Quoteworthy: “If China really wants to hit back hard, it could target the US consulate in Hong Kong.” -- Li Mingjiang, an associate professor with the Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. The US has ordered China to shut its Houston consulate within three days, in a sign of escalating tensions.
Singapore launches $45 million domestic tourism campaign
Enterprise Singapore (ESG), Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB) have launched “SingapoRediscovers”, a campaign urging Singaporeans and residents to explore different sides of Singapore — dubbed a “Singapoliday” — as global travel remains at a standstill amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
The agencies have set aside $45 million for the campaign, launched on July 22. Through a wide range of partnerships with lifestyle and tourism operators, business associations, community groups and e-commerce platforms, it will offer unique and value-for-money experiences, packages and promotions for locals.
This is the largest campaign introduced in Singapore to drive local demand, and the first since “Step Out Singapore” after SARS in 2003 and “BOOST” (Building on Opportunities to Strengthen Tourism) in 2009 following the global financial crisis.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), Singaporeans in 2018 spent more than $34 billion on overseas travel. STB hopes to capture just a fraction of this amount to be spent locally, urging Singaporeans to take a second look and rediscover the city-state.
At the same time, they can enjoy deals at hotels that are also slowly reopening and able to host staycations. Meanwhile, retail shops and cinemas have opened and F&B outlets are accepting dine-ins.
To aid the initiative, businesses and associations such as the Singapore Retailers Association, Singapore Hotel Association, Association of Singapore Attractions and Chinatown Business Association will rally members to collaborate on marketing and promotions. Around 40 businesses have come on board to offer some 80 promotions — including attractions, tours and hotel stays. Consumers can also enjoy upcoming virtual events such as the Singapore Food Festival in August, the annual Great Singapore Sale themed “eGSS: Shop.Win.Experience” in September and other “Singapoliday” offers from 4Q2020.
“Covid-19 has had a severe impact on many sectors of our economy, and it will take time for consumer confidence and international travel to recover,” says STB chief executive Keith Tan. “We will need a collective effort by the Government, community and industry stakeholders, and all Singaporeans, to sustain and support great local businesses,” he adds.
“With SingapoRediscovers, we have collaborated with various partners to create value for consumers through engaging content, quality experiences and attractive promotions.” – Samantha Chiew
Singapore's headline and core inflation remain in the red in June
Singapore’s core inflation stayed in the red for the fifth straight month in June. The price gauge, which registers the total inflation in the economy came in at –0.2% y-o-y, unchanged from May, according to the consumer price index (CPI) released by the Department of Statistics on July 23.
Meanwhile, headline inflation — which measures the total inflation in the economy — came in at –0.5%, making June the metric’s third month in the red. However, the decline narrowed from May’s –0.8% thanks to lower private transport costs.
The sector contracted –4.4%, from the –6.8% logged in May, following smaller declines in car and petrol prices. The cost of retail and other goods also fell –1.8% from May’s –2.3%. This comes from the gradual decline in the prices of clothing and telecommunications equipment. The narrower fall can also be attributed to the start of Phase Two of Singapore’s reopening on June 19, which allowed consumers to make in-shop purchases.
Meanwhile, electricity and gas costs were down 3.9%. While an improvement from the –4.6% posted in May, June’s decline follows a slower take-up of new subscriptions under the Open Electricity Market.
Conversely, services costs dipped –1.0%, widening from the -0.8% logged in May. This follows a decline in holiday expenses and airfares, possibly as it became clear that recreational travel may not be possible this year.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) say the change in prices for these components were calculated using the overall change in the CPI-All Items, in line with international guidelines, as prices were not available in June owing to the nationwide lockdowns across the globe.
Accommodation costs meanwhile came in flat at 0.5% as housing rents increased at a steady pace.
The cost of food bucked the trend, increasing 2.3%, from May’s 2.2% following larger increases in the prices of non-cooked food.
Looking ahead, MAS and MTI expect inflation to remain subdued at its previously forecast range of –1% and 0% in 2020. – Amala Balakrishner
Ex-Wirecard CEO rearrested on claims he hid losses for years
Former Wirecard CEO Markus Braun and two other former officials were arrested as prosecutors said the company knew about massive losses as early as 2015.
The trio conspired to obtain about EUR3.2 billion ($5.1 billion) in fraudulent loans, Munich prosecutors said on July 22. Company officials allegedly decided to inflate the books with fake assets to make the company appear more attractive to investors, clients and lenders.
“The suspects knew at least by the end of 2015 that the Wirecard Group was losing money,” prosecutors said. “Deceived by fake accounts, banks in Germany and Japan as well as other investors granted funds of about EUR3.2 billion, which are now most likely lost.”
Wirecard filed for bankruptcy after acknowledging that EUR1.9 billion it had listed as assets probably did not exist, deepening its accounting woes. The company admitted that previous descriptions of its business with third parties, which processed transactions on Wirecard’s behalf, were “not correct” after pulling its financial results for 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.
The other two suspects detained Wednesday are former CFO Burkhard Ley and Stephan Freiherr von Erffa. Prosecutors identified them as “suspect L., CFO until the end of 2017” and “suspect E., the former head of accounting.”
All three are being investigated for fraud, breach of trust, forging accounts and market manipulation. A Munich court on July 22 ruled that all three men have to stay in custody, according to the statement. – Bloomberg
First cross-border direct private listing on 1exchange
Crigen Resources has successfully listed on the 1exchange platform (1X), Singapore’s first regulated private securities exchange via a fully online campaign and listing process on July 22.
This is the private exchange’s first cross-border private direct listing. Some 28% of Crigen’s existing shares were listed at an aggregate value of $2 million.
Crigen is the operator of Malaysia-based wellness and aesthetics provider, Danai Spa. Founded in 2003, Danai Spa currently operates seven outlets across Malaysia, with plans to open a further five outlets in the next two years.
Crigen said Danai Spa expects a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.6% in revenue from FY2019A to FY2022E, and a projected CAGR of 56.8% in net profit from FY2019A to FY2022E.
The company also added the listing on 1X is a key milestone in Danai Spa’s path towards its long-term goal of an eventual Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the Australian Public Market.
“With the added liquidity and access to a larger pool of investors through the 1X platform, the Company intends to leverage on its deep experience and steady track record to pursue its business strategy of further domestic growth, new market expansion, diversification of revenue streams, and the development new capabilities in the areas of digital health and wellness,” says Chris Daniel Wong, corporate affairs director and Crigen co-founder. – Lim Hui Jie