Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Singapore Images in 2006

Some images of 2006 captured by The Business Times of key business and political events in Singapore and business deals linked to Singapore entities overseas.

Big stakes, buoyant sentiment

2006 was a year of big numbers, big stakes and bullish sentiment. The resurgent economy brought waves of investment and optimism to our shores, but also winds of change. Meanwhile, those who strayed from the straight and narrow were brought to account as the law took its course.

One of Singapore's biggest financial scandals finally came to a conclusion when former China Aviation Oil head Chen Jiulin was jailed for four years and three months and fined $335,000 for insider trading. Likewise, former corporate poster boy Victor Tan, founder of Accord Customer Care Solutions, was jailed for four years and three months for his role in trying to cheat Nokia in 2003 and 2004. And former National Kidney Foundation boss TT Durai was charged under the Anti-Graft Act for having tried to deceive the NKF while he was its chief executive.

But a sense of stability prevailed when the ruling People's Action Party won 66.6 per cent of the vote in the May general election and was returned to power.

Big buys also made the news, led by Temasek Holdings' $6.5 billion purchase of an 11.55 per cent stake in Standard Chartered Bank from the family of the late Khoo Teck Puat, who was Singapore's richest man, and $3 billion spent on former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra's family stake in Shin Corp.

Apple's US$100 million payout for a licence to use Creative Technology's patent in its iPod ended legal disputes between them. The battle hit Creative's profits badly, but the settlement looks like a win-win result, and the local firm will focus more on making sound chips and accessories for Apple and other companies.

Waves of interest and winds of change from abroad came in through the course of the year. In May, Las Vegas Sands won the right to build Singapore's first integrated resort (IR) and casino at Marina Bay. And six months later, Asian gaming outfit Genting International/Star Cruises won the Sentosa bid. The year's foreign buzz culminated in the 16,000 visitors and delegates coming to Singapore during the International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings in September.

The buoyant economic mood was infectious and spread to the property market, which finally got some reprieve from a decade of gloom when the luxury residential segment saw record prices, led by Marina Bay Residences which commanded up to $3,500 per sq ft in December.

Movements in the boardroom also created a stir. Robinson's chairman Michael Wong Pakshong was voted off the board at the company's annual general meeting, prompting the resignation of three other independent directors and sparking a debate on the role of independent directors. SingTel CEO Lee Hsien Yang surprised markets in July when he announced that he would step down after 12 years with the company.

Finally, the year closed with an ominous reminder of our vulnerability in the Information Age, when a post-Christmas quake off Taiwan damaged vital undersea cables and disrupted telecommunications in and out of Singapore and throughout East Asia.

March 27: Temasek hogs headlines
Singapore investment company Temasek Holdings spends almost $10 billion on two big buys. On March 27, it announces an estimated $6.5 billion purchase of Khoo Teck Puat's estate's 11.55 per cent stake in Standard Chartered. Earlier in January, Temasek paid $3 billion for Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's family stake in Shin Corporation. The Shin deal sparked unexpected events that eventually led to a military coup that ousted Mr Thaksin.

April 18: TT Durai charged with graft at NKF
Former National Kidney Foundation (NKF) chief TT Durai is slapped with two charges over alleged false claims with intent to deceive the foundation. The NKF fiasco has brought about unprecedented scrutiny of charitable organisations and their accountability.

May 6: PAP returned to power
The People's Action Party is returned to power with two-thirds of the valid vote at the general election. The closest fight is in Aljunied GRC, where the PAP wins 56.1 per cent of the vote in a contest with the Workers' Party. The opposition retains Hougang and Potong Pasir.

May 26 and Dec 8: Singapore hands out casino licences
Singapore awards two integrated resort and casino licences after a 40-year ban on casinos. The first licence, at Marina Bay, goes to Las Vegas Sands, controlled by Sheldon Adelson, who has roped in architect Moshe Safdie (top) for the project. The second, at Sentosa, goes to Malaysia's Genting group, controlled by Lim Kok Thay and family.

July 21: Lee Hsien Yang announces decision to step down
Lee Hsien Yang surprises the markets by announcing that he will step down as SingTel's chief executive officer after 12 years with the company. After a two-month global search, SingTel appointed its chief financial officer Chua Sock Koong as CEO.

Aug 23: Creative versus Apple
Apple agrees to pay US$100 million for a licence to use Creative Technology's patent in its iPod. And as part of the settlement, Creative, founded by Singapore businessman Sim Wong Hoo, joined the ''Made for iPod'' programme to produce accessories for Apple's mp3 player.

Dec 13: Irrational exuberance reigns at Marina Bay Residences
After a downturn that lasted a decade, the upper end of the property market rebounds. The best performer is Marina Bay Residences, where all 422 units were quickly sold at unprecedented prices of up to $3,500 per sq ft. Prices at the 99-year leasehold project, located near Las Vegas Sands' upcoming integrated resort and casino, even surpassed those of some units at the 999-year leasehold St Regis Residences in the Tanglin area.

Sept 10-20: IMF and World Bank meetings bring in 16,000 visitors
With a campaign of four million smiles, and tens of thousands of flowers lining the route to Suntec City convention centre, Singapore lays on a grand welcome for visitors and delegates to the IMF/World Bank annual meetings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Last major event - 2006 - main english daily missed the Thai bombing, hahaha