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Daily Dispatches – Syrian sabre rattling sends Asian stocks down

Is a military invasion close?

Is a military invasion close?

The looming threat of a US-led attack on Syria following last week’s chemical weapons attack on civilians has sent Asian markets into further retreat, with concerns that any large scale military invasion could jeopardise supplies of crude from the world’s third-largest oil-producing region.
Bloomberg reports that Asian stocks were down fora second day, led by Japanese shares, while crude oil extended gains. Crop futures rebounded, most precious metals – always seen as a stable store of wealth during conflict rose, and Australia’s dollar weakened against the US currency.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 1.3% in early trading in Tokyo as Japan’s Topix Index sank 2.1%, on track for its lowest close since June 27. 
“Growing geopolitical risks in the Middle East and lingering uncertainty about us monetary policy have combined into the perfect storm,” Matthew Sherwood, head of investment markets research in Sydney at Perpetual Investments, told Bloomberg.
“At the moment liquidity is light and markets are likely to keep heading lower.”
Asian PE firms struggling to source talent
Asian Investor says the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB)and Northstar Pacific Partners maintain that their main obstacle in Asia is finding talent to manage companies and to run portfolio allocation and management.
CPPIB says that it wants to hire junior and senior staff to drive its long-term Asian strategy, but is finding it tough to find the right people.
Northstar says access to good management is its single biggest challenge, especially as it looks to build its exposure in Indonesia.
Thai billionaire mulls Singapore listing
Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is considering a Singapore listing of some of the real-estate assets owned by Fraser & Neave, the conglomerate he bought earlier this year in one of Asia’s biggest debt-fuelled takeovers, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Fraser & Neave said in a statement that it is considering an initial public offering of its hospitality assets to monetise their value. It didn’t mention the size or timing of the IPO but people with knowledge of the deal said it could raise around US$1 billion and would likely be held early next year.
Separately, Fraser & Neave said it will spin off its property arm, Frasers Centrepoint Ltd., and list it on the Singapore Exchange by the end of this year following a dividend in specie, meaning without conducting any capital-raising.
Singapore has become a hub for trust listings in Asia, due largely to government rules that require trusts to pay out 90% of revenue in dividends. Singapore-listed REITs have yields of 6%-7%.
Singapore health insurance review
Asia Insurance Review reports that private insurance companies say that they will be working with Singapore’s Ministry of Health to provide feedback on the impact of a proposed revamp of the government-run MediShield programme, which will make the national medical insurance plan a universal scheme for Singaporeans.
Dark side of the moon
People in 41 cities of China can insure their enjoyment of the full moon during the Mid-Autumn Festival with effect from Monday.
An Internet-based insurance product has been launched by Taobao Insurance under the Alibaba Group, China’s largest online shopping platform, together with Allianz China General Insurance, reports the Xinhua news agency, and carried by Asia Insurance Review.
According to Allianz, the company will cover losses if the cities are cloudy, foggy or hazy on the evening of the festival.
Residents in cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen pay a premium of CNY20 yuan (US$3.24) and will receive CNY50 from the insurer if they cannot see the moon.
Everyone who purchases the insurance will get a box of mooncakes too.Allianz says a limited number of insurance policies will be available for sale.

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