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BLOCKBUSTER YEAR FOR IPOs Will IPO funds raised in 2017 surpass 2016 levels?
MALL OWNERS FRET FLIGHT TO THE â€˜BURBS ECONOMY WATCH: WHY YOUR SALARY IS FLATLINING OWE MONEY, PAY NOW THE CHATBOT WILL SEE YOU
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AUDITED CIRCULATION: 24,794 ONLINE READERSHIP: 215,000 monthly uniques through Google Analytics The Singapore Business Review is the highest circulating and best read business magazine in Singapore. Our online readership has an average of 215,000 unique viewers, according to Google Analytics. We won the Business/Professional Media of the Year category at the 2016 MPAS Awards. Do reach out to us if you would like us to tell your story to our readers via print & online advertising or events. Publisher & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Tim Charlton production editor Genelie Sta.Ana-De Leon GRAPHIC ARTIST Elizabeth Indoy
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Our annual report on IPOs reveal that Singapore’s status as one of the powerhouse financial hubs in Asia Pacific is helping the country’s IPO and equities industries close out the year in record fashion. The volume of IPO funds raised by the end of 2017 is projected to surpass 2016 levels with a number of large IPO deals expected to be closed in the coming months. Find out more about the deals closed in the first half of the year, and why 2017 is expected to be a ‘blockbuster’ year for IPOs. In this issue, we also feature a report on Singapore banks’ chatbots. Learn more about OCBC’s bots Emma and Buddy, as well as DBS POSB’s dVa. For property developers, a new ace is in their deck as they venture into virtual reality to boost their marketing mileage. Meanwhile, CMOs share their insights on how viral marketing gives businesses a leverage. This issue bears the coverage of the most recent awards and events we’ve held: Business Case Studies Awards, International Business Awards, Listed Companies Awards, and National Business Awards. Find out which companies won this year. Enjoy!
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SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
financial insight 20 Why 2017 COULD BE A BLOCKBUSTER YEAR
INSIGHT 18 inDustry The chatbot will see you now
16 Economy Watch
07 Will drivers ditch Grab and Uber?
32 Business Case Studies Awards 2017 winners
08 Living longer but short on insurance
40 LCA, IBA, NBA 2017 honours
10 Mall owners fret flight to the ‘burbs
12 PayNow: A new way to transfer funds 17 IHH Healthcare rolls out billion-dollar
firsts Property developers tap the Virtual Reality card
22 outstanding firms
28 Singapore’s biggest banks
56 Why governments can’t keep
don new digital weapons
up with transport innovation
expansion as local growth heads south
Published Bi-monthly on the Second week of the Month by Charlton Media Group 101 Cecil St. #17-09 Tong Eng Building 2 SINGAPORE SingaporeBUSINESS 069533 REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
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HR and Education
Transport and Logistics
Crazy poor expats: Why salaries for foreigners are falling fast
ComfortDelGro’s taxi fleet declines 5.7% to 15,863 in April
Singaporeans are the most picky e-commerce customers
Benefits consulting firm ECA International found that expat packages in Singapore fell 6% in 2017 to $316,600 per annum, inclusive of salary, tax, and benefits. Meanwhile, in its closest rival Hong Kong, expat packages declined 2% to $356,800 per annum. The gap has widened between Singapore and Hong Kong for the total cost of an expatriate package.
Citing industry figures from the Land Transport Authority, UOB Kay Hian said ComfortDelGro’s taxi fleet has declined sharper than expected. The transport authority figures for April point out to a 5.7% decline in ComfortDelGro’s taxi fleet to 15,863. This is a significant fall from 16,281 in December. Whilst there is a slump in its taxi fleet, its rental cars have increased 78% YoY.
The latest study by the iPrice Group revealed that Singaporean consumers are amongst the hardest to impress especially for e-commerce players. According to the study, 34.7% of complaints surveyed by iPrice came from Singaporeans. When leaving a product review after a purchase, Singaporeans complain 20% more frequently than those in Thailand, for instance.
Singapore and the Philippines: More than just trading partners BY ANTONIO ACUNZO In mid-December 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte visited Singapore on a state visit, and Singapore President Tony Tan highlighted during a state banquet that an increasing number of Singapore companies is eager to invest in the Philippines. He described the relationship between the two countries as “a robust friendship anchored in a shared vision of peace, harmony, and prosperity.”
Fact or fiction: Anyone can trade in Singapore BY CARL FREER As Asia and Singapore become increasingly digitised, processes get automated and several industries are disrupted by technology, in particular, finance. From robo advisors to even analysts, there is no denying that finance in Singapore has been disrupted by new tech such as machine learning and predictive analytics. You can trade with the assistance of a robo-advisor, whether you will achieve a 100% success rate is another story.
MOST READ COMMENTARY The four reasons Singapore will ride out the shipping storm BY JUNE HO Singapore’s bi-annual Maritime Week recently concluded. Despite the celebrations and accolades handed out, the cloud of a depressed and struggling sector hung heavy over the industry. Although we may (hopefully) be seeing the green shoots of a shipping recovery, companies are still under a huge amount of pressure. Shipping is cyclical, and right now, we still seem to be on the wrong side. Singapore is too expensive.
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
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SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
FIRST roadshows at One Raffles Place, Century Square, and Jurong Point where consumers were allowed to use VR goggles to view condo show flats. PropertyGuru’s chief marketing officer Bjorn Sprengers reported that consumers appreciated how VR technology provided a close to the actual experience of viewing the property, allowing them to assess qualitative factors like the functionality of the layout and design of the unit.
Despite slowing economies, employees apparently haven’t gotten the memo with fully one third preparing to jump ship across Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. According to a 2017 Randstad Employer Brand Research report, over a third of employees (37.36%) in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia are planning to resign in the coming months. The report cited poor salary and benefits along with a lack of career progression as the main culprits behind the looming exit in the three mentioned countries. The third largest factor in Singapore and Malaysia was the lack of appreciation from management, whilst in Hong Kong, the third largest factor for employees planning to leave their employers was the poor workplace atmosphere. Disgruntled employees held similar sentiments in Singapore and Hong Kong, with around 38% planning to leave. Malaysian employees were only slightly less anxious to leave their jobs with around 35% looking for new career opportunities. Ensuring retention Randstad Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia’s managing director Michael Smith notes that whilst organisations look at improving their employer brands to attract the best new talent into their ranks, management needs to be wary of the high risk of losing their staff. “Our latest research highlights the unsettling number of employees planning to leave their jobs in the near future.” he said. In a demographic profiling conducted by Randstad, it was also revealed that young male employees across all three markets were the most likely to leave their job in the next six months. “This reinforces the need for organisations to not only look out [for] new talent, but also inwards to ensure the retention of their best staff. Research has shown that the cost replacing a lost employee can be very high in terms of time and money,” Smith added.
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Cost vs. ROI One of PropertyGuru’s VR partners for the campaign was VizioFly. VizioFly’s chief business officer Irwin Luo argues that the creation of VR content is very affordable, citing that it could range from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the interactivity and the quality of finishes. JLL director of IT operations William Cong says Exploring the Paya Lebar Quarter through VR goggles in terms of looking at the cost of the tech, there are two things to be considered: the hardware and the software. For instance, the emergence of consumer-grade spherical (360º) cameras has considerably reduced the cost of creating VR property tours. Consumers alking through a mock up appreciated how In terms of ROI, PropertyGuru’s show flat may be a thing Sprengers explained, “PropertyGuru’s VR technology of the past as developers provided a close metrics has shown that content or get savvy with 3D virtual goggle pictures of better quality traditionally to the actual tours to allow customers to not generate 40% more click-through experience only walk through flats but whole rates or leads over regular listings.” of viewing developments. Australian property In the future, virtual reality shows the property. developer Lendlease was amongst might not just be a walkthrough, the first to use the technology in says VMW Group’s Lee Hon Kit. Singapore to showcase its Paya Lebar “Future VR show suites may include Quarter (PLQ) redevelopment. PLQ material or finishes options, lighting managing director Richard Paine options, or even furniture layout said the use of VR goggles allowed it configurations. All these will not only to dimensionalise the story of Paya enhance the experience of viewers Lebar precincts. but also assist their decision-making “Retail tenants can better envision process,” he said. how a potential shop space will eventually look like within the retail mall, whilst the public can get a sense of the excellent connectivity to the public transportation network,” said Paine. For their Park Place Residences Launch, Paine says prospective buyers are able to get a sense of the actual property given space and depth the technology is able to convey. Similarly web portal PropertyGuru decided to adopt the technology by VR enables you to take a peek into your property installing a 14-foot truck to conduct
Property developers tap the virtual reality card
FIRST 15-20% of the private hire car fleet was taken off the road.
Grab faces regulatory woes
Will drivers ditch Grab and Uber?
rab may have just raised $2.5b in funding but that hasn’t helped ease its regulatory woes with governments in the region continuing to tighten regulations. Singapore now requires part time drivers to get a Private Hire Car Driver’s Vocational Licence (PDVL) and display a pair of serialised tamper-evident decals on the front and back windscreens of their vehicles. RHB Research analyst Shekhar Jaiswal noted around 15-20% of the private hire car fleet was taken
off the road, and that the PDVL implementation should shift some demand back to taxis with Grab and Uber fares increasing through shrinking driver supply. By July, only 63% of private hire cars displayed decals, but companies like Grab remain undaunted. A high quality platform A Grab Singapore spokesperson noted that they are following up closely with driver-partners to ensure that they pass the PDVL course during the one year transitional
period. “We will continue to focus on building a high-quality platform and support interested driver-partners in attaining their PDVLs,” according to a spokesperson from Grab Singapore. Cabbie competition Whilst the implementation of the PDVL framework should provide short-term relief for taxi companies, a delay in creating a level playing field between the private companies and taxi companies does create a downside risk for the latter. “As the PDVL limits the addition of new drivers by PHC companies, we believe Uber and Grab Singapore may choose to target the large pool of taxi driver vocational licence holders, thereby leading to an eventual shortage of taxi drivers,” RHB’s Jaiswal said.
Revenue contribution by business segment
Source: RHB, Company data
The Chartist: WaTCH WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES BMI Research said that non-essential spending will continue to dominate total household spending between 2017 and 2021, accounting for 56.6% of household spending. These include expenditures on personal insurance, recreation and culture, as well as restaurants and hotels. Total household spending will jump from this year’s $156.97b (US$113.4b) to $227.2b (US$164.1b), growing at an average annual rate of 8.3% between 2017 and 2021 BMI Research expects essential spending to experience robust growth over our forecast period, growing at an average annual rate of 6.9% between 2017 and 2021 compared to 5.6% for non-essential spending. Real household spending will experience rapid acceleration in growth over 2017 at 4%.
Essential and non-essential spending (2011-2021)
Source: BMI/ Statistics Singapore
Total household spending breakdown % total
Source: BMI/ Statistics Singapore
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
FIRST Ambassador briefing SWEDEN
Sweden’s Ambassador to Singapore since August 2013, Håkan Jevrell, spoke to Singapore Business Review about the Sweden-Singapore business relationship: Swedish companies value the ease of doing business in Singapore and also consider it a gateway to the region. There are about 300 Swedish companies that are present in Singapore. Many of the global companies that are the backbone of our industries today, such as ABB, Saab, Volvo, Electrolux, Alfa Laval, SKF, Ericsson, Scania are all present in Singapore. We also have a strong consumer industry present with companies like IKEA, H&M and Spotify. We also see increased interests from Swedish start-ups and scale ups to set up their operations in Singapore. A century ago, Sweden was amongst the poorest nations in Europe. Today, we are among the world leaders in innovation. Similarly Singapore is focussing its capacity to innovate. Technology and innovation are in both of our countries’ DNA. ICT/Tech, life sciences, e-mobility and new materials industries are all areas where Swedish companies excel and can create synergies with Singaporean businesses. In 2016, Team Sweden in Singapore organised the successful inaugural Sweden Southeast Asia Business summit where 250 key decision makers from Swedish companies attended to gain insights about the business opportunities in Singaporeand the region. There has been several successful follow-ups with Singaporean companies since the summit. Håkan Jevrell is also the nonresident Ambassador of Sweden to Brunei Darussalam. He was the State Secretary at the Swedish Ministry of Defense from 20072012 and the Political Adviser at the Swedish Prime Minister’s office between 2006-2007. Prior to that he was a Prosecutor at Västerorts Local Public Prosecution Office in Stockholm.
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Living longer but short on insurance
Top regions in 2017 GRI
long with complaining about the price of COEs, grumbling about central provident fund (CPF) is a common pastime in Singapore. But a new survey says that the financial component of Singaporeans’ retirement outlook has actually improved over the last year, and the country now ranks 27th in the Global Retirement Index compiled by Natixis Global Asset Management. The Index considers 18 measures across four sub-indexes, namely Health, Finances in Retirement, Quality of Life and Material Wellbeing, which affect retirees across 43 countries to paint a picture of the global retirement environment. Singapore registered some of the best scores across almost all indicators within the Finances in Retirement subindex and moved up one place in the rankings. Madeline Ho, executive managing director, head of wholesale fund distribution, Asia Pacific for Natixis Global Asset Management said, “The stability and robustness of government finances is vital for a snag-free retirement but it may not suffice to guarantee retirement security over the long term given demographic pressure. That’s why it’s important for investors to
Source: CBI Insights
take on a more active role in planning their retirement to ensure that they will be able to meet and maintain their desired quality of life when they retire.” Overall New Zealand and Australia are the region’s highest ranking performers, securing 5th and 6th place respectively in the Index, ahead of Japan (22nd), South Korea (23rd), Singapore (27th) One good thing to celebrate is Singaporean’s longevity, having the fifth-highest life expectancy of all the countries studied. This is countered by finishing second-to-last in the insured health expenditure indicator, The stability which measures the portion of that and expenditure paid for by insurance. robustness of Its only decline was registered in the government Material Wellbeing Sub-Index where it finances is boasts the highest score in employment vital for a and income per capita, but it has the snag-free fourth-lowest score for income equality retirement. among the surveyed countries.
Mobile App Watch
Active8me helps you achieve your fitness goals Many health apps offer meal planning and workout schedules, but none specialise in the types of Asian meals that Singaporeans eat in hawker centres or local restaurants. This gap in the market is where local app maker Active8me hopes to succeed by offering a wellness programme catering to localised needs. Active8me founder Jeremy Rolleston said the Asian lifestyle is culturally unique in that the habits Jeremy Rolleston and norm are fairly different compared to Western societies, with the abundance of hawker centres, regularly eating out, food delivery services that cater to busy travelling executives, and a very low gym membership rate (2%). “This means that a solution like Activ8me that offers eating out tips for Asians, customised workouts that adjust to where you choose to work out and a programme that suits any level of A personal trainer that fits in a pocket experience is a very welcome offering,” he said.
Transforming ANDMARKS Beyond acumen and foresight, it takes vision to boldly transform a familiar landmark into a hub of vibrant possibilities. At OUE, the corporate philosophy is driven by Transformational Thinkingâ€” an approach that views every development as an opportunity to unlock its value and transform its potential. 2017 sees OUE celebrating key milestones, one of which is the opening of OUE Downtown, a newly transformed mixed-use development that will be the unrivalled destination to live, work, shop, dine, and play in Singaporeâ€™s Central Business District.
One Raffles Place
OUE Limited is a diversified real estate owner, developer, and operator with a real estate portfolio in prime locations in Asia and the United States. OUE consistently grows its business by leveraging its brands and proven expertise in developing and managing assets across the commercial, hospitality, retail, and residential sectors. With its core strategy of investing in and enhancing a stable of distinctive properties, OUE is committed to developing a portfolio that has a strong recurrent income base, balanced with development profits, to enhance longterm shareholder value.
OUE is the sponsor of OUE Hospitality Trust and OUE Commercial Real Estate Investment Trust. In March 2017, OUE acquired International Healthway Corporation, a listed integrated healthcare services and facilities provider. For more information, visit www.oue.com.sg.
Mall owners fret flight to the ‘burbs
o lose one tenant could be seen as unfortunate. To lose two marquee retailers like Uniqlo and Victoria’s Secret, as One Raffles place has, could be seen as a sign of larger problems for Singapore’s prime mall operators. Instead of opting for flashy and expensive outlets in prime locations, many big retailers are choosing to flee to the relatively cheaper space offered by suburban malls, leaving some centrally located mall operators to worry about their futures. In August 2015, Uniqlo had outlets in seven suburban locations and H&M had three. Just two years later, Uniqlo has increased its suburban mall store count to 13 and H&M to six. But even as retailers move to the ‘burbs, the prevailing outlook for Singapore’s retail sector remains poor and on a downward trend. In 2011 almost one in five dollars spent in Singapore was on retail and wholesale trade, but by 2016 that number had dropped to one in seven and
Muji opens its second coffee shop in Singapore
continues to fall, as has employment in the sector. As a result, retail rents and occupancy have been on a downward trend since 2015, prompting many to ask whether there is simply too much mall space in Singapore. “A vibrant retail scene is an important component of the country’s status as a regional hub aside from being an attractive place for talent,” adds RHB. Indeed there is a lot more new space due to come online, over the next four years with an additional 4.5 million sq ft of retail space including OUE Downtown Gallery, Tanjong Pagar Centre, and Singapore Post Centre. Cheaper rent and growing e-commerce Property consultant Edmund Tie & Company director of research Lee Nai Jia notes that in light of the slower economy, rents of retail space in suburban areas also eased, even though suburban malls were usually considered as assets that provided counter-cyclical returns. Although Singapore currently has a retail space GFA per capita of 11.6 square foot, this is still lower than Hong Kong at 16.3, but well above Kuala Lumpur at 7.4. Admittedly Hong Kong attracts three times the number of tourists than Singapore, which may help explain why Singapore rents are 30% cheaper than Hong Kong. Despite weak retail sales, credit card billings remain strong, growing by 8% YoY
Declining retail and wholesale trade contribution
Source: Ministry of Trade and Industry
in 1Q17. This suggests that some spending may be diverted from traditional store-based retailing and can be seen in Euromonitor’s data, which estimates that non-store retailing has grown further in 2016 to 6.8% of overall retailing, from 5.6% in 2015. As consumers increasingly turn to the internet for shopping needs, some fashion retailers are turning their hand to making food and other activities to lure customers inside. Japanese brand Muji opened its second coffee shop in Singapore in July, and the firm also opened its largest Southeast Asian flagship store in Plaza Singapura with many activities inside apart from shopping, including an open community space, exhibitions by designers, and creative skills classes. Whether this will be enough to stem the loss to online is too early to say, but with Amazon about to enter Singapore the days of stores living by selling commodity products alone are fading.
Huone takes meetings out of boardrooms Fancy a meeting in an igloo or a forest? Described as a “hotel without bedrooms,” co-working space provider Huone offers an innovative solution for meetings and events. The concept originated from Finland and has now opened its doors in Clarke Quay. Huone Singapore offers 11 various themes including Igloo Room, Sandbox Room, and Forest Room. These meeting rooms can accommodate five to 150 people.“No two rooms in Huone are the same,” shares Joewin Tan, CEO of Huone Singapore. “Huone’s service will help customers to choose the right setting and room, taking into consideration the meeting goals.” For brainstorming, for example, the Swing Room or Sandbox Room might be the ideal surrounding, providing the right playful vibes. For a more serious seminar or workshop, the organiser could pick the Cottage Room or Theatre Room. In Huone, Tan says, the customer is at the centre of everything. The Huone service is designed to help and consult customers with various event needs. 10
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Top 100 most valuable singapore brands 2017
TOP 100 MOST VALUABLE TOP 100 MOST VALUABLE These Maybank employees were able to purchase items in their charity flea market using their mobile SINGAPORE BRANDS 2017 SINGAPORE BRANDS 2017 3
PayNow: A3new way to transfer funds 5 2 4 5
unning a flea market is not number of the recipient of the money the normal purview of a bank, to transfer funds instantly. but in Maybank’ s case it was Maybank Singapore community Brand Value ating Rating Brand Value Rating Brand Value Rating Brand Value Brand Value Brand Value Rating Rating Brand Value Rating their wayRating of introducing PayNow, financial services head Choong Wai Brand Value Rating AAAAA+ AA A+ AAAAAAAA+ VALUABLE AA the flea market was able to A+ TOP 100 MOST VALUABLE Singapore’ s latest payment method Hong said V/MC BV/MC 3,619 BV/EV 2,625 BV/EV 2,833 BV/MC BV/MC BV/MC 5,403 3,619 BV/EV 2,625 BV/EV 2,833 14%. 16%. 11%. 17%. to3,643 its staff. Company staff members record 500 transactions, all of which 16%. 14%. 16%. RANDS 2017 11%. SINGAPORE BRANDS 2017 17%. sold a range of handmade products are processed through PayNow. “As to each other and collected payment one of the banks offering PayNow, we 10 through their mobile phones 8 9 digitally want10to show our strong support for 5 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 rather than in cash or credit card. this new fund transfer service and to Maybank was one of seven banks promote its convenience to our staff in the consortium, which launched via this charity flea market,” he noted. Brand Value ating Rating Brand Value Rating Brand Value Rating Brand Value Value Rating Brand BrandValue Value Rating ating Rating Rating Brand Brand Value Brand Value Rating Rating in July, and allows bank customers UOB Rating has gone further and Brand Value Rating Rating Brand Value Brand Value Rating Brand Value Rating A+ A+ A+ AAAA AAAAAAAA+ AAAA+ A+ A+ AA A+PayNow into its MyKey A+ AAto register their mobile phone integrated V/EV BV/EV 1,102 BV/EV 1,003 BV/EV 1,080 BV/EV 100 MOST VALUABLE BV/EV V/MC BV/MC BV/EV BV/EV 2,625 BV/MC 1,102 3,643 3,619 1,632 1,516 BV/EV BV/EV 1,003 BV/EV BV/EV 1,080 2,833 to 30%. 8%. number their bank2,625 accountBV/EV and keyboard app which can be used in 13%. 25%. 11%. 6%. 14%. 16%. 25%. 30%. 8%. 17%. 11%. 13%. 17%. 25%. pay someone else only knowing their messaging apps like WhatsApp and GAPORE BRANDS 2017 PayNow (USD millions) rather than having to phone number, Carousell to send money instantly. To enables (USD millions) © Brand Finance know their full bank account details. ensure safety, UOB MyKey requires customers 10 10 7 8 9 4 5 This is Singapore’s fourth bankthe sender to input a one-time to use their backed payment service and was password in confirming the transfer mobile AND MOST MOST IMPROVED BRANDBRAND IMPROVED MOST IMPROVED BRAND unveiled by the Association of Banks of funds. There are some limits with numbers (by brand strength) (by absolute value)inBrand (by brand strength) Singapore. The Seven participating PayNow with a daily cumulative Brand Value Value Rating or NRIC Brand Brand Value ating Rating Rating Brand Value Rating Rating Value Rating Rating Brand Value Rating Brand Value A+ Rating AAAA+ AAA+ banks – Citibank, DBS/PSOB, transfer limit $1,000, but it is a AAnumbers when AA+ AA A+ AA+(78) BV/EV V/EV BV/EV 1,102 1,003 BV/EV 1,516 BV/EV BV/EV AA+(78) 1,003Standard BV/EV 1,080Maybank, HSBC, OCBC, major new addition to the Singapore facilitating fund BV/MC BV/EV 2,625 BV/EV 2,833 30%. 13%. 5%. 8%. 25%. 13%. 25%. Chartered, and UOB – answered to banking landscape. 16%. 11%. transfers. 17%. the call of consumers hungry for a m (USD millions) (USD millions) nce US$857m AA- (68) PayNow vs other payment mechanisms faster and more convenient methodAA- (68) 10 9 of funds transfer. Payment type Receipt of Payments The service runs through Fast And PayNow Uses mobile number and /or Singapore HIGHEST INTANGIBLE VALUE ROWTH OVED BRANDBRAND Secure Transfers, a service launched IMPROVED IMPROVED BRAND HIGHEST INTANGIBLE VALUE HIGHESTMOST RANKING GROWTH NRIC/FIN (BV/EV ratio) h) value) in March 2014 and is now being(BV/EV used ratio) lute (bygrowth) brand strength) (with positive Almost immediate, 24x basis Rating Brand Value Rating Brand Value Rating by 19 banks in Singapore. However, A+ A+ AAAA+unlike (78) using FAST, PayNow does FAST Requires Bank Name and Account Number BV/EV BV/EV 1,003 BV/EV 1,080 not require customers to key in the 8%. 13%. Almost immediate, 24x7 basis 25%. bank name and account number Brand Value/Enterprise Value Cheque to 2 working days US$857m es the person they are sending the Brand Value/EnterpriseUp Value (USD millions)AA- of (68) 27 places 79% money to. With PayNow, they are Interbank GIRO 79% Up to 3 working days Source: Brand Finance only required to supply the mobile Source: Association of Banks in Singapore ANGIBLE VALUE HIGHEST INTANGIBLE VALUE ST RANKING GROWTH MOST IMPROVED BRAND
Full ranking: brandirectory.com (BV/EV ratio) sitive Contact us: email@example.com 12 SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017 (by growth) brand strength)
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FreightKart speeds up shipments
aper trails and rubber stamps, these are just some of the traditional requisites of shipments that FreightKart wants to do away with. As a startup at the core of shipping and logistics solutions, the group aims to change customers’ perceptions about dealing with shipping services. “We live in an extremely fastpaced world, where everything is expected to be intuitive and real-time, otherwise you lose your audience,” says Abbas Vakharia, CEO & Founder, FreightKart. “Currently, shipping services are perceived to be slow, unattractive and confusing. FreightKart
wants to change all that and become the go-to shipping solutions provider - a few clicks and you have all the answers.” FreightKart is the only company which has a real time, end-to-end portal which allows a customer to pose a query, compare price points and services, make a booking and do required payments online. Freightkart intends to address three very important issues: Convenience, short response times and competitive prices, along with other features such as online documentation, cargo insurance and cargo tracking. All these services will be delivered to the customer via a feature rich dashboard which the customer can access on any mobile device, shares Vakharia. The development of the complete product had been bootstrapped initially. Six months ago, FreightKart was chosen as one of the eight teams to represent muru-D Singapore’s second cohort. muru-D is the startup accelerator backed by telecommunications and media company Telstra. “That brought in much needed funding, giving us a decent runway and allowing us time to hit the market with an end-to-end, fully transaction-ableproduct,” he shares.
soCash raises second round of US$600,000
Fintech startup soCash has raised an additional US$600,000 to expand its network of shops who can dispense cash to customers relieving them of the need to visit an ATM Machine. This round comes on top of the $325,000 raised at launch and was from angel investors. Because of local bank restrictions which limit non-domestic banks to just 16 ATM machines, SIngapore has always been a tough place to find a spot to withdraw cash. Popular entertainment areas like Club Street are hundreds of metres away from an ATM, so adding merchants who can dispense cash can solve a convenience problem. SoCash works by having a user
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
state the amount of cash he wants on the app, which starts scanning for available merchants in the vicinity. Once a merchant accepts the request, a map pops up on the app to guide him to the merchant. The user and the merchant have to use their phones to carry out an authentication test before the money can change hands. Once the user receives the cash, the bank will transfer the money from the user’s account to the merchant’s. SoCash gets commission from the bank but the exact amount remains undisclosed. So far the company has 700 outlets in Singapore with plans for 5000 and with the latest round of funding hopes to expand to Indonesia, Malaysia and India. CEO Hari Sivan says soCash is now working on its institutional round and notes that it was the first fintech start-up backed by MAS under its Financial Sector Technology & Innovation Scheme with a grant of SGD 200,000.
Fintech startup StashAway secures $4.08m funding
Former senior Citibanker Francis Rozario is the main funder of new robo-advisor on the block StashAway, which aims to disrupt the traditional financial advisor model by allowing customers to interact directly with an AI powered computer to sort out investment options rather than a highly paid human. Just like a human, but with lower fees, StashAway analyses an individual’s financial assets, investment time horizon, and risk preferences. “StashAway brings a sophisticated investment framework to everyone, irrespective of their net worth, without any minimum balance, and at a transparent low fee,” said Michele Ferrario, co-founder and CEO, StashAway. The startup recently secured a $4.08m funding, $780,000 of which is seed by the co-founders and a few angels, and $3.3m from pre-series A, led by Francis Rozario. Rozario is chairman of Asia Capital and Advisors, where he is joined on the board by other heavyweights Matthew Welch, who was formerly managing director of financial institutions at Temasek, and fellow Temasek alumnus Shao Ming. “Unlike traditional financial advisors, the internal algorithms build and manage global, customised portfolios of highly diversified, low-cost ETFs across asset-classes, while putting an emphasis on risk management by incorporating deep analysis of economic cycles in order to to navigate its ups and downs and maximise long-term returns,” Ferrario said. Unique selling points Ferrario said StashAway’s founders established the company as a result of dissatisfaction with traditional investment options available, and so they made the investment platform that they wanted for themselves. Those attributes are reflected in StashAway’s unique selling points. For instance, no minimum balance means that customers can invest $1, $100, or $1,000,000, once or every day. “Traditional options often require large minimum balances that prevent some people from investing until they are older with more savings. Our approach allows anyone to start investing and building their wealth. Experienced investors that manage significant portfolios will appreciate the sophistication of the investment framework, detailed in a white paper published on StashAway’s website, and could take advantage of the very cost-efficient platform to manage the liquid part of their portfolio,” said Ferrario. Fees range from 0.2% and 0.8% and there are no minimum balance, and unlimited withdrawals.
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Economy watch services – particularly finance and insurance. However, broad services activity decelerated sharply in 2016. “Although the recent upturn in the manufacturing sector should pass through to some externally oriented services providers, domestic services continue to see weak growth, reflecting a weakening labour market in recent quarters,” he said.
Singapore has been reporting robust growth numbers so far this year
Why wages are flatlining even as the economy picks up Analysts expect Singapore to sustain its strong-growth stride into the second half of the year after first-quarter growth clocked in at a solid 2.7%.
general understanding of economics holds that as an economy recovers, wages and incomes should likewise get a boost. But in a curious twist, Singapore’s economy is starting to recover yet wage growth is actually falling behind the previous two years. What this means at this stage is unclear, and it has only been a quarter of bad news on the wages front, but workers may end up being more vulnerable as the Singapore economy continues to move away from labour intensive industries like retail. Wage growth had been elevated in Singapore, settling between 3-4%yoy in the past two years before dropping to 1.9%yoy in Q1 2017. This is not news workers want to hear, but according to Deutsche Bank economist Diana del Rosario, a skills mismatch in line with the ongoing economic transition is likely to place upward pressure on the unemployment rate and consequently weigh on consumer sentiment. As noted in our story on retail in this issue of SBR, employment in the sector continues
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Wage growth had been elevated in Singapore, settling between 3-4%yoy in the past two years before dropping to 1.9%yoy in Q1 2017.
to fall and may be exacerbated with the recent arrival of Amazon Now. The other labour intensive sector of the economy, construction, also remains in contraction. The government has recently awarded contracts to quicken the pace of building major new rail lines so there may be some hope for new jobs for hard hatted and fluorescent vest wearing workers. HSBC economist Joseph Incalcaterra noted that in recent years, growth in Singapore was driven primarily by services – both domestically oriented and tradable
Sluggish domestic conditions Singapore really has become a two speed economy. The improvement in exports does not pass through to the domestic economy as it did in the past. “As a result, domestic conditions remain relatively sluggish – in particular, private consumption – further hindered by a large stock of household debt and still-deteriorating labour market conditions,” he added. If there was fear that Singapore’s growth momentum would falter considerably as it approaches the yearend finish line, then one look at the strong electronics sector should help allay some of this apprehension. Analysts expect Singapore to sustain its strong-growth stride into the second half of the year after first-quarter growth clocked in at a solid 2.7%, underpinned by stable manufacturing output and an improving external economic environment. However, speed bumps remain on the horizon that could hinder Singapore’s resurgence in 2017: weak China growth, subdued private consumption, and a beaten-up biomedical manufacturing sector.
Unemployment moved higher in 2016 and seems to have stablished in H1 2017
Source: CEIC, HSBC
FIRST The Analysts’ call
Will IHH’s foreign expansion backfire?
No way but out for IHH Healthcare
IHH Healthcare rolls out billion-dollar expansion as local growth heads south
ggressive expansion is the name of the game for IHH Healthcare with its new hospitals in China as its new keys to growth, but analysts caution that profits will come at a steep price. The Singapore-listed hospital operator is wooing wealthy Chinese patients by launching three swanky new facilities worth over US$1.1b in mainland China over the next three years, which closely follows the opening of its 500bed multi-specialty hospital in Hong Kong in March this year. Foreign expansion has always been its weapon of choice to counter shrinking
Whilst we view these expansions positively, we expect start-up costs to crimp earnings growth in the near to mid-term. profits at home. Whilst analysts believe that its ongoing foray into China will be successful in the long run, they also caution that the group’s return on equity will be adversely impacted by long gestation periods following the huge initial capex to purchase prime land and build state-ofthe-art hospitals. “Whilst we view these expansions positively, we expect start-up costs to crimp earnings growth in the near
to mid-term. Typically, we estimate new hospitals to take an average of 18-24 months’ runway before reaching breakeven level,” noted Thai Wei Ying and Andrew Chow, analysts at UOB Kay Hian. Battling the medical tourism slump IHH’s Singapore operations used to be buttressed by robust medical tourism, but the group can no longer rely on foreign patients as competitive pressures from neighbouring ASEAN countries grow. Instead, UOB Kay Hian expects the group’s local growth to be driven by Singapore patients. “We expect patient growth to stem largely from local patients, underpinned by favourable demographic trends such as ageing demographics as well as rising income levels. Given that the number of lower-margin local patient growth is expected to outpace that of higher-margin international patients, we expect revenue intensity growth to soften in Singapore,” said UOB Kay Hian. Given this unfavourable backdrop, it’s no wonder that IHH is seeking greener pastures abroad to drive growth. “Most healthcare players have started more aggressive overseas expansion since 2014. Most Singapore players have built a widely-recognised brand name among the locals and medical tourists, from many years of delivering good quality healthcare,” explained John Cheong, analyst at Maybank Kim Eng. “Notable projects include IHH’s acquisitions of two hospital groups in India.”
Thai Wei Ying and Andrew Chow, UOB Kay Hian We like IHH for its resilient operations in key home markets across Singapore, Malaysia, and Turkey, whilst new ventures in growth markets such as Hong Kong, China, and India will provide growth impetus for the next 5-10 years. With private hospital operators embarking on aggressive overseas expansions, we believe near-term earnings will be hampered by expansion costs. Using IHH’s Singapore operations as a benchmark, we note that despite relatively strong growth in patient load, quarterly revenue intensity growth has been on a decline since 2013. Whilst quarterly growth used to track an average of 5% yoy between 2013-14, it has declined to the level of 1-2% yoy between 2015-16, which we estimate to be the normalised level going forward. Whilst we remain positive on the long-term growth strategy of RMG and IHH, we believe mid to near-term growth outlook will be hampered by elevated expansion cost. John Cheong, Maybank Kim Eng IHH is a proxy to the premium healthcare space in countries with rapidly growing demand. It is a healthcare leader in the premium hospital segment with a strong brand name. IHH has strong track record of building up operations in markets lacking medical-pricing regulations and targets to scale up in markets where demand for premium healthcare is rapidly growing. IHH’s home markets include Singapore, Malaysia, Turkey, and India, whilst its key markets are Hong Kong and China. To sustain future growth, it has more than 3,000 new beds (+30%) in its pipeline. New Gleneagles Hong Kong (500 beds) in 1Q17 should contribute in the medium term. Beyond 2020, China and India should lead growth. The Hong Kong hospital, which started operations in March 2017, is ramping up progressively and startup costs have been kept within expectation. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
INDUSTRY INSIGHT: BANKING
Singapore banks get their own Siri
The banks’ chatbots will see you now The next time you are looking to talk with a banker, you may just end up being redirected to an online chatbot. Here’s a rundown of Singapore bank’s bots – OCBC’s Emma and DBS POSB’s dVA.
our correspondent tried Emma and whilst she could answer simple questions like “can I get a home loan,” when questions got a bit more complex, one was directed to contact a mortgage specialist. Perhaps the best way to describe OCBC’s chatbot is as an interactive FAQ, which saves the reader time to read through a whole list of questions. Nevertheless, simple as it may be, the use of chatbots to
Emma has responded to over 39,000 queries
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Emma has responded to over 39,000 queries from 5,400 chat sessions with 11% converting to $30m in loans.
save bankers’ and clients’ time in answering repetitive questions is in its infancy and will only grow in the coming months and years. Since OCBC launched Emma in early January, Emma has responded to over 39,000 queries from 5,400 chat sessions with 11% converting to $30m in loans. Pranav Seth, OCBC Bank’s head of e-business, business transformation and fintech and innovation group, said Emma is able to help customers determine how much they can borrow to purchase a property by asking the same questions a Mortgage Specialist would. “When computing affordability for a home loan or giving a step-by-step guide on applying for a renovation loan, ‘Emma’ can do so within its chat window. This way, ‘Emma’ will not need to direct the consumer to a separate website, where they have to sieve out the information,” he said. Other functionalities include a
Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) calculator and it employs a narrowing down technique to understand the query better. Seth revealed that it took three months for Emma to be fully-trained to address all possible questions asked by consumers about home and renovation loans. Creation of the bots DBS’s chatbot efforts are through POSB Bank’s dVA (digital Virtual Assistant) which is only on its Facebook page. Customers can enquire about the bank’s products and services like locating nearby ATMs or knowing the opening hours of a certain branch just by sending quick message using the Facebook Messenger app. DBS Bank head of consumer banking group Jeremy Soo said this is especially useful given that the bank is already serving close to 5 million consumers who demand seamless customer experience across platforms. “We
industry insight: BANKING
DBS Bank is serving 5 million consumers
know that our customers are spending time conversing on their favourite mobile messaging apps, and we are immersing ourselves in the customer journey by making it easier and more convenient for them to engage us. Customers can also soon look forward to conducting their banking transactions via this service,” he said. Buddy’s birth Whilst OCBC does not yet have a chatbot that can answer general banking inquiries like DBS, it has instead developed Singapore’s first HR Mobile App for its employees. The app includes an AI-powered chatbot named Buddy that is integrated with the Bank’s human resources information system. OCBC Bank senior vice president for group operations and technology Praveen Raina says Buddy can be asked a range of HR-related questions including mandatory leave requirements or status of an expense claim. “The HR app, which ‘Buddy’ is a part of, was launched on 23 May 2017 for Singapore employees. It actually came about from internal feedback. Our colleagues shared that they wanted to be able to access HR information and perform HR-related matters without having to contact the HR team or be seated at their desks,” he explains. The development of the chatbots took some time especially POSB’s dVA, which took developers 11,000 hours to train. Since September 2016, POSB trained dVA with actual questions and responses taken from the bank’s customer centre. The team has put up an annotation team to
ensure that responses are kept valid and succinct. It also has learning abilities that makes it able to respond more accurately. OCBC’s Emma was developed by the home loans team and startup CogniCor, one of the firms under OCBC Bank’s FinTech accelerator programme. The startup specialises in chatbot solutions and, together with OCBC Bank’s expertise and knowledge in the home and renovation loans business, both teams were able to develop a customised chatbot through a rigorous programming and testing process. Buddy took a shorter time before it was rolled out. Raina says it was developed by in-house team of five mobile developers in collaboration with the HR team. Both the HR app and the chatbot were completed within two months. “This efficiency can be attributed to the team’s adoption of the Agile project management approach, which gave them the flexibility to continuously improve and respond to changes or feedback instead of following fixed processes,” he adds. Bots’ future Technology firm Juniper Network reckons that chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8b per annum by 2022 globally, up from $20m this year. By 2022, banking and healthcare services utilising bots can expect average time savings of just over 4 minutes per enquiry, which equates to average cost savings in the range of $0.50 to $0.70 per interaction. The author of the Juniper report,
Lauren Foye, says “The advantages are that chatbots can save time, both for consumers and for customer service operatives, with many interactions streamlined to be instant, and thus far more efficient than traditional phone enquiries.” She adds, “With the programmes now being quickly rolled-out via messaging and social media platforms the potential audience for these bots is significant. In addition, use alongside social media means that acquired user data can provide targeted and personalised offerings, greatly enhancing customer engagement.” Addressing the riskss Foye also notes that the major risk in the usage of this technology will be in its capabilities and success. “Should they prove incapable of answering basic consumer questions then users will become frustrated and will likely avoid using the programmes in future,” she says. Being one of the chatbot pioneers in the financial industry, OCBC’s Seth sees the ability to learn on the job as a critical part of the technology’s improvement. “Majority of tech giants are already investing considerable amount of money into building chatbots and we are certain that one or two universally-accepted brand/form of chatbot will dominate the market. Currently, majority of chatbots work on a text-based conversation, but we are certain that the future of chatbots lies in their ability to converse with the user verbally. This will allow for more personal conversations and more tailored responses from the chatbots,” he says.
Customers can locate nearby ATMs through a digital virtual assistant
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
FINANCIAL INSIGHT: IPO
Deal #1:HRnetGroup Limited had the largest IPO with the highest funds raised at $174m.
Deal #2: The NetLink Trust deal is largest since IHH Healthcare Bhd’s US$2b listing in 2012.
Why 2017 could be a blockbuster year Singapore’s IPOs for the first half of this year raised US$329m, and analysts expect the volume of IPO funds raised by the end of 2017 to surpass 2016 levels. Find out more about the nine IPO deals closed so far this year.
ingapore’s status as one of the powerhouse financial and business hubs in Asia Pacific is helping the country’s IPO and equities industries close out the year in record fashion despite a comparatively laggard first half. Industry experts and observers share their insights and analysis on what transpired in Singapore’s IPO and equities industries in the first half of 2017, what can be expected in the rest of the year, as well as the kinds of challenges and opportunities for the two sectors along the way. Singapore, Southeast Asia’s richest country in terms of per capita income, remains one of Asia Pacific’s biggest and most vibrant economies and markets for IPOs and equities. With the country’s long-standing strong economic fundamentals and financial policies, experts remain bullish that Singapore will continue its strong start in the first half of 2017 for IPOs and equities. Singapore’s IPOs for the first half of this year raised $450m (US$329m), according to the latest data and figures from PwC Singapore. The volume of IPO funds raised by the end of 2017 is also projected to surpass 2016 levels with a number of IPO deals expected to be closed in the coming months (before the end of the calendar year). There were nine IPO deals — for both domestic and overseas stock markets — closed in the first half of this year, including one business trust transaction. If including one registration and three lodgements made in the first six months of 2017, IPO fund-raising is expected to hit $3.03b 20
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Singapore’s IPOs for the first half of this year raised $450m (US$329m), according to the latest data and figures from PwC Singapore.
during the period, according to data from Deloitte. This is the highest figure since 2013 for Singapore IPOs. “We are seeing a great start to the IPO activity this year,” said Dr Ernest Kan, deputy managing partner (markets) for Deloitte Singapore. “If we take into consideration the one registration and three lodgements as of 30 June, we are seeing unprecedented level of funds raised since 2013. This performance reinforces positive investor sentiments for Singapore’s equity market.” Major deals The nine IPOs in the first six months of 2017 have a total approximate capitalisation of $2.14b, according to data from Deloitte. Eight company IPOs raised $310m with $1.7b market capitalisation, whilst the one Business Trust transaction on the SGX mainboard raised $154m in proceeds and $440m in market capitalisation. In comparison, despite 2016 having only seven IPOs in its first half, in terms of overall value, the first six months of last year had a bigger market capitalisation of $2.24b. “Asian IPOs including Singapore have done well so far and are expected to outperform 2016,” said Khong Choun Mun, chief executive officer of RHT Capital. “The strong momentum achieved in the first half of 2017 is expected to continue for the rest of 2017.” Some of the major deals in the Singapore IPO and equities market are classified as a Catalist listing, a
FINANCIAL INSIGHT: IPO sponsor-supervised listing platform for fast growing local and international companies initiated by SGX. Of the nine IPOs, seven were Catalist listings which raised $125m funds with US$804m in market capitalisation, compared to the five registered last year with $55m funds raised and $250m in market capitalisation. For the two main SGX Mainboard listings, the largest IPO was HRnetGroup Limited with the highest funds raised at $174m and market capitalisation of $867m, followed by Dasin Retail Trust which raised $154m with a market capitalisation of $440m. Fibre network owner NetLink NBN Trust announced its initial public offering (IPO) price at $0.81 per unit. The offering price values the market capitalisation of the trust at about $3b. The $2.3b IPO is also the biggest in Singapore since 2011 when Hutchison Port Holdings Trust raised $7.6b, and the second largest IPO in Asia this year after the listing of Netmarble Games Corp in South Korea. The NetLink Trust deal will “change the discourse/ sentiment on Singapore IPOs for 2017,” according to Romaine Jackson, head of Southeast Asia at Dealogic, with the transaction being the “sixth largest flotation in Singapore history and the largest since IHH Healthcare Bhd’s US$2b listing in July 2012. If the deal goes well, it will positively impact investor sentiment.” This sentiment is echoed by Tham Tuck Seng, capital markets leader at PwC Singapore. He says that although Singapore’s first half of 2017 IPO volume lagged behind 2016 figures of the same period in terms of fund raised, he expects the full year 2017 volume to surpass that of 2016 with the listing of NetLink Trust leading the way.” In terms of sectors, SGX’s traditional strengths in Real Estate Industrial Trusts (REITs) and business trusts, also comprised a significant portion of the country’s IPO proceeds for the first half of 2017 at 33%, after professional services at 41%. Singapore integral to Asia Pacific drive Asia Pacific, with its size and the stellar economic growth of its countries over the past few years, remains the biggest and most significant region in terms of growth and development in the IPO and equities markets in the first half of 2017. With the region headlining the strongest first half rally in nearly a decade, the global IPO market saw proceeds reach US$83.4b — a 90% rise from the same period last year — with the number of deals also rising
Khong Choun Mun
Mohamed Nasser Ismail
Top exchanges for cross-border IPOs Romaine Jackson
Source: Baker McKenzie
Tham Tuck Seng
significantly by 70% to 772 registered IPOs compared to the first half of 2016, according to data by Ernst & Young. Of this record figure, the Asia Pacific region accounted for 61% or 468 IPO deals and 44% or US$37b of all proceeds of the global IPO market — this is the highest first half of activity for the region since 2002. This is a remarkable development despite the continuous uncertainty. “Asia Pacific’s position as the leading center of IPO activity is unlikely to be challenged through the remainder of 2017 with Greater China leading the way,” said Max Loh, EY’s ASEAN and Singapore managing partner, adding that the region’s sustained growth and development momentum underpinned by stable fundamentals have continuously painted a positive economic and financial outlook over the years. He added that across ASEAN, investor confidence is strengthening due to the growth of the global and Southeast Asian economies. “The Singapore Exchange (SGX) is likely to lead the IPO pipeline for Southeast Asia in the second half of 2017, being well-positioned as a platform for growth, alongside Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines.” Challenges, opportunities However, it’s not always rainbows and butterflies for the Singapore IPO and equities landscapes, at least, for this year as some challenges in the horizon are looming. Jackson describes that there is some sort of drought in IPOs in Singapore given the “lack of liquidity in the market outside of REIT issuances” which drives investor sentiments to be “ultra-conservative when compared to Hong Kong.” “Deal flow is down year on year, with no jumbo deals (more than US$1b) so far this year. This will change with NetLink’s IPO (largest deal in 5 years). Listing rules may be deterring foreign listing in Singapore. There are also concerns that Singapore is losing its appeal as a regional fundraising hub,” the Dealogic official added. Another challenge that the Singapore IPO and equities landscape is facing is the increasing global competition for potential listings. Dr Kan shares that some companies are looking at other bourse operators or are being invited by them. “Other bourse operators are actively inviting potential listing candidates to list on their stock exchange,” he shared. Some examples include the London-based NEX Exchange being in Singapore for the “NEX Exchange Asia Roadshow 2017” in February of this year, and the Tokyo Stock Exchange hosting an IPO seminar targeting “high-quality tech companies” in June. As part of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) Spotlight Series in 2014, the ASX has also held ASX Spotlight Investor Conferences in a few countries, including Singapore twice each year. Dr Kan also shares some local companies who are heading (or are considering) to overseas exchanges. This includes Singapore based tech startup Sea (formerly Garena) in the business of online gaming and e-commerce mobile shopping and payment services which is planning an IPO in New York to raise around $1b Osim International, which operates 172 stores SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
FINANCIAL INSIGHT: IPO in mainland China, 35 in Hong Kong, and 26 stores in Singapore, officially delisted from SGX in April and is preparing an IPO in Hong Kong as V3 Group, described as an Asian luxury group in the lifestyle and wellness markets. But experts remain firm about Singapore IPO and equities industries to bounce back and retain its appeal as frontrunner in both sectors, with the SGX and the government continuing to design and implement policies to keep up with the times and trend — particularly in terms of technology. “There should be greater investment liquidity in the second half of 2017, which will be good news for companies that are planning to go public,” Loh says. “The SGX is making efforts to help local technology companies access the capital market, and this should drive IPO transactions in the near future.” This is echoed by Dr Kan, saying that SGX’s active engagement with technology startups and small and medium-sized enterprises in terms of attracting investment from private and public capital markets to support their expansion will make for a good future for Singapore IPOs and equities. PwC’s Seng added that “SGX continues to be the preferred destination for raising debts given its less complicated compliance structure for debt listing and fast approval.” But as markets in the region become more sophisticated, competition will get more intense. Outlook “Singapore has seen a flurry of equity markets activities with several Singapore related companies listing on the SGX and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange,” said Marcus Chow, corporate partner at Bird & Bird TMD. “The next 12 months look sanguine and we are optimistic that conditions for book building will hold.” PwC’s analysis suggests that rising sectors such as consumer and professional services will continue the uptrend with Singapore’s position as one of the main business and financial services centres in the region. Healthcare is also expected to maintain its position as a strong contributor to Singapore IPO and equities industries, while the island state is also expected to remain the choice listing destination for REITs and business trusts with notable interest from Chinese-based real estate players. “We are expecting a strong pipeline of blockbuster listings in the second half of 2017, and coupled with the strong post-IPO performance of the companies listed in the first half of 2017, Singapore’s market is buzzing with excitement,” says Dr Kan. Apart from the country’s traditionally strong fundamentals and stable economic policies helping outlook to remain upbeat, experts are sharing tips on how the Singapore IPO and equities market can stay ahead of the competition and continue its growth momentum. “With Singapore’s pro-business environment and strong fundamentals — such as transparent regulatory regime, international exchange, and relatively quick time to market — Singapore remains a premier location for capital fundraising,” says PwC Singapore’s Seng. “For Singapore to remain ahead of the curve, we must continue to maintain our existing strengths (e.g. REITS and business trusts) and capitalise on new opportunities.” 22
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
We are expecting a strong pipeline of blockbuster listings in the second half of 2017, and coupled with the strong post-IPO performance of the companies listed in [first half of 2017], Singapore’s market is buzzing with excitement.
hong kong view
Upbeat outlook for IPO, equities Hong Kong is likely to remain the region’s leading hub not just for financial and commercial transactions, but also for international fundraising and IPOs. Given this, Hong Kong’s IPO market remained active in the first half of 2017, achieving increases in both number of listings and funds raised. A vibrant market in small to medium-sized IPOs contributed to more-than-double listings and funds raised on the Growth Enterprise Market (GEM) board of the Hong Kong stock exchange. This is despite the economic and political uncertainties around the world.“We credit this to improving the market sentiment and economic conditions, which has also enhanced the quality of Hong Kong’s capital markets,” said Eddie Wong, PwC Hong Kong Capital Markets service partner, in a statement. Record-breaking IPOs PwC forecasts a vibrant IPO market for Hong Kong driven by small and medium-sized enterprises that could result in a record-breaking 150 IPOs over the course of the year. There is still also a chance for some mega-sized IPOs before year-end, making Hong Kong one of the 3 strongest markets globally, with total fundraising of HK$220b. This is echoed by findings and analysis of Baker & McKenzie saying that the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong surpasses London (both Mainboard and AIM), the New York Stock Exchange, and the NASDAQ as the preferred hub for cross-border listings globally. “The second half of 2017 could be more challenging. Market sentiment may be affected by economic and political risk factors around the world,” said Benson Wong, entrepreneur group leader of PwC Hong Kong, in a statement, adding that geopolitical issues, slow global economic recovery, and Brexit can dampen business sentiment. “We also expect a slowdown in IPO activity in mainland China after a spurt of listings in the first half of the year.” He explains, however, that with the Chinese economy still maintaining mid to high-growth, this is “encouraging the development of Chinese companies and increasing demand for fundraising.” The Chinese government’s One Belt, One Road Initiative will also likely to play a big boon to the Hong Kong economy in general.“It is believed that the ability of Hong Kong to allow dual-class shares companies and attract technology firms are the key issues for Hong Kong’s IPO market in the future,” said Winni Chan, Norton Rose Fulbright partner.
Comparison of funds raised of new listings in 2017 (Jan - Jun)
Developers sold 2,962 units in the first quarter
Singapore’s residential property market is sending mixed signals You’d be forgiven for being confused by Singapore’s residential property market.
ome prices are still falling, rents are tumbling, there’s a substantial pipeline of new units in the works and vacancies are near a record high. At the same time, developers are ponying up record prices in hotly contested land sales and this year, en bloc deals – where a developer buys an existing building with plans to demolish and redevelop – have already exceeded 2016’s level. So what gives? Winston Lee, regional head of special projects for property website PropertyGuru and a Singapore landlord said that the market was humming toward an inflection point, just with some notes out of sync. He noted that transaction volumes were rising, with new launches meeting with strong demand. “Usually in a property cycle, in a down-cycle, the indicator of a bounce back does not start with price. It actually starts with the volume,” Lee said. “So that volume
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
That total was up nearly 28 percent from 2,316 units sold in the fourth quarter, the highest take-up rate since 2013
bounce back sent a certain signal and gives a confidence booster to the developers that the market might have a bottomed out.” Developers sold 2,962 units in the first quarter, excluding executive condominiums, which are a unique hybrid of public and private housing for Singaporeans with incomes exceeding public housing limits. That total was up nearly 28 percent from 2,316 units sold in the fourth quarter, the highest take-up rate since 2013, while there were 2,170 resale transactions in the first quarter, up nearly 12 percent from 1,944 in the fourth quarter, government data showed. One recent launch, Park Place Residences, sold its entire phase one, initially set at 40 percent of the 429-unit total before being raised to 50 percent, within a day. Tay Kah Poh, head of residential services at real-estate consultancy Knight Frank, said last week that after
three to four years of slow property sales, potential buyers likely were just tired of waiting on the sidelines. Once the government moved in March to scale back some cooling measures, people jumped on the news, he said. Buyers on the sidelines get antsy To an extent, that mirrors the experience of Singaporean Denis Gan, a chef, who picked up the keys to his public housing flat in January.“Prices are quite reasonable and I found a place I liked,” he said, noting that one key driver of his decision was that he just turned 35 years old, the age at which unmarried people are allowed to buy public housing flats on the secondary market. While he still expected prices would fall further ahead, he didn’t think it mattered for him because he would be living in the apartment and because he wanted to lock in a lower interest rate on a mortgage. Interest
Analysis: PROPERTY Land prices at Potong Pasir / Woodleigh
Source: URA, DBS Bank
rates in Singapore are likely to rise in tandem with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s expected interest rate increases. In May, re-sale prices of publichousing apartments, which are restricted to Singaporeans and some permanent residents, subject to income caps, fell 0.1% on month, but the number of units sold in the secondary market climbed 8.1 percent over the same period, according to data from property website SRX Property. Analysts have noted that many of the new buyers in the market appeared to be end-users, rather than investors. At the same time that sales are rising however, prices continue to flounder. In the first quarter, overall private home prices fell 0.4 percent onquarter, the 14th straight quarter of declines, government data showed. This time around, however, the bulk of the decline was in relatively small landed property segment, while nonlanded prices were steady. Developers will need to do a lot of attracting: At the end of the first quarter, there were nearly 37,000 of uncompleted private units in the pipeline and nearly 16,000 of those haven’t been sold yet, government data showed. The vacancy rate for completed units remained high at 8.1 percent at the end of the first quarter, although it had improved from the 16-year high of 8.9 percent touched in the second quarter of last year. Those are figures that would seem to argue against developers plonking down high amounts for new sites. Instead, land prices were hitting highs, suggesting developers were betting on a price recovery ahead, although some analysts weren’t sure how well that gamble would play out.
Suzie Mok, senior director for investment sales at real-estate services provider Savills, said that’s because developers have largely refrained from buying land since the government introduced cooling measures on the sector, starting from 2011. Land-hungry developers “Developers are very land hungry,” with very little land-banking and very few government land sales set for this year, she said. But Mok also noted that developers were likely to see thin margins, potentially falling below 10 percent, compared with the previously typical double-digit rates. Analysts at Citi estimated that the net margin for the Stirling Road site at around 5 percent. “Such risk-reward could only be justified on an assumption of higher selling prices. However, this assumption may be called into question should the government ramp up land supply in the second half of 2017,” the Citi analysts said in a note last month. However, a representative of Logan Property disputed Citi’s margin estimate, pointing to an alternate analysis suggesting a 20 percent net margin. “We reckon our bid is reasonable given the excellent location and the quality land site,” the representative said via email. Citi expected the government would increase the land supply later this year, given the “ferocity of bidding,” which would also pressure development margins. The average per square foot price for Singapore units sold in May came in at S$1,281, with the upscale Orchard area seeing transactions for uncompleted units at around
At the end of the first quarter, there were nearly 37,000 of uncompleted private units in the pipeline and nearly 16,000 of those haven’t been sold yet.
S$1,967-S$2,283 per square foot, according to data from Squarefoot Research. For another recent en bloc sale, the Rio Casa development was purchased last month by a consortium of developers for S$575 million, which analysts at DBS noted was around 27 percent above the reported asking price. For another recent en bloc sale, the Rio Casa development was purchased last month by a consortium of developers for S$575m, which analysts at DBS noted was around 27 percent above the reported asking price. In a note last month, the DBS analysts estimated that the breakeven price was around S$1,100 per square foot, with the sales price potentially above S$1,300 a square foot, compared with units in surrounding developments trading at S$700-S$1,030 a square foot in the first quarter. Knight Frank’s Tay said investors may expect higher land prices will re-rate the prices of existing properties in the vicinity higher. “Will the market tolerate [the higher prices]? Time will tell,” Tay said. Tenant’s market Analysts expected the ball would remain with tenants, not landlords for some time to come. “As a landlord, I had my good run where I just raised rental every interval, but now I’m getting my payback by having to reduce the rental every renewal,” PropertyGuru’s Lee said. “I still do not see the end of the tunnel,” he said, noting that the government hasn’t been allowing as much immigration into the city-state with the segment of the market’s renters who are Singaporean “definitely not big.” By Leslie Shaffer, senior writer at CNBC
Most popular investment destinations for residential land in Asia Pacific
Sources: Real Capital Analytics, Knight Frank Research
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
ANALYSIS: ASIAN DEMOGRAPHICS
Who will drive consumption in Asia in the next 10 years?
Making money from Asian demographics In the coming years, the engine of growth in retail and consumption in Asia will be the empty nesters, usually between 40-64 years old, with the most money to spend for healthcare, travel, and trade.
hen it comes to consumption in Asia, we find that it’s not the younger, tech-savvy people that are the engine of growth, but the older, affluent empty nesters who no longer have dependent children, especially in China. We also argue that markets, such as India and Indonesia, should see very fast growth in online shopping trends, faster even than China, while marriage trends are
As their children have left to make their own living, these empty nesters now have more money to spend.
China consumer spending (USD bn) is increasing, especially in high income brackets
Sources: Global Demographics, HSBC
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
already changing the way people shop in countries, such as Korea. The combination of these demographic trends, some of which are unique to Asia, would have a significant impact on industries and listed companies across the region. Life starts at 40 Spending and savings patterns tend to change after the age of 40, especially for people whose children have flown the nest. This is a fast growing phenomenon in Asia and we highlight how the ranks of such empty nesters are expanding, especially in China. Healthcare spending tends to start to rise after 40. Thus, healthcare growth is not just determined by how many old people there are in a country, but more importantly by the number of people who are celebrating their 40th birthday every year. This is actually happening at a faster pace in relatively young populations, such as in India. Marriage or living
(almost) alone Fertility rates tend to decline, as incomes rise in Asia. This is partly because women start to marry later. As a result, one notable trend that we have seen is an increase in the proportion of one or two-erson households, especially in Korea, Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. In Korea, singleperson households continue to grow at a faster rate than two-person households. Empty nesters with money to spend There are several demographic trends across Asia – ranging from urbanization rates to marriage trends and household composition – which are proving to be important to equity investors. The first of these is the rise of the empty nesters, a trend that is of particular relevance in China. At heart of the rise of the empty nesters in China is a combination of low dependency ratios and growing urban affluence. Empty nesters are usually between 40 and 64 years old
Analysis: ASIAN DEMOGRAPHICS Population turning 40 the next decade (age between 30-39 of 2015)
in India will go hand in hand with trends in the telecom sector, such as data subscriber growth and digital payments. This would convert more consumers to online shoppers. Government policies supporting the development of public Wi-Fi, accelerating the Bharat Net broadband project, and facilitating last-mile fibre deployment could boost data coverage, particularly in rural markets. Digital payments are also a critical driver of e-commerce. We think demonetization should help too, as will policies incentivizing cashless transactions, and enhanced security for online transactions.
Healthcare spending is still low compared to the developed world – 5% of GDP vs 10% in Japan and 17% in the US.
Sources: World Bank, HSBC
and had children at a relatively young age, and their sons or daughters were the focus of their spending prior to them leaving home. They have usually already substantially paid off their mortgages and purchased big-ticket household items, such as cars, washing machines and flat screen TVs. As their children have left to make their own living, these empty nesters now have more money to spend, and as a result are trading up in their purchases and becoming more brand conscious. They are also spending more on their homes; they want better kitchens and air conditioners or new tiles for the bathroom. Single-person households One key demographic change that is happening in countries, such as Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea, is the increase in the proportion of oneor two-person households. Fewer marriages mean more Koreans are now more likely than ever to be living alone, while fewer births is raising the proportion of older people in the country’s population. This impacts the structure of the retail market. With a rising proportion of one-person households in these markets, demand for so-called ready meals is on the rise. Healthcare, yoga and empty nests When it comes to growth in healthcare industries, we should look at the young markets, as this is where the group of 40-year olds is growing fastest. Markets, such as Indonesia and India, should therefore see a rise in healthcare spending in the years ahead. The combination of these two separate dynamics – a fast rise in 40-year olds in India and affluent
empty nesters in China – should have a very significant impact on trends in healthcare spending. In emerging Asian markets, healthcare spending is still low compared to the developed world – c5% of GDP vs 10% in Japan and 17% in the US. However, the gap is closing. All Asian markets have seen at least doubledigit growth in healthcare spending as a percentage of GDP over the last two decades,with Korea and Thailand leading the way. Escapism travel and exploration While there are now many more Indonesian and Indian travellers on the move, it’s the Chinese that dominate travel across the region. They heavily influence the travel and retail scene across Asia, particularly Hong Kong, Macau, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. These markets account for about three-quarters of the total made by Chinese travellers last year, and trips were up 4.5% in 2016. To stimulate tourism, Australia made 2017 the “China-Australia travel year”, while countries such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Cambodia are among those to have seen an uptick in arrivals after easing visa restrictions. But the nature of travel is changing, both in terms of how people travel and how they book their trips. The big shift online As countries prosper and GDP per capita rises, internet use is becoming more widespread. What’s interesting is that while internet usage rises very fast initially as income levels grow from low levels, this growth starts to taper off at higher income levels. The development of online retailing
Mobile wallets and e-finance Earlier in this report, we mentioned the rapid rise in internet users across the region, especially as GDP per capita rises. So, while the use of the internet can increase, the actual penetration of the internet is already high in Asia. The World Bank estimates that in 2014 more than 90% of the population in most Asian countries had access to the internet, often via a mobile phone. Indonesia is the exception where this ratio stands at 74% (2014). One way to better use the available internet infrastructure is to foster the use of digital payments and online transactions. Aside from payments and money transfers, other financial services are growing as well. E-finance is about cultivating new markets, not competing with largebanks. From “Making money from Asian demographics,” HSBC Global Research Equity Strategy Asia by Herald van der Linde and Devendra Joshi, June 2017 High internet penetration but fewer digital payments
Sources: World Bank, HSBC
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
DBS built the 16,000-sq. ft. DBS Asia X for fintechs in 2016
Singapore’s biggest banks don new digital weapons From HR mobile apps to online payroll, banks are in a digital arms race.
n June, OCBC Bank was the next to land a blow that would likely leave its rivals reeling: the fifthlargest bank in Singapore launched a human resources (HR) mobile application, the first in the country powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and designed to take staff productivity to new heights. The mobile app was also the latest in a growing armoury of digital initiatives forged by Singapore’s biggest banks to garner stakeholder applause and amass glorious profits. Go big or go home appears to be the battle cry of Singapore banks that want to prevail in the digital banking arena as they strive to build massive innovation spaces, advanced biometrics security features, and convenient online payroll systems. OCBC’s freshest ace in this digital arms race is the HR mobile app, known as HR In Your Pocket. The app enables employees to receive immediate responses to HR-related questions through an AI-powered chatbot, file leave applications, track medical and lifestyle expense reimbursement claims, view internal job postings, and access a bankwide people directory — and that 28
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Go big or go home appears to be the battle cry of Singapore banks that want to prevail in the digital banking arena as they strive to build massive innovation spaces, advanced biometrics security features, and convenient online payroll systems.
is just the starting line up of features. For security, the app allows users to log in securely by using fingerprint recognition through OCBC OneTouch, which leverages on Apple’s Touch ID technology. Productivity boost The next phase of development will integrate HR In Your Pocket with the learning management system so employees can apply for courses and track their learning and development journey. The app will also roll out in OCBC Malaysia by the end of the year. “The app helps to boost productivity as it frees up resources and time that could be used for other purposes,” says Praveen Raina, senior vice president, group operations & technology at OCBC Bank. “We recognise that in this digital age, everyone has come to expect instant gratification — everything is just a click away. It is the same for this app. We made sure that it is comprehensive and user friendly so our colleagues have the HR information they need at their fingertips 24/7.” “The internal feedback was that our apps for customers are innovative
and useful, so we thought: ‘Why not channel our bank’s digital capabilities and technological expertise into developing intuitive and easy-to-use apps for our employees too?’,” says Jason Ho, head of group human resources at OCBC Bank. “This is all the more apt as mobile phones have become an indispensable gadget for everyone, and the HR app readily complements this modern lifestyle.” Aside from HR In Your Pocket, OCBC Bank has birthed other digital offerings and apps, including an open Application Programming Interface (API) platform, voice biometrics authentication, and an enhanced OCBC Pay Anyone app, which enables Android and iOS smartphone users to pay merchants through QR codes and quickly transfer money. Startup culture and mindset For DBS Bank, which remains the largest bank in Singapore in 2017 with more than 10,000 employees, digitalisation is a ruthless trend that asks banks to choose: Innovate or perish. “Digital disruption continues to force rapid change upon businesses and whole industries, and banking is not immune to this,” says a spokesperson from DBS. “This year, we will further our digital agenda by continuing with the rollout of digibank — a mobileonly bank — pressing ahead with customer journeys and becoming more data-driven.” DBS Bank has reason to be confident in its digital prowess with its robust line up of projects in implementation and in the pipeline. It has been aggressively incorporating digitalisation in its banking operations, leading Asian Banking and Finance to award it with the Digital Banking Initiative of the Year - Singapore distinction at the Retail Banking Awards 2017. The bank is also investing heavily in skills training so its staff can flourish in the digital world. “On the people front, we are re-wiring the organisation to have a startup culture and mindset,” says a DBS spokesperson, pointing out that the bank has run over
RANKING: BANKS to promote integrity, accountability and transparency in the public sector and beyond,” says a Citi Singapore spokesman. The event in Singapore gathered 17 FinTech developers from 8 countries, of which 5 were home-grown talent, and the teams presented their working prototypes to a panel of judges that included top executives from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, payments and technology multinationals, and multinational development organisations. Winners earned US$5.5m in kind and cash. In addition, Citi pushed out the application programme interface (API) Developer Portal last year. This enables developers to rapidly connect with FinTech companies and consumer brands, and build DBS aims to have a startup innovative client solutions in culture and mindset collaboration with the bank. “The banking industry has seen 1,000 experiments since 2015, a number of changes over the last 2 and employees are nurtured to be ‘intrapreneurs.’ “With mentorship and to 3 years particularly with the rapid advancement and adoption of digital funding from the bank, a number technology, and Citi has been at the have established startups whilst forefront of it,” says the spokesman. pursuing their day jobs,” adds DBS’ “Citi has transformed itself both spokesperson. “Our people, through internally in how we operate as well a broad-based digital curriculum, as externally in how we serve our hackathons, incubators and accelerators, and financial technology clients. We have also embarked on partnerships to remain relevant in partnerships, have also embraced key digital ecosystems where our experimentation and innovation.” clients are increasingly active,” the DBS is also matching its spokesman adds. intensive staff training with outsize Another notable digital innovation infrastructure support. Last year from Citi is its voice biometrics the bank constructed the 16,000authentication. More than one sq. ft. DBS Asia X and filled it with project pods and coworking spaces to attract the best and brightest FinTech startups. In return, the bank forges close-knit collaborations with the startups that take residence not only in DBS Asia X but in other similar facilities across Asia. Cutting-edge solutions Not to be left behind, Citi Singapore launched the global competition known as the Tech for Integrity Challenge (T41) to partner with the future movers and shakers in digital and financial innovation. Citi Singapore, which remains the second-largest bank in the country this year, held the T41 Demo Day in June where technology innovators displayed their “cutting-edge solutions
The banking industry has seen a number of changes over the last 2 to 3 years particularly with the rapid advancement and adoption of digital technology.
million of Citi customers in AsiaPacific, including Singapore where the feature was recently implemented, are using voice biometrics authentication. A customer calls contact centres for identity verification instead of remembering passwords or answering multiple questions, reducing the average time spent verifying details to within 15 seconds, or a third of the roughly 45 seconds it previously took through the conventional way, according to the bank’s estimates. Automation and convenience Even relatively smaller banks, such as Malayan Banking (Maybank Singapore), which remains at 10th in this year’s rankings, is also embarking on a digital transformation and collaboration spree. To grow its retail Small and Medium Enterprises (RSME) business, Maybank tied up with Asian Business Software Solutions earlier this year to provide a more convenient online payroll service for customers The bank is faring quite well with a pre-tax profit increase of 43.5% year-on-year in the first quarter even amidst challenges in the Singapore economic outlook — and it reckons efficiency gains from streamlining and digital automation hold the key for growth. “Operating costs also projected to rise further against the backdrop of tightening regulatory requirements,” says a Maybank Singapore representative.“We have embarked on several initiatives to streamline and automate our processes.”
Maybank ties up with a software solutions firm for a more convenient online payroll service
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
RANKING: banks 2017
Number of Employees 2017
Number of Employees 2016
CEO OR Country Head
SIM S LIM
UNITED OVERSEAS BANK
WEE EE CHEONG
STANDARD CHARTERED BANK
OVERSEA-CHINESE BANKING CORP
HONG KONG AND SHANGHAI BANKING CORPORATION*
J.P. MORGAN CHASE & CO.
AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP*
MALAYAN BANKING (MAYBANK SINGAPORE)
DATUK LIM HONG TAT
CIMB BANK BERHAD
MAK LYE MUN
BANK OF CHINA*
CREDIT AGRICOLE CORPORATE AND INVESTMENT BANK
STATE BANK OF INDIA*
SOMA SANKARA PRASAD
BANK OF INDIA
C G CHAITANYA
DILIP KUMAR MRIDHA
DATA PROVIDED BY COMPANIES. SURVEY PERIOD: MAY-JUNE 2017 *DATA RETAINED FROM 2016 REPORT ** ICBC Singapore was ranked 16th in 2016 but we were unable to ascertain employee numbers for 2017
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
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event coverage: BUSINESS CASE STUDIES AWARDS
Business Case Studies Awards 2017 winners
ingapore Business Review again recognised outstanding business solution providers in the city state at the second Business Case Studies Awards. These firms helped their clients achieve greater efficiency with revolutionary solutions aimed at streamlining processes and solving various issues. The nominations were judged based on the following criteria: Uniqueness & Innovation, Effectiveness & Impact, Dynamism, and Client Feedback. The winners were acknowledged at an awards ceremony held on 5 June 2017 at the Sheraton Towers Singapore. Apart from having a Case Study article written and printed in Singapore Business Review, the winners also presented their solutions at the awards ceremony. Singapore Business Review congratulates the following winners: Eu Yan Sang Singapore is the forerunner in producing traditional remedies in convenient formats, introducing improvements such as patented and scientifically proven ingredients and implementing strong quality management. This Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) powerhouse embarked on a trategic partnership with Watsons, as they recognised Watsons’ main customer base of young females who fit perfectly with the target audience of their new product range. They bagged the Health Products Retailing Case Study of the Year. Ingenique Solutions Pte Ltd clinched the Regulatory Technology Case Study of the Year award for their work with SentroWeb-DJ, a customer due diligence screening software for Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). A frontliner in information technologies, Ingenique Solutions aims to enable businesses to run faster, leaner, and better. Founded in 2014, they are committed to helping their clients meet regulatory requirements. Meanwhile, Arrow Electronics Asia (S) Pte Ltd bagged the Digital Supply Chain Management Case Study of the Year Award for their Digital Inventory Management Solution. Arrow Electronics’ digital supply chain system allows clients to issue an order with just one click. This innovation is a game-changer — a quick, reliable, and efficient inventory programme trusted by 125,000 customers worldwide.
Case Studies Presentation 32
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Serene Seow of Eu Yan Sang Singapore
Jeffrey Chin and Martin Lim of Ingenique Solutions Pte Ltd
MM Natarajan of Arrow Electronics Asia (S) Pte Ltd
Case Studies Presentation
Ingenique’s case study presentation
Arrow Electronics Asia (S) Pte Ltd
Ingenique and its clients
Jeffrey Chin of Ingenique Solutions Pte Ltd
Eu Yan Sang Singapore
Arrow Electronicss’ case study presentation
Arrow Electronics and its client Rockwell
Networking opportunities SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Health Products Retailing Case Study of the Year
Ms Serene Seow (right), Managing Director of Eu Yan Sang Singapore, receiving the Most Innovative Beauty Supplement Award, at the Watson Health, Wellness & Beauty Award 2017 ceremony on 24 May 2017
Heritage meets modernity as Eu Yan Sang Singapore teams up with Watsons The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) powerhouse is redefining personal care with its groundbreaking partnership with an international retailer.
u Yan Sang Singapore is boldly ushering in a new era for Traditional Chinese Medicine with its groundbreaking partnership with Watsons Singapore. The widely successful homegrown healthcare brand has teamed up with the international retail chain to deliver the Eu Yan Sang Beauty Essence Range, which combines the time-honed wisdom of Eastern TCM philosophy with proven patented ingredients from the West. “In recent years, we see a growing trend and demand for natural wellness products amongst consumers. In response to this and coupled with Eu Yan Sang Singapore’s understanding of herbs benefits, this sets the foundation for the development and success of products such as the Eu Yan Sang Beauty Essence range. This range which comprises of 3 SKUs which cleanse, slim and firm, was launched in Singapore since September 2016,” says Ms Serene Seow, Managing Director at Eu Yan Sang. Eu Yan Sang Singapore embarked on this strategic partnership with Watsons, as they recognised Watsons’ main customer base of young females who fit perfectly with the target audience of this new product range. It is a perfect platform for Eu Yan Sang Singapore to reach out to a younger audience through a strategic product range and partner. Watsons Singapore likewise, shared favourable thoughts about the partnership. “We are pleased to partner Eu Yan Sang because of the brand’s illustrious history and its strong grip on Singaporean consumers. It is a deeply trusted TCM health brand with a strong loyal base of multi-generation following. Such strong brand image in the area of complementary health solutions offer Watsons more product variety and differentiated solutions to our large customer base,” notes Mr Dominic Wong, General Manager at Watsons Singapore.
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Eu Yan Sang takes pride and great pain in ensuring the quality of its products. All raw material suppliers are carefully sourced and audited, and only herbs of high quality and proper traceability are selected. After a rigorous selection process, these herbs undergo stringent curation by the company’s herb master with decades of experience.
In many aspects, Eu Yan Sang products are the first among its kind.
Age-old solutions for young consumers Eu Yan Sang is the company which uses herb fingerprinting – a laboratory technique which uses the unique solubility profile of any given herb to ascertain authenticity and presence of adulteration if any. On quality management front, Eu Yan Sang is the company with Good Agronomic Practice – tracing and controlling quality from the land for cultivation to herb harvesting, ensuring that herbs produced are of utmost quality and free from pollution. This sets the backdrop for the production of quality products. The Beauty Essence Range boasts products such as the Pure Enzyme Detox Essence, which contains high-strength enzymes and hawthorn extract, which works synergistically with other supplements. The Slender Gold Slimming Essence promotes a 4-in-one action to burn fat, reduce appetite, block sugar and fats absorption and boost metabolism. Lastly, the Crystalite Marine Collagen Essence contains patented ingredients plus high quality collagen that help users to look radiant and beautiful. “At Eu Yan Sang, we are always tapping on our strength in developing high quality and safe herbal products to fulfil the needs of consumers and their expectations,” Ms Seow notes. “For our target audience, Beauty Essence range is an effective and differentiated answer to their health and beauty needs. For both Watsons Singapore and us, this target audience forms a substantial
Health Products Retailing Case Study of the Year customer base with high willingness to invest in themselves.” Success through collaboration Watsons’ one-of-a-kind partnership with Eu Yan Sang has proven to be an impressive source of growth and an important foothold into a new market segment for the international retailer. “As a substantial arm of complementary medicines and health supplement, the potential of TCM is tremendous. Having a well-established player like Eu Yan Sang can help us capture this relatively under-developed segment and in turn will give us a competitive edge,” says Mr Wong, noting that rapid ageing and rising health consciousness will ensure heightened interest in traditional products. The Beauty Essence Range has been a big hit with millennial consumers, and has helped boost revenues for both Eu Yan Sang and Watsons. “The overall category sale has increased, signaling that this range is not another me-too product and has driven additional mileage. Strategically, this product has become a great engagement piece with the target audience comprising of the Millennials for both Watsons and Eu Yan Sang. With heavy use of social media and the increased influence of pop culture, image consciousness among this target audience is certainly on the rise,” Ms Seow notes. Since the launch of the Beauty Essence range, both brands have seen a steep rise in social media interactions from consumers in the 25-40 year old range. Facebook videos received 20 times more views than average, and consumer response to island-wide campaign initiatives has been very positive. “The result of our marketing effort is encouraging. Apart from meeting our expectations in creating product awareness, the initial sales met expectation for both Watsons and Eu Yan Sang. Through our numerous customer engagement platforms, we have received very good feedbacks on the product, its taste and ease of use, attesting to the fact that we are indeed moving in the right direction,” Ms Seow says. “We have jointly worked with Eu Yan Sang to drive speed to market with rapid store penetration and prominent in-store
Ms Serene Seow (3rd from right), Managing Director, Eu Yan Sang Singapore Pte Ltd and Mr Dominic Wong, General Manager of Watsons Singapore (3rd from left), grace the launch event of Eu Yan Sang Beauty Essence Series.
Eu Yan Sang Singapore team behind the innovation of the Beauty Essence series
A cut above the rest
u Yan Sang Singapore is the forerunner in producing traditional remedies in convenient formats (saving consumers long hours of stewing and preparation), introducing improvements such as patented and scientifically proven ingredients and implementing strong quality management. In many aspects, Eu Yan Sang products are first among its kind.
displays,” Mr Wong notes. “The result of the marketing effort has been very encouraging. Apart from meeting our expectations in creating product awareness, the initial sales and income met our expectations. This new product range has also received very favourable feedbacks from our customers.” A Perfect Match The partnership between Eu Yan Sang Singapore and Watsons has proven to be a perfect fit between an innovative product and an ingenious retailer. “Eu Yan Sang’s latest innovative product range resonates well with Watsons’ award-winning branding and this partnership can only strengthen our position as the top MultiBrand Beauty Store and Top Personal Care Store. The Eu Yan Sang Beauty Essence Range with patented ingredients and strong quality control brings strong credibility to support our branding as a market leader,” says Mr Wong. Given the successful launch, both Eu Yan Sang Singapore and Watsons Singapore are looking forward to strengthening their partnership. “Through our commitment and results, Watsons Singapore’s relationship with us has grown stronger. For this first collaboration, we are very pleased to have a good match of products that befit their distribution network and drive the required results,” notes Ms Seow. In the recent two years, Eu Yan Sang Singapore has pushed Complementary Medicine and Health Supplement Retailing to greater heights, in terms of perfecting the customer service experience. Eu Yan Sang Singapore has devoted tremendous amount of resources and time to modernise our retail stores with optimum ambience and comfort for the quintessential shopping experience. Cutting through the TCM jargons and blanket assumption of consumer’s basic level of TCM knowledge, many of our products have undergone face-lift to clearly communicate their functions and instruction for use. For greater convenience, Eu Yan Sang Singapore has stepped up its drive towards Omni Channel. If an island-wide distribution of more than 40 stores is not convenient enough to customers’ liking, customers would be comforted to know that they can purchase their best sellers at Eu Yan Sang Singapore’s expanding network of retail partners, which currently number more than 600 access points. With a few clicks on Eu Yan Sang Singapore e-store, customers would also be able to purchase their products including great gifting ideas and get them delivered on the same day to the location of choice. Eu Yan Sang mission is caring for mankind. It is through this philosophy that they ensure that they excel in all areas, to bring quality natural herbal products, convenience, excellent shopping and good health to their customers. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Regulatory Technology Case Study of the year
in partnership with
SentroWeb-DJ was created to meet new regulations
Ingenique’s cutting-edge screening solution turns due diligence into a breeze
SentroWeb-DJ, which is now used by more than 200 companies, simplifies compliance by bringing a powerful search engine to Dow Jones’ comprehensive database.
hen Singapore rolled out tighter cross-border anti-money laundering guidelines, accounting firms like Prudential Corporate Services and Ardent braced for steeper compliance costs coupled with a substantial increase in their workloads. Stricter regulatory requirements meant longer hours conducting due diligence on clients, a laborious process that sometimes involved manual searches on several sanctions lists and blacklists. “We explored ways in which we can comply with the guidelines and integrate them into our client acceptance procedures so that due diligence checks on all new and existing clients and their principals will be enhanced,” shares Terence Ng, managing partner of Ardent. In their search for a solution to simplify due diligence checks, Terence chanced upon Ingenique Solutions’ trailblazing SentroWeb-DJ system at an accountancy industry event. Consolidated information at a click SentroWeb-DJ is a customer due diligence screening software for Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). The software is a consolidated database of persons and entities known to be involved in global terrorist activities, fugitives wanted by international law enforcement agencies, and politically exposed persons (PEPs). “In the recent years, Singapore regulators like Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), Ministry of Law, and Commissioner of Charities have put in place robust AML/ CFT frameworks for various industries to comply with,” 36
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We are now able to conduct our due diligence checks with a click.
says Jeffrey Chin, director of Ingenique Solutions. “Most of our clients are new to this framework and have a difficult time trying to meet such requirements and also justify an increase in compliance costs. We saw this problem and developed our solution to cater to this compliance need in the most efficient and cost-effective way,” he notes. Ingenique Solutions was founded in 2014 by Jeffrey, who has vast experience in the banking and finance, risk management, and information technology industries. “With the release of new AML/CFT requirements from the regulatory authorities, we saw a great need and opportunity in the area of customer due diligence screening. We put our expertise together to create a useful product to meet the new regulations,” he says. The company’s efforts quickly paid off. SentroWeb-DJ’s simplicity and relative affordability soon caught the eye of firms like Ardent and Prudential Corporate Services. “We now have worldwide information on individuals and corporations at our fingertips and this helps us to determine our risk-rating of the client, even prior to offering our services to the client. We have the confidence of being fully compliant with ACRA’s due diligence requirements due to this service,” notes Priya Ramanujam, managing director of Prudential Corporate Services. She is particularly impressed by SentroWeb-DJ’s ready worldwide database, which captures many persons with political interests and other relevant connections highlighting money laundering and terrorism financing activities. “SentroWeb-DJ has simplified the process of identifying our clients and their activities and connections worldwide.
Regulatory technology case study of the year Previously we had to Google for such information which was very time-consuming leading to exhaustive searches which may not even be relevant. This has helped us to save the valuable commodity of time,” adds Priya. Terence of Ardent is similarly pleased with Ingenique Solutions’ capabilities. A key strength of SentroWeb-DJ, he says, is its audit trail function which allows users to track historical searches that were performed as part of the compliance process. “We also appreciate the ongoing monitoring function that provides automatic notifications if our clients subsequently become politically exposed or designated as special interest,” notes Terence. “SentroWebDJ has provided an efficient and effective alternative to our AML/CFT screening needs. From having to perform searches on several lists manually in the past, we are now able to conduct our due diligence checks with a click.”
Ingenique Solutions partnered with Dow Jones to provide a powerful search engine. (From left: Martin Lim, CTO of Ingenique Solutions; Jeffrey Chin, director of Ingenique Solutions; Sachin B. Singh of Dow Jones Risk & Compliance, APAC)
Powered by Dow Jones Instead of searching limited number of open source data, or searching aimlessly on the Internet, SentroWeb-DJ has partnered with Dow Jones to provide a powerful search engine to match names against Dow Jones’ database of more than 2 million profiles of terrorists, criminals, and politically exposed persons. The comprehensive Dow Jones Risk & Compliance AML database is known for its global coverage and is trusted by regulatory authorities and major banks and financial institutions around the world. “The key reason why customers like Prudential Corporate Services and Ardent choose us is productivity. With SentroWeb-DJ, and its reputable AML data source, our customers can cut the time spent on customer screening significantly,” explains Jeffrey. The Dow Jones database not only provides clear categorisation of risk data sets; it also has a comprehensive coverage of secondarylevel identifiers like date of birth and photographs which also help clients meet their regulatory requirements and reduce false positives. “Proper integration of risk data
Jeffrey Chin, director of Ingenique Solutions
Helping clients cope with changes
ngenique Solutions is committed to helping its clients make sense of tighter regulatory frameworks. “The biggest challenge we face is to educate our clients and potential clients on the importance and impact of the new regulatory requirements. We spent a great
sets with the screening engine is key. The Sentroweb-DJ platform is fully integrated with Dow Jones data which delivers highly valuable efficiencies to our clients’ screening operations,” notes Sachin B. Singh of Dow Jones, Risk & Compliance, Asia Pacific. “As the leading provider of business news and information, we collect information on individuals and entities around the world and consolidate this into structured profiles. We adhere to exceptionally high editorial standards and make a significant investment in our world-class data global research team and technology to deliver complete and accurate coverage. This highly structured information is integrated with the SentroWebDJ platform to help clients screen their relationships to blacklisted or politically exposed clients,” adds Sachin. “Dow Jones’ role is crucial to Ingenique Solutions’ success because they too saw the potential in the markets we are covering and lent their utmost support to us even when we were starting up,” says Jeffrey. “With their relentless support we are able to add reputation and quality to our solution.” amount of time highlighting to our clients specific and important requirements in the new AML/CFT framework and telling them how our solution will help them meet those requirements,” says Jeffrey. The company also provides training to its clients’ staff on how to use the SentroWeb-DJ software effectively and integrate with individual company policies, procedures, and controls. “SentroWeb-DJ offers regular updates on the searches conducted to indicate if any changes have been highlighted in the profile of the individuals we have previously searched. The Dow Jones database is also very comprehensive and extensive and its wide reach lets us more confidently determine the background of our client for our risk-rating purposes,” says Priya. Terence adds, “[We are] pleased with their search capability on Dow Jones database and other similar blacklists. We look forward to the continuous inclusion of more databases in SentroWeb to make it more robust.” After its success with SentroWeb-DJ, Jeffrey shares that the company is looking to broaden its product range. “We are not done yet,” he says. “We are venturing into new industries and sectors of the economy which we do not have a significant presence like the money changers, remittance agents, pawn brokers, charities, and others. We are also doing research and development in new features and data analytics.” SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Digital Supply Chain Management Case Study of the Year
Issuing an order with just a click
Arrow Electronics boosts global supply chain with digital inventory management solution The company helps its clients’ better manage supply chain volatility and inefficiency.
hen Rockwell Singapore first employed Arrow Electronics’ innovative digital supply chain solution, the results were immediate and astonishing. “Our lead time for order placement has been cut by more than half, and we were able to significantly reduce overall inventory cost,” shares Boon Sze Sze, Supply Manager at Rockwell. Speed, reliability and efficiency are at the core of Arrow’s electronics distribution services, which is trusted by over 125,000 customers worldwide. “Arrow allows its customers to gain the ability to manage greater supply chain complexity. Our clients are able to do more with less, and able to execute more processes with greater speed,” says Natarajan MM, Vice President, Sales–South Asia, Arrow Electronics. In a cutthroat industry where companies are always trying to outdo each other, Arrow’s suite of digital supply chain (DSC) solutions allows customers to stay ahead of competitors by reducing reliance on manual processes. A valuable partnership Before rolling out Arrow’s dedicated inventory program, Rockwell had merely relied on e-mails to communicate their back-to-back order and forecasts. “It became very challenging when Rockwell had spike orders, sudden increase in demands and received short lead time orders from end customers,” says Boon. Arrow’s digital supply chain logistics solution, which was also in place at Rockwell’s other manufacturing plant in North America, has significantly boosted the company’s inventory management system. The system does not only assure the continuity of product supply; it has also helped minimize costs by reducing purchases from the open market and lessened errors by cutting down on manual entry. Rockwell’s inventory system has gone a long way thanks to Arrow’s digital supply chain solution. Here’s how it works: Arrow Electronics downloads Rockwell’s forecast weekly via Electronic 38
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Arrow’s digital supply chain system allows clients to issue an order with just a click.
Data Interchange (EDI), and they plan the buffers based on rolling forecast. Arrow also submits a safety stock report weekly. The buyer will review then the report with Arrow’s planner and critical parts will be escalated to the Account Manager for further assistance. “This weekly action has definitely help to improve the delivery, although a three-party conference call with the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is required at times, which happens when the delivery of OEM is likely to be delinquent,” Boon explains. “We also perform a quarterly review of component lead time and refreshing of the part list in safety stock partnership.” Arrow’s digital supply chain system allows customers to issue an order with just a click. Customers then receive an order confirmation and a shipment alert either through their system or via e-mail. “This saves time and minimizes any finance disputes due to the wrong quantity or pricing issue,” Natarajan notes. “Arrow’s DSC solution is also based on the customer’s historical purchase trends. This way, we can provide relevant information such as product change notices, which are critical to our customer’s operation,” he adds. Escaping the manual grind Even in the highly-competitive electronics industry, many players are still bogged down by traditional and inefficient manual processes. “Under the traditional system, customers manually issue thousands of orders per day, and they will then seek Arrow’s reply via email on whether or not the order had been received,” Natarajan narrates. “Customers also need to wait for a weekly report to confirm if the shipment had been arranged from our warehouse. Should there be any urgent issues, manual tracking via phone calls and emails are required,” he says. Apart from these cumbersome processes, traditional supply chain systems are also heavily impacted by frequent human errors. “For example,
Digital supply chain management case study of the year frequent issues faced after sales involve quantity mis-match/ pricing problems. Not only that. In the customer warehouse, invoice numbers are manually keyed in and receiving the goods might take half a day due to the high inflow of shipment. Arrow Electronics’ digital supply chain solutions helps customers to get away from the manual process,” Natarajan says. Arrow’s digital supply chain solutions change all that. Apart from an easier ordering process, all of Arrow’s invoices are also equipped with a barcode, which does away with the need to manually input details. “As a global technology company, we strive to provide a comprehensive supply chain solution to our customers without having to go through the trouble of increasing human resource,” Natarajan notes. “We aim to provide a frictionless yet accurate process to our customers to reduce human touch but increase efficiency. High human interface resulted in human error would be most pressing problem that our solution is seeking to address.” Refining processes and overcoming skepticism It’s never easy to break tradition, and the greatest challenge which Arrow Electronics faced is hesitation from its clients. “When we introduce digital supply chain to our customers, they are skeptical due to security concerns. They are also wary about how effective and efficient the solution is,” Natarajan says. To remedy this, Arrow studies the customer’s usage trends and presents how the solution can refine their existing processes. Another challenge is the fact that different companies are using different softwares, as well as the fact some companies have more limited technological know-how. “The most notable milestone since we offered our digital supply chain solution to the market is the marked increase in customers’ recognition of our DSC solution,” Natarajan says. “More customers are now eager to work with Arrow’s to move away from traditional process.” Arrow’s digital supply chain solution has undoubtedly revitalized Rockwell’s inventory management, but Boon notes that there are still some aspects which require improvement. “The dedicated supporting team is relatively inexperienced and the urgent issues are often resolved by the more experienced Account Manager,” she notes. “An immediate task is to strengthen the supporting team and Account Manager to share his expert knowledge. There is a need to build up a more independent supporting team and the ability of multitasking, particularly when one’s peer is on vacation/medical leave,” Boon says. Still, Boon remains impressed with Arrow’s system. “With Arrow providing a dedicated Supply Team composed of sales, customer service representative and planner, as well as its capacity to build up substantial inventory based on our demand forecast, we are assured of a continuity of supply to meet Rockwell’s requirements.” Arrow has always led the pack when it comes to finding new solutions for the electronics distribution industry. The number of its clients and the global reach of its operations are a testament to its industry leadership. In 2016, the company’s sales hit an impressive $23.8b. “Arrow is always ahead of the curve in offering comprehensive suite of technology services and solutions that will enable innovators, engineers, builders and dreamers to use new technologies,” Natarajan notes.
Natarajan MM, Arrow Electronics
Specialised services and expertise
Always moving forward
rrow Electronics has a long and proud history of transforming the electronics distribution industry. Founded as a small radio shop in Manhattan in 1935, the company has since become a leader in electronics distribution, trusted by more than 125,000 original equipment manufacturers, contract manufacturers and commercial customers worldwide. Arrow boasts a global network of more than 465 locations serving over 90 countries. Arrow was the first to inaugurate electronics distribution’s first integrated on-line, real-time computer system to provide up-to-theminute inventory positions and facilitate remote order entry. Arrow experienced rapid growth after successively winning key semiconductor franchises, led by Texas Instruments in 1970. It was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1979, and has since rapidly expanded into Europe and the AsiaPacific region. The company’s growth was fuelled by a series of aggressive acquisitions, including such prominent names as Ducommun (Kierulfff), Lex (Schweber), Zeus, Anthem, Bell, and Wyle (all in the U.S.), Spoerle (Germany), Silverstar (Italy), and CAL (Hong Kong and China). Since 2009, Arrow has completed over 40 strategic acquisitions that further expand its global components and computer systems businesses, project the company into the unified communications arena, and add reverse logistics and end-of-life management to Arrow’s product-life-cycle services. In 2016, Arrow ranked as number 119 on the Fortune 500 list, based on 2016 sales of $23.8b. The company has 18,700 employees worldwide and brings technology solutions to a breadth of markets, including telecommunications, information systems, transportation, medical, and industrial. Arrow provides specialised services and expertise across the product lifecycle by connecting customers to the right technology at the right place at the right time and at the right price. Arrow provides extraordinary value to customers and suppliers - the best technology companies in the world - and connects them through the company’s industry-leading services. SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
event coverage: SBR AWARDS
LCA, IBA, NBA 2017 honours 22 outstanding firms
t is imperative for local and international companies in Singapore to innovate in order to stand out amidst the uncertainties in both the local and global markets. In an effort to recognise the companies that excelled despite the market challenges, Singapore Business Review held this year’s International Business Awards, National Business Awards, and Listed Companies Awards. The winning companies were honoured and presented to around 180 participants at a joint awards ceremony held on 8 June 2017 at the Conrad Centennial Singapore. Now on its fourth year, the International Business Awards lauds the most outstanding international firms operating in Singapore. The Listed Companies Awards, on the other hand, is now on its third year of recognising innovative publicly listed companies in the city-state. Meanwhile, home grown Singaporean companies were honoured in the second National Business Awards. This year’s nominations were judged by Ng Jiak See, executive director and head of corporate finance advisory at Deloitte Singapore & Southeast Asia; Choo Eng Chuan, ASEAN markets leader and partner, international and corporate tax services at Ernst & Young Solutions LLP; Toh Kim Teck, assurance partner at Foo Kon Tan LLP; and Henry Tan, managing director at NEXIA TS. For more information on the SBR Awards, or if you are interested to be included in the esteemed roster of winners for 2018, contact Julie Anne Nuñez at email@example.com.
ENOVAX PTE LTD.
Singapore Business Review congratulates the following winners:
Vygon Asia Pte Ltd
Listed Companies Awards Geo Energy Resources Limited - Metals & Mining LHN Limited - Building Services & Facilities OUE Limited - Real Estate International Business Awards AIA Singapore - Life Insurance AirAsia - Airline Bordier & Cie (Singapore) - Banking LF Logistics Services Pte Ltd - Logistics Lionbridge - Business Services Pepperl+Fuchs Asia - Electronic Manufacturing SICK Product Center Asia Pte. Ltd. - Electronics Victory Hill Exhibitions Pte Ltd - Media & Entertainment Vygon Asia Pte Ltd - Pharmaceuticals Yerra Solutions - Compliance Consulting National Business Awards Agrivo International Limited - Agriculture Cityneon Holdings - Diversified Services ENOVAX PTE LTD - IT Services Fundnel Limited - Financial Technology Moove Media Pte Ltd - Advertising PSB Academy - Education RHT Holdings Pte. Ltd. - Compliance Consulting Richz Technology (S) Pte Ltd - Industrial Services Kloud-Soft Pte Ltd - Computer Software System Integration 40
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Geo Energy Resources Limited
SICK Product Center Asia Pte. Ltd.
Thean Siak Sin of LF Rozario Shahfiq Logistics Services Pte Ltd of AirAsia
Agrivo International Limited
Brian San, PSB Academy
Kelvin Lee of Fundnel Limited
Richz Technology (S) Pte Ltd
Cedric Tinguely of Bordier & Cie (Singapore)
Richard Chong of Kloud-Soft Pte Ltd
Danny Wong of LHN Limited
Juergen Seitz of Pepperl+Fuchs Asia
RHT Holdings Pte. Ltd.
Moove Media Pte Ltd
Alistair Chamberlain of AIA Singapore SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
The story behind Cityneon’s notable success It started out as a supplier of appliances in the 50s, but with a healthy mix of guts, creativity, and keen business sense, Cityneon has become one of the fastest-growing companies in Singapore.
Ron Tan, CEO, Cityneon Holdings
hen Victory Hill Exhibitions (wholly-owned Subsidiary of Cityneon Holdings) launched its first Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N in New York, its chief executive officer Ron Tan feared that the company was simply not cut out for the job. “I nearly lost everything in our first exhibition in New York. I totally underestimated the scale of this project,” he shares. “I had only three full-time staff and over a hundred part-time contractors. And we were going to transform 20,000 sq ft of space by ourselves.” Three years after that first exhibition, Tan just smiles at the memory and all the hardships. “Marvel came by seventeen times and didn’t allow us to open at first. I guess we didn’t look like we can deliver what we said we will deliverthen” he says. After Cityneon Holdings acquired Victory Hill Exhibitions, it transformed Cityneon into a $250 million favorite at the Singapore Stock Exchange. “The new business created a brand new dimension for Cityneon. Look at Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N,” Tan says. “There is only one brand in the whole world. Media
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Commission to erect booths and provide logistical support for their “Made in Australia” marquis exhibition – the first of its kind to be hosted in Singapore. It proved to be the turning point for the company, as it enabled Cityneon to showcase its creative prowess at an international stage, thus opening doors to new frontiers. Reinventing a legacy business Today, the company is known as Cityneon started out as a family-run supplier Cityneon Holdings Limited – a full service of electrical appliances in 1956. Within a ideas agency specialising in transforming few years of its inception, the company customer and brand experiences, expanded its encompassing business to include “I had only three full-time four independent the design and installation of staff and over a hundred yet integrated business divisions. shop displays part-time contractors. These divisions are and retail fronts. And we were going to Interior Architecture, This marked the transform 20,000 sq ft of Experiential start of its journey space by ourselves.” Environments, Events to transforming and Exhibitions. customer touch points into holistic brand experiences, Perfecting the craft culminating in the incorporation of Cityneon The group has made its name building Displays and Construction. theme parks across the Asia Pacific and By the early 70s, the group clinched constructing expo pavilions in several parts a partnership with the Australian Trade companies want content; they want real high end content. We are a content company, and when we entered Singapore we had zero execution risk. Because of our products, we don’t really compete for a share of the consumers’ wallet.”
Diversified Services | Media & EntertainmenT
of the Middle East. “Intellectual property for the Avengers According to Tan, the group was involved S.T.A.T.I.O.N belongs to us until 2024. We by being one of the agencies appointed in produced everything from scratch, and we creating the aesthetics of thesemajor theme launched our first exhibition in New York. parks. Tan is also proud of their office in From there we went to Seoul, then to Paris, Bahrain which specializes in expo pavilions. Las Vegas, Singapore, Beijing and Taipei,” Tan This office, Tan proudly shares, has never says. Victory Hill Exhibitions (VHE) has also failed to deliver a profit. The company also opened an Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N recently, has projects in Oman and Qatar. just within the month of May 2017. They are “These pavilions are pretty exciting, and also looking to open an Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N they’re all government-run projects. There in far west of Europe next year. are big expos happening in 2020 in Dubai, While other media companies despair and we’re really looking forward to that,” the over viewers’ increasingly shorter attention CEO notes. spans, Tan believes that Cityneon’s strength Apart from working with industry giants, lies precisely in the experience that they the group is also focusing a lot of its energy offer to their clients.. and creativity on “We are not an “The company has interior architecture. exhibition company,” he grown over ten times, stresses. “Nobody pays “We have a big project with the Brunei to enter an exhibition; transforming from Palace for the interior a $20 million company to they pay for the design of one of their a $250 million company.” experience. The whole palaces. We also have Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N a couple of big projects in Vietnam; we’re is about experience. You are part of a world working with international hotel chains such which is under attack. It is the experience as Sheraton and we also worked with RWS that matters.” Singapore. We are in charge of the interiors of their hotels there,” Tan notes. Staying ahead of the pack Aside from major hotels, the group “In the space of a year, the company has also handles logistics for sports events. It grown over ten times, transforming from has long been a mainstay at Formula 1 in a $20 million company to a $250 million Singapore, and it has also worked for locallycompany. It’s pretty amazing. Even our old held international events such as the Asian shareholders are thrilled,” Tan shares. Games, Youth Olympics, and the Southeast Cityneon’s transformation has allowed it Asian Games. Cityneon Holdings Limited to explore new ground and leave its former also handled the Youth Olympics in Nanjing. competitors behind. “We used to put in a “These are thefive business segments of tender for jobs, then we wait, then we pray. Cityneon today,” Tan says, in reference to the But those business models don’t work aforementioned projects. “These are what anymore. Any project that requires a tender we call the four traditional businesses. We results in a price competition. At the end of also have what we call new frontiers, such the day, no one wins,” Tan says. as the intellectual property businesses. This When Tan came to the helm, he realized was born from our long engagement with major studios such as Marvel and Hasbro. Those businesses need a lot of support from the old businesses. There’s a lot of the old and new coming together. That chemistry allows us to propel this new business to where it is today,” Tan notes. Victory Hill Exhibitions (VHE) In 2015, Cityneon acquired Victory Hill Exhibitions, a widely successful immersive attractions company that focuses on delivering visual-appealing, engaging, educational and interactive “ready-toshowcase” exhibitions, designed to wow viewers’ senses. Both Cityneon and Victory Hill Exhibitions are recognized as leaders in their respective industries.
that the only way to move forward was to manage the company’s ballooning overhead costs. He was determined to cut them. “We are in an economy that is quite tight. This is the reason why we decided to cut our overhead costs. When I first came into this company our overhead costs were $25 million. It went down to about $19 million; now we have cut it to $15 million. This allowed us to pick and choose projects with higher margins. I’ve never been a fan of tendering for projects,” he notes. The secret to success Tan knows that Cityneon’s success relies on the strength of its products. While popularity is beyond the company’s control, the fact that it is backed by two of the world’s best studios puts them at an advantage. To ensure profitability and sustainability, the company only selects movies which have grossed over $1 billion worldwide and have guaranteed sequels. For Cityneon, product is king, and their projects speak for their triumph as a brand. Cityneon’s success was recognized this year at the Singapore Business Review Awards. In a gala night held at the Conrad Centennial Singapore last June 08, Cityneon Holdings won a National Business Award in the Diversified Services category for their execution of the project “Sultanate of Oman National Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015”. Their subsidiary Victory Hill Exhibitions dominated the Media and Entertainment category at the International Business Awards . They were lauded for their immersive attraction exhibition, “Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N,” that boasts of its visual appeal, educational content and entertainment value. This is Victory Hill Exhibitions’ first International Business Award.
Victory Hill Exhibitions’ Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Computer Software System Integration
Kloud-Soft delivers unparalleled innovation for companies on the road to digitisation They may be a young player, but they are already making bold moves in business process automation.
hen Richport Technology tried to digitise and streamline its electroplating business, it had tedious manual processes and huge technological challenges that warranted a major overhaul. Through partnering with Kloud-Soft and joining the Microsoft Azure platform, Richport was able to increase its productivity by 30% to 40% at best, and reduce its customer response time from a few days to only half a day. In today’s fast-moving digital age, firms that still rely on rote and repetitive manual tasks become laggards, and eventually find themselves out of the market. With the increasing popularity of international standards and business process automation, executives who want to grow and expand their businesses should step up their game and join the digital revolution. After all, the rewards of digitisation are countless despite the capital costs of migrating from one platform to another. It is through the strength of the KloudSoft brand that Richport and many other companies were able to increase their productivity and put the customer at the center of their business model. Richard Chong, managing director, Kloud-Soft Pte Ltd, says that Kloud-Soft is ever ready to deliver on its promise of helping its clients achieve work productivity, business efficiency, and data accuracy for reporting and decision making. One step ahead on the road to digitisation Since launching its business in 2015, Kloud-Soft has bested other independent software vendors who have existed much longer. Richard says that winning in SBR’s National Business Awards came as a shock since Kloud-Soft is still a young player in the market. However, its strong partnership with Microsoft has enabled it to become an insider in the world of digital innovation. Richard says that Kloud-Soft has first access to new technology that have yet to be launched and might greatly enhance their products. Kloud-Soft engineers are
also required to undergo certification from Microsoft, which gives them the benefits of joining and learning from the latter’s regular round table discussions. “In order for Kloud-Soft to be one step ahead of competitors, we work with our clients as partners by welcoming their feedback on the product features and their domain knowledge. As a partner relationship they do know that we take care of each other not in the expense of Kloud-Soft earning from the business,” Richard says. Adhering to international standards Kloud-Soft offers highly-configured products based on the current business process of its clients. It also has an expert talent pool that customers always rave about. This has resulted in an overwhelming 100% retention rate of all its clients. KloudSoft is also planning to expand its business across vertical industry offerings. Kloud-Soft is also internationally recognised for the way it does business. Aware of security threats and the increasing number of cyber attacks, Kloud-Soft pushed for ISO 27001 Information Security and ISO 9001 Quality Management certification. Kloud-Soft’s operations are guided by these two certifications which are of great assistance in ensuring that processes and data conform to international standards. Trusted partnerships In two years, Kloud-soft has also built trusted partnerships with leading innovators in the industry. ”At the same time, working with Microsoft enables us to have good technical understanding and we always work towards to be innovative on our product to enable the business owner to achieve what they require,” Richard says. “As for the product that we have, to provide trust to client we are putting it through to IDA (now name as IMDA) Multi-Tier Cloud Security SS 584 certification which the controls within is focusing a lot on the security that we have put across in our product. We partner with Microsoft also because of the trust centre
“Sales is easy but to make sure delivery is done and it really helps the client is more important than anything.” 44
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
that they have established over the years on their Microsoft Azure platform which have gained confidence in government and private sector,” Richard adds. Kloud-Soft has readied itself for a deluge of innovation and competitive pricing among tech companies. Richard says that Kloud-Soft does not compromise on pricing, because it is a primary means by which its business remains sustainable. KloudSoft’s also puts its talent pool as top of their investment priority. In terms of the economic outlook, they aim to gather their clients for a roundtable discussion in order for both Kloud-Soft and its clients to ensure that business remains guarded against present and future volatilities and threats. “Kloud-Soft handles client sincerely because to make sales is easy but to make sure delivery is done and it really helps the client is more important than anything, that is why to date we have kept 100% customer retention rate. We hope that clients we engage be it purchase or did not purchase do give an opportunity to home-grown companies like us,” Richard adds.
Richard Chong, managing director, Kloud-Soft PteLtd
specializes in software products that promotes next generation workplace solutions which will enable digital transformation of businesses.
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SICK Product Center Asia Team at the Singapore Business Review Awards
SICK at a glance Founded in 1946, SICK is a leading manufacturer of intelligent sensors and sensor solutions for industrial applications.
ith more than 8,000 employees and over 50 subsidiaries and agencies worldwide, we are always close to our customers. A unique range of products and services creates the perfect basis for controlling processes securely and efficiently, protecting individuals from accidents and preventing damage to the environment. Bringing sensor intelligence in Asia In forging a stronger presence in Asia, SICK established a Regional Product Center within Asia in 2009 to better support the needs for smart sensor solutions from customers in Asian region. Consisting of a R&D Center in Singapore and a Manufacturing Plant in Johor, Malaysia, our Regional Product Center focuses on developing new innovative sensors which provide ingenious solutions to solve automation problem our customers face. Through our Product Management team located in our Regional Product Center, extensive application information and experience of the various industries are channeled into our R&D Center so that we can design and create exactly what our customers need. Our Manufacturing Plant in Johor adapts systematic and flexible production methods to produce“German” quality sensors which are delivered exactly when and where our customers need them. Customers’ satisfaction has always and will always be our top priority. Bagging the “International
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Award for the Electronics category” in 2017 not only reaffirmed the insight of SICK strategic decision for setting up the Regional Product Center Asia, but also validated the valuable contribution and effort of both our local and SICK AG team. Our Managing Director, Mr. Jack Goh, was engaged to start this Regional Product Center in 2009. With strong support from our SICK Headquarter, it has grown from a small company with less than 10 persons to a midsize company with more than 250 persons in 2017, with good sales revenue in just over a short duration of 7 years. SICK carefully recruited suitable staff and actively developed key suppliers while carefully implemented agile organizational structure and effective processes to develop the SICK Regional Product Center. Cornerstone for smart automation During the first five years of the SICK Regional Product Center, there has been intensive training from SICK headquarter, which has resulted in joint development of more than 13 new product families that were all successfully launched with very good sales results. Technologies developed include optical electronic, Inductive and magnetic, RFID and laser sensing for industrial and logistic applications.
Jack Goh, Managing Director, SICK Product Center Asia
Moving forward, SICK Asia Regional Product Center will continue to play a key role in gaining market share in Asia. This will require that we continue to optimize our Organization structure and processes while providing the ideal work culture and environment to spur innovation and creativity. Industry 4.0 offers new opportunities for data-based analysis and process measuring technology as well. In this new field, intelligent sensors and controls are the cornerstone for smart automation and we at SICK Asia Regional Product Center will continue to design and produce costeffective and yet intelligent sensor to meet Industry 4.0 demands. Sensor Technology alone cannot create value for our customers. We believe in further developing our market-driven Product Management to produce products that our customers will buy and that will solve their problems and enhance productivity. Innovation is meaningful only when we combine Sensor technology and Customer’s value and benefits, leading to true innovations and profits. This to us is Sensor Intelligence.
“Intelligent sensors and controls are the cornerstone for smart automation.”
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
How workplace wellness helps corporates Companies can stay ahead of competition with the help of a well-crafted corporate health programme.
he waistline matters just as much as the bottomline in today’s changing corporate environment. Corporate wellness programmes can be used not only to encourage staff but also to boost productivity, improve employee retention, reduce healthcare costs and boost profitability in the long run. This global trend is also starting to take root in Singapore. “Business leaders are beginning to recognise the importance of investing in corporate health,” says Patrick Teow, Chief Executive Officer of AIA Singapore. “We want to encourage healthy behaviors in companies. When repeated, these behaviors become healthy habits that boost company profitability.” A study by Vitality, South Africa’s leading wellness programme, showed that a strong link exists between health and productivity. Productivity costs related to employee health are on average 2.3 times greater than medical costs alone. Surprisingly, the survey also showed that employees value company wellness programmes more than paid time off. Singaporean workers also ranked wellness programmes–such as on-site fitness centers, health club memberships, and stress-reduction programmes–as one of the most important health and wellness work-life element. In terms of productivity, employees of organisations with effective wellness programmes are twice as likely to outperform their peers financially, with per employee revenue improving by up to 50%. Small steps, big impact Companies need not roll out radical programmes in order to boost employee wellness. Small steps are more than enough, so long as motivation is not in short supply. This is what United Test and Assembly Centre (UTAC) learned when a team of its employees started a cycling group to improve the team’s health. “This led to significant weight loss of up to 16kg within five months as the team started cycling just round the block at first, and went farther with each trip,” says Alexander Yap, Rewards Director for APAC at UTAC,
speaking at the AIA Vitality Summit 2017. “Members have seven times more motivation when in groups; the question is how to replicate a group’s success and apply it to others,” he notes. “UTAC’s experience really emphasizes how important it is for companies to engage staff in wellness and have a comprehensive programme like AIA Vitality to support that,” says Richard Wyber, Head of Healthcare & Vitality at AIA Singapore. It is also important to share real and relatable stories that staff can relate to, notes Peter Crewe, CEO of AIA Hong Kong and Macau. This sentiment is echoed by Dr Steven Tucker, who believes in celebrating non-scale victories instead. “Forget about getting on the scale or the loss of 5 kilograms, celebrate instead the ability to fit into a wedding dress,” he says. With encouragement, companies can motivate staff to change their health behaviors in a short period of time. “It takes 66 days to form a habit. If one can motivate groups to work together within that period, the health impact will be visible within three months,” notes Carolyn Lam, Senior Consultant at the National Health Centre. “The feeling of being on the right track is addictive,” she adds. Business leaders also need to examine the physical design of the workplace and see if it can be tweaked to make employees more conscious about their health. Derek Yach, Chief Health Officer of Vitality Group, shares that changing the workplace setup can make it easier for employees to change behaviours by building these healthy choices into their everyday lives. This could be in the form of slow-moving treadmills in meeting rooms or placing fruits and healthy snacks at easily accessible areas. Working together for a fitter future AIA Singapore’s efforts to promote health and wellness is in line with the nation’s Healthy Living Master Plan’s vision of bringing healthy living to the doorstep of every home, workplace and school. “We want to empower companies with the knowledge and tools to encourage healthier behaviors,”
“We want to empower companies with the knowledge and tools to encourage healthier behaviors.” 48
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Corporate wellness programmes boost productivity
says Patrick. AIA Vitality provides a behavioural solution by motivating employees to lead a healthy lifestyle, reaping benefits for both themselves and their employers in the process. More than one in three (35.3%) business leaders believe that regular health screening for staff is the most effective in improving employees’ health, found a live poll at the AIA Vitality Summit 2017. With Vitality, employers can build corporate wellness programmes founded on evidence-based principles, which in turn will result in positive health and financial outcomes. Employees engaged in Vitality in particular have also been found to exhibit lower absenteeism – the average number of sick days for employees on Vitality decreased year-on-year. Consequently, employees with high Vitality engagement were 18% more productive than those who had lower levels of engagement. “For companies seeking to maintain their competitive edge, implementing an effective workplace wellness programme is not only a viable solution, it is fast becoming an absolute necessity,” Patrick says.
Hefty R&D investments fuel Pepperl+Fuchs’ game-changing automation solutions Pepperl+Fuchs has emerged as a true leader in groundbreaking automation and sensor technology.
sensors and barcode scanners. The high-bay together to minimize information gaps, warehouse has a capacity of up to 110,000 optimize processes and save resources. trays, and the ASRS uses high-precision “We are currently developing these sensors to place the trays into the high bay smart sensors – towards the direction of racking system. Industry 4.0 with a team of about 50 design Unlike existing Automated Storage engineers in Singapore and other R&D and Retrieval Systems (ASRS), which are facilities around the world,” says Seitz. ““The typically built next to the manual pallet Pepperl+Fuchs Group is developing a new warehouse, the generation of smart company’s ASRS industrial sensors for “Together with our is built on top of the Industry 4.0. We customers, we want to the manual pallet call it Sensoric 4.0. grow the automation warehouse. This The company sees market and to create a unique method of the sensor paving construction was the way to Industry better world.” selected to enable the 4.0,” the managing company to maximize director notes. on the use of limited space. This mode of Pepperl+Fuchs was built on the construction is the first-of-its-kind done principles of inventiveness, entrepreneurial globally. foresight, and self-reliance. The group The next revolution “It is technically challenging as a has continuously innovated for more Pepperl+Fuchs has poured millions significant level of engineering expertise than 70 years, and it walks the talk in its of dollars into boosting research and is required not only to safely elevate the investment towards the higher efficiency of innovation. In October 2016, the group entire structure above ground, but also to manufacturing in the future. launched its S$65m Global Distribution support the force of the stacker cranes Center – Smart Factory in Singapore. This when they travel at high speed between the Automation in its DNA affirms the company’s interest in playing storage aisles,” notes Seitz. The group’s Smart Factory project caught an active role in the digitalisation of the “At first we had some problems during the eye of judges at the 2017 International industry and being a leader of change. The the construction phase of the building. Business Awards. The Smart Factory project Smart Factory also showcases the group’s The Silo technology for the ASRS was involves a fully automated conveyor belt latest technology, which are geared at something pretty new for our partners. equipped with the company’s latest sensor ushering in Industry 4.0, also known as the We overcame the difficulties by working technology. The Smart Factory’s high-bay fourth industrial revolution. together as a team.” warehouse racking system is linked to the Industry 4.0 refers to an environment receiving, commissioning and packaging in which all of a company’s components, Staying ahead of its game stations with the help of thousands of machinery and plants are networked Pepperl+Fuchs is currently faced with the welcome challenge of having too many orders. “The biggest challenge right now is a sudden order intake growth that we have to meet the demand in November 2017,” says Seitz. “The whole group is right now working closely together with our customers to achieve the best possible delivery dates,” the managing director adds. With its proven expertise and its continuous investments in research and development, Pepperl+Fuchs is guaranteed to stay ahead of its game in coming years. “We are very proud and honored to receive the award. It was a great honor and the whole team is very proud of it. To us, this Tim Charlton, Editor of Singapore Business Review with Jürgen Willi award reaffirms that we are heading Seitz, Managing Director of Pepperl+Fuchs Asia Pte. Ltd. towards the right direction,” Seitz says. hen two enterprising German innovators founded a small radio workshop over 70 years ago, little did they know that their company would one day become a global leader in automation technology. Pepperl+Fuchs, a pioneer in electronic sensor and electrical explosion protection, has been at the forefront of providing automation solutions ever since. “We are a company that invests a lot in technology and with a history of innovation,” says Jürgen Willi Seitz, Managing Director Pepperl+Fuchs Asia Pte. Ltd. “The Pepperl+Fuchs Group invests around 10% of the revenue each year in R&D. Together with our customers, we want to grow the automation market and to create a better world in the next centuries,” he says.
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
Strong demand for quality higher education fuels PSB Academy growth SBR National Business Award recognizes PSB Academy’s strong presence in South-East Asia.
ositive student experiences, strong graduate employment outcomes, double-digit growth in student population and regional expansion propelled PSB Academy’s strong growth trajectory. PSB Academy, Singapore’s best private education institution1 , was recently conferred winner of the National Business Award by Singapore based business publication, the Singapore Business Review. This is the sixth award2 that the Academy has earned over the course of one year. The National Business Award recognizes PSB Academy’s strong presence in Southeast Asia that is successfully catering to a burgeoning demand for quality higher education in the region. “We feel honoured for being recognized for our dedication to nurturing strong networks with local partners and associates. Together, we have time and again exceeded the expectations of students in these markets and we remain committed to building on our strong momentum for the interests of our students, parents and employers,” said Viva Sinniah, Executive Chairman for PSB Academy and Managing Director for Star Education Group, PSB Academy’s parent company. “In anticipation of the rising demand for quality higher education in a region brimming with a booming middle class, we will continue to invest in growing our presence in markets like Myanmar, Indonesia, Malaysia, China and India through partnerships and student recruitment activities, amongst others, so that even more local students will stand to benefit from PSB Academy’s future-oriented brand of quality higher education.”
A Future Academy: Driving Asia’s Future Building on the momentum of positive graduate employment outcomes , where in 2015 close to nine in ten graduates found employment six months upon graduation, as well as strong double-digit growth in student population from 2016, PSB Academy recently announced a milestone expansion from their campus at Delta, Tiong Bahru to a City Campus at Marina Square spanning over 100,000 square feet. PSB Academy’s new City Campus was
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studios and an “innovation sandbox” to help launched on 23 May 2017 by Guest of lecturers experiment with new learning Honour, Minister in the Prime Minister’s approaches. Office of the Republic of Singapore and Secretary-General for Singapore’s A strong platform National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) “As Asia’s Future Academy, we will serve Chan Chun Sing, and was attended by its as a launchpad and testing ground for representatives from its seven university new teaching pedagogies and technology partners from Australia and the United so that fresh school leavers and working Kingdom, and over 300 guests from around professionals alike who study at PSB the world. The launch of the new campus in Academy can emerge keenly attuned to the Singapore, Asia’s innovation capital, signals change and disruption the Academy’s “As Asia’s Future Academy, of the Future Economy,” mission to we will serve as a said Derrick Chang, make the idea launchpad and testing Chief Executive Officer of productivity relevant again, ground for new teaching of PSB Academy. He with a futurepedagogies and technology also notes,“Our solid partnerships with oriented brand so that fresh school renowned universities of education to leavers and working from Australia and the prepare students professionals alike who UK allow students to from the region for a competitive study at PSB Academy can gain access to a global and growing emerge keenly attuned to bank of perspectives. future-ready the change and disruption Coupled with PSB Academy’s industryworkforce. of the Future Economy,” ready certificates and The institution diplomas, our students from the region can plans to introduce new programmes be assured of a strong platform at PSB that focus on skills needed to enable Academy to propel them to meet their graduates to contribute to Singapore’s career aspirations.” industry transformation maps, while letting its students experience new teaching techniques and blended learning journeys, 1 Icons of Learning 2016, Business Excellence and for learning to take place anywhere, on any Research Group 2 device. Some features in the new campus http://ww.psb-academy.edu.sg/awards 3 http:// www.psb-academy.edu.sg/GES2015 include industry- standard film and radio
PSB Academy recently marked a milestone expansion with its new City Campus
AirAsia’s growth will be driven by digital data The airline is using data to meet customer expectations, and deliver a customised experience.
irAsia is investing in the growth of its digital services namely BIG Duty Free, BIG Pay, BIG Loyalty, Rokki onboard WiFi and Xcite inflight entertainment. Additionally, in April this year it bought a 50% stake in online travel planner, Touristly, for US$2.6m. Its digital initiatives are expected to boost ancillary income from US$10.50 [per passenger] to US$13.70. Today’s digital savvy traveler expects a more customized and seamless offering such as remembering their previous flight itinerary
Automation boosts Air Asia’s productivity
and customizing promotions. The airline is using data to meet these expectations. These efforts have been extended to onground services. At your (fully-automated) service In November 2015, AirAsia introduced the Passenger Reconciliation System (PRS) in Changi allowing eligible mobile check-in passengers to skip the manual checks. By end 2015, AirAsia introduced self-service check-in kiosks enabling travelers to selfprint their boarding pass and bag tags. In May 2016, AirAsia introduced the auto bag drop function. In the near future, facial recognition at auto immigration gates, auto-boarding gates and home bag tags will complete the automation system, for the seasoned traveler. The results of AirAsia’s fully automated service has seen cumulative queue time reduced from 20 minutes per passenger for an 85% load factor to under 10 minutes,
without compromising security standards. It also halved check-in time at the airport from two minutes to one, for the seasoned traveler. Automation has also increased productivity and reduced operating costs. Before automation, it would take the airline an hour to process 30 passengers per counter, which are rented for fixed time blocks. Today, a large percentage of passengers check-in at home and head straight to the boarding gate, reducing counter rental while staff are up skilled into more valued added roles. Ground staff now act as brand ambassadors, assisting travelers on ground and helping them upgrade their onboard packages. AirAsia is the only airline in Changi which has seen a take-up rate higher than 75% for its automated services, within six months of implementation. The system has given passengers total control over their travel time, enabling them to plan their journey.
“Automation has increased productivity and reduced operating costs. “
Richz Tech rolls out revolutionary diamond manufacturing method This firm is determined to disrupt the traditional diamond industry.
uality diamonds grown from machines may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but Richz Technologies is using this trailblazing method to disrupt the conventional method of producing these coveted jewels. “Richz Technologies provide the cutting-edge machinery for clients who want to disrupt the conventional methods of forging these classic gemstones. These coveted lab-grown gemstones provide a cheaper alternative without having to compromise its quality, form and aestheticvalue.” explains Kavin Ng, Managing Director of Richz Technologies. “Most importantly, it is eco-friendly and is free from any tainted misuse of child labor,” he adds.Project Sparkle, as the initiative is known, was born from heavy investments into and research and technology. “Richz stands out from the pack today as we are lucky enough to be in the frontier. Among our milestones is the fact that we are the largest vacuum pump
servicing centre in SE Asia and one of the first to manufacture Lab Growth Diamond machines,” he notes. Richz Tech was a winner in Singapore Business Review’s National Business Awards 2017 in Technology At the forefront of change The company is involved in two divisions of business. The group is a leader in vacuum pump servicing. and is currently at the forefront of groundbreaking diamond manufacturing industry. “Diamond Manufacturing is an emerging market which is disruptive in the current traditional diamond industry. This means the upside for this business is potentially huge. Many markets are untapped, especially in Asia,” Ng explains. As for the vacuum pump servicing, Richz began its expertise in the semiconductor industry, but has since diversified into other sectors such as the solar energy. This insulates the company
from any cyclical swings, and provides the adaptability it needs to weather economic downturns. “We invested heavily in R&D, and we went through many trials and errors. We try to improve to make things more productive and to be in the frontier of technology. We want to offer an alternative to the consumers.. It is now our time to reach out to people and make known to them they have new choices,” Ng says.
building services & facilities
LHN Limited: Creating productive spaces With careful planning, creativity, foresight and top-notch space optimisation skills, the company overhauls old buildings and allows them to exceed their former glory.
hen LHN Holdings first secured a lease for 10 Raeburn Park, the property was little more than a nondescript old school building which had been vacant for years. Soon enough, this once-unattractive piece of real estate was transformed into the company’s swanky headquarters. “Our expertise lies in our ability to transform old, unused and underutilised properties into productive spaces,” says Kelvin Lim, Executive Chairman and Group Managing Director of LHN Limited. “When we secured the master lease for this building, the net lettable area was only 115,000 square feet. Overall, we increased the net lettable space to 130,000 square feet.” The SGX-listed real estate management service and logistics service provider is involved primarily in space optimisation. LHN Holdings offers and sublets commercial, industrial and residential properties to its tenants after it has optimised the spaces on its properties. As for Raeburn Park, the group converted the old school canteen and school hall into office spaces and made the corridors narrower in order to expand and convert the classrooms into commercial space. “We secure master leases to such buildings and then apply our space optimisation expertise so in order to increase the lettable area of these buildings, which we then lease out to our tenants, who are willing to pay more for thoughtfully designed and highly usable space,” Lim says. Thoughtfully-crafted spaces Apart from transforming buildings, LHN Holdings also pours much thought into attracting the right tenants and providing them with important perks. “Our strategy is to offer spaces that are relevant to businesses no matter what stage in the business life cycle they are in,” notes Lim. “Some of our tenants have been with us since they were start-ups and only needed a few workstations. As their businesses expanded, we were able to cater to their growing space needs from our extensive portfolio of properties.” Three of the company’s innovative space concepts—PinkJunction,
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Work+Store and GreenHub—were honoured at this year’s Listed Companies Awards. “We have concepts that cater to companies of all sizes, even those that may only require a workstation or virtual office,” says Lim. PickJunction, Work+Store and GreenHub PickJunction, which was launched in 2016, is an omni-channel platform that brings people closer to their local community of artisans, boutiques and studios. It brings together a tight selection of independent brands offering a range of goods and services from furniture to lifestyle and fashion. Targeted at small business owners, it specifically addresses their concerns about marketing, manpower and display space rental costs. On the other hand, the Work + Store concept caters to business owners seeking dual-purpose work space arrangements as well as households or individuals in need of temporary storage solutions. It was launched in 2015 and meets the work and storage requirements of business owners by allowing them to perform order fulfilment duties and store their goods conveniently and securely within the same facility. GreenHub, launched in 2012, is a premium office brand which offers a complete suite of business solutions in a green and conducive ready-to-work environment with flexible lease terms. It offers tenants a one-stop, one-fee
business package. Lim believes that his company’s success can be pinned down to their ability to respond to rapidly shifting market conditions. “We pride ourselves in our ability to quickly identify and respond to evolving market needs and trends,” the managing director notes. “We monitor market trends very closely so that we can come up with concepts, new features and services that are relevant to today’s business needs and trends. We have concepts that cater to companies of all sizes, even those that may only require a workstation or virtual office.” Staying ahead of the curve The company stands out not only because of its ability to beautify and transform but because of its capability also to add value to old and underutilised properties. “It is a good feeling to see such buildings regain their former glory and to breathe life into them rather than to leave them vacant and dilapidated,” he says. LHN Holdings operates two GreenHubbranded properties in Jakarta, Indonesia, and one in Yangon, Myanmar. It also has two other businesses: its Facilities Management supports its Space Optimisation business and has a presence in Hong Kong; while its Logistics Services has a fleet of vehicles catering to container trucking, oil, oil-related and petro-chemical products and one container depot each in Singapore and Thailand.
“We pride ourselves in our ability to quickly identify and respond to evolving market needs and trends.” -Kelvin Lim, Executive Chairman of LHN Limited
Agrivo International builds farms of tomorrow They aim to boost food security through state of the art crop analytics and farm management systems.
grivo International is a company built on a culture of entrepreneurship for agriculture. The growth and development of Agrivo and its subsidiaries, particularly the past year, has been an exciting experience; and receiving the National Business Award for the category of Agriculture from the Singapore Business Review acts as a true testament to Agrivo’s vision of leading the future in Agriculture. The Company is elated to be the first agriculture company in Singapore to receive this award, as it spurs them on their mission to innovate at a furious pace and maintain a laser-focus on incubating and accelerating start-ups as an agricultural portfolio management company. They believe innovative solutions are required in the agricultural scene to support the population of tomorrow and boost food security of cities by partnering with proven leaders and entrepreneurs to provide strategic inputs, creative ideas and active support to build successful companies that venture into the different stages of the
Food security is on top of Agrivo’s priority
agriculture value chain. Their projects include Frontier Farms fully-equipped and self-aware high-tech indoor farms that are connected to a single network. The farms under one of their subsidiaries, Frontier Agrotech, shine in an era where data is wealth. Vegetable and herbs growths are constantly monitored and recorded with state of the art crop analytics and farm management systems owned by
Frontier Agrotech. These data help their experts improve growth recipes leading to consistent high-volume harvest of fresh, quality and affordable produce. They are also involved in multiple community engagements and school curriculum initiatives to highlight food security and food safety. Activities include educating growing their own food using grow-kits at the comfort of their homes.
A visionary provider of corporate solutions RHT Holdings supports corporates from the drawing board to the mainboard with its innovative tools.
hen it comes to having the complete suite of corporate solutions, few firms can be as confident as homegrown professional services provider RHT Holdings. “We offer a comprehensive suite of services to meet the varied needs of multinational corporations, Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs), public listed companies and private entities,” says Jayaprakash Jagateesan, Chief Executive Officer of RHT Holdings. The group is proud of its milestones, providing end-to-end service to its clients. It supports companies from the early stages of their establishment, up to the time when they are ready to list as a public company. “We truly are a complete professional services provider for our clients, giving them the ease of mind of knowing that their varied needs such as corporate advisory, governance, risk management and compliance can all be expertly handled under one roof,” Jagateesan adds. RHT Holdings has always prided itself on its capacity to stay ahead of competitors
with innovative tools coupled with meaningful advice. Its efforts are paying off: its project, the independent sales audit for financial advisers by RHT Compliance Solutions, was recognized as the best in its class by an esteemed panel of judges at this year’s National Business Awards. “This is the first of its kind solution in the market. This required many rounds of consultation with clients and also attaining deep understanding of the regulatory framework across the whole solutions team,” notes Jagateesan. A visionary provider With its growing presence in the region, RHT Holdings is able to cover a growing range of corporates’ needs, involving overseas and cross-border transactions. As a visionary provider of corporate solutions, the company’s growth has been exemplary. In 2015, it acquired a subsidiary in Hong Kong which gives it a foothold in the Greater China market. In the same year, RHT Capital also clinched a Capital Market Services
license from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) . Concurrently, RHT Capital was also granted the Catalist Full Sponsor status by the Singapore Exchange (SGX). “This is a collective effort and we are extremely proud and honoured to receive this award. Going forward, this award encourages us to raise the bar on our services, to provide innovative solutions and to continuously adapt to market changes and business needs,” Jagateesan notes.
Jayaprakash Jagateesan, CEO of RHT Holdings
How your private bank can do more for you With ‘Banking to Live’, Bordier and Cie reclaims what it means to be a private banker in the truest sense.
More than just a segment-based value he trope of “protecting intergenerational wealth and assets” is proposition strategy, clients are analysed according to a composite of five primary not an uncommon one among private archetypes. Each individual can be all banks. Many institutions pride themselves on upholding the narrative of protecting and five types in varying degrees, with the investment strategies matched accordingly. growing wealth for future generations, but what of the present? Proprietary algorithm for client mapping As a trusted advisor, the private bank should aim to understand its clients’ deepest Clients bank to live. It is important to understand who clients are aspirations and goals. beyond merely KYC AML Bordier & Cie, for this reason, has launched “Bordier has devised requirements and in fact a proprietary beyond traditional investment a truly systematic way of understanding mapping tool to deep suitability criteria. clients’ needs. Based dive into a client’s Equipped with over 170 years of private banking on established intrinsic drives.“ expertise, Bordier’s psychological proprietary algorithm seeks theories and peerto understand clients better. It maps out reviewed research, Bordier has devised a clients’ corresponding long-term needs proprietary mapping tool to deep dive into and aspirations which can be augmented a client’s intrinsic drives. This insight in then by other private banking and lifestyle translated into investment strategies that services. More importantly, the tool works are truly tailored to support the client’s by analysing a client’s mapping results for individual aspirations.
portfolio management. The resulting portfolio has its own strategy, risk profile, portfolio construction and expected returns. These are combined to provide the client with a detailed overview of his relationship with the bank, ensuring that each sub-account is in line with the client’s aspirations and life goals.
A private banker in the truest sense
Bringing value to life through innovation
Vygon’s name has become synonymous with quality and reliability in the field of pharmaceuticals.
arly 2014, Vygon decided to open a subsidiary in Singapore to strengthen its presence in Asia-Pacific. Since then, the new site has become a base for the company’s local development and to support distribution channel sales in the region. Vygon is expected to continue its strong growth in the region with their accelerate advancement of products driven by the latest trends in the healthcare industry. With expertise throughout the value chain, from product design to the delivery of training for medical personnel, Vygon
Thanapathy Kumaraiah, Managing Director Vygon Asia & Regional Director Asia Oceania
provides health care professionals with effective and innovative products tailored to meet their needs and those of their patients, with maximum safety, efficiency and comfort. Vygon products are designed by the group’s engineers. They are manufactured in eight production units compliant with the ISO 9001 standard, ISO 13485 medical standard and ISO 14001 environmental standard. Revolutionizing delivery of healthcare IT In April this year, Vygon launched safeenteral.com, a website dedicated to the therapeutic implications of enteral tubing and connectors. The site provides information for medical staff and raises awareness about the therapeutic benefits and risks associated with the new connection standards for enteral feeding devices. The site has a special focus on premature neonates and newborns; considered to be high-risk populations. Since September 2015, Vygon has offered a full range of ENFit™ products, for adult and children, including administration
sets for enteral feeding pumps, syringes and feeding tubes.However, for some high-risk patient populations, such as premature neonates and newborns, the ENFit™ connector can involve a risk of drug overdose, which was identified by Vygon thanks to its 10 years expertise in accurate safety feeding systems for neonatology. The company’s key strategic move in the next three years is the roll-out of Vygon Safe enteral feeding in Singapore and Asia Oceania region via its Singapore based operations. By taking greater strides in growing their presence in the region, Vygon will strive to develop innovative ways to reach a broader range of customers and meet the increasing demands of healthcare professionals and patients. Vygon is not only present in the neonatology fields but also offers unique solutions for the haemodynamic monitoring and for oncology or for emergency medicine. Vygon intends to continue to develop its business through innovation, industrial performance and education to contribute up to 20% of the group sales in 2022 in the global region.
Fundnel expands its portfolio to Australia
Fundnel offers unlisted securities in growth and pre-IPO stage companies across industries.
resh from clinching the SBR National Business Award for Financial Technology, Fundnel has moved into the Australian market to explore potential investment opportunities in a country that has traditionally utilised less venture capital money. Its operations will be based in Adelaide, working in conjunction with the University of Adelaide’s ThincLab incubator, HealthSA, TechinSA and InvestSA. With its base in Adelaide, Fundnel Australia will be building its presence in other key cities to include Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.
Fundnel is a private investment platform that offers unlisted securities in growth and pre-IPO stage companies across industries to a qualified network of investors, comprising of both professional – corporate venture, private equity, venture capital funds, family offices, angel investor networks – and individually accredited investors actively looking to diversify their current portfolio. To date, Fundnel has facilitated US$49m worth of transactions across Southeast Asia, evaluating over 1,300 companies in the process. Keeping local businesses competitive Fundnel’s platform in Australia will connect accredited Australian investors with local opportunities, and will in turn help local businesses accelerate their growth through capital raising whilst creating further room for innovation. The Australian operations will be headed
Fundnel helps local businesses to be locally and globally competitive
by Dr. Steven Fang, co-founder and former CEO of CapBridge, who brings over 28 years of experience in the private and public investment sectors. He will be supported by a local team of business development specialists and core members of the team. “Fundnel is an exceptional venture, and its presence in Adelaide will help support local entrepreneurs financially, while also unearthing other Fintech ventures in Adelaide,” said Noel Lindsay, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Commercialisation, Pro Vice Chancellor, (Entrepreneurship), and Director of Entrepreneurship, Commercialisation and Innovation Centre, at the University of Adelaide Australia. With the Adelaide state government keen on nurturing the very best local outfits, Fundnel will be working alongside multiple state-backed initiatives to keep local businesses competitive on a local and subsequently global scale.
“Fundnel has facilitated US$49m worth of transactions across Southeast Asia.“
NOW OPEN FOR ENTRIES For inquiries, please contact: Eleonor Angeles email@example.com or +65 3158 1386 ext 209
Event COverage: ITF 2017
Countries are treading cautiously in transport innovation
Why governments can’t keep up with transport innovation Politicians are deemed playing safe and not reacting quickly enough to come up with the right policies for automated vehicles.
f you think that driverless cars and cabs, and trucks with joysticks in place of steering wheels will be filling the roads in the near future, think again. Highly automated vehicles are currently avoiding and operating away from public roads, and are being safely run in controlled environments like ports and mines. In the next few years, yes, there may be a small scale deployment on limited public roads of vehicles moving at low speed with substantial supervision, but experts at the International Transport Forum 2017 held in Leipzig on May 31-June 2 expect a long transition. “In the next couple of years it’ll be done at a small scale,” said Sarah Hunter, head of Public Policy, X (formerly Google X). “Looking at the industry right now and observing how competitive it is, it is difficult to predict when exactly these driverless vehicles will roll out. We will definitely have some deployment of fully automated vehicles in a very small number – maybe a few places in the world – and that will be when we get a chance to see these things actually work. Only after that do we get to see politicians act on it and 56
SINGAPORE BUSINESS REVIEW | SEPTEMBER 2017
We will definitely have some deployment of fully automated vehicles in a very small number.
bring the technology home equipped with the right regulation.“ The sector is moving away from a time where vehicles are stand-alone units because with automation and connectivity, these become an integral part of transport solution.“We will have a very long transition period and there are very many advantages to this transition period, but it’s important that we are allowed to run large-scale pilots,” added Anders Kellström, senior product planning manager and automation spokesperson, Volvo Group. Not fast, not furious As a result, some governments are rather seen as onlookers, playing safe and they keep avoiding being an obstacle to innovation, setting the framework for autonomous vehicles to operate safely and cleanly, but not to regulate prematurely in anticipation of impacts that may not eventuate. The experts also acknowledged that regulation is unable to keep pace with innovation. “We shouldn’t allow the political system to hold things back. We can’t keep up but we can
be fast followers.” Tim Macindoe, associate minister of Transport, New Zealand, said. “Technological changes move society more than politicians do... I make the legal framework, and it should enable development that is good for society even though I can’t foresee exactly what that development will be,” said Ole Birk Oleson, minister for transport, building and housing, Denmark. “Are politicians reacting quickly enough? No, but they never do.” Bryant Walker-Smith, Associate Professor of Law, University of South Carolina, commented. A long, gradual transition also provides opportunities to use evidence, rather than speculation, to develop responses to questions about the expected social and economic impacts of highly automated vehicles. While many issues are still very uncertain at this stage, there are already steps that governments and developers should take towards ensuring society obtain a net positive benefit from automated vehicles. The question is, if and when autonomous driving comes into fruition and is full realised, how do we ensure that this transition yields a positive outcome to every party involved? “I think it’s important to manage the transition period and to manage it pro-actively. For the industry, it’s most important to have the same framework for at least a continent as our trucks don’t stop at the borders.” Christian Labrot, President, International Road Transport Union (IRU). For developers, Professor WalkerSmith challenged them to engage in a public compact and indicate what reasonable safety means to them and how they monitor and maintain it over the life of the system. New Zealand’s associate minister of transport agreed and said, “We have to set the right incentives for safety. It is not our job to protect drivers from change, but to prepare them for it.” When it comes to deployment of the said innovation, Google’s Hunter said that mayors will have to play a big role and are going to be incredibly powerful. “We need to have the conversation at the local level,” she said. By Karen Lou T. Mesina
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