SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Business investment commitments into Singapore jumped nearly 40% last year to a seven-year high, far more than expected as some key sectors bet on rising demand, a government agency said.
Commitments for investments in fixed assets such as facilities, machinery and other equipment surged to S$15.2 billion ($11.3 billion) in 2019, well above a forecast range of S$8-10 billion, according to Economic Development Board (EDB) data.
The numbers reflect Singapore’s strong fundamentals, companies’ confidence in the city-state and its strategic position in a fast growing Asia, EDB Chairman Beh Swan Gin said at a briefing.
He attributed the growth to companies in the semiconductor and chemical sectors committing to make investments in preparation for an eventual upturn that they are expecting in the coming years.
Some chipmakers have started expecting a recovery from the industry downturn, helped by a pick up in the smartphone market.
The rapid growth of the digital sector in Singapore also helped as companies such as Sea Ltd and ride-hailing firm Grab expanded, and traditional businesses grew their technology teams.
A separate measure that tracks business spending on the likes of wages and rents climbed to S$9 billion, up 45% from a year earlier.
Singapore’s economy expanded at its slowest pace in a decade last year, with the export-oriented nation hit hard by the trade war between the United States and China.
Still, months of anti-government protests in rival Asian finance hub Hong Kong have increased Singapore’s relative allure.
Tycoons have switched money, business conferences have moved, and some wealth managers have scrapped plans to open offices in the Chinese-ruled city in favor of the Southeast Asian nation, Reuters has reported.
Beh said the rise in numbers “was not a consequence” of what is happening in Hong Kong. He added there had been some movement of functions and individuals to Singapore from Hong Kong.
“It is not a wholesale move, but some marginal moves,” he said.
Singapore, which is trying to establish itself as a global hub for the tech industry, estimates the investments will create some 32,814 jobs, of which around half are “digital jobs”.
(Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Mark Potter)
‘Investment firm’ dupes 241 of ₹76 crore; Mumbai Police’s EOW arrests 2 owners – Hindustan Times
The economic offences wing (EOW) of the Mumbai Police arrested two of the six co-owners of an investment firm for allegedly duping 241 people to the tune of ₹76 crore by accepting money from them by offering 12% annual interest. The accused used the money to invest in other firms for higher returns, but as they failed to pay the interest as well as return the principal amount, the investors lodged complaints against them.
Hasmukh Gogari and Pankaj Chheda, co-partners of Ramnik Hashmukh Associate have been arrested, confirmed Parag Manere, deputy commissioner of police, EOW.
Both the accused have been charged under sections 409 (breach of trust), 420 (cheating), 120B (conspiracy) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 3 and 4 of the Maharashtra Protection of Interest of Depositors (MPID) Act. Other accused partner in the firm and their relatives who were named in the case are Ramnik Dedhia, Dilesh Vira, Mukesh Chheda, Kushal Chheda and their relatives Hemant Chheda and Jayesh Dedhia. They are yet to be arrested.
“Arrested accused Gogari and Chheda are one of the main accused in the fraud in which 241 investors have been duped of ₹76 crore. They were produced before the court and have been remanded in police custody till October 1,” said Rajendra Sangale, senior inspector, MPID unit.
According to EOW, the arrests have been made based on the complaint of Rajesh Shah, a Goregaon resident, who alleged that Ramnik Hashmukh Associate lured him into investing money by offering 1 to 1.05% interest per month in 2016.
“The firm had given a promissory note to investors as an acknowledgement. The said note was allegedly also signed by concerned executives of the firm where the investor’s money would be further invested for high returns,” said a police officer.
Shah, who works at a senior post in a private bank, was also promised by the accused firm that they would return the money within a month if the investor wished to withdraw the amount.
Shah invested ₹48 lakh and initially received the interest regularly. However, since January 1, 2018, he had not received interest nor the principal amount, following which he filed a complaint, a copy of which is with HT.
Later, Shah learnt that many others had also not got their money from the firm, and all of them all visited the firm’s office in Matunga. The firm told them that they were facing a major crisis due to demonetisation.
However, investors later found out that the firm invested their money in eight other companies under their relative’s names.
Shah and 77 other investors then approached EOW. The case was first registered at Matunga police station, later EOW took over the investigation. During investigation more victim investors turned up before the police and now there are 241 victim investors. The number of investors and fraud amount are likely to go up in coming days as the two accused have been arrested, said Sangale.
Brookfield Infrastructure Sees a 100-Year Investment Opportunity in Data – Motley Fool
Data is the oil of the digital economy. Like crude over the last couple of centuries, information is what drives the new economy forward. The similarities don’t stop there because, like oil, data relies on infrastructure to transform it from its raw form into something more useful. However, instead of pipelines, processing plants, and storage terminals, data needs fiber optic cables, telecommunication towers, and data centers to keep the digital economy humming along.
That leaves a massive opportunity for companies to build out and operate data infrastructure. One of the many focused on this space is Brookfield Infrastructure (NYSE:BIP)(NYSE:BIPC), which has been pouring capital into acquiring and developing data infrastructure in recent years. It expects that trend to accelerate and last for many decades, given the opportunity it sees ahead for data infrastructure.
A century-long investment opportunity
The oil industry spent more than a century building out the infrastructure needed to support the economy’s ever-growing thirst for crude. Brookfield sees a similar megatrend investment opportunity in data as the economy consumes an increasing amount of digital information.
Overall, two factors drive the need for more infrastructure investments in the near-term. First, the existing data infrastructure is aging. As a result, it’s struggling to keep up with growing global technology demand growth. Second, the telecom industry needs to replace existing networks with faster and leaner fiber infrastructure and prepare to support the roll-out of 5G technology. These upgrades will require an estimated $1 trillion of global capital investments over the next five years alone. Meanwhile, the longer-term investment opportunity is equally vast, likely to power steady growth for infrastructure companies.
Accelerating its investment strategy
Given the enormousness of the data infrastructure market opportunity, Brookfield plans to invest an increasing amount of capital into the sector over the next several years. It has been methodically building out a data infrastructure platform in recent years. Brookfield launched into this sector in late 2014 when it participated in a consortium to acquire a 50% stake in a French communication tower infrastructure business, investing $500 million into that $2.2 billion deal. Meanwhile, over the past three years, the company has invested about 20% of its $1.5 billion average annual growth capital spending (or roughly $300 million per year) into building its data infrastructure platform.
However, it has accelerated its investments in the sector this year, already spending half of its $1.7 billion growth investment on data infrastructure. The main drivers were a $150 million equity investment in a U.K. telecom business and a $600 million equity investment in an Indian telecom towers portfolio.
The company expects to continue allocating an outsized portion of its capital to expanding its data infrastructure operations over the next three to five years. In its view, it will increase its overall growth investment spending target to more than $2 billion per year. Meanwhile, it anticipates allocating 35% of that higher budget on data-related investments during that period, up from 20% of its lower investment rate during the previous three years.
Some of that shift is because many of its recent acquisitions included an embedded growth component. For example, there’s growth potential at its Indian tower portfolio as it builds additional towers to support its current tenant and add new ones to existing towers. Meanwhile, in late 2018, the company partnered with REIT Digital Realty (NYSE:DLR) to acquire Ascenty, a data center business in Latin America. When they bought the company, it had eight data centers in Brazil in operation and 14 total when including those under construction. It now has 22 in operation or under construction and has expanded its reach into Chile and Mexico.
Meanwhile, the other driver of the company’s accelerated investment in data will be additional acquisitions. Given the industry’s need for capital, Brookfield will likely focus on acquiring data infrastructure companies that need access to funding for organic expansion projects or to make bolt-on acquisitions. For example, Brookfield tried to buy Cincinnati Bell (NYSE:CBB) earlier this year to accelerate the expansion of its fiber network. While a rival infrastructure fund outbid it for that company, there’s no shortage of capital-starved data infrastructure companies out there, suggesting it should have plenty of opportunities to acquire other companies or business units.
An ultra-long-term investment opportunity
Because Brookfield Infrastructure believes we’re still in the early innings of a data infrastructure investment megacycle, the company anticipates that it will have an increasing amount of compelling investment opportunities in the sector over the next several years, which is driving it to boost its spending target and allocation to the space. That bright outlook suggests that the company should have no problem continuing to generate outsized total returns for its investors, making it the ultimate buy-and-hold stock to create long-term wealth.
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