Singapore draws $3b of manufacturing investments

Singapore draws $3b of manufacturing investments


Latest batch of projects promise sunrise era, queen bee buzz




(SINGAPORE) Despite current global economic jitters, investment inflows here remain strong.


In the first few months of 2008, Singapore has already attracted more than S$3 billion of manufacturing investments.


More importantly, many of the investments represent a new wave of activities which will help the manufacturing sector here weather industry downcycles, keep ahead of the competition and stay relevant amidst rapid global technological advances.


Some investments, like Norsun’s and Oerlikon Solar’s projects backed by the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) new national solar research institute, herald the arrival of a new ‘sunrise’ industry here.


Others such as Rolls- Royce’s commercial airline engine manufacturing plant will be the first in Asia to manufacture engines for large commercial aircraft like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350XWB. It will be – in the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) parlance – a ‘queen bee’ that will, in turn, draw many other supporting aerospace players here.


While many of the first-generation biofuels projects have been hit by the sharp spike in regional biofuel crop prices, Neste Oil’s mega second-generation S$1.2 billion biodiesel plant investment here will be less vulnerable, being completely technology-driven.


And adding a whiff of fresh air to the lifestyle products and services area – another new cluster Singapore is trying to grow – US consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble has just opened its first perfume plant in Asia at Tuas, where it is capitalising on the heightened ‘noses’ of its Singapore talent to help tailor-make ‘Asianised’ products.


‘Our efforts to move up the industry value chain are paying off,’ EDB managing director Ko Kheng Hwa told BT, saying that this is evident from the latest slate of investments.


‘Some of these projects inject new capabilities and strengthen our existing clusters – such as Rolls-Royce’s aircraft engine manufacturing facility, P&G’s specialty perfume plant and Lanxess’s advanced rubber facility.


‘Others build new growth engines for the future – such as Norsun’s high-end solar wafer plant, Ubisoft’s 300-strong games development studio, and Neste Oil’s next-generation biodiesel plant. The new growth sectors will also diversify our industrial base and increase our resiliency to weather business cycles.’


Mr Ko added that the recent investments are ‘capital, knowledge and innovation-intensive, all playing to Singapore‘s strengths and reflecting our growing competitive advantage’.


In addition, they bring in quality jobs for people living in Singapore, he said.


In total, the investments will create 1,500 new skilled or specialist jobs, ranging from solar energy researchers and aerospace engineers to computer game developers and perfumers.


Singapore‘s excellent infrastructure and logistics, the availability of talent and skills such as precision engineering, and the strength of industry clusters, have been critical in attracting the new investments.


It was Singapore‘s efficient logistics network which persuaded P&G to set up here, as it allows the company to bring in over 300 different materials from around the world for its just-in-time operations.


For Germany‘s Lanxess, the overriding factor for locating its 400 million euro (S$856 million) butyl or synthetic rubber plant here is the ready supply of higher olefins – it has finalised a feedstock agreement with Shell’s new petrochemical cracker.


These higher olefins will become available from around 2010, thanks to the ‘critical mass’ arising from the establishment of more new crackers here, including ExxonMobil’s.


This reinforces the rationale spelt out by EDB assistant managing director Aw Kah Peng: ‘We don’t pursue cracker investments for their own sake but use these to build an entire industry including, for example, downstream plants for high-end polymers, which can provide diversity and value-add.’


Singapore‘s move to tap clean energy opportunities is also starting to pay off. The announcement this month of a US$300 million facility here by Norway‘s Norsun marks the second cutting-edge, solar cell wafer fabrication investment in Singapore in less than six months.


Norsun will make monocrystalline wafers – catering to the high-end 40 per cent of the global solar cell market – complementing Norway‘s Renewable Energy Corporation, which last October announced a mega S$6.3 billion fab investment here to make multicrystalline wafers. EDB’s Mr Ko said that the two Norwegian projects would help diversify the industry ecosystem here.


Rising costs in Singapore, however, remain a bugbear for investors. Lanxess chairman Axel Heitmann cited energy costs as an ongoing concern; the company is discussing with the authorities how it can reduce these for its Singapore plant.


Separately, Chemoil Energy officials said at the recent launch of its Jurong Island oil terminal that the costs of building such facilities here have risen by 25-40 per cent.


Looking ahead, Mr Ko said that EDB is also mounting a new initiative called ‘Future.Singapore’ to build activity within selected business themes where Singapore wants good solutions. These themes include urban solutions, wellness, ageing, and healthcare and lifestyle products.


Source: Business Times

CapitaLand issues active after weak home sales data

CapitaLand issues active after weak home sales data


By Alvin Foo


PROPERTY plays are now on investors’ radar screens following the release of new-homes sales figures recently.


Thus, covered warrants on these property counters have also drawn attention, including those of CapitaLand.


The latest data shows that sales of new homes last month in Singapore almost halved from the previous month. Some experts estimate that sales this quarter could hit one of the lowest levels ever seen here.


With Singapore‘s residential market cooling off, investors are looking at developers with a diversified business portfolio, said Mr Ooi Lid Seng, Societe Generale’s (SG’s) vice-president of structured products for Asia, excluding Japan.


These include CapitaLand, which has substantial investments and business activity outside Singapore. Mr Ooi said: ‘Its diversified portfolio and increasing presence in emerging markets such as India, China and Vietnam can more than compensate for the slowdown in Singapore’s property market.’


Last month, South-east Asia‘s largest developer announced its net profit for last year had grown nearly three times to $2.76 billion from $1 billion the previous year.


Last Thursday, CapitaLand shares closed four cents lower at $5.68.


Mr Ooi said investors who are bullish about the stock can consider a call warrant with a strike price of $6 that matures on July 14.


Last Thursday, that contract was the most active SG CapitaLand warrant, ending two cents down at 15.5 cents with 7.6 million units done.


Another active SG CapitaLand contract was a call warrant expiring on July 7 with an exercise price of $6.22. That warrant closed a cent lower at 12.5 cents with 1.26 million units traded.


Mr Ooi sees a neutral short-term outlook for CapitaLand. Although the stock has bounced off a support level of $5, it could face upward resistance at $6.30.


A call warrant lets an investor buy into a stock or index at a pre-set price over a period of three to nine months. A put warrant allows an investor to sell the stock or index at a pre-set price.


Source: Straits Times



They keep throwing rubbish everywhere







HE stepped out to his patio, intending to feed his fish, when he caught sight of something.


By Hedy Khoo



23 March 2008


HE stepped out to his patio, intending to feed his fish, when he caught sight of something.


A soiled sanitary pad was floating in his beautifully landscaped pond.


At The Quintet, a 1-year-old condominium in Chua Chu Kang, ground-floor residents are fuming over what the litter bugs have been chucking out.


The occasional cigarette butt or used tissues can be overlooked.


But what about leftover food?


Or remote controls and even a metal bar?


One ground-floor unit resident, MrsFelina Hung, 42, a housewife, said her husband was infuriated when he saw the soiled pad in the pond – which was built for good fengshui.


‘It happened three days before Chinese New Year,’ Mrs Hung said in Mandarin.


‘It was inauspicious. Luckily, it did not happen when we had visitors.’


Mrs Hung said this was not the first time sanitary pads had been thrown from above.


‘Previously, they landed at the bushes just outside my patio fence,’ she said.


Her apartment, which is a corner unit, overlooks a driveway leading to the carpark.


‘I used to see some along the driveway too. But to have these things thrown onto my patio is unbearable,’ she said.


‘We moved here in January last year, and only six months later, I started seeing such disgusting litter downstairs – every month,’ she said.


‘I have also seen the swimming pool area littered with papaya and rice,’ she added.




Mrs Hung had made a complaint to the condominium’s management, which sent a security guard to go floor by floor to appeal to residents to be more considerate.


She said: ‘There are 19 floors in my block, but that didn’t stop me from going with the security guard to every unit. Some of my neighbours were shocked that such litter had been thrown out.’


Her appeals came to nought.


Earlier this month, she found another soiled sanitary pad on a pot of ferns by the pond.


‘The only ‘improvement’ was that, this time, it was wrapped with tissue,’ she said wryly.


Even a live pet had been hurled down once.


Mrs Lynn Leow, 41, a housewife and a ground-floor resident in a neighbouring block, was in her living room one day when she heard a loud thud at her patio.


‘I went to check and I was shocked to find a tortoise,’ she said.


The tortoise survived the fall, and Mrs Leow managed to find someone to adopt it.


She said there are notices at the lift lobby reminding residents not to litter.


‘Clearly, the litterbugs are not reading the notices,’ Mrs Leow said.


Another ground-floor resident, MrsAilly Ching, 38, said that in February last year, barely a month after she had moved in, two remote controls were flung down.


The following month, it was a pair of metal tongs.


She also occasionally spotted used sanitary pads by the swimming pool.


Then, just last month, a metal latch landed on her patio.


‘These are dangerous objects that can hurt people,’ she said.


Mrs Ching, who has two young children, has no peace of mind whenever they play at the patio.


‘It’s sad that I don’t feel safe in my own compound,’ she said.


‘We bought this apartment because the development is so beautiful and the surrounding is peaceful, and it has a resort feel to it.


‘But it is marred by a handful of litterbugs,’ she said.


Mrs Hung said: ‘I don’t know if the culprit is doing this deliberately. It could be someone of unsound mind.


‘I just hope whoever is littering will stop and be considerate to the rest of us living here.’


Those convicted of throwing killer litter can be jailed up to three months, or fined up to $250, or both.


First-time offenders can be fined between $200 and $1,000. The punishment goes up to a fine of $5,000 for subsequent offenders, or a Corrective Work Order, or both.


Source: The New Paper