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The Edge Singapore10/9/2020 7:0 AM GMT+08  • 7 min read
This week: The Edge Singapore wins at the SGX Orb Awards, Jack Ma's Ant Group faces risks from White House curbs.
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Quoteworthy: "This administration has forfeited their right to re-election." –— Joe Biden’s running mate Senator Kamala Harris, condemning President Donald Trump and his administration’s handling of the pandemic as the worst failure in US government history.

The Edge Singapore wins at SGX Orb Awards

The Edge Singapore took home an award at the SGX Orb Awards on Oct 7, after receiving three nominations across two categories — the most nominations from a single publication. The awards were launched by Singapore Exchange (SGX) in 2018 to enhance financial education and this paper has won at least one award every year since.

Writers Ng Qi Siang (seated, left) and Samantha Chiew (right) attending the SGX Orb Awards ceremony online, held on Oct 7. In the background is executive editor Goola Warden

Writer Samantha Chiew took The Hidden Gem win for her piece titled “Food Empire records robust growth; declares higher dividend on better outlook” (Issue 925, Mar 20). Also shortlisted under the same category was her story “IPS Securex resumes earnings growth, eyes new contracts from new markets” (Issue 924, Mar 13). The Hidden Gem award seeks to honour the best feature or analysis of an under-covered stock listed on SGX, covering a fresh angle that investors or analysts may have missed.

Tan Wang Cheow, founder and chairman of Food Empire, shared with Chiew how he started Food Empire, made it big in an unlikely market — Russia — and how he is next pushing into Vietnam, itself a notable coffee producer.

Besides thanking Tan for sharing his story, Chiew would like to acknowledge Financial PR for arranging the interview, and her colleagues for their constant support and guidance. “I am also grateful to SGX for organising this award and recognising my stories,” says Chiew, who covers the F&B and retail sectors.

Meanwhile, The Edge Singapore writer Ng Qi Siang was also shortlisted for the Story of the Year. His piece titled “Rise of the digital redback” (Issue 942, July 20), was a deep dive into the implications of China’s e-Renminbi on international trade and world order.

“I was very pleasantly surprised to be even shortlisted for this award as I am quite new to the media industry. I am grateful to SGX for considering and shortlisting the story, as well as everyone at The Edge Singapore for teaching me the ropes of this industry,” says Ng. He credits The Edge Singapore editors Chan Chao Peh and Goola Warden for their input and advice while planning the story.

Bernard Tong, CEO of The Edge Singapore and EdgeProp.sg, is very thankful to SGX for organising this annual awards, which helps to recognise the efforts put in by the financial media that, as a whole, is undergoing changes and facing off new challenges. “The Edge Singapore is proud to be part of this landscape and is ready to partner SGX to promote a more sophisticated and vibrant market ecosystem,” he says.

The award ceremony — attended by SGX’s top management — was held via web conferencing platform Webex amid Covid-19 restrictions that has disrupted economies and markets. At the event, SGX CEO Loh Boon Chye hopes this will be the only time this event is held virtually. “I hope to meet everyone next year,” he said.

The Story of the Year award was picked up by Shiwen Yap of Venture Views, Ben Paul of The Business Times won for his column in the #Resilience category while The Visual Treat award went to Pamela On of CNA. Finally, financial literacy website The Fifth Person picked up the accolade for financial blogs or independent investment-related websites that empower investors.

On the judging panel this year were Charles Shi, dean’s chair professor of accounting and finance at NUS Business School; Goh Swee Chen, board member of CapitaLand, Singapore Airlines, Woodside Energy and Singapore Power, former chairman of Shell Companies; Jeremy Grant, a former Financial Times journalist and Lyndon Chao, managing director of ASIFMA’s Equities and Post Trade Division.

Cruises to nowhere to start in November

Two cruise ships will start sailing from Singapore from next month into the open seas and back as the city-state aims to give residents some outlet for their wanderlust amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream and Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas will begin round-trip journeys from November and December respectively, the Singapore Tourism Board said on Oct 8.

Stringent protocols for cruise operators and passengers to permit the pilot voyages have been established under a CruiseSafe certification program. They include Covid-19 testing of crew and passengers, increased sanitisation, fresh air circulating measures, and onboard steps to discourage close contact and intermingling. The boats will sail at a reduced capacity of 50% and the journeys are only open to Singapore residents.

“This cruise pilot is a valuable opportunity for cruise operators to reinvent the entire cruise experience in order to regain the confidence of passengers,” said STB CEO Keith Tan. “Singapore remains committed to supporting and growing cruise tourism in the region”.

The cruise-ship industry globally shut down in March after a series of Covid-19 outbreaks at sea, including one at cruise giant Carnival Corp’s Diamond Princess off Yokohama, Japan, in February. Even healthy passengers have suffered, as many ports turned ships away for fear of seeding new shore-side outbreaks. Tens of thousands of crew members were trapped on vessels for months. — Bloomberg

White House curbs on Chinese payment apps pose risk to Ant Group The Trump administration’s potential restrictions on two Chinese payments giants would reverberate far beyond politics, potentially affecting multibillion-dollar deals, shaking up international commerce and even shaping the evolution of the global financial system.

US officials have stepped up behind-the-scenes talks in recent weeks about possibly restricting the expansion of Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings’s WeChat Pay over concerns that the digital payment platforms threaten national security, Bloomberg reported on Oct 7.

If the administration proceeds, the most immediate hit would be to Ant Group’s plan for a stock listing in Shanghai and Hong Kong, a deal that could rank as the world’s largest initial public offering. Some international companies have been working with the payment apps and could see those strategies hurt or derailed. And while restrictions may ultimately head off potent competitors to US and European banks, it could also — depending on how China responds — thwart their own planned expansion into the world’s second-largest economy.

Investors have been eager to pile into Jack Ma’s Ant Group. After gauging early interest, the company is seeking to raise at least US$35 billion in its IPO, people familiar with the matter have said, potentially topping Saudi Aramco’s record US$29 billion ($39.4 billion) sale. Ant lifted the target based on an increased valuation of about US$250 billion, which would exceed the market capitalisation of Bank of America, the second-largest US lender.

Restricting Alipay would cast a pall over the sale. It is unclear whether US investors would be allowed to buy shares. American funds, including Silver Lake Management, Warburg Pincus and Carlyle Group, have already put at least US$500 million in the fintech giant in 2018. The sanction also could give pause to non-US funds such as Singapore state investors Temasek Holdings and GIC — existing backers that could boost their stakes in the IPO. — Bloomberg

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