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Top aide to North Korean leader lands in Singapore as summit preparations advance

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Due to sanctions against him, Kim Yong Chol is banned from visiting the United States normally. His visit to the United States would indicate a waiver was granted.

The United States and South Korea blacklisted Kim Yong Chol for supporting the North’s nuclear and missile programs in 2010 and 2016, respectively.

Yonhap added Choe Kang Il, a North Korean foreign ministry official involved with North America issues, was also spotted at Beijing Capital International Airport. Yonhap did not say whether Choe would be accompanying Kim Yong Chol.

In a flurry of diplomacy over the weekend, Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in held a surprise meeting on Saturday at the border village of Panmunjom, during which they agreed the North Korea-U.S. summit must be held.

And on Sunday, the U.S. State Department said American and North Korean officials had met at Panmunjom. Sung Kim, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and current ambassador to the Philippines, led that American delegation, an American official told Reuters.

Moon said on Monday that there could be more impromptu talks between the two Koreas in the lead-up to the summit.

In Kim and Moon’s first, upbeat meeting on April 27, they agreed to seek the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean peninsula – but didn’t define what that meant, or how that would proceed.

Since then, North Korea has rejected U.S. demands for it to unilaterally abandon its nuclear weapons programme that experts say could threaten the United States.

Pyongyang also demanded the United States halt future joint military drills with South Korea if it truly wishes for talks with North Korea, the North’s Rodong Sinmun said on Tuesday. In response to reporters’ questions regarding the report, South Korea’s defense ministry said it does not have plans to change joint exercise schedules with the United States military.

Analysts believe Washington is trying to determine whether North Korea is willing to agree on sufficient steps towards denuclearization to allow a summit to take place.

North Korea defends its nuclear and missile programs as a deterrent against perceived aggression by the United States, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

It has long said it is open to eventually giving up its nuclear arsenal if the United States withdraws its troops from South Korea and ends its “nuclear umbrella” alliance with Seoul.

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Ant Group to raise $34.5 billion in the biggest IPO of all time

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The Ant Group logo and the Alibaba Group logo are displayed at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, China.

Qilai Shen | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Ant Group will raise $34.5 billion in its dual initial public offering (IPO) after setting the price for its shares on Monday, making it the biggest listing of all time.

The Chinese financial technology giant previously said it would split its stock issuance equally across Shanghai and Hong Kong, issuing 1.67 billion new shares in each location.

Ant Group’s Shanghai-listed shares will be priced at 68.8 yuan each. The issuing of 1.67 billion shares will raise 114.94 billion yuan or $17.23 billion, according to the exchange rate listed in the official filings.

The Hong Kong-listed shares have been priced at 80 Hong Kong dollars each, raising 133.65 billion Hong Kong dollars or $17.24 billion.

The listing will raise a total of just under $34.5 billion, with the possibility for that figure to go higher if the so-called over-allotment option is exercised, depending on demand. It makes it the largest IPO of all time, putting it ahead of previous record holder Saudi Aramco, which raised just over $29 billion.

Ant’s valuation based on the pricing will be $313.37 billion, larger than some of the biggest banks in the U.S., including Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo.

The Chinese company previously said that strategic investors have agreed to subscribe to 80% of the company’s Shanghai-issued shares. Alibaba, via its subsidiary Zhejiang Tmall Technology, has agreed to buy 730 million A-shares, which are yuan-denominated shares of Chinese companies listed in mainland exchanges. This will allow Alibaba to maintain its roughly 33% stake in Ant Group.

Ant’s pricing comes after regulators in mainland China and Hong Kong gave the green light for the listing last week.

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SAP market cap plunges by $30 billion as coronavirus takes its toll

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A company logo is attached to the headquarters of the SAP software group.

Uwe Anspach | picture alliance | Getty Images

LONDON — German enterprise software group SAP saw its market valuation fall by 25 billion euros ($30 billion) on Monday as shares collapsed by over 17% following disappointing third-quarter results.

The company, which slashed its revenue forecast for 2020, saw its market cap fall from 125 billion euros to 100 billion euros and it is on track for its worst trading day in 12 years.

SAP said coronavirus lockdowns would affect demand for its business relations and customer management software well into 2021 as it announced that it plans to go all-in on cloud computing.

The firm is abandoning medium-term profitability targets and it warned that it will take longer than expected to recover from the pandemic.

“As the CEO of SAP, I have to be focused on the long-term value creation of this company,” SAP Chief Executive Christian Klein told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” on Monday.

“So I cannot trade the success of our customers and the significant revenue potential of SAP against short-term margin optimization.”

JPMorgan cut its price target for SAP to 120 from 160 euros, and downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “overweight.”

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Thai protests could turn violent and lead to a military coup: Analyst

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Thailand could potentially return to rule under the military junta again — if violence should flare up between pro-democracy student protesters and “counter-protesters” loyal to the establishment, one analyst told CNBC on Monday.   

The pro-democracy protests, which have lasted for months, have been largely peaceful so far. Among the protesters’ list of demands are the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and reforms to the monarchy. Prayuth has ignored protesters’ deadline for him to step down.

Royalists — commonly known as the “yellow shirts” — have in recent weeks started to hold counter protests. Last Wednesday, a small counter protest in Bangkok turned violent when a few attendees attacked student demonstrators on the anti-government camp, reported the Associated Press.

“I think that there’s going to be growing tensions which could actually develop into some conflict, perhaps some violent conflict and that’s very dangerous,” Paul Chambers, lecturer and advisor at Naresuan University’s Center of ASEAN Community Studies, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“These peaceful protests are going to continue, try to continue on. However, there’s going to be some right-wing counter-protesters who I expect are going to try to create some violence, which could lead to some injuries and deaths and eventually, even potentially a military coup,” he said.

Chambers explained that if clashes between pro-democracy protesters and royalists grow, the military would have the “perfect rationale” to intervene. That could put an end to the current “facade democracy” — which is indirectly dominated by the military — and mark the beginning of a new junta, he said.

Such a development will not bring much peace for the country, he added.

Thailand is no stranger to military coups, having last experienced one in 2014 engineered by the current prime minister. Last year, the country held its first general election since that coup, which saw the military-backed Palang Pracharath Party lead the coalition government.

Prayuth — now retired from the army — was selected as prime minister by a parliament consisting of many appointed senators from the Thai military and police.

The economic outlook for the Southeast Asian country has dimmed substantially this year even though the country’s coronavirus outbreak is now largely under control. The International Monetary Fund projected the Thai economy could contract by 7.1% this year.

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