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Business investment into Singapore surges to seven-year high –



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)

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Canada's pension fund plans to invest a third of funds in emerging markets by 2025. India is a major component – CNBC



A man wearing a protective mask sits on a bench on April 10, 2020 in New Delhi as India remains under an unprecedented lockdown due to the highly contagious coronavirus disease.
Yawar Nazir | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Canada’s massive pension fund plans to invest up to a third of its funds in emerging markets over the next five years and India is an important destination, according to a senior executive. 

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) manages about 434.4 billion Canadian dollars ($329.75 billion) as of June 30. A bulk of its investments are in North America — around 34% of total assets are allocated in the United States — followed by Asia. 

“We expect to invest up to one third of the Fund in emerging markets by 2025 and India is a key component of that,” Suyi Kim,  CPPIB’s Asia Pacific head, told CNBC by email.

“Our investments in India span different asset classes including infrastructure, real estate, public and private equities, funds and co-investments and credit,” Kim said, adding, “We see domestic consumption, technology and increasing demand for infrastructure to support the growth underpinning many of the themes and opportunities we look at in India.”

CEO Mark Machin recently told CNBC that the pension fund was reviewing its bond holdings in light of near zero interest rates. 

CPPIB has an office in India. Some of its investments there include a stake in Kotak Mahindra Bank as well as $225 million to the India Resurgence Fund, which invests in distressed assets in the country. 

In December, CPPIB said it agreed to invest up to $600 million in India’s National Investment and Infrastructure Fund that included a $150 million commitment in NIIF’s Master Fund and co-investment rights of up to $450 million in future opportunities.  

India’s growth issues

The growth rate of South Asia’s largest economy took a hit over the last few years following important currency and tax reforms that were said to have disproportionately affected small businesses and people in the informal sector.

The coronavirus pandemic this year dashed early signs of recovery as India went into a nationwide lockdown between late-March and May as part of its efforts to slow the infection’s spread. Still, India is now the second most-affected country in the world behind the United States, with more than 5.9 million reported cases and over 94,000 deaths. 

Growth for the three months from April to June fell 23.9%

The financial sector — already in crisis for several years — faces an erosion of loan growth and higher credit costs as it prepares for a rise in bad debt from retail and corporate borrowers. Experts previously told CNBC that if the sector decides to stop lending to borrowers with low credit scores, or charge them a much higher interest on loans, it could delay India’s economic recovery.

“The ongoing credit issues in the financial services industry, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic’s impact on the economy, also present interesting investment opportunities to provide long-term, stable capital to select financial institutions and companies to finance India’s next growth cycle,” CPPIB’s Kim said. 

Last week, ratings agency S&P Global said India’s banking sector, which entered the pandemic with an overhang of nonperforming assets, will see a slow recovery to pre-Covid levels that could stretch beyond 2023. 

“We have taken negative rating actions on Indian banks and (non-banking financial institutions) as operating conditions have deteriorated through the crisis,” S&P Global said in a report, “Global Banking: Recovery Will Stretch To 2023 And Beyond.” 

“The Indian banking sector is considered a late-exiter. Its recovery will be longer, but some ratios may return more quickly to pre-COVID-19 levels as they were weak prior to the onset of COVID-19 (in contrast with many other jurisdictions),” the ratings agency said. 

CPPIB’s Kim said that beyond India, the Canadian pension fund sees investment opportunities in Greater China, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

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Unionized Ford workers vote on contract, 'game-changer' electric auto investment – Financial Post



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Unifor and Ford announced on Sept. 22 that they had reached a tentative agreement, avoiding a strike and creating a “pattern” the union will use in negotiations with the other two members of the Detroit Three car companies, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. and General Motors Co.

Collective agreements between the companies and their unionized Canadian workers expired Sept. 21, with Unifor saying it would negotiate next with Fiat Chrysler. 

A summary of the tentative agreement with Ford of Canada, published by Unifor, shows workers would receive wage increases of 2.5 per cent in the first and third years of the contract. They would also receive a one-time “Productivity and Quality Bonus” of $7,250 if the deal is ratified, among other contract details released by the union. 

But the centrepiece of the deal is the $1.95 billion investment in Ford’s Oakville and Windsor, Ont. plants. Concerns about the former’s future beyond 2023 was a key reason why Unifor began its bargaining with Ford.

The Oakville facility is also set to receive the lion’s share of the $1.95 billion, as Unifor says the plant is to be retooled so it can build electric vehiclesafter Edge production is phased out. That $1.8-billion project is to begin in 2024, with the first battery-powered vehicle forecast to roll off the assembly line in 2026, “and hopefully sooner,” the union says.

“This is one of the most significant investment announcements in Canadian automotive history, and is a game-changer for the Canadian auto sector,” the Unifor summary says. “Through this conversion, Oakville will become the first mass production (battery electric vehicle) plant in Canada — and one of only a few currently in North America.”

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‘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.

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