 

🚫Thailand to ban cannabis: After legalizing the recreational use of cannabis in 2022, the Thai health minister told Reuters that the government will ban it again at the end of the year. The minister said it will still be allowed for medical use.

🕵️‍♂️US to investigate Chinese vehicles: US President Joe Biden has ordered an investigation into Chinese "connected" vehicles, including electric cars, saying they could pose a national security threat by collecting information on US citizens and infrastructure. Officials told reporters that no decision had been made regarding any restrictions or bans on Chinese vehicles in the US but that an administration action could "potentially have a large impact."

📄OpenAI probe: The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is reportedly investigating if OpenAI investors were misled during the events surrounding CEO Sam Altman's departure and quick return last year, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing insiders familiar with the situation. The SEC is reportedly looking at internal communications by Altman and other OpenAI officials and directors.

📈India GDP growth: India's economy is booming, with growth increasing to more than 8% in the last three months of 2023, beating out expert predictions. On Thursday, the country's Statistics Ministry said India's GDP rose 8.4% from a year ago, boosted by strong private-sector investment and services spending. The GDP figures for the previous two quarters were also revised to above 8%.

💰Alibaba cloud discount: From Thursday, Alibaba will be offering discounts of up to 55% on its cloud services and over 100 products in an effort to win users back from its rivals, executives told reporters in Beijing. This comes as companies compete to create and sell products used to train artificial intelligence (AI). This could trigger a price war in the industry as Alibaba tries to stay ahead of competitors like Tencent and Baidu. 

⌚Rolex on top: Swiss luxury watchmaker Rolex is riding high with its market share, according to a report by Morgan Stanley. The company's sales were up 11% last year from 2022, passing US$10 billion for the first time.

🚗Tesla Roadster: About six years ago, Tesla CEO said a new generation of the company's Roadster was in the works. It never surfaced, but on Tuesday, Musk posted on X more details about the car, saying, "there will never be another car like this." This came after Chinese automaker BYD announced its luxury electric car, the Yangwang U9, this week.  

🏪7-Eleven expanding: The famous convenience store chain, 7-Eleven, owned by Seven & I Holdings, is testing out a larger version of its store in a suburb of Tokyo, offering double the amount of products to see if it's a concept that appeals to customers. The new store has added items not usually carried in 7-Elevens, like baby products and makeup.

⚽Paul Pogba football ban: French football player and former midfielder for Manchester United, Paul Pogba, has been found guilty of doping and banned from the sport for four years. But, in a statement, Pogba denied using any illegal substances to enhance his performance, adding that the full story will come to light when he's freed of the legal restrictions. 

📰The world's four-yearly newspaper: In France, the La Bougie du Sapeur (The Sapper's Candle), a satirical tabloid newspaper published every four years (once every leap-year on February 29 since 1980), has just printed its 12th issue. The paper is presented as being anti-politically correct, designed to simply make people laugh. "It is French humor, and it does not translate into other languages," said editor Jean d'Indy. "We try to be silly but not nasty. To poke fun without being cruel."

🥣Let them eat cereal: Kellogg's CEO Gary Pilnick is getting some backlash after suggesting that families struggling economically could just eat cereal for dinner. "The cereal category has always been quite affordable, and it tends to be a great destination when consumers are under pressure," he said in an interview with CNBC. Just tossing this out there – according to SEC files, Pilnick makes more than US$4 million a year in a combo of salary and bonuses. Move over, Marie-Antoinette.

😎Love and marriage … and the Vision Pro?: We've already seen a handful of people wearing Apple's Vision Pro headset in some inappropriate situations, like while driving a car. Now, pics of software engineer Jacob Wright wearing an Apple Vision Pro headset during his wedding have gone viral, especially one of him standing next to his wife, who doesn't appear too enthusiastic about it. But the new bride, Cambree, told SFGate, "I totally look pissed in the picture, but I wasn't pissed."

Quiz Time!

What Chinese property giant just received a winding-up petition this week?

  1. Evergrande
  2. Vanke
  3. Longfor Properties
  4. Country Garden

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Written and put together by Joey Fung, Alisha Khan and Christine Dulion

**The answer to the quiz is [4]