It was the year of the bull - at least until the US sub-prime woes began in July - but corporate Singapore still dazzled with healthy growth from a thriving domestic economy and strong regional consumption. We look back at the top 10 events that shook the stock market and the Singapore corporate scene.
1. First STI revamp in nine years
THE index shake-up - announced in June - will mean a slimmer Straits Times Index (STI) come Jan 10.
In the first major revamp in nine years, 21 of the 47 current component stocks will make way for four new entrants:
- Aircraft maintenance firm SIA Engineering;
- Agri-business group Wilmar;
- Chinese shipbuilder Yangzijiang; and
- High-end Chinese real estate developer Yanlord.
Eighteen new indexes will also be unveiled.
The changes are expected to make Singapore's blue-chip index more appealing to international fund managers and bring about a vibrant futures market.
2. Exit Sesdaq, enter Catalist
THE junior board Sesdaq was transformed into a new outfit called Catalist earlier this month.
This is part of the Singapore Exchange's plan to attract the region's fast-growing companies to list in Singapore by offering a local listing destination, giving them another option besides London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM).
Like AIM, Catalist will feature professional financial advisers or sponsors.
They will play a key role in ushering a company through the listing process and mentoring it during its time on the board.
An initial list of sponsors will be unveiled next month.
3. Stock market scales new peaks
THE STI scaled fresh heights on several occasions this year, closing at a record of 3,875.77 points on Oct 11. It is up more than 15 per cent so far this year.
Investors will remember the high of Aug 20, when the benchmark index surged by 191.67 points, and the low of Feb 28 when the index plunged by 127.87 points, recording its worst one-day drop in 20 years.
They will also recall the United States subprime-plagued months of July, August and November, when market capitalisation sunk by almost 7 per cent - the biggest fall since the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.
4. Double whammy of forex fiascos
THE Singapore market was rocked by news in October of foreign exchange-related losses at two companies in the red-hot offshore and marine sector.
SembCorp Marine reported losses from unauthorised forex transactions to the tune of US$303 million (S$440 million).
The company alleged that its former finance chief, Mr Wee Sing Guan, had made the trades without its permission.
Then, Labroy Marine said it had racked up unrealised losses of $208.9 million - the result of trades earlier this year when it sold euros and bought US dollars.
5. Ex-remisier king in the news
ACE investor Peter Lim was back in the news this year for two reasons.
The former remisier's golden touch with palm oil giant Wilmar grabbed many headlines. His US$10 million (S$14.5 million) investment in 1991 in a company that eventually grew into the palm oil giant that it is today, has reaped astonishing dividends.
Based on Wilmar's market value of about $31.7 billion, Mr Lim's stake of just under 5 per cent is worth about $1.4 billion.
He also came under the spotlight with his unsuccessful reverse takeover bid for investment holding company Rowsley. In May, Rowsley announced it was going to enter into Singapore's largest-ever reverse takeover - a $2.7 billion deal involving China-based solar cell manufacturer Perfect Field.
But it all fell through last month when Rowsley called off the twice-delayed deal after Perfect Field failed to meet production-capacity targets.
6. SGX chief's stake controversy
SGX chief executive (CEO) Hsieh Fu Hua was embroiled in a potential conflict of interest controversy after a Dow Jones wire report in April.
The report disclosed that he had a stake in boutique investment firm PrimeFounders, which runs PrimePartners Corporate Finance.
PrimePartners began a joint venture in March to attract Chinese firms to list in London, putting it in direct competition with the SGX.
Mr Hsieh eventually quit as PrimeFounders non-executive director and arranged for his stake to be put into a trust.
7. Red-hot IPO fever cools off
LIKE the volatile stock markets, the initial public offer (IPO) scene in Singapore blew hot, then cold this year.
From January to July, new listings regularly traded at hefty premiums over their IPO prices. However, a liquidity drought and weak market sentiment have led to a recent cooling-off.
Arguably, the most memorable was Chinese shipbuilder Yangzijiang's $1 billion issue in April - the year's biggest IPO here.
From an issue price of 95 cents, its share soared to as high as $2.74 in October. The counter is set to enjoy increased attention when it becomes one of the STI's four new component stocks come Jan 10.
8. Top-level changes at F&N
TWO changes in key appointments at Fraser & Neave (F&N) captured the corporate headlines and sparked controversy.
The first was the arrival of former SingTel CEO Lee Hsien Yang as the firm's new chairman to replace retiring Michael Fam on Oct 15.
Then, CEO Han Cheng Fong quit after seven years with the company due to differences of opinion with the board. Insiders said that there were differences over business focus and that friction had been evident for some time.
The proximity of the two personnel changes spurred talk that they were related. However, F&N said they were unconnected. The search is still on for a new CEO.
9. Slugging it out in boardroom
THERE was also time for boardroom battles at SNF Corp and 1st Software.
Last month, the entire board of electronics distributor SNF Corp was ousted by shareholders at an extraordinary general meeting.
Investors axed five incumbent directors and voted in a new board, led by Ariel Singapore executive director Low Shiong Jin.
Mr Low called for an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) as he felt that SNF was not creating enough value for shareholders.
That same month, a similar bid by a major investor to remove the board of 1st Software after a dispute over business direction, failed because of insufficient votes at an EGM.
In October, a legal battle also emerged at Bio-Treat after the firm's former chairman, Mr Wing Hak Man, sued the water treatment firm over allegations of share fraud.
10. New SingTel CEO takes over
A NEW season began at one of Singapore's top companies on April 1 when former SingTel chief financial officer Chua Sock Koong replaced chief executive Lee Hsien Yang, who had helmed SingTel for 12 years.
The 18-year award-winning SingTel veteran was chosen after a two-month global search.
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