Monday, 8 October 2012

Watz Online - 8 Oct 2012

Singapore to slow currency rise as recession risk mounts

Singapore's central bank is expected to ease monetary policy next week by slowing the local dollar's pace of appreciation, according to a Reuters poll, amid signs the economy likely slipped into a recession in the third quarter.

The Singapore dollar, the world's 12th most actively traded currency, has gained around 5.6 percent so far this year, helped by rising foreign investment in Singapore assets that are seen as a safe haven amid the turmoil in global financial markets.

The currency's strength has, however, increased pressure on manufacturers already reeling from weak global orders, and most forecasters predict the Singapore economy shrank in the third quarter following a 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted and annualised contraction in April-June. 

read more

The faint smell of recession

This chart suggests economic growth concerns outweigh inflation worries.

According to CIMB. weaker orders, output and a slower service sector likely tipped Singapore back into a technical recession in 3Q12, with a potential 2% sequential economic contraction (-0.7% in 2Q12).

While core inflation remains a threat the risks are now skewed to a recession, it said. "As such, the MAS is likely to take a more dovish view and allow the S$ to appreciate slower. Flash 3Q12 GDP estimates and the MAS’s monetary-policy statement are likely to be released on or before next Friday, 12 Oct," it added. 

Germany to negotiate deal with Singapore against tax evasion

Germany will start talks with Singapore next week on a deal to prevent its citizens from evading taxes by shifting their money to the Asian state, a government source said on Saturday.

During a visit to Asia next week, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble will fly to Singapore, the region's prominent wealth management centre, to try to negotiate an agreement with the government, the source said.

According to media reports, there are signs German tax dodgers are shifting funds to Singapore from Switzerland, which signed a tax deal with Germany earlier this year. 

read more 

Singapore stuck as Hong Kong keeps rising in World Airport rankings

Singapore's still in 26th while Hong Kong jumps to 19th spot.

Singapore's departure airport saw only 62.16% on-time flights, or flights with less than 15 minutes delay, according to the September 2012 Top 30 Aiport Departure Performance report from FlightStats.

In comparison, Hong Kong has rocketed to 76.73% on-time performance to become one of only three Asian airport ins the Top 20 along with top-ranking Tokyo, Japan whose 92.88% on-time perfomance remains the best in the world and ninth-placed Bangkok, Thailand (82.54%). 

read more 

Hong Kong has world’s cheapest 4G data plan 

Worldwide 4G data plans are still expensive but competition is slowly bringing prices down If you’ve just bought a 4G smartphone or tablet and want to know where to find the best data plan then research published yesterday shows that Hong Kong is the best place to go

Despite growing popularity mobile phone networks’ 4G data plans are still on average 20 per cent higher than the equivalent 3G plans. 

The cross-country comparison study of mobile data pricing by ABI highlights that currently Hong Kong’s CSL which launched its service in November 2011 is the world’s cheapest.

Standard Chartered Fires Back at Temasek

Standard Chartered Bank PLC said Thursday that Temasek Pte. Ltd., its largest shareholder, misinterpreted U.K. corporate governance rules when it abstained from voting at a May meeting to re-elect some bank board members.

The emailed statement from Standard Chartered hints represents a rare disagreement between the U.K. bank and the Singapore state investment body. It also comes a day after The Wall Street Journal reported that Temasek, which owns an 18% stake in the U.K. bank, has expressed discomfort with the bank's governance and is pressuring it to appoint more independent directors.

To register its unhappiness with the bank, Temasek abstained from voting for the re-election of the nonexecutive directors to the board in May, a person familiar with the situation said. 

read more 

Temasek: Don't Support Excessive Numbers of Executive Members on Company Boards

Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd. Friday said it advocates boards of its portfolio companies to be independent of management and not have excessive executive members, a day after Standard Chartered PLC (STAN.LN) said that the Singaporean firm--its largest shareholder--had misinterpreted U.K. governance rules.

Standard Chartered had made that comment about its top shareholder Temasek's misinterpretation after The Wall Street Journal reported the Singapore firm has expressed discomfort to the bank with its governance and is pressuring it to appoint more independent directors. The Wall Street Journal reported that to register its unhappiness with the bank, Temasek abstained from voting for the re-election of the nonexecutive directors to its board in May.

The statement from Standard Chartered and Temasek's response represent a rare public disagreement between the U.K. bank and the Singapore state investment body. 

read more 

StanChart board moves offer brief respite from Temasek pressure

Standard Chartered's Singapore investor is holding tight to its view that the board is too heavy with bank executives after the appointment of four independent directors.

According to a source familiar with the matter, the Singaporean state investment fund Temasek saw Standard Chartered's board appointments last week as "a step in the right direction", but added the board's make-up still falls short of what Temasek, the bank's biggest shareholder, would like to see.

Standard Chartered has produced 10 consecutive years of strong profits but the relationship with its main shareholder has come under strain with frequent market talk that Temasek is looking to offload its 6.4 billion pound ($10.4 billion) stake and as it pressures the bank over governance issues. 

read more 

Standard Chartered row with top shareholder

Standard Chartered is in dispute with its largest shareholder, Temasek, over the structure of the bank's board, raising fresh speculation that the Singapore investment house may look to offload its stake.

Temasek wants the UK-listed bank to appoint more independent directors, while Standard insists it already has enough strong non-executives. Observers say the matter is a clash of corporate governance cultures. In Singapore it is typical to have a supervisory board made up of one executive with the rest all drawn from outside the company.

Standard notes that it has to comply with UK rules where a unitary model which sees the board made up mostly of full-time employees is preferred.

read more 

Standard Chartered PLC : StanChart Says Temasek Misread U.K. Rules

Temasek's stake in London-based Standard Chartered, valued at $9.7 billion, has often been debated by analysts, although the Singapore state firm has no immediate plans to sell, according to people familiar with the investment company. The bank's relatively high valuation, as well as rules governing bank balance sheets, known as the Basel III accord that require banks to stockpile large quantities of capital if they hold minority stakes in other financial institutions, are a powerful deterrent against banks buying the stake.

One option for Temasek is to gradually sell its stake in Standard Chartered in the open market through block sales, as American International Group Inc. has been doing with its stake in pan-Asian life insurer AIA Group Ltd. (1299.HK), some analysts said.

Shares of Standard Chartered ended 0.9% higher at HK$177.7 a share. At the end of March, Temasek had a portfolio worth US$161 billion with holdings in Chinese banks such as China Construction Bank Corp. and Singapore carrier Singapore Airlines Ltd 

read more 

3 CPIB officers to testify in trial

Three officers of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) will be testifying in the corruption trial of former Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) chief Ng Boon Gay when it resumes on Oct 31.

After a pre-trial conference at the Subordinate Courts yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Ken Hwee told reporters that the three new witnesses were the ones who had recorded a number of statements from Ms Cecilia Sue.

Ms Sue, 36, is the key witness for the prosecution against Ng, 46, who faces four charges of corruptly obtaining oral sex from her between June and December last year. 

read more 

Coroner to probe maid's death in water tank

Three months after prosecutors withdrew a murder charge against Bangladeshi cleaner Md Repon Mostafa, an Indonesian maid's drowning in an HDB water tank will be the subject of a coroner's inquiry starting on Oct 25.

Mr Repon, 29, who was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, will be a key witness in the inquiry.

It is expected to trace what happened between him and Ms Ruliyawati, 30, before her death on May 16 last year.

read more