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Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

Money for jam

In Uncategorized on 31/10/2011 at 6:10 am

I’m a shareholder in Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust that has called for a massive rights issue (S$336.8m) that will not be underwritten by the five Joint Mgrs (StanChart, CIMB, Credit Suisse, BoA and UBS). Market is too volatile for them to risk their money for “peanuts”? In normal markets, they would be entitled to a fee of 2- 3% for underwriting the rights issue. This would have worked out to fees of between S$6.7m- S$10.1m.

But the five of them (StanChart, CIMB, Credit Suisse, BoA and UBS) are getting a total of S$1.5m (or 0.45% of amt to be raised) to do bugger all as I see it. This is 31.25% of the fees that will paid in relation to the rights issue. The rest of the fees will go to StanChart (financial adviser), lawyers, accountants, printers and so on.

Guess LMIR didn’t want to upset the investment banks who were planning to underwrite the issue.

Bad Analogy Chen Show Mao

In Political governance on 30/10/2011 at 7:05 am

“In this 12th Parliament, I hope a wise ruling party can be Tang Taizong while we the WP can be Wei Zheng. Together we can create a prosperous era, one that is not dictated by a single ruler surrounded by ‘yes’ men”. (For those Indians, Malays and Eurasians not versed in Chinese history, there was in emperor Tang Taizong’s reign, a court official, Wei Zheng, who was not afraid of offending the emperor by telling him the truth. The emperor’s reforms has been credited to Wei’s criticisms.)

My criticism is that by equating the PAP to a Tang dynasty emperor and the WP to an official of that emperor (even though he qualified himself by saying, “In this 12th Parliament … “, so setting a time limit), he is (inadvertently):

– helping the PAP to perpetuate the myth (that the PAP is always encouraging) that it has a natural right (or mandate of heaven) to govern S’pore.: the WP, can at best, only counsel, never becoming the government;

– equating the PAP with the government (a Chinese emperor was the government and vice versa), something one LKY liked to do;

– boxing the WP into making “constructive” criticisms (that was what Wei was doing, as I understand it); and

– risking alienating minorities (example of an irritated S’porean Indian, who usually has great difficulty getting upset). This is something WP has to be very careful of, given the wide-spread perception that it is a “Chinese” party. An example.

I am certain he never intended these interpretations or impressions, but they are reasonable inferences from his illustration. One can see the government moving to frame the role of the Opposition in parliament:

– the day after Chen spoke the PM said he wanted: An inclusive society where no Singaporean is left behind, a vibrant economy where growth benefits everyone and constructive politics that puts Singapore first; and

– last Sunday, the Law and Foreign Affairs minister (a local Indian), said, “The Government has put forward its views, and the idea of a debate must be that the Opposition puts forward constructive suggestions on how the Government’s agenda and policies and programmes can be improved.”

So the trap is being laid to use Chen’s words against the WP.

My advice to Chen Show Mao: go easy on using analogies, examples or allusions from Chinese history or culture and read this on “… the difficulty of choosing a unifying symbol in a multiracial, multireligious society”.

Otherwise a good speech. Made better when Dr Teo Ho Pin criticised it*, showing us yet again that

– the PAP seems to have recruited “smart” men with who love putting their foots in their mouths (think Drs VivianB, Lim Wee Kiah and Puthu); and

– there is something wrong in the PAP MP selection process (think Tin and Foo).

——–

*Dr Teo Ho Pin “did not know the difference (Mr Chen) has made” in defining the differences. Mr Chen was making the point that political differences are not akin to divisions that will lend to time-wasting politicking and gridlock.

Jay Leno’s Stock Market Humour

In Wit on 29/10/2011 at 6:42 am

The US has made a new weapon that destroys people but keeps the building standing,. It’s called the stock market.

Do you have any idea how cheap stocks are? Wall Street is now being called Wal Mart Street.

I want to warn people from Nigeria who might be watching our show, if you get any emails from Washington asking for money, it’s a scam. Don’t fall for it.

President Bush’s response was to meet some small business owners in San Antonio last week. The small business owners are General Motors, General Electric and Century 21.

Banks’ Alice-in-Wonderland Accounting

In Accounting, Banks on 28/10/2011 at 7:02 am

The problem with a bank’s balance sheet is that on the left side nothing’s right and on the right side nothing’s left.

Think Lehman’s and Dexia’s balance sheets. One day AAA, six months’s later rubbish. That fast leh?

Profit and loss accounts are just as rubbishy. Recently UBS’s third quater profit fell to 1.02 billion Swiss francs (US$1.2 billion) in the three months ended Sept. 30 from 1.66 billion francs in the period a year earlier. The trading loss of  1.85bn Swiss francs (alleged caused by a rogue trader) and charges linked to a cost-cutting plan were partly offset by an accounting gain on the bank’s own credit of 1.8 billion francs and the sale of some investments.

Now this accounting treatment was not not only used by UBS. According to the FT’s Lex, four-fifths of the US$16bn net profits  in the latest announced results of (BoA, Citi, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs came from using used the same accounting treatment of the banks’ own debts.

Lex describes the accounting treament thus: ” Try this on your credit card company: your creditworthiness has weakened, so you write down the value of what you owe them to reflect the greater riskthat you will not pay it back and credit the difference to your personal account. That is what exactly accounting allows”.

HDB: “affordability” and “market-based land costs” redefined”?

In Political governance, Property on 27/10/2011 at 5:51 pm

“Mr Khaw said that a typical two-room Build-To-Order flat, which has an income ceiling of S$2,000, would cost less than three years of income, factoring in the grants available. Meanwhile, larger four or five-room flats – with an income ceiling of S$10,000 – cost less than five years of income,” it was reported last Friday. (Translated into $. 2-room flats: $72,000, 5-room flats up to $600,000.  All before subsidies.)

Err who can devote 100% of monthly salary for 3- 5 years to pay for flats? More likely kanna strech payments for 30 years (Comrade Mah’s assumption). So talking of the cost of flats in terms of salaries for 3- 5 years sounds like another variation of Minister Mah’s, “No cash outlay” where he forgot to mention the more and for a longer duration money is deducted from CPF accounts, the less home owners have to retire on.

Remember Minister’s Mah rants about “reserves being raided” if the land on which HDB flats were built were not valued at “market-based land costs”? Well Minister Khaw may have redefined “market-based land costs”, without the “reserves being raided”.

The possibility that there is a new definition of “market-based land costs” was spotted and commented on by a ST journalist, Li Xueying (Good for her).In a piece on 20 October 2011, “Chance lost on clearing hows and whys of flat pricing”, she wrote, Mr Khaw spoke of how, since May, the Government had stabilised the prices of 13,000 flats in three [Build-to-Order] launches. This, even as prices in the private and resale market rose, albeit at a slowing pace … ‘We have moderated price changes such that after adjusting for differences in location, amenities and other physical attributes, the May, July and September BTO prices were roughly comparable to the prices of similar units in the April BTO launch.’

The BTO launch next month will repeat this pattern, he promised … ‘As long as construction costs do not rise dramatically, the BTO prices will stabilise.’

As long as construction costs do not rise dramatically. This raises a question.

What about the second component that the Housing Board factors in in pricing its new flats, that is, land costs?

More specifically, market-based land costs – a formula that has drawn so much angst in the past, given that it is pegged to the gyrations of the private market.

(Market-based pricing of land is done based on prices of state land located within HDB estates sold to the private sector.) …

But it is telling that Mr Khaw also spoke of how his ministry had moderated the prices of the BTO projects such that the prices of those launched last month were comparable with the prices of those launched in April, even though prices in the private market rose over the same period.

Has the market-based pricing formula been quietly tweaked behind closed doors? Or did the Government just decide to deploy an interim measure of pegging new prices to April’s levels, given the unhappiness over spiralling flat prices? …

But the speed with which the minister has done so – never mind the market – does raise questions on how exactly the Government prices its flats.

… MP Zainudin Nordin also queried this, calling for the pricing formula to be as transparent as possible.

Doing so will assure Singaporeans that ‘the Government is not out to make a profit through the sale of public housing’, he said.

Unfortunately, Mr Zainudin and his colleagues did not manage to seize the opportunity to seek this clarification from Mr Khaw yesterday.

She ends with remarks that the prime minister especially should take heed of, Going ahead, the need to be more open and transparent with information will continue to be an imperative that the Government has to struggle with, given a more questioning electorate.

Voters no longer want to be told just the answer – the what. They also want to understand the hows and the whys.

 

UBS: What else can go wrong?

In Accounting, Banks, GIC on 27/10/2011 at 6:36 am

Readers will know by now that UBS, where GIC is a major long-term (and suffering)  investor, is planning to reduce the scale of its investment banking operations, the source of its on-going problems since 2007.

But they may not know “What they are trying to do has never been done before,” Christopher Wheeler, an analyst at Mediobanca, said. “They want to shrink the investment bank by choice, which means unwinding positions without loss and running down their books while keeping the morale among staff, and it’s unclear who’s running the shop.”

And don’t be fooled by its latest results. Despite being hit by a 1.85bn-franc loss from deals made by an alleged rogue trader, it just made  a better-than-expected third-quarter net profit of 1bn Swiss francs (US$1.1bn).

The loss was almost entirely offset by a 1.77bn-franc accounting gain that came from changes to the value of the bank’s own debt. One of these days, I’ll blog on the Alice-in-Wonderland accounting that allows this type of gain to materialise. According to the FT’s Lex, four-fifths of the US$16bn net profits  in the latest announced results of (BoA, Citi, JPMorgan, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs came from using used the same accounting treatment of the banks’ own debts.

“Insufficient funds”

In Banks, Wit on 26/10/2011 at 6:49 am

What worries me most about the credit crunch, is that if one of my cheques is returned stamped ‘insufficient funds’. I won’t know whether that refers to mine or the bank’s.

Not true of our three local banks, they got lots of capital. They are using it to attract private banking clients. Even DBS, who blew up S’pore clients but compensated HK clients.

Deaf frog recovers hearing and other ministerial tales

In Wit on 25/10/2011 at 5:55 pm

Wonder when “Deaf frog” Lim Swee Say ( “We are deaf to criticisms”) got back his hearing? After the 2011 GE, when a swing of a few more percentage points could have meant the loss of millions of dollars?

Seriously, it’s strange that so long after croaking “cheaper, better, faster”, he has only last Friday explained that he was referring to “products and services”, not to the people who make them. Given the context when the remark was made (FTs allowed in by the cattle-truck load), many (self included) thought he was referring to S’porean workers and PMETs: Telling them (I’m a capitalist) to be “cheaper, better, faster” than the FTs beloved of MM. 

Can believe him or not?

Will one VivianB now tell us that we all misunderstood him when in response to Lily Neo’s plea for more help for the elderly poor, he made the infamous rhetoric query about the elderly poor wanting “hawker or restaurant food”? Will he now tell us that he was asking a genuine question and that if Lily Neo had said, “Yes”, he would have ensured that the elderly poor got such food, even if the food was unhealthy for them.  Blame Lily Neo for them not getting help, not him.

And how will  Ng Eng Hen respond to the implicit rebuke by PM?

Just seven months ago, during the Budget debate, then Education Minister Ng Eng Hen – in the same Chamber – strenuously debunked notions that social mobility is stagnating.

As evidence, he cited how among PSLE pupils from the bottom one-third of socio-economic backgrounds, one in six makes it to the top one-third of PSLE scorers.

‘The Singapore Story continues for this generation,’ he then declared.

Yesterday, Mr Lee made it clear that inequality and social mobility are not so easily delinked. Those from poor families are disadvantaged from the start. ST 21 October 2011, Hitting the reset button, by Li Xueying.

“My data was wrong. I took it from my ministry’s website,” perhaps?

Coming back to the Deaf Frog. Now that he has regained his hearing, he should explain to us how come he is so privileged to get a CPF statement every month? “Every month when I see my CPF Statement I feel so happy because I know…” Or was it “an honest mistake”?

New Stock Market Terms

In Wit on 25/10/2011 at 8:46 am

CEO –Chief Embezzlement Officer.

CFO– Corporate Fraud Officer.

BULL MARKET — A random market movement causing an investor to mistake himself for a financial genius.

BEAR MARKET — A 6 to 18 month period when the kids get no allowance, the wife gets no jewelry.

VALUE INVESTING — The art of buying low and selling lower.

P/E RATIO — The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing.

BROKER — What my broker has made me.

STANDARD & POOR — Your life in a nutshell.

STOCK ANALYST — Idiot who just downgraded your stock.

FINANCIAL PLANNER — A guy whose phone has been disconnected.

MARKET CORRECTION — The day after you buy stocks.

CASH FLOW– The movement your money makes as it disappears down the toilet.

YAHOO — What you yell after selling it to some poor sucker for $240 per share.

WINDOWS — What you jump out of when you’re the sucker who bought Yahoo @ $240 per share.

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR — Past year investor who’s now locked up in a nuthouse.

PROFIT — An archaic word no longer in use

CapitaLand: Reason for CEO interview in ST

In Corporate governance, Property on 25/10/2011 at 6:51 am

Two fridays ago, ST has a whole page devoted to an interview with CapitaLand’s CEO. He was trying to explain to CapitaLand was not a China play, and that it was not a financial engineer pretending to be a property developer. It had been until recently playing up that it was a China play, and that it was asset light, using financial egineering, rather than owning assets.

I tot, “Wow, co must be worried abt share price.” Still I was that surprised when late last week, it announced a year-on-yearn 83% drop in its third quarter net profit to S$80.2 million.

Moral of story: Whenever a usually publicity-shy CEO “opens up”,  be wary, very wary.

Temasek’s StanChart bonds: No losers?

In Banks, Temasek on 24/10/2011 at 6:59 am

Despite the following and other rants, ‘Temasek’s S$650m issue of bonds exchangeable into StanChart shares was oversubscribed.”The order was $1.25 bn,” it was reported. I was not surprised.

Singapore Notes ranted, Stanchart shares are currently trading at £13.73 (yesterday’s quote); the highest level reached during last year was £19.75. The British £ has also taken a pounding, diving from S$2.90 to S$2 yesterday, a stomach churning plunge of 30%. Yahoo! Finance indicates today’s range will be £1.9907 – £1.9937.

So what fool (as in “fool me, hah?’) would bet that the Stanchart share price would go up 27% in 3 years’ time? That’s a tantalising return of 9% per annum, assuming the pound-euro correlation doesn’t get any worse. Reuters is reporting a sterling drop, as latest UK data adds to the gloomy outlook.

Juz look at the volatility of the share price. In the last 12 months, it has been up to £19.75. More than 27% from current prices. And in November 2008 it was trading around £8. Investors buying the bonds are betting that StanChart’s share price recovers within three years. Not an unreasonable bet, given the volatility of StanChart’s (and other banks’) share price in recent years. Interesting chart.

At worse, they lose their funding costs (if they borrow money to buy the bond) or opportunity costs (if they invest in cash or bonds) for three years. Their upside is 27%++.

To quote Reuters Breakviews, One part would be a zero-yield bond, with a face value of S$36. Assume lenders to triple-A rated Temasek normally demand a 1.8 per cent annual return, and the bond is worth around S$34.50 today.

The other part is a call option on Stanchart shares.

Plug the lender’s current price, its forecast 3.5 per cent dividend yield, and the implied volatility of Stanchart’s stock into an options calculator, and it looks to be worth S$4.50.

Put together, the two bits of paper have a total value of S$39 – some 8 per cent more than investors paid. Taz why the issue was oversubscribed.

Unlike me, the writer thinks it ain’t such a gd deal, But it’s probably not such a sweet deal. The value of the call option is inflated because Stanchart’s shares are twice as volatile as they were before the summer.

If the shares return to their steadier state, the option is worth closer to S$1, leaving the value of the whole package a little below the sticker price. I think volatility will persist.

‘The writer goes on to talk about the deal’s advantages for Temasek, For Temasek, there are obvious attractions. Even if all the bonds are exchanged for shares, it will retain a 17 per cent stake in Stanchart.

And if the shares don’t rise much, the fund will have borrowed S$650 million interest free.

But for all that, the savings are small. Say Temasek had simply borrowed directly from the bond markets. Over three years, its total interest bill would be less than S$40 million.

Moreover, the bond issue triggered a mini-rout in Stanchart shares, leaving Temasek with a paper loss on its remaining stake 10 times the size of the interest costs it saved.

Other than demonstrating its financial prowess, Temasek doesn’t have much to show for its wizardry. True but given the jitteriness of the markets, the shares would have fallen for other reasons. Banks are not the flavour of the month.

Criticking Amy Khor & Baey Yam Keng

In Media, Political governance on 23/10/2011 at 6:06 am
Amy Khor, chairman of REACH, asked the government to engage netizens on sites that “allow for reasoned and constructive debate and gain traction”. “Netizens themselves who desire rational discourse should support such sites or else start them.”  And she was concerned on the Internet becoming a “conduit for undesirable behaviour”.
 
But no where does she define “undesirable influences” or “reasoned and constructive debate”. Knowing what the PAP means by  “democracy”, “meitocracy”, “listening”  and “No one gets left behind”, I can make reasonable guess as to her definitions. She wants the new media to be like the publications, websites and channels of SPH and MediaCorp.

I was also planning to comment on Baey Yam Keng’s speech on how the government should handle the new media.  Fortunately, I came across a comment by “Jonathan” on TOC. Other than the PS, it covers all the points I was planning to make.

———————

On the whole, he presents himself to be a reformer. He wants to loosen the grip on traditional and new media alike. He mentioned repeatedly that it is not necessary and not possible to engage every statement made online.

However, his intention is at best half-baked for the part on traditional media. He wants to make mainstream media to be the benchmark of the online discussions. This amounts to saying that mainstream media will still be the mouthpiece of the Government (or the ruling party). I believe there he has contradicted himself and this shows that he may lack the conviction in media reform after all.

The part about teaching students “online media literacy” is alright in itself, but such proposal is always met with skepticism. People are afraid that it will be a form of covet propaganda programme or censorship, given the not-so-illustrious track record of the ruling party on this matter. When faced with the problem of indeterminacy of Mr. Baey’s true intention, we are forced to look at his party colleagues to search for a coherent answer. To me, the ruling party’s stance is on the rather dire side.

As such, while I appreciate Mr. Baey’s audacity to propose something rather avant-garde, I cannot trust that his speech alone, without the backing of powerful PAP figures, will lead to any actual media reform which the liberals will like.

ps. He ended his speech in Chinese by saying that he seconds the motion. What motion is he talking about?

F1: Does the government know?

In Economy, Tourism on 22/10/2011 at 7:06 am

Earlier this year News Corporation, a media group, and Exor, the family investment firm of the Agnelli family, which also owns Ferrari, announced their interest in making a joint bid for Formula One. (News Corp is no longer interested given its problems in the UK.)

They briefed that the sport was losing its ground. Viewership is falling, though the business rakes in ever-growing piles of cash from doing deals with governments to host Grand Prix races. Mr Ecclestone (the current supremo) has no successor trained to take on the difficult task of balancing the competing needs of teams, sponsors, broadcasters and circuits.

If viewership is falling, and if there are succession problems, waz the point of staging rsace, unless the cost of staging one comes down?

What if there is stagnation?

In Commodities, Economy, Investments, Property on 21/10/2011 at 6:49 am

A few days ago, I blogged that were three scenarios for the developed world. Growth — buy equities; inflation — buy property and commodities; and recession — buy government bonds.

Thinking about it again, there is a  fourth scenario: stagnation. There will be shallow recoveries and recessions in quick succession.

In that scenario, one should be looking at buying equities for their dividend yields, and the corporate bonds of super blue chips.

Question for Charles Chong

In Political governance on 20/10/2011 at 4:46 pm

I hear Charles Chong will speak in parliament tomorrow. Doubtless he will talk about helping the needy. It’s the in- thing in the PAP to want to help the needy. (This is of progress of sorts. Only recently, Lily Neo was berated and sneered at by VivianB for asking for more help for the poor. When that happened, I tot of Oliver Twist asking for more food and being beaten for his pains.)

But I would like to ask Charles Chong, “Must a needy S’porean still lose his dignity for a $30 voucher?”.

Let me explain the background by winding the watch back some years.

In the early noughties, when S’pore was in a recession or recovering from one, one Charles Chong said, “We shouldn’t…be telling everyone that there’s this help available. It’s quite a process to go through to get the vouchers. A person with dignity won’t do it unless he’s in genuine trouble.” Charles Chong was explaining his (and some other PAP MPs’) reluctance to distribute free electricity vouchers on the ground that giving these to the needy would create a culture of dependence.

After reading this remark, I began to have serious problems with the attitude of the governing party. (Previously I had been indifferent to the PAP, even though before 1991, I was a “LKY is almost always right” and “LKY has his heart in the right place” person.)

This remark of Charles Chong also prompted a writer to MediaCorp’s freesheet to ask,”Can a Singaporean no longer lend a hand … without being accused of encouraging a crutch mentality? Aren’t we allowed to feel compassion for another? …cannot use for any other purpose except to pay your utility bill. There is no need to make people beg for that.”

I don’t recall the government or Charles Chong responding to this letter.

Wind the watch back to today.

I am hopeful under “Kee Chui” Chan and Halimah Yacob, based on their rhetoric and actions (so far), the MCYS will ensure that the needy will get

– more help instead of being berated and sneered at for purporting to want hawker or restaurant food as happened when VivianB was running MCYS; and

– to retain their dignity when they seek help, the Charles Chongs of the PAP notwithstanding.

Temasek’s StanChart Bond Issue

In Banks, Temasek on 19/10/2011 at 2:45 pm

I’m surprised that a blogger whom I respect could get it so wrong with his analysis of Temasek’s stake in StanChart and the share price that investors can buy into StanChart via Temasek’s latest bond issue.

Singapore Notes reports, “The zero coupon bonds which mature in 2014 can be exchanged for Stanchart shares at £36.29 per share during a 3 year holding period, a 27% premium over Monday’s price of £14.29 on the London Stock Exchange.” A 27% premium to £14.29 works out to £18.15. not £36.29.

As to the value of Temasek’s stake in S$, he used as his starting point, “the purchase of a 11.5 % stake from Khoo Teck Puat’s estate in 2006. Then Stanchart shares were trading at £15.24, when the exchange rate was S$2.90 to £1.”

Since then there have been two massive and deeply discounted rights issues. The one in November 2008 was done at  £3.90, a 48.7% discount to the last done share price before the rights issue announcement. The rights ratio was 30 new shares for 91 existing shares. In October 2010, it called for a 1 for 8 rights issue priced at £12.80, a 32% discount to the last done share price before the rights issue announcement.

Temasek: Where things can go wrong.

In China, Temasek on 19/10/2011 at 6:44 am

Credit Suisse analyst Sanjay Jain said in a report last week that he thinks that up to 12%  of all of China’s outstanding loans may go bad and non-performing loans may likely account for all of the banks’ equity. Current NPL ratios hover at around 1% or the top Chinese banks.

Ops a daisy. As Temasek has major (and so far very profitable) stakes in two of China’s top four bank, Bank of China (4%) and Construction Bank of China (7%), predictions such as this (and Credit Suisse is not alone, just the latest and most pessimistic) should worry S’poreans.

As Temasek got the initial substantial stakes at bargain prices (courtesy of the Chinese government), selling part or all these stakes requires Chinese approval. At a time when the Chinese government is supporting the shares of the major four banks, such approval is unlikely.

Not another debacle like Shin, ABC Learning, Merrill Lynch or Barclays in the making?

Cedric Foo: Talking rubbish again

In Political governance on 19/10/2011 at 6:25 am

Cedric Foo attacked Sylvia Lim when she made her happiness speech in parliament saying, “I think the Opposition could not have chosen a more dissimilar country [referring to Bhutan] to compare Singapore with. We are exposed to the sea, exposed to the onslaught of competition to the world. We were dealt a different deck of cards and a different hand together, and we want to find our own formula forward.”

Well, Singapore was a co-sponsor of the Bhutan initiated resolution at the UN General Assembly titled “Happiness: towards a holistic approach to development”. So Singapore does believe that it is relevant, otherwise why co-sponsor the resolution?

His comments means that Cedric Foo is saying that the government was wrong to support the resolution And that Singapore should have opposed the resolution or at least abstained from co-sponsoring it.

Or was it an “honest mistake” that he didn’t know that Singapore had co-sponsored the resolution. He must be a very busy man at NOL, a TLC. He was appointed Group Deputy President in April 2005 and, additionally, Chief Financial Officer from January 2007. And he has his MP duties at his SMC. Not so easy to get another MP to cover him, unlike in a GRC.

Or was he just attacking Sylvia Lim’s speech because it was made by an Opposition MP? Waz this about co-operating for the good of Singapore?

Another foo(lish) remark it seems, whatever the reason. He was the junior minister who said, “[T]he term ‘white horse’ was used to identify sons of influential persons to ensure such enlistees were not given preferential treatment. And their medical classification and vocation assignments are scrupulously fair.”

Hands up those who believe his “white horse statement”?

Industrial Reits: not that defensive says Credit Suisse

In Logistics, Property, Reits on 18/10/2011 at 7:30 am

Last week, Credit Suisse issued a report on industrial Reits. Excerpts from report’s Executive Summary.

Not as defensive as perceived: We assume coverage of the Singapore industrial Reits sector with a slightly negative stance as we believe that the perception of its defensiveness (due to longer lease tenures) is misplaced.

… we have done thorough analyses on the factory, business parks and warehouses sub-segments, and conclude that we are most positive on the warehouse sector fundamentals.

… flat to low single-digit growth for factory rents driven by high occupancy, and business park rents to moderate due to the oncoming supply pressure (including new supply of decentralised office space).

Potential weak demand may slow rental growth: Singapore industrial rents have surpassed pre-sub-prime crisis peaks and are at 10-year highs.

… upside is limited from here on, given the moderating economic growth outlook, Singapore’s high exposure to the US and European economies and the appreciating currency which will reduce Singapore’s competitiveness as an industrial location of choice.

However … the few less labour-intensive, higher value-add fields, and sectors/ players with better pricing power, like biotechnology, water technology, environmental/energy sciences will likely be less impacted by cost inflation.

This should underpin rental growth for the class of industrial assets exposed to these sectors.

… expect rents in (logistics) warehouse – our preferred industrial sub-segment – to continue to remain strong on the back of fairly strong 90-91 per cent occupancies based on limited supply completion over the next three years. While supply for all factories over the next five years looks manageable, at 9-10 per cent of existing supply of 332 million sq ft NLA for factories and business parks … rents for older-specs factories could come under pressure especially given current economic uncertainties, which will likely impact SMEs and less cost-efficient companies (those at the lower end of the value chain).

… hi-tech and business park rents to moderate, due to the oncoming supply of business parks over the next four years amounting to 29 per cent of existing supply, coupled with existing high vacancies.

M&A increasingly challenging: Despite the supportive capital-raising environment, in our view, with cap rates continuing to compress on the back of rising competition for land (as industrial assets have the highest yields), … becoming increasingly challenging for a Reit to make an accretive acquisition, particularly in Singapore, where capital values today are at 10-year highs.

Based on our analyses of Ascendas Reit (A-Reit), Mapletree Logistics Trust (MLT) and Mapletree Industrial Trust (MINT), we conclude that (1) A-Reit has the most debt headroom with $1 billion available for future acquisitions; (2) A-Reit and MLT both have the strongest acquisition pipeline, with $1 billion each of injection pipeline from their sponsors; and (3) MINT and MLT have the highest risk of placement, depending on the size of transaction given their gearing levels of 39.3 per cent and 40.6 per cent, respectively.

Three investable names, at this stage: After screening for market cap of over $1 billion and liquidity of US$1.5 million/day, only three of the seven industrial S-Reits are deemed investable: A-Reit, MLT, MINT.

Where be the next winner?

In Commodities, Economy, Investments, Property on 17/10/2011 at 7:00 am

Depending on where the developed world heads, equities, commodities and property, or government bonds could be the investment.

There are three scenarios for the developed world (remember the BRIC and Indonesia etc still are dependent on the developed world to drive their economies). It can

– grow out of its debt burden,

–  inflate the debt away, or

–  fall back into recession, marked by the occasional default.

Each of those outcomes leads to a different portfolio.

Renewed growth would favour equities, but at the moment, this looks too hard to achieve. An attempt to inflate would be good for commodities and property but would be disastrous for government bonds. Selected equities might do well: those that can pass on the cost rises to customers. Those bonds would do best if the developed world goes into a  recession.

Hope this explains the extreme volatility of markets.

What are the SPP, NSP and RP up to post GE?

In Political governance on 16/10/2011 at 9:56 am

As I’ve remarked before, the SPP punches above its weight of because of Chiam. But given Chiam’s frality and age, the party had better move fast to renew itself.

One way this is happening (as I’ve earlier reported)  is that Benjamin Pwee and other SPP members who helped Dr Cheng Bock (not a SPP member) in his recent presidential campaign are getting advice from him. He is advising them plan the transition from brand Chiam, and how to get support in Western S’pore, his territory. Tony Tan came second in the West. Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian were nowhere to be seen.

Another way the SPP is renewing itself  is the invitation, to Eric Tan (ex WP MP candidate), Tan Jee Say (ex SDP MP candidate, and presidential candidate) and Leong Sze Hian (TOC contributor) to attend meetings of the SPP’s Policy Working Group, even though they are not SPP members. They accepted and there is a group photo on TOC’s FB. Benjamin Pwee heads this committee.

Finally, SPP are continuing working the ground in Bishan Toa Payoh and Potong Pasir.

NSP

It is old news that Hazel Poa is now the secretary-general of the NSP and her hubbie Tony Tan, Jeannette Chong Aruldoss (who is also vice-president of NSP), and super star celebrity Nicole Seah are on the party’s Central Executive Council. But note that unlike the PAP, WP and SPP, the most powerful post in the NSP is that of president, not that of secretary-general.

Note also the presence of the president Sebastian Teo and Tan Chee Kien on the CEC. They have been around since 1987, the founding of the party.

Whenever new people join any organisation,  there is always some  tension between the “old guard” and the newbies. And the NSP is no exception.

The failure of many in the CEC to attend the “birthday” party of the NSP’s Malay Bureau was put down to these tensions. Rumour has it that the Malay Bureau members had wanted to join the RP when the gang of four were in RP.  There were some problems, and Goh Meng Seng recruited them for the NSP instead.

The party is starting to work the ground, picking up a tip from the WP where Sylvia Lim and friends started working the ground in Aljunied almost immediately after the 2006 GE. The NSP, I am told, traditionally went into hibernation between elections.

RP

Kenneth J has formed a policy working committee, recruiting non-party members onto it. He is also busy organising the JBJ memorial dinner. And he is blogging some very gd stuff.

He seems dedicated to fighting the gd fight. remember, he has the option of packing his bags and returning to the UK, his home for many a year. Whatever he does, let’s wish him well.

Too bad the NSP deprived him of the opportunity of fighting in Radin Mas. The NSP candidate there did not do well. As this was once JBJ’ territory, Goh Meng Seng and the rest of the NSP mgt should have been had the graciousness to allow KennethJ to fight there.

 

Explains S’pore society?

In Media, Wit on 15/10/2011 at 8:40 am

I came across this quote after flipping thru today’s ST and MediaCorp’s freesheet. Could explain many things abt our society?

“The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. For to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves, and the better the teacher, the better the student body.”

- Warren E. Buffett

 

Countries that FT scientists like

In Uncategorized on 15/10/2011 at 6:52 am

Foreign Talents in the sciences have the US, China competing for them. And England, France, Germany and Finland are nicer places to live in.

Competition is stiff out there for talent

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14949538

And S’poree keeps giving PRs to shop assistants and hawkers?

SIAS: Close it down

In Corporate governance on 14/10/2011 at 7:21 am

 Yesterday I read in BT that David Gerald, Mr SIAS, had found new blood to replace him. 

He should have considered closing it down, and then closed it down because if retail investors are not interested in helping themselves why should he and others waste their time helping them?

The retail investors deserve to be fleeced like sheep.

Think I am hard? “Most of the 70,000 SIAS members who had signed up so that SIAS would settle the Clob matter on their behalf have since abandoned the organisation, leaving SIAS with less than 100 active members now,” reports BT. .

Waz this Institute of Policy Studies?

In Political governance on 14/10/2011 at 7:07 am

This institute has been on the news agenda of the constructive, nation-building local media what with its researched studies on the Internet as it affects S’poreans (not much it seems, local MSM still rules OK), the May general elections and the need to grow the population. Who is the Institute of Policy Studies and who are the people in icharge?

The Institute of Policy Studies was established in 1988 to promote a greater awareness of policy issues and good governance. Today, IPS is a think-tank within the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Until recently, it has always had a very low profile.

Core areas of research are “Arts, Culture, and Media; Demography and Family; Economics; Multiculturalism and Identities; Politics and Governance”.

For many years, Professor Tommy Koh has been associated with the IPS. He was director from 1990 to February 1997 and from December 2000 to July 2004. He then became its chairman and is now its special adviser. I’m told his involvement is now very minimal.

The person now running the place is one Janadas Devan, an associate editor of the ST. He became director on 1 July 2011, replacing Ong Keng Yong who was then also an ambassador-at-large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and who is now S’pore’s ambassador to Malaysia. Yes, Janadas Devan is the eldest son of disgraced former president, Devan Nair.

A personal note: Shortly before the news of IPS becoming part of the LKY School became public (in 2007, I think), I had lunch with some people who were involved in the IPS because of the “Prof”. One joke that was made, “How can a think-tank be independent in the LKY School, which in turn is part of NUS?”.

Hong Kong to resume subsidising housing

In Hong Kong on 13/10/2011 at 5:07 pm

Hong Kong will resume a programme to subsidise home purchases to address public anger over ever rising property prices.

Donald Tsang, HK’s leader, said in his annual policy address that the government plans to provide more than 17,000 apartments between 2016 and 2020. On average about 5,000 apartments will be available each year. “Peanuts” by S’pore standards and remember there are lots more people in HK.

The programme is aimed at families who earn too much to qualify for public rental housing but who cannot afford to buy a home of their own.

The flats are to be priced at the equivalent of S$250,000 – S$330,000 and available to those earning a monthly salary of the equivalent of S$3,300 and S$5,000. These apartments will be between 400 to 500 square feet in size.

More background from BBC Online.

Swings and roundabouts

In Banks on 13/10/2011 at 6:46 am

When the Americans and British saved their leading banks in 2008, the Europeans (especially the French) were sneering at them for allowing their banks to overlend or overinvest in AAA mortgage securities. The Europeans (read French) knew better.

Now the European banks, especially the French ones are in deep trouble, over lending to the PIIGS (five weak European countries). And the French government is afraid to help them because giving them state aid will threaten Frances’s AAA ratings.

Poetic justice.

Gets better still. The sub-prime crisis blew-out in 2007 because a French bank (can’t remember which one) stopped issuing the daily valuations of two of its mutual funds that invested in US sub-prime mortgages. It said it couldn’t establish a market value for these securities.

That forced other banks to revalue downwards their holdings of mortgage securities. This affected the Americans most.

Healthcare: Who is subsidising whom?

In Political economy, Political governance on 12/10/2011 at 8:30 am

So, we the people, are going to get more help from the government; and in particular the Health Ministry will do more to help those suffering from chronic illnesses. My friend who suffers from a chronic illness will be hoping the government walks the talk.

He tells me that the cost of buying “unsubsidised” medicine in Johor Bahru is more or less the same as the same “subsidised” medicine bought from SingHealth via a polyclinic. As the price of the medicine bought from SingHealth is roughly half that charged by a private clinic here, he thinks that is why the govmin claims it is “subsidising” the medicine bought from SingHealth.

He thinks maybe the government’s medicine procurement policies are inefficient. How come a profit-making M’sian pharmist chain can match SingHealth’s prices? Or maybe that the government is paying the drug makers more so that they will make pills here and invest in R&D facilities here.

In other words, are polyclinic patients subsidising rich MNCs so that the government can boast of its success in attracting drug companies to set up pill-making plants and R&D facilities here? Their presence here, incidentally, boosts GDP growth and, indirectly, the bonuses of ministers and senior civil servants.

S’poreans have long asked where’s the subsidy in public housing? The government ties itself in knots, trying to explain where is the subsidy. So much so that many S’poreans don’t believe that there is such a subsidy.

So here’s another “subsidy” that should be queried by the public.

On a wider point, ordinary S’poreans should join the Opposition and activists in querying how the government defines any “subsidy”. We are unlikely to get straight answers, but the questioning ensures that they know that we are not daft.

Don’t talk rubbish Mr Low

In Political governance on 11/10/2011 at 8:13 am

The Sec-Gen of the WP was reported to have said that the composition of Parliament is a reflection of the people’s expectations, a MSM freesheet reported. As more than two-thirds of the MPs are PAP MPs, and the PAP won 60% of the popular vote, this means that the WP admits (rightly) that the majority of voters prefer the PAP to the WP and other Opposition parties.

So how can he go on to say on behalf on these voters, “They expect the Government to be responsive and accountable. They expect a responsible Parliament in which policies and issues that affect them are seriously debated and rigorously scrutinised. They want clear and transparent explanations from the ministers at all times.”?

Hey Mr Low, 60% of the voters voted for the PAP. If they wanted these things, they wouldn’t have voted for the PAP. They would have voted WP or other Opposition parties.

He can logically and, at best, claim to speak of the expectations of the 40% of S’poreans (self included) who voted for the Opposition. 

I hope the other WP MPs and NCMPs do better when they speak, and that Low ups his game. Otherwise like 1991, 2011 may prove another false dawn. And we have to wait until 2031 to try again.

All’s well with the world

In Uncategorized on 11/10/2011 at 6:56 am

For the time being.

China SWF buying shares in China’s big four banks, including the two where Temasek has stakes, European bank shares up on talk of help on the way, and Wall St up strongly.

 

One share, one vote; one person one vote

In Corporate governance on 10/10/2011 at 2:44 pm

As Parly is opening later today and what with most MPs elected via GRCs where the principle of using one’s vote to hold an MP accountable is badly diluted, I tot I should blog on shareholder democracy and its relationship to political democracy.

Shares without votes are not the conventional wisdom and make investors and corporate governance activists unhappy. Manchester United’s planned initial public offering in Singapore, where new shareholders may be offered a package of instruments that will entrench the Glazer family’s control, has attracted much criticism*. Many US companies break the one-share-one-vote principle (despite the US being called the home of shareholder democracy). Ford, Berkshire Hathaway, News Corporation, Google and LinkedIn,  all have two classes of shares. Manchester United has just thought-up an alternative by “stapling” nonvoting preference shares to regular voting ones. Bit like GRCs.

Juz like MPs in GRCs, reduced voting power are a problem if managers (in politics think government, ministers or MPS) do stupid things or misbehave, or if takeovers arise. Two examples:

– News Corporation, where Rupert Murdoch cannot be removed or checked despite poor governance.

– Playboy, where Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, who used his control of voting shares to take the company private in 2010 for less than the owner of rival Penthouse said it would offer.

If shareholders have faith in management, then the power to vote is irrelevant. Berkshire Hathaway’s class A and B shares trade on par. Shareholders there don’t care if they don’t have the vote. Likewise in S’pore politics once. In the late 1960s, and in 1970s, the people so trusted the PAP that they were were happy to have a one party state. 

*Much unfair as investors are free to demand big discounts for getting non-voting preference shares that don’t pay fixed dividends and are not cumulative, making them like common shares without voting rights. No one is forcing the shares onto investors.

Ironies of the reopening of revolutionary’s villa

In Wit on 09/10/2011 at 9:45 pm

Last Saturday, the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall, reopened after a year of redevelopment, to widespread local media coverage. “The refurbished villa aims to re-create the ambience from a century ago, when the 20th century villa served as the home and headquarters of Dr Sun’s revolutionary activities in Southeast Asia,” according to a CNA report.

The reopening was a  major event. DPM Teo (who is also the Minister for Home Affairs) was there. Not surprising, as the villa belonged to his great-grandfather who allowed Dr Sun to use it. Ex-minister George Yeo was also presnt.

It is a Hard Truth that Dr Sun was no pacificist  revolutionary. Unlike Gandhi. he was prepared to use (and used) violence to overthrow the Manchus.

Now the government here takes a very hard-line against those that want to overthrow the existing order of things by way of violence or subversion. Why just a few days ago, on 29th September 2011, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) took a strong stance against the calls of detainees, detained under the Internal Security Act, for their cases to be reviewed by an independent  commission.

So for a minister responsible for security, and an ex-minister to grace an occasion honouring a dead revolutionary who advocated and used violence, looks like something from the satires of Jonathan Swift or Evelyn Waugh.

More ironical (and sad to boot), on the same day, there was an Internal Security Act forum that organised a video-link conference with two ex-ISD detainees who had fled S’pore and remained abroad.

Even more ironical (and sadder), the police on Sunday said it was investigating “the organisers of the forum on the Internal Security Act for arranging  for a fugitive from justice, Mr Francis Seow, and a foreign national, Ms Tang Fong Har, to participate in a discussion on domestic politics.” Dr Sun Yat Sen must be rolling in his grave. He too was a fugitive from justice.

The government and the PAP PR machines must be wishing that they won’t be so unlucky next time there is a showcase event to promote the government or the PAP.

Why Arsenal fans should be very angry

In Footie on 09/10/2011 at 7:29 am

CEO prefers to compete financially, not for trophies. He says Arsenal does not need Champions League money.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/15208498.stm

Hello, the money is incidental. The aim is to win the EPL and the European trophy. There isn’t a trophy for gd, prudent financial mgt.

PAP: Missed one, bagged one?

In Uncategorized on 09/10/2011 at 6:55 am

Nice to read that a S’porean is going to be head of UBS here. UBS Bank has appointed Mr Edmund Koh as its Singapore country head and CEO of its Singapore wealth management division. He will also become a member of the UBS Global Wealth Management Executive Committee. He assumes his responsibilities at the bank early next year.

For all its investment bank problems, UBS’ wealth management business is second to none internationally, and in Asia. In Asia, HK and S’pore are the two crown jewels in UBS’ wealth mgt division.

Mr Koh was until recently the president of Ta Chong Bank in Taiwan. He was reorganising the bank for US private equity group, Carlyle. He was once head of regional consumer banking group at DBS Bank’s consumer lending business in Asia and the CEO of Prudential Assurance Company here.

A few years ago, there were stories that Edmund Koh tried, but failed to become a PAP candidate MP.

So with parly opening tomorrow, I tot it was a suitable time to remind S’poreans of these rumours. In the new batch of MPs, we got “I didn’t do NS” Puthucheary, and  “I don’t know what to say” Tin. Give me an Edmund Koh anytime over people like Puthucheary and Tin.

Having said that, I must say I’m getting gd vibes abt “Kee Chiu” Chan. He is talking the talk at the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sports when it comes to welfare. He is also walking the walk. I understand the MCYS homepage has been revamped and now lists all the welfare schemes http://app1.mcys.gov.sg/Assistance.aspx?tid=115 . The absence of this list previously gave rise to suspicious abt whether the government wanted to make it difficult to get welfare.

I didn’t have a gd impression of him because of his comments on the Internet, his speech abt the Chinese miners’ republic, and his behaviour when the PAP was caught busing supporters to a rally. But if he continues what he is saying and doing abt welfare, I’ll say “Kee Chiu Hoy Say leh”

Dolphins to ACRES: Listen to this child

In Casinos on 08/10/2011 at 8:40 am

Finally we dolphins have a intelligent friend who talks sense, and she is only a child.

Is the government also a party to this as they were the authority which awarded the preferred contract to RWS (Genting Highlands) which asserted that the dolphin exhibition should be one of their attractions?

If so, the best way to pressure the government would be to create awareness, to get more Singaporeans  involved in the issue and to action their involvement by writing letters to appropriate government agencies, their Members of Parliament,  and even to our Prime Minister.

The last two para of an otherwise standard piece from a human friend of Flipper. Listen to her ACRES. The Cynical Investor (no friend as he is a capitalist) tried telling ACRES this some moons ago but was ignored http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/freeing-flipper-try-govmin/

We dolphins are of the view that either Louis Ng and ACRES are not that intelligent or they got no courage to take on the government. They are afraid they could be locked up as the “Dolphin Conspiractors”?

Finally can someone ask what has happened to our brothers and sisters at Subic Bay? Are they all still alive? Are they well? We have been told by our brothers and sisters in RWS that their human keepers told them that when RWS said the dolphins “under its care” were “doing well” recently, RWS was refering to the Captive Nine on the Sentosa resevation, not the ones at Subic Bay.

XXXXX

Marxist Dolphins

S’pore banks: Is private banking the future?

In Banks on 07/10/2011 at 9:18 am

It has been a regular complaint of mine that our three local banks have too much capital for their own good. See this and this.

This excessive capital requirement is the reason why OCBC paid such a high price for the Asian private banking business of ING and why DBS and UOB are trying harder to build up decent private banking businesses, despite repeatedly failing to do so in the past.

While private banking itself does not use up much capital, clients and prospects want to put their money in banks that have plenty of capital. A very high capital  base is a great comfort blanket. As is the conservative nature of a bank. OCBC and UOB have both and while DBS’s FTs are more cowboyish, they have been kept in check, so far.

OCBC’S private bank claims that it is attracting assets from the Singapore branches of French banks as the euro region’s debt crisis frightens their local clients. Defections from French banks helped generate net new money of about US$4 billion for Bank of Singapore this year, the CEO said recently.

Private banking looks like a good use of the local banks’ capital, given that their conservatism and regulatory requirements require them to hold excessive amounts of capital.

But they are late in the game where economies of scale matter. Example: OCBC’s private bank (the biggest by far of the three local banks) had US$29.6 billion of assets under management at the end of June, less than 9% of the total at BNP Paribas’s wealth management unit. And this French bank is not a serious player in the either the Asian or international private banking industry.

SPH: Another home for ex-ministers?

In Media, Political governance on 07/10/2011 at 7:38 am

This article reminding us of all the ex-ministers who are now govmin advisers reminded me that SPH is another place where ex-ministers are given jobs.

Former Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Dr Lee Boon Yang, will be SPH’s next non-executive chairman from December.  Ministers ending up as chairmen of SPH are nothing new. Think Tony Tan and Lim Kim San. 

Ex-president Nathan documented in his recently published memoirs that the post of SPH chairman is in the gift of the prime minister of S’pore. But SPH is a listed company and its editors and journalists keep saying it is independent of the government.

Other than Dr Lee, Zainul Abidin, a former junior minister, recently got a job with SPH radio.

What should be of concern to SPH shareholders is that Dr Lee and A Zainul were, it is alleged, unemployed when they joined SPH. Apparently, since Dr Lee retired as a minister two years ago, he has been done nothing. [Correction at 12.50 pm on 7 October 2011: He is chairman of TLC, Keppel Corp] No MNC or private sector job offers, it is rumoured

Ain’t that a big surprise? We had been told that S’pore had to pay millions in salaries yearly to ensure that ministers did not resign and seek jobs with private sector companies. As Dr Lee was the media minister, surely the likes of Rupert Murdoch, the Burmese junta, or the Chinese state media company would have beaten a path to his mansion gates, offering him a job?  Here was a man of proven talent in controlling the media.

Apparently not. So he ends up only as SPH chairman. 

Given A Zainul’s experience in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and as district mayor, I’m surprised no MNC snapped him him for his diplomatic and administrative skills before he joined SPH, though an Australian miner controlled by a S’porean has since appointed him deputy chairman. The miner has big plans in M’sia.

But this job raises the issue of what he is being paid to do in SPH? And is it a part-time job?

Two more candidates for jobs in SPH?

Mah Bow Tan and Raymond Lim are believed to be jobless. They are also ex-SPH employees, like A Zainul.

SPH shareholders should be concerned if more unemployed ex-ministers are eyeing jobs at SPH at a time when SPH faces challenges to its dominant position in the media space, what with the rise of new media, and increasing public unhappiness with its constructive, nation-building editotial policy. A policy which has been called “suck up to the government of the day” editorial policy.  When the British and M’sian governments ruled here, SPH publications supported their policies.

Update on 21 January 2012 at 5.20pm

Given my comments on the inability of ex-ministers to get big bucks private sectors jobs (here and here), I tot that I would have to sit down and shut up at the end of last year when I read that Georgie Boy was now “special adviser to the Kuok Group” and Lim Hwee Hua has a new job as senior advisor Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), a major US private equity firm.

Well Mrs Lim could be paid mega-bucks: if she performs. KKR says she is a proven leader in the worlds of government, finance and investment and said her expertise of Singapore and Southeast Asia will be particularly valuable to the firm. Mr Joseph Bae, who heads the firm’s Asian operations, added the company will rely on Mrs Lim for her insights for KKR’s portfolio companies in the region.

But as for George Yeo, he said it was “an informal arrangement” and that he would join the private sector in 2012, but could not provide details. He is now a vicechairman of  a Kuok Group company.

Reading between the lines of what he said and snooping around, I suspect that the title “special adviser” and “vice chairman” doesn’t imply that he is getting paid serious money. They are titles that shows that he has access to the decision makers in the Kuok Group.

Raymond Lim is a director of a Swire Pacific Group company here and has some kind of arrangement with a local fund manager. Mah is chairman of Global Yellow Pages Ltd, a local listco. Again, no mega bucks here. And Raymond Lim was from the private sector, for a while.

Wong Kan Seng, Lim Boon Heng and Mah must be enjoying their pensions given their many years of government service. Wonder if as big as this guy?

Francisco Luzon, who runs the Americas division of a Spanish bank, Santander, was retiring after 15 years as an executive director, with a pension of about 56 million euros, or roughly $72 million, the FT reported late last week.

Related post

http://atans1.wordpress.com/2011/09/02/retired-ministers-no-megabucks-from-private-sector/

Investing in the noughties: matter of timing?

In Investments on 06/10/2011 at 1:51 pm

Over the past 10 years, investors have experienced a stark divergence of fortunes, with some making substantial amounts of money whilst others have suffered losses.

Timing, picking the right investments and employing the right strategy have determined their fate.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14853222

Who was the most effective campaigner in the 2011 PE?

In Political governance on 05/10/2011 at 8:34 pm

Table 1 below shows that the most effective campaigner dollar-wise is investnment adviser, Tan Jee Say. For each dollar he spent, he got 3.31 votes and he spent only 30 cents for each vote he got.

The most ineffective campaigner dollar-wise was ex-NTUC Income CEO, Tan Kin Lian. Taking into account his forfeited deposit of $48,000, for each dollar he spent he only got 0.88 of a vote, and he spent $1.14 for each vote he received.

As to the two Doctor Tans, Tan Cheng Bock’s numbers showed he was a lavish spender vis-a-vis the winner (and everyone else): see Table 2. He spent 42.7% of all monies spent (including TKL’s forfeited deposit) but only got 34.85% of all the valid votes cast. By contrast, Tony Tan spent 36.7% of all monies spent but got 35.2% of the valid votes cast. Table 2 below also shows how effective TJS spent his money. He spent only 11.85% of all monies spent but got 25.04% of all the valid votes cast. Read the rest of this entry »

Coupon sites are history

In Internet on 05/10/2011 at 11:20 am

Or why Groupn may never IPO. Its founders should have taken Google’s US$6bn, and ran.

Financial secrecy: S’pore is only 6th

In Banks on 04/10/2011 at 4:29 pm

In a new index on financial secrecy, S’pore is only ranked sixth. The Financial Secrecy Index 2011, puts Switzerland on top, followed by the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Hong Kong and the USA.

The Tax Justice Network, the group behind the report, says, “[A] secrecy jurisdiction provides facilities that enable people or entities escape or undermine the laws, rules and regulations of other jurisdictions elsewhere, using secrecy as a prime tool.”

The government’s policy is to encourage the growth of wealth management here so that S’pore can be the Switzerland of the East. Well, the central bank and the Attorney-General’s Chambers have a lot of work to do to make S’pore a better secrecy jurisdiction. Hong Kong is a better secrecy juridiction than S’pore. And S’pore and Hong Kong are rivals in the race to be the leading wealth management centre in East Asia.

At least, this report shows S’pore is a better global citizen than Switzerland, Hong Kong and the USA. But where’s the money in being a responsible, decent chap?

Two dead dolphins & RWS says this?

In Casinos on 04/10/2011 at 7:54 am

A RWS spokesperson noted that the dolphins under its care for the past three years are “doing well” a local freesheet reported.

Excuse me, a total of 27 friends of Flipper were detained in 2008, two died and RWS dares say the dolphins under its care are “doing well”? A fatality rate of 7.4% is not to be dismissed so lightly. Whatever the “Marxist conspirators” and their friends may whine about, none of the detainees died when imprisoned. If any detainee had died, there would be an enquiry. Here two out of 27 dolphins died, and RWS brazenly claims the dolphins are “doing well”.

No wonder the run of bad luck at RWS and Genting group continues.

Remember a few weeks ago, an Australian tourist was hurt on one of RWS’ rides. Before that there were problems with the air-conditioning at RWS, and before that there was an outbreak of food poisoning on one of Genting’s cruise ships.

Best avoid the shares of RWS and the group if you are superstitious. Pretty conclusive that a curse is in place.

Waz the pt of a footie club?

In Uncategorized on 03/10/2011 at 7:16 am

Arsenal shows the disconnect between a financially prudent footie club and its fans.

Fans rightly want trophies and the bragging rights that goes with winning trophies. They are not interested in Arsenal getting praises for its prudence. They want Arsenal winning against Spurs and the Reds, not getting thrashed.

Spend the money, forget the risks. True Leeds and Pool show the problems that can happen if trophies don’t come despite the spending. But MU, City and Chelsea show that being financially reckless can pay off.

Why play games of strategy?

In Uncategorized on 02/10/2011 at 10:58 am

For a number of hedge fund managers and traders, playing chess well has been among their better career moves.

So is playing poker, bridge and backgammon.

So pushy parents like, forget abt tutoring the kids. Teach and play poker, chess bridge or backgammon with yr kids. Aids bonding too.

The losing Tans: What they now doing?

In Political governance on 02/10/2011 at 7:07 am

As its Sunday, thought regular readers might like to read the gossip making the rounds of the chattering coffee-house classes. Take u/m with a large pinch of salt as its all based on hearsay, much of it secondhand.   

Dr Tan Cheng Bock is not planning to form a new party. He is believed to be advising  Benjamin Pwee and other SPP members who helped him in his recent presidential campaign. He is helping them plan the transition from brand Chiam, and how to get support in Western S’pore, his territory. Tony Tan came second in the West. Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian were nowhere to be seen.

Hopefully,  the Chiams are onside on these issues. Otherwise, the SPP will die when Chiam departs from the stage. Mrs Chiam is a very capable grassroot activist. But she is no leader of a political party, few people are.

Tan Jee Say “has plans to build up a coalition of forces, reaching out to those dissatisfied with the ruling party. He did not give details as to which party he intends to join”. He is keeping open the possibility of setting up a new party. The rumour is that Michelle Lim and Dr Ang Yong Guan will resign from the SDP and join the new party. That they are not on the mgt commitee of the SDP is taken as a sign of them wanting to leave.

People close to Nicole Seah, celebrity superstar, and  Jeannette Chong Aruldoss both on the NSP mgt committee, deny that these two ladies will join the new party. But with the rumours of tension in the NSP leadership (most of the mgt didn’t turn up at the birthday party of the NSP’s Malay Bureau), the speculation is they may jump ship. Superstar Nicole has also been criticised by long-time NSP cadres for being TJS’s polling agent.

But if they jumped party again, they would look like fickle, airhead bimbos. They joined NSP from RP only before the May GE, and they had joined RP only last year.

People who know but don’t like TJS say that all this talk of unifying the Opposition shows he is trying to leave politics gracefully. But then, these same guys said he applied for the COE because he wanted to leave the SDP gracefully. They said he thought he wouldn’t get it but kanna played-out. But whatever the truth, he fought hard and wisely, unlike Tan Kin Lian who fought hard but not wisely.

TKL is still makes pronouncements on public issues on his FaceBook page and blog site. But less and less people are visiting the sites. People close to him say he still feels the hurt of being rejected by voters and losing $48,000 and more of his own money. They also say he is in denial abt his defeat, refusing to accept that his campaign was badly run, and hence accident prone. He still thinks he could have been president, but for the Yahoo! survey and TJS.

S’pore: Problem Child (in 1962)

In Political governance on 01/10/2011 at 9:39 am

In 1962, a US academic wrote this:

Flanking the sea artery connecting the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and virtually linking the Asian mainland with the Indonesian archipelago, the island of Singapore occupies a strategic position in southeastern Asia. Toward its 220 square miles of territory have converged races from all the Orient, but especially the southern Chinese in their ubiquitous quest for commercial opportunities. When Sir Stamford Raffles established a trading post near the Singapore River on February 6, 1819, the island’s only inhabitants were a few hundred Malays. Four months later, however, he wrote: “From the number of Chinese already settled, and the peculiar attraction of the place for that industrious race, it may be presumed that they will always form the largest part of the community.” Today, some 75 percent of Singapore’s million and three-quarters inhabitants are Chinese- the largest urban concentration anywhere of overseas Chinese.

Undisturbed by British colonial authorities in respect to language, schooling and customs, the Singapore Chinese established an exclusive cultural community and readily absorbed new hordes of immigrants over the years. Their ancestral ties and affections have habitually pulled them toward the homeland. Like most Chinese, they adjudge their culture to be of a superior order (especially vis-à-vis the Malay); moreover, since the advent of the Communist régime, they are proud of the great strides Mainland China has made and of its new stature as a world power. During the past three years, the English-educated Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, has made energetic propagandist efforts to create a Malay image and to infuse elements of a Malayan culture; but the majority of Singapore Chinese-those schooled in the Chinese medium, plus the illiterate-have shown little evidence of modifying their basic emotional orientation. Indeed, they receive daily nourishment in that direction from the two main Chinese newspapers (with circulations larger than any others outside the Chinese Mainland), as well as from Radio Peking, whose programs come in more clearly than any other foreign broadcast.

Buy the full article for US$0.99 here. Worth it.

He bot preferreds, stupid

In Investments on 01/10/2011 at 6:57 am

Or the perils of trying to copy Buffett by buying ordinary GE and Goldman Sachs shares. http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/buffetts-not-so-golden-touch/?nl=business&emc=dlbkpma21

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