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Singapore Briefings: India’s Gulf Oil to acquire several assets of Hin Leong shipping arm

Last updated on December 10th, 2020 at 02:11 am

10 Dec 2020

India’s Hinduja Group-owned Gulf Oil International, has inked an agreement to acquire a lubricant blending plant with wharf access, a storage farm, and a terminal facility located in Singapore’s Tuas region on the western tip, from Singapore’s Ocean Tankers Pte Ltd, the shipping arm of Singaporean oil trader Hin Leong which has been rocked by a financial scandal. Ocean Tankers, one of the biggest tankers in the world has been placed under judicial management following parent company Hin Leong’s financial fraud allegations.

Australian data center startup AirTrunk opens first Singapore data centre

10 Dec 2020

Australian data center operator AirTrunk opened the initial stage of its Singapore data center facility yesterday. In Loyang Singapore, the 60+ MW SGP1 data centre is set on 1.5 hectares, close to the Changi North Cable Landing Station for strong international interconnection. With over 20,000 square metres of data hall area, the scalable campus is designed for hyperscale customers, supporting their rapid growth in Singapore and throughout South East Asia. The campus opens today with its first 30 MW phase and will soon be followed by a second phase that is already under construction to cater for strong customer demand.

The same day, AirTrunk also announced the opened a data centre in Hong Kong.

Hin Leong bunkering arm Ocean Bunkering Services to be liquidated

07 Dec 2020

Ocean Bunkering Services, formerly Singapore’s largest bunker supplier will be liquidated following parent company Hin Leong’s financial scandal. Leow Quek Shiong and Gary Log Weng Fatt of BDO Advisory Pte Ltd have been appointed provisional liquidators.

Singapore, Tianjin ink MOU to deepen cooperation in trade, development

02 Dec 2020

Singapore and China’s northern port city of Tianjin signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to deepen cooperation in sustainable and smart development, trade and investment, and people-to-people exchanges.

CapitaLand divests three malls in Japan, office building in South Korea, ventures into logistics

02 Dec 2020

CapitaLand (CGX:C31) has divested three malls in Japan and an office building in South Korea for SGD 448.7 million as part of the company’s portfolio reconstitution strategy, it announced in a stock exchange filing.

The company also made its first foray into Japan’s logistics sector through a joint venture with Mitsui & Co Real Estate Ltd to develop and operate a logistics project in Greater Tokyo.

“The divestment of these mature malls … is part of CapitaLand’s capital recycling strategy to unlock value by reinvesting the capital into new growth opportunities such as the logistics sector in Japan,” said Jason Leow, president, Singapore & International, at CapitaLand Group. “By paring down our exposure in Japan’s retail sector and leveraging our logistics experience in markets such as Singapore, Australia and the UK to expand into the new economy sector in Japan, we are responding swiftly to shifting market trends and consumer behaviors, positioning CapitaLand for future growth,” he added.

German chipmaker Infineon to make Singapore its first global artificial intelligence hub

01 Dec 2020

German semiconductor company Infineon Technologies will spend SGD 27 million over the next three years to make Singapore its first global hub that will see artificial intelligence (AI) embedded in all job functions.

According to Mr Chua Chee Seong, president and managing director of Infineon Technologies Asia Pacific, the plan includes the upskilling of more than 1,000 of its 2,200 employees in Singapore and the deployment of about 25 unique AI projects covering the entire value chain of activities by 2023. Singapore is already home to Infineon’s Asia-Pacific headquarters.

Keppel Land divests remaining 30% stake in Dong Nai Waterfront City (DNWC)

01 Dec 2020

Keppel Corp’s (SGX:BN4) real estate subsidiary Keppel Land is divesting its remaining 30% stake in Dong Nai waterfront City (DNWC) for about VND 1.95 trillion. Keppel Land had divested its 70% stake in DNWC earlier in 2019 to Nam Long Investment Corporation (NLG). NLG is also the buyer of Keppel Land’s remaining 30% stake in DNWC. The deal is expected to be complete in the first half of 2021. With the divestment of its remaining 30% interest, Keppel Land expects to recognize a gain on disposal of about SGD 52.5 million.

“The divestment of Dong Nai Waterfront City is in line with Keppel’s plan to monetize identified assets and apply the balance sheet space that is released for new growth opportunities under its Vision 2030,” said Mr. Joseph Low, general director of Keppel Land (Vietnam)

Singapore mental health startup reaches one million users within six months after launch

01 Dec 2020

Singapore mental health startup Intellect has reached more than 1 million users within just six months after launch. The startup’s consumer app – Intellect – was also selected by Google as one its best personal growth apps for 2020.

Non-banks to be granted access to real-time payment rails

30 Nov 2020

Eligible Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NFIs) will soon be granted direct access to Singapore’s coveted real-time payment networks FAST and PayNow starting February 2021, according to a statement by Singapore’s central bank -the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

PayNow, and FAST enable people to transfer funds between banks and digital wallets. “Direct access by NFIs to FAST and PayNow closes the last-mile gap in Singapore’s ePayment journey. Consumers who may not have ready access to debit or credit cards to fund their eWallets will now have the option to do so directly through their bank accounts,” said Ravi Menon, managing director, MAS.

According to MAS, more than 12.5 million FAST transactions were processed per month in the quarter ended September 2020, more than half of which were handled via PayNow.

Dyson to build new manufacturing hub in Singapore

27 Nov 2020

British household appliances company Dyson is planning to build a new advanced manufacturing hub in Singapore. The plan is part of Dyson’s GBP 2.75 billion worth of investments across Singapore, UK, and the Philippines.

Luxury watch retailer Cortina Holdings proposes to buy Sincere Watches

18 Nov 2020

Luxury watch retailer Cortina Holdings (SGX:C41) which carries well-known watch brands such as Rolex and Patek Philippe has proposed to acquire privately-held rival luxury watch retailer Sincere Watches for SGD 84.5 million in cash according to an exchange filing.

Cortina said the proposed acquisition will provide it with exclusive distributorship rights to the Franck Muller brand in 12 countries within the Asia-Pacific. The acquisition will also give Cortina access to Sincere Watch’s portfolio of brands which includes luxury brands such as Omega, Panerai, Tudor, A. Lange
& Söhne, Franck Muller, IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron, Constatin and Audemars Piguet. Sincere Watch runs multi-brand retail under the Sincere brand in Singapore and Malaysia, and under the Pendulum brand in Thailand. In addition, it runs mono-brand boutiques for Franck Muller in Singapore and Australia, A. Lange & Söhne in Malaysia, as well as A. Lange & Söhne, Breitling and IWC in Thailand.

New private home sales dive 51.7% MoM in October after latest curbs

16 Nov 2020

New private home sales in Singapore plunged 51.7% to just 642 units in October from a more than two-year high of 1,329 units in September. Compared to last year, October new private home sales were down 31.1% YoY from the 932 units sold by developers in October last year according to figures by the  Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The October decline put the brakes on a five-month growth momentum.  The decline is likely to have stemmed from new rules imposed by the URA on September 28, which restricted developers from re-issuing Options to Purchase (OTPs) to the same buyer of the same unit within 12 months after the expiry of the earlier OTP.  Developers are also restricted from providing upfront agreements to buyers to re-issue OTPs.

Digital wealth management startup StashAway expands to UAE

16 Nov 2020

Singaporean digital wealth management startup StashAway has launched in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), making it the first digital wealth manager get an asset management license from the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) with retail endorsement.

Singapore Airlines posts record 1H FY 2021 loss of SGD 3.46 billion

07 Nov 2020

Singapore’s flagship airline Singapore Airlines (SIA) posted a record loss of SGD 3.46 billion for the six months ended September 2020, as global air travel came to abrupt halt as a result of the Covid pandemic. The loss is a reversal from the SGD 205.6 million profit earned in the same period last year.

Passenger volume amounted to 155,000 during the 1H FY 2021, a 99.1% decline from the same period last year, when passenger volumes amounted to 19.1 million. Revenue fell 80.4% year-on-year (YoY) to SGD 1.63 billion during 1H FY 2021, from SGD 8.33 billion a year earlier.

The sharp decline in 1H FY 2021 profit was also driven by impairments for older generation aircraft (SGD 1.33 billion impairment), goodwill impairment (SGD 170.4 million impairment of the goodwill from SIA’s Tiger Airways acquisition in October 2014), and  retrenchment cost (SGD 41.7 million). Furthermore, SIA recognized mark-to-market losses of SGD 563 million from fuel hedges during H1. Fuel hedging activities have been paused since March.

US-Singapore Hustle Fund raises USD 30 million

05 Nov 2020

US and Singapore-based pre-seed venture capital investment firm Hustle Fund has raised USD 30 million the first close of its second fund. The fund, which started fundraising in May 2019, will focus on making investments in pre-seed software startups in Southeast Asia, US, and Canada.

GIC-backed data center provider SpaceDC opens new data center in Indonesia

04 Nov 2020

GIC-backed data center provider SpaceDC has opened its inaugural data center facility, JAK2, in Jakarta, Indonesia, in an effort to tap into the country’s rapidly growing digital market. Indonesia is Southeast Asia’s largest digital economy.

September bank lending falls for 7th straight month

31 Oct 2020

Singapore bank lending fell 0.05% month-on-month (MoM) to SGD 677.46 billion from in September, from SGD 677.86 billion in August, marking the seventh consecutive month of decline driven by falling business loans which more than offset rising consumer loans according to preliminary data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Compared to September last year, total bank lending was down 1% year-on-year (YoY) in September.

Business loans fell 0.3% MoM to SGD 421.28 billion in September from SGD 422.54 billion in August. Loans to financial institutions were down 1.9% MoM to SGD 99.38 billion, the second straight month of decline. Loans to building and construction businesses – which account for the biggest share of business lending – rose 0.7% MoM in September to SGD 150.91 billion.

Compared to September last year, business loans were down 0.2% YoY.

Consumer loans inched up 0.3% MoM to SGD 256.28 billion in September, driven by housing loans and share financing. Housing loans, which account for three-quarters of consumer loans rose for the first time since January, up 0.1% MoM to SGD 199.09 billion in September. Housing loans are likely to have benefited from greater buying activity after the end of the circuit breaker period, which helped pushed Singapore’s new private home sales to a two-year high in September. 

Share financing loans rose 6.9% MoM to SGD 1.87 billion from SGD 1.75 billion in August.

Compared to September last year, consumer loans were down 2.5% YoY.

Department store Robinsons closes doors for good

30 Oct 2020

One of Singapore’s oldest department store operators Robinsons is shutting down for good after 162 years in the country, as the Covid pandemic dealt a double whammy amid the ongoing struggles faced by department store operators worldwide to adapt to changing consumer behaviors as a result of rising e-commerce.  Robinsons said that it had begun the liquidation process for its last two stores in Singapore – one located at The Heeren, and the other at Raffles City Shopping Centre. Australian advisory firm KordaMentha are the appointed liquidators.

Robinsons plans to do its best to transfer its 175 employees to other brands owned by its parent company, Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group, which owns franchises such as Marks & Spencer and Zara.

Advanced materials startup gush raises SGD 4.65 million pre-Series A

26 Oct 2020

Singaporean advanced materials startup gush has raised SGD 4.65 million in its pre-Series A funding round led by TNB Aura. Existing backer Fidelium Group and strategic investors RSP Architects, SEEDS Capital, TRIREC and several unnamed individuals participated in the round. 

Private home prices up 0.8% QoQ in Q3 2020

24 Oct 2020

Private home prices in Singapore rose 0.8% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) amid the pandemic-induced recession, accelerating from the  0.3% rise in Q2 2020, and a 1% drop in Q1 2020 according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). With the third quarter increase, Singapore’s private home prices are up 0.1% for the first nine months of 2020.

The increase was driven by landed homes and increased buying activity in the city fringes and suburbs after the nationwide two month circuit breaker ended in on June 1. For the nine months ended September 2020, nearly 80% of private home buyers were Singaporean, the highest proportion since 2010. However, the number of foreign buyers of Singapore private homes nearly doubled to 225 in Q3 2020, from 119 in Q2, possibly due to more foreigners setting up operations in Singapore and record low interest rates. Bulk of the foreign buyers were China, while buyers from Malaysia, India, USA, and Indonesia accounting for the rest.

Singtel’s NCS acquires digital services startup 2359 Media

22 Oct 2020

Singaporean telecom giant Singapore Telecommunications’s (SGX:Z74) ICT subsidiary NCS has acquired a digital services consultancy startup 2359 Media for an undisclosed sum. 2359 Media will be part of NCS’ NEXT digital arm, and the acquisition will offer NCS clients an expanded range of digital services such as  design thinking, rapid prototyping, cloud native application development, and creation of innovative digital solutions.

Plant-based food startup Eat Just plans to build first Asia factory in Singapore

21 Oct 2020

American plant based food startup Eat Just has launched a new Asian subsidiary in partnership with Proterra Investment Partners Asia. The partnership will involve the construction and operation of Eat Just’s first  factory in Asia, which will be in Singapore. As part of the deal, Proterra will invest USD 100 million while Eat Just will invest a maximum USD 20 million for the plant. The completed factory will have the capacity to manufacture “thousands of metric tons of protein”. The partnership will  also focus on building the supply chain for their flagship product, a liquid vegan egg product made from mung beans.

65% rise in Industry 4.0-related projects in Singapore

19 Oct 2020

The Covid pandemic has served as a catalyst for Industry 4.0 in Singapore, with companies in the country’s manufacturing sector embarking on more than 1,300 Industry 4.0-related projects to digitize and transform their businesses with assistance from Enterprise Singapore during the eight months to August 2020. This represents a rise of about 65% compared to the same period last year.  Projects were mainly focused on technology deployment and automation, process redesign, and implementation of digitalization solutions such as  human resource systems.

Manufacturing is a key part of Singapore’s economy, with the sector contributing about 20% to the country’s GDP.

Pie chart showing Singapore's nominal GDP by industry in 2019. Singapore's manufacturing sector was the largest contributor to GDP was a 20.9% share followed by wholesale and retail trade with a 17.3% share, business services with a 14.8% share, finance and insurance with a 13.9% share, other services Industries 11.3% share, transportation and storage with a 6.7% share, information and Communications with a 4.3% share, ownership and dwellings with a 3.8% share, construction with a 3.7% share, accommodation and Food Services with a 2.1% share, and utilities with a 1.2%. Data from the department of Statistics Singapore.
Amid the Covid-induced economic slowdown, manufacturing has emerged as a bright spot in Singapore’s economy. Singapore’s Q3 2020 GDP contracted 7% YoY, a drastic improvement from the previous quarter when the country’s economic output shrank 13.2% YoY in, largely driven by the manufacturing sector which rose 2% in Q3 2020, reversing from the 0.8% YoY decline the previous quarter. By comparison the country’s construction sector shrank 44.7% YoY in Q3 2020 while the services sector tumbled 8% YoY.

September new private home sales hit 2-year high

15 Sep 2020

New private home sales reached 1,329 units in September, a 5.6% increase month-on-month (MoM) from August when new private home sales amounted to 1,258 and a 4.65% increase YoY when new private home sales amounted to 1,270 in September 2019 according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority. September’s new private home sales volume was the highest since July 2018, when 1,724 units were  transacted. The figures exclude executive condominiums which are a public-private housing hybrid.

Malaysia budget airline AirAsia’s fintech venture BigPay expands into Singapore

28 Sep 2020

Malaysia’s AirAsia’s fintech venture, BigPay, is expanding into Singapore. BigPay also plans to launch new business lines such as loans, insurance and wealth management in the coming months, as well as expand to other South East Asian markets in early 2021.

Singapore’s total population drops for the first time in 17 years

25 Sep 2020

Singapore’s total population has fallen for the first time in since 2003, falling 0.3% to 5.69 million as of June from a year ago largely due to a reduction in foreign employment in the services sector, according to Singapore’s annual population report. Total population, which include citizens, permanent residents, foreign workers and students, last fell in 2003 to 4.11 million from 4.18 million the year before. The non-resident population was 1.64 million as of June 2020, a decrease of 2.1 per cent from June 2019 and the lowest since 2015. By visa type, work permit holders saw the largest decrease. “These trends were largely due to Covid-19 related challenges, brought about by weak demand and travel restrictions,” according to the report.