Top News this Week (23 June)


Rounding up top investing articles from around the web, including articles shared on Twitter.

S’pore reclaims top spot in world competitiveness ranking after three years (Straits Times)

“Singapore’s performance marks a return to form; last occupying first place in 2020, it then fell to fifth, third, and finally fourth in the following years, while Denmark and Switzerland performed a tussle for power over the top spot,” said the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD), which produces the benchmark based on 333 competitiveness criteria.

Coming in ahead of Switzerland and Denmark, the Republic posted robust performances across all four categories that comprise economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure.

Among these, Singapore stood out for business efficiency by clinching the top spot among its peers on the index for the underlying factors of labour market – up three spots – and attitudes and values with a 12-position climb. It also shot up 21 rungs to the No. 2 spot in terms of management practices.

Thailand passes landmark Bill recognising marriage equality (Straits Times)

hailand’s same-sex marriage Bill cleared its final hurdle on June 18, with the Senate endorsing it in a special session and putting Thailand on course to be the first in South-east Asia to guarantee marriage equality.

The Senate gave final approval – by 130 votes to four, with 18 abstentions – to changes to the marriage law allowing same-sex couples to tie the knot.

The new legislation will now go to King Maha Vajiralongkorn for royal assent and come into force 120 days after publication in the official Royal Gazette.

Thailand will become only the third place in Asia where same-sex couples can get hitched, after Taiwan and Nepal, and activists are hoping the first weddings could be celebrated as early as October.

Component that malfunctioned during June 3 North-South Line disruption is new, says SMRT (Straits Times)

An electrical component that did not work as intended during a lightning strike on June 3, which led to train services being disrupted on the North-South MRT Line for more than two hours, was handed over to SMRT seven months ago.

In a statement to The Straits Times on June 18, the rail operator said the surge arrestors in question, which are meant to protect outdoor equipment from power surges like those from lightning strikes, are new.

They were commissioned as part of a decade-long, $2.6 billion renewal programme for the ageing North-South and East-West lines (NSEWL) conducted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

SMRT said the current maintenance schedule for the surge arrestors, as prescribed by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Kraus Elektrotechnik, is once every two years.

ST Explains: How is Singapore responding to the recent oil spill incident? (Straits Times)

Caused by a collision between the Netherlands-flagged dredging boat Vox Maxima and the Singapore-flagged bunker vessel Marine Honour on June 14, the spill has stained coastlines at East Coast Park, Labrador Nature Reserve, Keppel Bay, the Southern Islands and Sentosa.

Preventive measures have been set up off Changi East, as well as biodiversity-sensitive areas at the Chek Jawa Wetlands in Pulau Ubin, Coney Island Park and Pasir Ris Park.

Following the collision, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) “immediately deployed” its nearest patrol craft – assigned to patrol Singapore’s waters 24/7 – to the incident site, and sprayed dispersants on the spill after assessing the situation.

11 new entries on 2024’s Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list for Singapore (Straits Times)

Two of the new entrants, previously listed under the Michelin Selected category, are now part of the Bib Gourmand brigade. 

They are famed prawn noodle specialist Jalan Sultan Prawn Mee in Geylang and Ru Ji Kitchen, known for its handmade yellowtail fishballs, at Holland Drive Market & Food Centre.

84 S’pore names, including DBS, in first Fortune 500 list of South-east Asia’s largest companies (Straits Times)

The first South-east Asian edition of the Fortune 500 list, a ranking of the largest companies by revenue, features 84 companies based in Singapore.

In a strong showing, five of the top 10 companies ranked by revenue in the fiscal year ending Dec 31, 2023, are based in the Republic.

They include commodities trader Trafigura, which came in first, as well as 10th-ranked DBS Group.

Agribusiness groups Wilmar International and Olam Group as well as manufacturing services provider Flex were the three other top firms from Singapore.

In a statement on June 18, Fortune said that Trafigura dominated the rankings with sales of US$244 billion (S$330 billion).

“The privately held commodity trader in minerals, metals and energy had the fewest employees among the list’s top 10 companies by revenue and is the second most profitable amongst this group,” added the global business media firm.

Trafigura’s sterling result comes even as it grapples with a surge in overdue debts and the fallout of a bribery probe. In March 2024, the trader pleaded guilty in the United States to a decade of oil bribery in Brazil and agreed to pay about US$127 million.

Malaysia cracks out reduced prices for eggs, though experts raise supply issue concerns (CNA)

Egg prices in Malaysia have dropped by three Malaysian cents each, in a move that the government said was part of its plan to channel savings from its targeted subsidy rationalisations back to its citizens.

Snap launches AI tools for advanced augmented reality (CNA)

Snapchat owner Snap on Tuesday (Jun 18) launched its latest iteration of generative AI technology that will allow users to see more realistic special effects when they use phone cameras to film themselves, as it seeks to stay ahead of social media rivals.

Snapchat users will be able to use advanced AR special effects, called lenses, in the coming months, the company said.

SingTel-KKR consortium to invest US$1.3 billion in ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (CNA)

A consortium of US investment firm KKR and Singapore Telecommunications will invest S$1.75 billion (US$1.3 billion) in ST Telemedia Global Data Centres, one of Asia’s biggest data centre providers, the parties said on Tuesday (Jun 18).

Reuters reported in late May that the KKR-SingTel consortium had emerged as the frontrunner to buy a minority stake worth some US$1 billion in Singapore-based ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (STT GDC).

The deal comes amid growing interest and demand for data centres across the Asia Pacific as countries and companies respond to the boom in artificial intelligence.

‘A threat like no other’: The West watches on with concern as Putin visits North Korea (CNA)

  • The Kremlin announced only on Monday that Putin would pay “a friendly state visit” to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) at the invitation of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un.
  • Videos and images on social media platform X show roads in Pyongyang decorated with Russian flags and images of the Russian president ahead of his arrival.
  • One analyst said the relationship between Moscow and Pyongyang poses “a threat like no other” for the West.

Malaysia preparing to join BRICS economic group, media report says (CNBC)

Malaysia is preparing to join the BRICS group of emerging economies, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said in an interview with Chinese media outlet Guancha.

The BRICS group of nations originally included Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, which gave it the acronym.

The group last year began to expand its membership as it looks to challenge a world order dominated by Western economies, with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates joining and more than 40 countries expressing interest.

Singapore’s ‘shophouses’ are catching the eye of the rich, with some forking out tens of millions (CNBC)

  • In a country where land is scarce and public housing can cost up to a million, these two- to three-storey shophouses can cost tens of millions. But investors are hardly put off.
  • The shophouse buyers? The likes of Jack Ma’s wife, Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, and Spanish tycoon Ricardo Portabella Peralta, amongst others.
  • The appeal of commercial shophouses grew even more when the government rolled out a series of property cooling measures in April last year.

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