SINGAPORE (Sept 25): Henry Hooi, executive chairman of Hong Kong-based private- equity firm pH Capital, was repeatedly interrupted last Sunday by the sound of screaming engines as he talked to Marc Warshall, finance director of Australia-based Creature Technology. But Hooi did not mind the noise of the race cars passing under the VIP Club Suite at the Singapore Formula 1 Pit Straight that day on Sept 16. “I like the atmosphere,” he says. “I get to meet guys like [Marc].”

Hooi and Warshall, whose company makes life-size robotic dinosaurs, were attending the 10th edition of the Singapore Grand Prix at the invitation of Ron Tan, CEO of Cityneon Holdings, a locally listed company that Tan has turned into a leader in “immersive exhibitions” with projects around the world. Tan is an ardent F1 fan and has attended most of the races in Singapore over the past decade. But many of those who attended parties like the one Cityneon threw last weekend were more interested in forging business connections and hatching deals. Hooi himself was on the hunt for “below the radar” companies for investment.

The Singapore Grand Prix claims to offer a spectacular weekend for visitors from around the world, combining gripping race action with scintillating all-day entertainment. And, while its popularity has waned in recent years, it is still viewed as beneficial to Singapore’s effort in projecting itself as a global city. Since the inaugural race in 2008, the event has attracted 450,000 international visitors to the city state and bagged $1.4 billion in tourism receipts. The event has also been broadcast to about 780 million international viewers.

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