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Your Week in Asia

SoftBank's Son faces investors, China-EU summit, Korean War at 70

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

SoftBank Group Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son will face investors at the company's annual shareholders' meeting.    © Reuters

Welcome to Nikkei Asian Preview.

Tech is the word this week, with industry conferences hosted by Apple and China's semiconductor sector, and annual shareholders' meetings for chipmaker Foxconn and SoftBank Group.

AGM, or annual general meeting, season continues with Japan's third-largest bank -- and the world's leading coal financier -- facing the nation's first shareholder resolution on climate change. Annual results from major Hong Kong publishers will also come this week.

In monetary policy, the central banks of New Zealand and Thailand meet Wednesday, followed by the Philippines on Thursday.

Keep up with our reporting by following us on Twitter @NAR.

MONDAY

Xi and Li hold virtual summit with EU leaders

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang are expected to hold meetings online with European Union leaders on bilateral cooperation. Both China and EU leaders were supposed to meet in Leipzig, Germany in September, but the summit has been called off due to the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The talks come as the EU mulls preventing state-backed non-European companies from bidding for public projects. The proposal is seen as targeting Chinese entities in response to barriers put up by Beijing against foreign businesses.

Results from Apple Daily publisher

Annual results will come on Monday from Next Digital, the Hong Kong-listed publisher of Apple Daily controlled by pro-democracy businessman Jimmy Lai. The company has been under financial pressure as more companies and organizations are passing up its ad space for fear of reprisal from Beijing.

Lai, Next Digital's chairman and executive director, was arrested again recently on charges of inciting others to join the annual Tiananmen Square crackdown commemoration in Hong Kong, which police had banned citing "health concerns."

Hong Kong Economic Times is set to announce results on the same day. Media Chinese International, the publisher of Ming Pao daily newspaper, is scheduled for Wednesday.

Apple developers' conference begins

Apple will kick off its first online-only World Wide Developer Conference at 10 a.m. Pacific time on Monday with a highly anticipated keynote by CEO Tim Cook. The company is expected to unveil new updates to Apple's various operating systems and details of upcoming new products. All eyes will be on whether Apple will confirm a reported transition from Intel chips to custom ARM processors for its Mac products.

TUESDAY

More bailout details from Cathay?

Cathay Pacific Airways will hold its annual general shareholders' meeting on Tuesday, after being postponed from May 13 because of the coronavirus. As a result of the delay, the shareholders will be able to question directors and two government-appointed "observers" on the recently announced Cathay rescue package, worth 39 billion Hong Kong dollars ($5 billion). The company, however, is not allowing the media to observe the meeting, breaking the long-lasting tradition on health grounds.

According to the latest disclosure, the Hong Kong airline has seen a 99.4% year-on-year drop in passengers carried in May, as it continues to operate on a "skeleton" schedule serving only 14 destinations worldwide. Cargo has fared slightly better, but the total amount carried last month was 98,710 tons, or 41.3% less than a year ago.

Foxconn lays out its future for shareholders

This year's AGM for key iPhone assembler Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer, will be the first for company chairman Young Liu since founder and former chairman Terry Gou stepped down to pursue a political career.

Foxconn, formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry, faced severe challenges when the coronavirus hit China, the company's largest manufacturing hub, earlier this year. Production was halted completely in some factories during the peak of the outbreak in China, and it took time to fully restart operations.

Meanwhile, Foxconn has been trying to diversify its business portfolio to identify future growth drivers as the smartphone industry matures. Foxconn earlier this year announced it will form a joint venture with Fiat Chrysler Automobile in China to tap into the electric vehicle market. It also established a joint venture with Taiwan automobile maker Yulon Motor to expand its presence in automobile electronics.

WEDNESDAY

Huawei opens new flagship store in Shanghai

Huawei Technologies will open a massive 5000-square meter flagship store on Nanjing Road, a major shopping district in Shanghai, on Wednesday, at a time when the world's No. 2 smartphone marker fights to counter Washington's crippling of its chip supplies.

The biggest Chinese company already told suppliers to delay production for its upcoming premium Mate series, and even decreased orders up to 20% for smartphone parts in the coming quarters.

But Huawei has the domestic market on its side, and Beijing speedily granted 5G commercial licenses to operators last year. The Chinese tech giant managed to increase its domestic market share to as much as 41% in the first quarter of this year, way ahead of its largest domestic competitor Oppo's 17.2%, according to research agency Canalys.

Results from Hong Kong's Best Mart 360

Hong Kong snack food chain Best Mart 360 will report annual results, following a year of political unrest in the city. At least three quarters of its outlets have been vandalized by anti-government protesters, who accused the company of colluding with gangsters in an attack on citizens last July. A boycott has been called against the chain store, although the company has repeatedly denied allegations of collusion.

Parliamentary elections in Mongolia

With a relatively successful coronavirus response resulting in low infections and zero fatalities, the ruling Mongolian People's Party (MPP) led by Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh is expected to lead in the polls. But retailers and restaurants are struggling to survive since the government introduced social distancing and prohibited gatherings of more than 30 people. This could be a tailwind for opposition camps including the Democratic Party and individual candidates running for the unicameral legislature.

THURSDAY

SoftBank's Son meets shareholders

Can SoftBank Group chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son maintain investor confidence after posting a historic $18 billion loss from his bold Vision Fund bets, while boosting pay for the head of the fund? He will find out when he faces shareholders -- most of them virtually -- at SoftBank's 40th annual meeting. The company is seeking approval for three new directors, while Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma will resign from the board.

Mizuho faces Japan's first climate resolution

Mizuho Financial Group, Japan's third-largest banking group, will hold its annual general meeting on Thursday. Among the resolutions shareholders will vote on a proposal to amend its articles of incorporation to require annual disclosure on climate-related efforts, including targets and metrics.

The proposal, put forward by an environment group and backed by Nordic pension funds, is aimed at reducing Japanese financing for coal projects, where Mizuho leads. The move is unlikely to win enough support to pass, but could put further pressure on Japan Inc. to do more for global efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

70th anniversary of the Korean War

It has been 70 years since the Korean War began, but tensions between the North and the South have recently escalated to their highest level in three years. Seoul's defense ministry is ready to retaliate against any provocations from Pyongyang, which vowed to take military actions soon after demolishing the inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong last week. 

WEEKEND

China's largest chip industry fair begins

Semicon China will kick off its three-day fair on Saturday, after the trade show was forced to postpone in March because of the coronavirus. Last year, it attracted a record 100,000 industry executives and participants.

What to watch for: Despite travel restrictions, executives from European chipmakers STMicroelectronics and Bosch, Japan's leading chipmaking tool provider Tokyo Electron and U.S.-based Globalfoundries are among the keynote speakers. Executives from SMIC and Yangtze Memory Technologies are also scheduled to speak in the online opening.

Why it matters: Beijing is eager to boost the domestic semiconductor industry, which it considers critical to national security. China rolled out 204 billion yuan ($29.1 billion) to push the development of the chip industry and reduce dependence on foreign suppliers caught in the US-China decoupling.

China votes on the Hong Kong security law

National People’s Congress Standing Committee, China’s top decision-making body, will hold a special session between June 28 and 30. The committee is expected to deliberate and vote on the controversial security law for Hong Kong.

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