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Your Week in Asia

SoftBank comeback, Kelly testifies in Nissan case, Australia budget

Your weekly lineup of Asia's biggest business and political events

SoftBank Group is set to report a net profit of more than $40 billion, the highest ever for a Japanese company.    © Reuters

Welcome to Your Week in Asia.

Wednesday marks 100 days since the Myanmar military deposed the democratically elected government on Feb. 1. The coup has dragged on as international calls for the release of imprisoned civilian leaders have fallen on deaf ears, as have the demands of local protesters.

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan ends this week, as Muslims celebrate Eid'l Fitr. Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines and Singapore will be on holiday on Thursday.

Before that, Malaysia and the Philippines will post quarterly GDP data on Tuesday.

Keep up with our reporting all week by following us on Twitter @NikkeiAsia.

MONDAY

Moon kicks off final year

As his approval ratings slip to under 30%, South Korean President Moon Jae-in will deliver a speech to start his fifth and final year in office. Soaring housing prices, corruption scandals and the country's lagging vaccine rollout have angered the public.

Go deeper: Young South Korean men have turned against Moon ahead of next year's election.

Tam Tak-chi sedition trial

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Tam Tak-chi will be tried for sedition under the national security law on Monday. Tam, vice-chairman of the People Power party, is accused of chanting seditious slogans that prosecutors said "incited hatred and contempt" of the government. By the time the trial starts on Monday, Tam will have spent almost eight months behind bars, a rarity under Hong Kong's common law system.

Panasonic annual results

The teleworking trend is expected to give Panasonic a leg up when it reports annual earnings Monday, as people invested in their homes and purchased more appliances. Investors will listen for whether the earnings boost is temporary or the beginning of sustainable improvement from years of restructuring efforts.

TUESDAY

Australia budget

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will deliver Australia's federal budget on Tuesday. Akin to the U.S. state of the union, the annual speech is a key signal of the government's priorities for the year. Australia's successful quashing of COVID infections after months of lockdown has the economy in a better position than last year. Government revenue, consumption and profits are on the rise, leading to expectations of a smaller budget deficit.

Toyota, Nissan and Honda results

Three Japanese automakers are announcing full-year earnings starting on Tuesday. The lingering chip shortage led to the shutdown of many plants, preventing upbeat post-pandemic production. Investors will listen for each carmaker's EV strategy as international markets move toward carbon-neutral growth.

Nissan Motor will go first on Tuesday, followed by Toyota Motor the next day. Toyota, which topped global auto sales in 2020 for the first time in five years, has already revised its earnings forecast upward twice.

Honda Motor will post results on Friday, weeks after a surprise announcement by new CEO Toshihiro Mibe made it the first Japanese automaker to promise that gasoline-powered vehicles will be completely phased out by 2040 in favor of electric and fuel-cell power.

WEDNESDAY

Greg Kelly in Tokyo court

Former Nissan Motor executive Greg Kelly, who was a close aide to disgraced chairman Carlos Ghosn, is set to take the witness stand for the first time at a Tokyo district court. Arrested with Ghosn in November 2018 for alleged financial misconduct, Kelly has been on trial since September 2020 to determine whether he conspired to underreport Ghosn's compensation. Kelly has denied any wrongdoing.

Background: How Japan Inc. received the news of Ghosn's dramatic escape from Japan last year

SoftBank annual results

SoftBank Group is set to report a net profit of more than $40 billion, the highest ever for a Japanese company, in a stunning comeback from last year when it posted its worst-ever loss. SoftBank's Vision Fund rebounded this year after several of its investments went public on the back of the global stock rally.

THURSDAY

Alibaba and Bilibili results

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding will report first quarter results Thursday, a month after it was fined a record 18 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) for violating anti-monopoly regulations. Investors will look for clarity on the company's rectification plan and the fine's impact on Alibaba's earnings. Chinese video-sharing platform Bilibili will report quarterly earnings on the same day.

Meanwhile: More than 30 Chinese internet companies are due to report fixes to their anticompetitive practices on regulators' orders.

Rakuten quarterly results

Japanese online retailer Rakuten is set to report a healthy quarter on Thursday. Its digital bank overtook traditional rivals last month, with new accounts growing by 20% in 2020. Rakuten will also mark a year since it launched a low-cost mobile phone service to disrupt Japan's telecoms oligopoly. But Rakuten faces regulatory uncertainties in the U.S. and Japan due to Tencent's newly acquired 3.65% stake.

FRIDAY

Foxconn quarterly results

iPhone assembler Foxconn will post quarterly earnings Friday, with chairman Young Liu giving guidance for the company's outlook amid the global chip and components shortage. Liu last month said he expected about 10% of Foxconn's shipments for the quarter to be affected by the crunch. The company last week announced a joint venture with Yageo to secure semiconductor supplies.

Toshiba annual results

Toshiba will post earnings for the first time since Nobuaki Kurumatani resigned as CEO last month. Kurumatani's three-year tenure was marked by corporate governance scandals and clashes with activist shareholders, ending with a shelved $20 billion bid by CVC Capital Partners to take the company private.

WEEKEND

US, France and Japan hold military drills

The Japanese Self-Defense Force will conduct joint military drills with U.S. Marines and the French Army on Saturday. These first exercises on the southern island of Kyushu are meant to bolster joint defense of Japan's remotest points, as Chinese forays inch closer to the Senkaku Islands.

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