Banks Chasing Millionaires Create Singapore's Canary Wharf
Comment of the Day

October 10 2012

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Banks Chasing Millionaires Create Singapore's Canary Wharf

This article by Pooja Thakur and Sanat Vallikappen for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
Seven countries in the Asia-Pacific region were among the top 20 with the fastest growing millionaire populations in 2011, according to a report by Capgemini SA and RBC Wealth Management.

“The wealth business has moved in its entirety to the new location in Marina Bay,” Padgett of Barclays said. “Wealth was expanding here quite a lot and needed more space.”

The area is also home to Asia Square, whose occupants include anchor tenant Citigroup and Google Inc. Asia Square, owned by MGPA, a Macquarie Group Ltd.-controlled fund manager with $11 billion in property assets, will complete next year its second tower, which will include a 305-room Westin hotel that 0 will open in 2014.

“Being in the heart of the financial district, if there are any issues, we have collective bargaining power,” said Lay-Sie Teo, chief operating officer, Singapore and Asia emerging markets, at UBS. “When you have other banks that are co-tenants with you, you've got a bigger voice.”

Eoin Treacy's view Despite the high degree of uncertainty about the outcome of the EU's banking talks and how the USA's fiscal cliff will eventually be resolved, the prospects for Asia to remain a significant growth centre remain undiminished. The rise of the middle class is creating wealth and this is driving demand for financial services. Singapore's ambitions of becoming the Switzerland of Asia are being realised as total assets under management continue to climb.

This may be part of the reason that Singapore's banks represent one of the few financial sectors in the region to continue to outperform their respective wider market. The ratio of the Strait Times Financials/Strait Times Index has been trending consistently higher since late December. A break in the progression of higher reaction lows, currently near 0.246, would be required to question medium-term potential for continued outperformance. The wider market pulled back rather sharply today, along with a number its neighbouring markets, and a clear upward dynamic will be required to stem potential for a further test of underlying trading. (Also see David's comments on Singapore on October 3rd) .

The outperformance of the Chinese banking sector is also notable. The ratio has been trending higher since July and a sustained move below 1.07 would be required to question medium-term scope for continued outperformance. For China in particular the performance of the banking sector can be considered a bellwether for the wider market.

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