shanghai house

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There’s no Waffle House here in China.

Not an IHOP anywhere either.

What we do have is Mr Pancake, Shanghai’s premiere breakfast food chain!

I’d never been to one until yesterday, when some colleagues and I popped in after an early morning meeting. And ask expected, the menu was filled with all sorts of pancakes. Eggs and bacon and breakfast burritos too, but as the name makes clear, pancakes are the star here. Like this stack of sweetness…

Nutella and Caramel Popcorn Pancakes!

This was not my order, and I did not try them, but that plate was clean in no time!

I did have an order of plain pancakes with butter and syrup, and they were quite good. I’m not the biggest pancake eater, but the place definitely does its name proud.

However, is it just me or is that Mr. Pancake logo kind of creepy?

Mr. Pancake has locations all around Shanghai.

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World landmarks lit up to show solidarity with France, in honor of the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks of November 13, 2015. #prayforparis

List of Locations from Parts Unknown: Shanghai

FUCHUN XIAO LONG BAO
Neighborhood: Jing'an Temple
YuYuan Road 650, Shanghai, China (Jing'an Temple)
021-62525117

CHUN RESTAURANT
Neighborhood: French Concession
124 Jinxian Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China
+86 21 6256 0301

Tony met up with journalist Minji Yao and friends for a traditional Shanghai dinner.

HOUSE OF ROOSEVELT
Neighborhood:The Bund
27 Zhongshan East 1st Rd, Huangpu, Shanghai, China
+86 21 2322 0800

Tony dines with investor Tim Tse and friends at the House of Roosevelt located on the Bund.

ER GUANG WONTON
Neighborhood: Huangpu District
209 Zhao Zhou Lu x He Fei Lu
Huangpu, Shanghai

DI SHUI DONG
Neighborhood:Huaihai Road / French Concession
Luwan District Maoming South Road 56 2 Floor, Shanghai, China (Huaihai Road)
021-62532689,  021-62181476

BAR CONSTELLATION 
Neighborhood: People’s Square
251 Huangpi Bei Lu, 
near Jiangyin Lu
021 5375 2712

LONG LEG NOODLES
Neighborhood: Huangpu District
166 Zhao Zhou Rd (down the alley next to Buddies Convenient Store)
Huangpu, Shanghai

At a food stand down an alley in the Huangpu District, Tony had a bowl of Noodles from Long Leg Noodles.  The soup included pakchoi, pork, chili sauce, soy sauce,lard and noodles.

A new China worry is taking over Wall Street

(An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China, July 10, 2015.Reuters)
There is a new worry coming out of China, and it’s slowly taken hold of Wall Street.

The country’s government is cracking down on massive financial firms that have grown by making acquisitions overseas. You’ll recognize some of these names; Anbang Insurance, which recently bought the Waldorf Astoria; HNA; Fosun; Rossoneri; and Wanda.

All of these are private companies, but in China “private” is a relative term. Most of the executives at these firms have deep ties to the Communist Party, but not even those connections have been enough to squash reports that the government is telling banks to be careful about their credit exposure to these specific companies.

That’s leaving investors wondering what’s going to happen to the $162 billion in debt these companies are holding.

“With new credit supply being more limited, one cannot rule out the possibility of whether some of the companies involved might be unable to honor some of their financial obligations,” wrote analysts at Credit Suisse in a recent note.

“If this happens, it could bring in sharp corrections to their listed stocks and bonds, and could affect the listed financial instruments of other Chinese companies. This could also make Chinese banks more cautious in providing credit to the private sector.”

Spree

This is all happening, in part, because these companies were once allowed to go on asset buying sprees and now they’re simply not. Deal flow started slowing down in 2016, as the Chinese government started talking about financial reform more openly (if not always earnestly).

Over that time, these companies collected $700 billion in assets all over the globe, according to Credit Suisse, and some of those deals have been quite controversial. 

The Wall Street Journal just did a piece covering several issues at HNA. The whole thing is worth a read, but it mostly tells the story of  Tarvana, a San Francisco based travel firm HNA bought in 2015. Over a year later the company filed for bankruptcy, with accusations that its HNA appointed board engaged in “self-dealing, corruption, wrongdoing and bad faith” which ultimately killed the company.

The story also touches on HNA’s investment in Nicklaus Club, a Monterey, California-based golf club. There, HNA stopped contributing to employee insurance plans which resulted in their cancellation. According to the report, HNA also took months to make much needed improvements to a well on the club’s grounds and was delinquent on payments to a homeowners association with which Nicklaus shared a residential compound.

And these were not particularly large payments either — not for an international dealmaking giant — just $150,000 here and $15,000 there. Makes you wonder.

The eye in Beijing

But again, if you were worried about China Inc. buying up the entire world, you can rest easy for a moment. The Chinese government not only wants to limit the impact of high debt levels on its financial system, but also wants to keep money inside the country as it enacts reforms.

Now, that doesn’t mean these companies will go bankrupt. Credit Suisse pointed out that the Chinese government isn’t interested in shocks to the system either, so it may backstop disaster (and it may not). Even so, that means these once high-flying international dealmakers are now pariah’s in China’s banking sector and will have to use their cash reserves to pay down debt for no-one-knows-how long.

“If they cannot honour their financial obligations, there is a chance that it could create a domino effect on other institutions/individuals which have lent money to them,” said Credit Suisse. “Among them, the development of Anbang Insurance is worth the most attention, as it probably is having the closest relationship with retail investors through its insurance products. ”

This relationship is likely why Anbang Chairman Wu Xiaohui  — who last year met with President Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner, about investing in Kushner’s real estate company — was taken into custody by Chinese authorities earlier this year. Anbang also has a 20% stake in China’s largest private bank, China Minsheng Bank.

Wu’s disappearance happened much like most executive disappearances do in China. It started with a rumor, which was countered with a denial, until finally the story was eventually confirmed.

Sometimes that’s how bankruptcies start too.

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