FirstFT: Chinese and Indian companies face proposed EU sanctions over Russia links

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Good morning. The EU is preparing sanctions against three Chinese companies and one Indian business as part of its latest measures to damage Russia’s war machine.

If the bloc’s member states approve the plan, it would be the first time businesses in mainland China and India have been hit by EU sanctions. Such action against an Indian company would be especially sensitive as the country is a US ally and is negotiating a trade deal with the EU.

The companies, along with one in Hong Kong, are among 21 entities newly listed in a European Commission document seen by the FT. They cannot be named for legal reasons.

Under the proposed measures, European companies would be banned from dealing with them. The sanctions package, expected to be approved ahead of the second anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, will be the 13th the EU has passed.

Our Brussels reporters have more on the proposed measures.

Here’s what else I’m keeping tabs on today:

  • Israel-Hamas war: The heads of the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency are expected to hold talks with senior Egyptian and Qatari officials today in a bid to revive negotiations on a deal to halt the war and secure the release of hostages held in Gaza.

  • Economic data: The US releases its consumer price index for January, while unemployment figures are due in the UK and France.

  • Reports: Opec releases its February Oil Market Report.

  • Results: Airbnb, Asahi Group Holdings, Hasbro, Lyft and Moody’s are among those reporting.

Five more top stories

1. Qatar has released eight Indian former naval officers sentenced to death last year for spying for Israel, the New Delhi government said. The men’s release follows a major liquefied natural gas deal announced last week between Qatar, one of the world’s top LNG exporters, and India.

2. The EU’s chief diplomat and Germany’s chancellor joined other western leaders in condemning former US president Donald Trump’s suggestion that he would allow Russia to attack any Nato member that failed to spend enough on defence. Here’s the latest reaction from US allies to Trump’s remarks on the campaign trail.

3. A Singapore private club known for catering to wealthy Chinese clients has shut down as ultra-rich residents of the Asian financial hub increasingly opt for discretion over conspicuous displays of affluence. Circle 33 shut its doors after failing to renew its lease last year, according to people familiar with the wine club’s situation. The closure comes as sales of luxury goods have tumbled in the city-state in the wake of a $2.2bn money laundering investigation.

4. The founders and top executives of the largest private equity groups in the US have seen the value of their shares rise by more than $40bn since the beginning of 2023 as new assets have poured into their firms. Shares in Blackstone, KKR, Apollo Global, Ares Management and TPG have neared or eclipsed record highs due to better-than-feared financial results. Here’s what drove their earnings.

5. Blood proteins can predict dementia up to 15 years before clinical diagnosis, scientists using machine learning techniques have found, boosting fast-evolving efforts to predict and prevent neurogenerative diseases. The analysis bolsters the findings of smaller studies suggesting certain proteins are “biomarkers” of susceptibility to Alzheimer’s and other conditions, says the paper by scientists from China’s Fudan university and Warwick university in the UK.

News in-depth

Prabowo Subianto standing above a crowd of people at a rally
© Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of young Indonesians screamed with joy as presidential hopeful Prabowo Subianto blew air kisses and danced on stage at a final campaign rally in Jakarta on Saturday. Within minutes, the 72-year-old’s moves were posted all over social media with hashtags such as “gemoy” — “cute” in Bahasa Indonesian. The reaction illustrates the remarkable transformation of the fiery former general, once barred from the US over human rights concerns, who is now the favourite to lead the world’s third-most populous democracy.

We’re also reading . . . 

  • AI and the afterlife: Henry Mance asks if it is really a good idea to have a chatbot that imitates the dead.

  • Brazilian football: The country is unrivalled as a talent factory, but its clubs are barely known overseas. International investors hope a new league could change that.

  • Indonesia’s election: After a decade of stability in a country not known for it, Joko Widodo will be a hard act to follow, writes Ruchir Sharma.

Chart of the day

“It pains me to admit it, but Hong Kong is now over,” writes Stephen Roach in his latest column on the demise of the Chinese territory’s stock market. The former chair of Morgan Stanley Asia points to the confluence of three factors that explain why the Hong Kong stock market is likely to remain in the mire.

Take a break from the news

Hyrox, a group exercise that combines cardio and strength, is the latest wellness event that is gaining popularity among professionals and a new generation of chief executives who are keen to promote a clean lifestyle and instil healthy competition among employees.​

Competitors take part in the sandbag lunges section of the Hyrox competition
Competitors take part in the sandbag lunges section of the Hyrox competition in Manchester last month © Jon Super/FT

Additional contributions from Irwin Cruz

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