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The Business Times, Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Singapore tops brand rankings of Asian cities

SINGAPORE was picked as the city with the most positive brand value, out of a pool of 16 Asian cities. Pitted against the likes of Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok and Shanghai, the city-state emerged with the highest score of 9.7 out of 10 in a location branding survey conducted by PublicAffairsAsia and Ogilvy Public Relations. Respondents cited transport, infrastructure, political stability, low crime, economic growth, culture, environment, sanitation and healthcare among the factors that they associate with positive brand attributes. They identify Singapore with being low-tax, clean, safe and politically stable, with a growing arts, gaming and leisure scene. On the downside, it was also seen unfavourably for issues such as press freedom and small-c conservatism. Pushed as a business and tourism hub by the local authorities to the world, the island-country still manages to draw business travellers and tourists alike with its fusion of Asian tradition and Western services and values. In second place are the cities of Hong Kong and Sydney, tied with a score of 9.5 points. Of Hong Kong, the respondents said the fast-paced cosmopolitan city marries the East and West and has a conducive business environment, though it is still lacking on the environmental front and constantly needs to define itself in relation to China. Devastated by the 3/11 tragedy, Tokyo made a strong showing in the rankings, with a score of 9.2, retaining its leading position among the Asia-Pacifics communications and corpo-

How they stack up

Brand value ranking of 16 leading Asian cities
Singapore Hong Kong Sydney Tokyo Melbourne Shanghai Seoul Osaka/Kobe Bangkok Beijing Kuala Lumpur Ho Chi Minh City Mumbai Delhi Jakarta Manila 6.6 6.1 6.0 5.9 5.6 8.5 8.2 8.0 7.9 7.9 7.4 8.8

Spore Power sells $250m bonds in record time

9.5 9.5 9.2

20-year, 3.4% bonds sold in 15 minutes; deal follows sale of US$500m last week
SINGAPORE POWER (SP) is laughing all the way to the bank or the bond market. In less than one week, it managed to sell two bonds, one in US dollars and the other in Singapore dollars, getting the best of both markets in terms of pricing. SP raised almost $900 million in total which will help its refinancing needs of over $1 billion next year. SP Powerassets, an SP unit yesterday sold 20-year $250 million 3.4 per cent bonds in about 15 minutes, said Clifford Lee, DBS head of fixed income. It was one of the fastest book builds, said Mr Lee. When the order book was closed after one hour at 3.30pm, orders were already three times oversubscribed at over $600 million, he said. I had a lot of unhappy callers, said Mr Lee on why he decided to stop taking more orders. Yesterdays deal followed last weeks US$500 million bond sale. SP Powerassets last Thursday sold 10-year US$500 million 2.70 per cent senior unsecured fixed rate bonds. Demand for the high grade bonds came to US$2.25 billion with non-Asian investors taking 40 per cent of the deal and fund managers getting 50 per cent. The issuer is rated Aa3 Stable (Moodys) / AA- Stable (S&P). Mr Lee said that with a very competitive swap rate,

SPs all-in cost of its US dollar bonds was not more than 2.5 per cent. The SGD is a strengthening currency, it has lower interest rates, he said. The Singapore dollar has risen 5 per cent against the US dollar since the start of the year. Explaining why SP tapped the US dollar bond market given that its funding requirements are in Singapore dollar, Mr Lee said

it was a matter of which market was more efficient. For high grade names like SP and up to 10-year tenors, the US dollar bond market is very competitive. But local bond market investors are yield-driven and many find it hard to accept a deal unless it pays above a minimum interest rate of 3 per cent. Investors in US dollar bonds, who are typically traders, are credit-driven.

They take a view on the credit risk, not interest rate risk, for a high grade name, he said. This is unlike Singapore dollar bond investors, many of whom are private bank individuals and are all-in yield-driven; their absolute yield hurdle is at least 3 per cent, he said. I need to earn at least 3 per cent, he said of local bond investors. For the Singapore dollar

investors, in order to achieve the 3 per cent-plus yield, SP was able to sell them bonds of longer tenor, in this case 20 years. But for SP, the ability to borrow money for 20 years at 3.4 per cent is pretty cheap. And for the 10-year money, SPs cost, after swapping from US dollar to Singapore dollar, was not more than 2.5 per cent. All the stars were aligned, said Mr Lee.

Note: 300 senior communicators were asked to rate the brand value of a basket of 16 cities (where zero was very poor and 10 was excellent)
Source: PublicAffairsAsia and Ogilvy Public Relations

Tools needed for Asianstyle philanthropy: DPM

ASIA must further develop the infrastructure needed to support new and sophisticated forms of philanthropy, says Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam. Speaking at the Philanthropy in Asia Summit yesterday morning, he added: We have to develop tools of philanthropy that are suited to our Asian context and also meet Asian needs. Research and information services will be part of this as well research that enables and supports donors who wish to be more . . . selective about the causes they support and those who want to see measurable results. According to data from the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC), total donations from individuals in Singapore (excluding corporates) has tripled from $341 million in 2006 to over $1 billion in 2010, while the rate of volunteerism has climbed from 15.5 per cent to 23.3 per cent. I believe that philanthropic giving in Singapore as well as across Asia is still in its very early stages, Mr Tharman said. We still have a long way to go, just on sheer scale alone, to catch up with developed countries where contributions to charity are between one and 2 per cent of GDP. Volunteerism rates are over 40 per cent in places like the UK and almost 30 per cent in the US, he pointed out. The government also has a part to play in encouraging private philanthropy, such as through strong tax incentives and matching grants to attract private funding to causes such as the university and the longterm care sectors. Another strategy to get Singaporeans involved in community work is to start from their younger years, especially in school, Mr Tharman highlighted in his speech. We should also do more to involve our elderly in volunteerism. Speaking in a panel discussion later in the morning, Singapore Institute of International Affairs chairman Simon Tay suggested that philanthropy must aim to evolve beyond the role of fulfilling simple basic needs and secondary social causes to engendering change. He also pointed to the benefits of analysis and funding individual institutions which can form perspectives about policies from a non-governmental point of view. It is critical for philanthropy to go beyond bandaids and helping hands to,

Respondents identify Singapore with being low-tax, clean, safe and politically stable, with a growing arts, gaming and leisure scene.
rate affairs industry leaders. In 10th position is Beijing, still struggling to clean up its city post-Olympic Games. Plagued by pollution concerns, murky political, regulatory and business environments, as well as a language barrier, both business and tourism in the city are bearing the brunt of this.

Neighbouring Kuala Lumpur scored 7.4, and Ho Chi Minh City, 6.6, on the ranking charts. Bringing up the rear were Mumbai (6.1), Delhi (6.0), Jakarta (5.9), and Myanmar (5.6). The reputation of Jakarta and Myanmar took a beating due to poor infrastructure, safety concerns, corruption, and visitor accounts of poor experiences. Steve Dahllof, chief executive officer of Ogilvy Public Relations, Asia Pacific, said: We can see from the analysis that the strongest city brands in Asia Pacific Singapore, Hong Kong and Sydney are the cities whose reputations are comparatively long-standing. With 11 of the 16 rated cities receiving a very good rating from less than a third of respondents, many cities across the region still have their work cut out for them when it comes to defining their brand image.

Mr Tharman: We have a long way to go to catch up with developed countries in a sense, be thinking hands, Mr Tay said, adding that there is a need to help think through the policies as well as bring about the changes that need to arise. The by-invitation-only summit, organised by the NVPC and Community Foundation of Singapore together with the Global Philanthropy Forum and the Resource Alliance, brought together over 120 delegates and speakers from across the world.

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