The Singapore economy could expand by up to 3.7% in 2013, according to findings from the latest Business Times-UniSIM Business Climate Survey, significantly higher than the government’s official 2.5% to 3.5% forecast, and more than twice the rate of last year’s 1.3% growth.
Business Times says there is a chance that the Republic could potentially see even faster growth in 2014, given that Singapore is now the country most cited by firms to have the best business prospects going forward – a position held by China for six straight years until it was displaced by Indonesia in 2012.
National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank are planning new offices and branches across Asia, including Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Indonesia as they search for new markets for growth, according to Bloomberg.
The Financial Times says the territory is grappling with a host of problems – everything from competition from the Shanghai Free Trade Zone to poor air quality and high property prices, and the growing gap between rich and poor – that pose challenges for its competitiveness.
Banking Day reports that Australia’s ANZ has established a sub-branch in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, joining Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and Singapore’s UOB.
Foreign bank branches in the zone may have more latitude than elsewhere in China.
The Wall Street Journal says China plans to revamp the country’s IPO system, relinquishing government’s power over which companies can list and migrating to a Western-style system in which companies can go public on their merits.
The shift is a significant loosening of government control over China’s struggling stock markets, which have performed dismally despite strong economic growth.
The Recruitment Industry Benchmarking Survey reports that the number of private recruitment companies reporting a loss in the September quarter has ballooned from one in 11 last year to one in five in 2013, according to report on shortlist.com.au
The latest report, based on figures from 112 private recruitment companies, shows that respondents’ average pre-tax profit in the three months to September declined a “painful” 28% year-on-year, and is down 32% for the calendar year to date.
The Financial Supervisory Service is undertaking a simultaneous and extraordinary probe of Hana Financial, KB Financial, Shinhan Financial and Woori Financial, reports Asian Banking & Finance.
The main targets of the regulators are said to include former Hana Financial Group chairman Kim Seung-yu and former KB Financial Group chairman Euh Yoon-dae. Kim is suspected of purchasing thousands of art pieces for irregular purposes during his term as group chief and receiving US$3.2 million in incentives from the financial group when he left his post.