Posts Tagged ‘Singapore’

causewaySingapore recently added toll charges to the Causeway, making travel to the region more expensive. Singapore followed suit. According to a member of the Land Transport Authority, Singapore’s policy is to do what Malaysia does. There are some specifics in the new toll (regarding the Eastern Dispersal Link [EDL] and the Malaysian Causeway Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Complex [CIQ]). Economists and businessmen are arguing that these tolls are resulting in a negative impact on Johor investment.

However, according to Tan Sri Shahrir Samad, the Singapore tolls will not have this effect. He believes that investors will find a way around it, like working virtually. In addition, he pointed out that property rentals in Johor were still significantly cheaper than renting in the republic.

But not everyone agrees with this. Nur Jazlan Mohamed – Pulai’s Johor MP – pointed out that Malaysians traveling to Singapore on a daily basis will “get hammered twice.” And, it will impact Johor’s businesses, as according to Boo Cheng Hau, “for an average car, it would cost RM33 the toll charges on both Iskandar and Woodlands CIQ. Even though it is only S$13, which may not be a burden for Singaporeans, it would certainly be a heavy burden for Johorean commuters.”

Thus it might be wise for both governments to figure out a solution together for further development. As far as Hau is concerned, this will include: “abolishment of tolls at the CIQs, speeding up MRT/LRT connections between Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia, and environmental protection of Johor Straits including the Forest City project.”

The recent capital flow to Asia is pushing leading asset managers to hire analysts and bond traders in the region.

BlackRock Inc., for example, has made Singapore its home base for trading regional debt and currencies. Manulife Asset Management, Aberdeen Asset Management and Western Asset Management have also made plans to expand their staff and focus in the region.

BlackRock Asia-Pacific chairman Mark McCombe explained:

“Quite recently, our Asian fixed-income capability was quite underdeveloped and so the decision was made to try to build a world-class capability. The regulatory framework, the living and working environment as well as the kind of rich base of investors make Singapore a very attractive place to do business.”

 

Laos, Land of Opportunity?

Just yesterday, a seminar took place on investment possibilities and cooperation at the Laos Vietnamese embassy.  Over two hundred Vietnamese business representatives were in attendance.  Ta Minh Chau, Vietnamese Ambassador, addressed the seminar and pointed out that Laos is a “peaceful country” with huge potential in many areas, especially financial.  Vietnam and Laos have a “special relationship,” with significant support from the Lao Government that has worked hard to establish optimistic and facilitative conditions for the thriving of Vietnamese business investments there.

Indeed, such good relations can be witnessed in the success various Vietnamese businesses are enjoying in Laos, most notably, the Hoang anh-Gia Lai Group, Lao-Viet Bank, Long Thanh Golf, and Song Da Corporation.

In addition, there are many areas in Laos that Vietnamese businesses could be interested in, such as: coffee, rubber, cotton, banking, agriculture and more.  According to a news report the embassy was asked to give Vietnamese  businesses, “information on the legal requirements of both countries to facilitate their investment in Laos.”

It seems that Laos is quite a popular place for foreign investments these days.  According to the Investment Promotion Department of the Ministry Planning and Investment, India is now ranking in the top 10 foreign investors there with more than $359m.  Other countries on the list are: Australia, China, France, Japan, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.  Thailand is definitely the number one investor, ranking in at over $2bn.  The most popular area for investment is the field of electricity.

Rich Get Richer in China

It seems if you want to go where the wealth is, China is where it’s at. Today there are over a million millionaires living there; financial growth having escalated in the last year, alongside a thriving currency. Statistics from a BCG Global Wealth Survey show an increase in China of 31 percent of millionaires to 1.11 million from the previous year, placing China “in third place for millionaire households.” In addition, in worldwide figures, China is at number 8 vis-à-vis households having assets at a value of more than $100m.

Inaccurate Stats?

These figures however, only give part of the picture since monies earned from private businesses did not figure in the survey, nor did yachts, art, or fine wines. According to a partner at Hong Kong BCG, Tjun Tang, “this grossly underestimates true overall wealth in China.” As well, only around 5 percent of wealth is held offshore and there is a limit on the amount of products that international wealth management companies are able to offer inside the country.

Asian Affluence

Singapore isn’t a bad place to live either if you want to be bringing in the money. A staggering 15.5 percent of those living in Singapore are millionaires. Qatar came in at 8.9 percent which isn’t anything to be ashamed of either. In general, if you are anywhere in the Asia-Pacific region, the rate for growth wealth has an anticipated growth of 11.4 percent in the next four years. When compared to worldwide figures for the same time-frame, the growth rate is around half of this. Japan wasn’t included in the Asian anticipated economic growth for these years. India isn’t doing too badly either, coming in ahead of Canada with its 190,000 millionaires. Things are going to be getting even better for India too, with an anticipated wealth increase of 14 percent per year over the next five years alongside China’s 18 percent. But China seems to look good no matter which way you turn, as, according to the Bloomberg Economic Momentum Index for Developing Asia, it ranks “first among 22 emerging Asian economies as the country most likely to maintain steady and rapid growth over the next five years.

Chinese NZ Investment

New Zealand is becoming an increasingly more attractive to investors. This has been especially evident in China which has been purchasing more NZ bonds than ever. Recent reports show that investments from China could amount to $6b which will have an impact on the kiwi dollar that could increase to 81 cents (which would be a three year peak) “against the greenback.” According to Craigs Investment Partners market analyst Peter McIntyre, “there have been reports that the Chinese foreign exchange reserves are looking to diversify around about 1.5 percent of their assets into New Zealand denominated assets like government bonds, companies and dairy farms.”

Nice New Zealand

That is one way of describing the country. Nice. New Zealand is definitely “nice” for investors since in terms of financial security, it is very stable. There is also a “high domestic inflation rate” with large returns too. It seems to be the whole region is finding New Zealand attractive, most notably Singapore and Hong Kong which are looking into government bonds.

These changes have been happening for a few years now. Countries in Asia are boasting “very large reserves.” There is likely to be additional investments ahead too. China will see an increase in investment from BUD, the Brazilian-Belgium owned Anheuser-Busch InBev and intends to establish a “brewery to make Budweiser in the mainland by the third quarter,” according to Carlos Brito, CEO of the company. The intention is to put in “several hundred million dollars this year.”

Better Beer

The three “top-priority markets” set to “drive the volume growth of the global beer industry,” are: Brazil, China and the USA. Indeed, China alone drinks around 30 liters of beer per annum, rendering it “responsible for around 25 percent of global beer consumption.” Just last week the first brewery was launched by AB InBev in Sichuan, a southwest China province, which according to the company’s Asia Pacific president Miguel Patricio, “aims to better serve the 200 million consumers in the region.” So if you happen to be visiting the Great Wall, consider quenching your thirst with a barrel of beer.

It seems like Asia may be encountering a few too many IBs around at the moment, (15 altogether – nine bank-backed and six non-bank backed). But which ones are doing really well? Apparently the CIMB group has a lot to say for itself, having been described as “ambitious” in its attempts at becoming a “leading universal bank in South- East Asia, providing a full array of banking services ranging from savings accounts to large corporate transactions for fund-raising.”

Going Global

What initially prompted CIMB to become global occurred in 2005 when it acquired RM500mil of GK Goh Holdings Ltd, which apparently gave the bank access to markets in the region, as well as London. Further to that, the bank purchased the Bumiptura Commerce Bank, Southern Bank, PT Bank Niaga and Bank Thai. Acquiring a “strong balance sheet” led CIMB to greater places.

IB Growth

There has been other regional growth for some of the non-bank IBs too. For example, OSK Investment Bank has established various advancement strategies while working hard on putting itself into the “smaller and mid-cap market as well as research capabilities.” Much of its profit hails from Asia, with 30 percent of its “overseas pre-tax profit” hailing from Singapore. Currently the bank is looking to establish its presence in Thailand and Cambodia. In the former country it is doing this with the purchase of BFIT Securities public Co. and in the latter it now boasts “a full-fledged commercial bank with nine branches as well as license for stockbroking and corporate finance.” OSK IB sees the necessity now to pump up its “institutional equity capability.” If it does this successfully in Hong Kong, it will be well on its way to establishing a very solid presence throughout the Asian region since it sees this country as “one of the largest financial gateways.”

There has been significant restructuring in OSK as well as new employees in an attempt to go further in its markets and develop a presence in Europe while “exposing the Asian markets to the Europeans.” As well the company is looking into what they can do in South Korea, Taiwan and China.

Stable Singapore Stakes

Is it true that things (financially-speaking) are that good in Singapore these days? Is that what is making the area so attractive for hedge funds, financiers and investors? Indeed the answer should be a resounding yes. The country is for sure facilitating things for these financiers as “setting up shop” is now deemed as much easier in Singapore than in any other Asian city.

If you just take a look at Hong Kong you will see just how much harder it is for such financiers to work. Indeed, managers of hedge funds alone are doing it tough, being forced to engage in the “same licensing requirements as mutual-fund managers.” Small funds in Singapore will be able to continue operating without having a license at all. Since it is today Singapore and Hong Kong which are the countries that have the most operation of hedge funds, of course these financiers would choose the former over the latter.

Seductive Singapore Taxes

The taxes haven’t always been so attractive in Singapore. But today they are, given what is going on in the UK. Currently the highest taxes for individuals reaches 20 percent in Singapore but the UK recently put their top rate up to a staggering 50 percent. In addition, the whole of Europe – as well as America – in general works on “tougher rules.”

So it makes sense that hedge funds in Singapore saw a significant development, reaching $48bn at the end of 2009 which was a jump of $10bn from just four years earlier. In 2001 there were only 20 hedge funds; two years ago that figure had escalated to 320 hedge fund managers. All predictors are pointing to a continued hedge fund interest looking to “tap Asia as a source of funds as well as a source of excess returns,” over the next year.

Singapore Squeeze?

While this is great for the country, is it so good for the people and the businesses already in existence there? Apparently there is the fear that “the increasing number of global hedge funds is unlikely to crowd out smaller Singapore-based managers.” There will however, be space for “large and niche players” as long as they keep adding “value to investors.” There is now more focus on “transparency and risk management by investors post-crisis,” also, which will lead to hedge fund managers around the world developing their “mid-bank office infrastructure.”

It’s great that Singapore is providing such an attractive environment for financiers around the world and that for sure will help the country’s economy. But at the same time, it has to ensure it looks after its own.

Pest storms are devastating rice production in Singapore, which is no good for anyone since this grain is a staple throughout Asia.  This is becoming a threat to the country’s food security and could completely destroy rice farms throughout the region, according to Singapore scientists.  Indeed, there is talk that the pesticides used to counter this problem may be doing the opposite – making it worse.  The problem has partly been caused by trying to go cheap:  use of less expensive pesticides; poor farmer education and destruction of ecosystems around paddies, to name but a few.

Historically this wouldn’t have been the case.  Farmers took immense pride in their plots and ensured their produce was protected.  King George VI would have been ashamed at his Asian brethren and might not have so readily agreed to having his face emblazoned on a set of Singapore stamps issued in 1948.

 

 

Thakral Corporation will partner as a financial investor with with developers to implement its new strategy for its real estate business.
In its filing with the Singapore Exchange, the company wrote that as a capital investor, it seeks to invest in affordable mid-sized residential developments located in cities in Asia Pacific and Australia.

Thakral indicated that its new strategy will generate a second revenue stream for the company.

The firm is seeking returns of 15 to 25 per cent, with an exit strategy in 12 to 36 months.

Mr Singh said, “We will receive our returns and capital when the projects are completed and all units already pre-sold to buyers are settled.”

Thakral already owns commercial and residential property holdings in Hong Kong and China.

In addition to real estate, Thakral also distributes consumer electronic products in Singapore, India, China and Japan.