Industry News & Trends Recap: Feb Week 3

Industry News & Trends Recap: Feb Week 3

Weekly Industry News & Trends Recap

This week, our finance recruitment consultants observed some positive developments in the finance industry as well as the increase in AI-related investments.

Table of contents

  1. Finance Industry News
  2. Investment, PE & VC News
  3. Legal Industry News
  4. Healthcare & Life Sciences News
  5. Luxury & Retail News
  6. Tech & AI News


Finance Sector News

china and singapore's banking news

Singapore Emerges as MNCs’ Top Choice for Asian HQ

Singapore has solidified its position as Asia’s premier business destination, boasting 4,200 multinational firm headquarters compared to Hong Kong’s 1,336. Factors such as better relations with the West, a broader talent pool, a diversified economy, and tax incentives have contributed to Singapore’s appeal over Hong Kong, as reported in the Bloomberg report. This is even for Chinese companies seeking to hedge geopolitical risks.

Read the full article about Bloomberg’s report.


Banks in Singapore Offer Payouts to Help Junior Staff Cope with Rising Costs

UOB: UOB will provide a one-off extra month of bonus to about 6,000 junior employees to help them manage rising living costs, joining peers like DBS Bank and OCBC Bank.

OCBC: OCBC Group is providing $1,000 payouts to 4,600 junior employees in Singapore to help offset rising living costs, following DBS Bank’s similar move.

Read the full article about UOB’s payout.

Read the full article about OCBC’s payout.


HSBC to Strengthen Relationship with Hong Kong Unit Hang Seng

HSBC plans tighter risk management at the Hong Kong unit of Hang Seng Bank. Hang Seng’s top executives will be more involved in HSBC’s risk discussions about corporate, retail, wealth and private banking. The move comes as HSBC doubles down on Asia and aims to strengthen resilience. Discussions are underway for HSBC to share risk management expertise from its Asia Pacific operations with Hang Seng, and will likely be implemented this year.

Read the full article about HSBC’s plans.


Chinese Fintech Firm to Get Priority Access to OpenAI’s Sora API

Plans are in motion for Chinese fintech firm Sinodata to gain priority access to OpenAI’s Sora API by joining Microsoft’s AI Cloud Partner Programme. The move indicates mainland businesses’ eagerness to align with advanced AI tools like Sora. The interest in Sora among Chinese businesses also reflects a broader trend of accelerating R&D efforts in text-to-video models within the country, with companies like ByteDance and Alibaba’s Damo Vision Intelligence Lab also entering the fray.

Read the full article about Sinodata’s plans.


Personnel Moves: UBS, Citi Commercial Bank, Maybank, Standard Chartered and DCS

UBS: UBS Group appoints Ben Sung, UBS’ former co-head of Debt Capital Markets in Asia, as head of Corporate Book for Southeast Asia (SEA) to strengthen its private credit business in the region. Sung will oversee private credit and structured lending. His appointment follows the departures of bankers in Singapore from Credit Suisse’s APAC Financing Group after UBS’ takeover.

Citi Commercial Bank: Joy Cheng has been appointed as the head of Citi Commercial Bank for Hong Kong, succeeding Anson Kwok, who retired on January 1. Cheng has Cheng over 30 years of experience in banking and has held senior roles, including the head of financial institutions for Hong Kong and the head of Asia Pacific (APAC) multinational coverage. Since 2019, she’s led corporate banking for Hong Kong at Citi, managing corporate, public sector, and multinational clients. Her appointment will help Citi capitalise on opportunities in China’s Greater Bay Area.

Maybank: Maybank announced new appointments to its top management, with Muzaffar Hisham becoming the Islamic banking group CEO, succeeding the retiring Mohamed Rafique Merican. John Chong will take over as the global banking group CEO, while Tuan Syed Ahmad Taufik Albar will be the new community financial services group CEO. Steffano Ridwan is nominated to be appointed as president director of Bank Maybank Indonesia, succeeding Taswin Zakaria.

Standard Chartered: Standard Chartered appoints Jacob Berman as CEO of its Australian operations to bolster its corporate and institutional banking services in the country. Berman brings over 20 years of international experience, including a decade at Standard Chartered, and demonstrated success in various leadership positions across different regions.

DCS Card Centre: DCS Card Centre appoints Ceridwen Choo as CEO of its new digital innovation unit, DCS Innov, focusing on emerging payment trends and revenue opportunities. The unit aims to foster partnerships, explore Web3 payments, integrate financial services into non-financial platforms, and serve as an incubation hub for ideas. The move aligns with the company’s reorganisation efforts in 2023 to generate new revenue streams amidst a competitive payment landscape.

Read the full article about UBS Group’s appointment.

Read the full article about Citi’s appointment.

Read the full article about Maybank’s appointment.

Read the full article about Standard Chartered’s appointment.

Read the full article about DCS Card Centre’s appointment.


Investment, PE & VC News

venture capital and private equity news

Singapore’s New Tax Scheme to Continue Attracting Foreign Investment

Singapore introduces new corporate tax measures in response to global tax reforms, aiming to maintain competitiveness and attract investments. This includes implementing a minimum effective tax rate for large Singapore MNCs and introducing the Refundable Investment Credit to support qualifying projects.

Read the full article about how Singapore’s new corporate tax measures will affect businesses.


DL Family Office Group Pioneers AI-Driven Metaverse for Wealth Management

DL’s Hong Kong family office group plans to create its own Metaverse. The initiative aims to complement its upcoming online investment service for the mass affluent market. The metaverse will utilise AI technology for wealth management and offer a collaborative metaverse space for affluent clients to exchange insights and strategies. It is part of DL’s transformation of its asset management branch into the DL Digital Family Office.

Read the full article about the DL family office’s investment plans.


Hong Kong Emerges as the Investment and Insurance Hub for High-Net-Worth Individuals in GBA

Hong Kong emerges as the wealth management hub for high-net-worth individuals within the Greater Bay Area (GBA). The GBA’s combined GDP growth and cross-border initiatives have attracted wealthy individuals to use Hong Kong as a base for investment and wealth management, contributing to a surge in the city’s wealth management assets. Complementing this is the enhanced cross-border banking and investment schemes. These combine to facilitate capital flow between Hong Kong and the GBA, offering expanded investment options and opportunities for banks and investors alike.

Read the full article about the development of Hong Kong’s financial industry.


Citi Collaborates with Financial Institutions to Test Tokenisation of Private Equity Funds

Citi, Wellington Management, ABN AMRO and WisdomTree complete proof of concept on tokenisation of private funds. The project utilises simulated workflows and smart contracts to automate investment processes, promising streamlined management and increased efficiency.

Read the full article about Citi’s proof of concept.


Family Offices Swapping Cash for Alternative Investments

Family offices are increasing their investments in alternative assets like hedge funds and private equity, diverging from institutional investors who are scaling back. This trend is reflected in KKR’s survey, which shows a rise in family office allocations to alternatives, driven by a desire to capitalise on illiquidity premiums and increase exposure to private market investments.

Read the full article about KKR’s family office survey.


Legal News

law firm and in-house counsel news

Personnel Moves: Simmons & Simmons and Trowers & Hamlins

Simmons & Simmons: Simmons & Simmons strengthens its dispute resolution team in Singapore by hiring Terence Seah from Virtus Law and Steven Kaye, who will relocate from London. Concurrently, Simmons & Simmons expanded its funds’ practice in Hong Kong by appointing Jeffrey Friedenberg from Angelo Gordon as head of private funds. Seah brings over 20 years of arbitration and litigation experience. Friedenberg has 25 years of experience and specialises in asset management and investment funds, while Kaye focuses on construction disputes.

Trowers & Hamlins: Trowers & Hamlins expands its international arbitration practice by hiring Hendrik Puschmann from Farrer & Co in London. The move coincides with the firm’s upcoming launch in Singapore. Puschmann’s appointment strengthens Trowers’ litigation expertise, enhances its cross-border arbitration capabilities, and complements Trowers’ existing strengths. Puschmann will lead the international arbitration practice for Trowers’ UK, the Middle East, and Asia offices.

Read the full article about Simmons & Simmons’ appointments.

Read the full article about Trowers & Hamlins’ appointment.


Malaysian Law Firm Naqiz Merges with HMS and Joins RHT-Led Legal Network

Malaysian law firm Naqiz & Partners has merged with local firm Esther Hor, Mohanthas, Scully (HMS), expanding its team to 16 fee-earners and seven partners. The merged entity will retain the Naqiz name and join the RHT-led legal network ASEAN Plus Group. This move aims to enhance their ability to address a wider range of client needs in a competitive industry.

Read the full article about Naqiz’s merger.


Hai Run Sets Up New Office in Wuhan

Hai Run Law Firm expands its presence with a new office in Wuhan, its 12th domestic office in China. The Wuhan office will specialise in various legal areas, including commercial disputes, bankruptcy, construction, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate compliance, to serve Wuhan’s growing legal needs as it develops into a key economic centre in the central region. Hai Run views the establishment of the Wuhan office as a strategic move to serve Wuhan’s growing legal needs as it develops into a key economic centre in the central region and enhances its market coverage.

Read the full article about Hai Run’s new office.


Quintet Advises on Japanese Chipmaker’s US$5.9b Acquisition in Australia

DLA Piper, Covington & Burling, and Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu are advising Renesas Electronics on its US$5.9 billion acquisition of Altium, which is represented by King & Wood Mallesons and Reed Smith. Key partners leading the legal teams include David Ryan and James Stewart from DLA Piper, Mark Plotkin and Sam Karson from Covington & Burling, and David Friedlander from King & Wood Mallesons.

Read the full article about Renesas Electronics’ deal.


Clifford Chance and MHM Advises on CVC’s $1.2b Purchase of Sogo Medical Group

Clifford Chance assists CVC Capital Partners in a $1.2 billion acquisition of Sogo Medical Group from Polaris Capital Group, with Sogo and Polaris represented by Mori Hamada & Matsumoto. CVC plans to relist the pharmacy chain through expansionary M&As after Tokyo-based Polaris took Sogo Medical private in a near-100-billion-yen management buyout in 2020.

Read the full article about CVC’s M&A.


Healthcare & Life Sciences News

life sciences and pharmaceutical news

Innovent’s Thyroid Eye Disease Trial Achieves Phase III Target, Leading to China NDA

Innovent Biologics announces positive Phase III results for IBI311 in treating TED, meeting primary and key secondary endpoints with a favourable safety profile. The company plans to file an NDA with the NMPA for IBI311. These results contribute to Innovent’s strategic expansion of its commercial and late-stage portfolios in cardiovascular, metabolic diseases, endocrinology, and ophthalmology fields.

Read the full article about Innovent’s Phase III results.


WuXi ATU’s Amtagvi Approved for Production at US Site

WuXi Advanced Therapies (WuXi ATU) gains FDA approval to produce Iovance’s Amtagvi for melanoma at its Philadelphia facility. This marks the first individualised T-cell therapy approved for adults with unresectable or metastatic melanoma. Amtagvi utilises patient T-cells extracted from tumour tissue manufactured and re-infused as a single dose. WuXi ATU’s Philadelphia site becomes the first US external manufacturing location authorised for commercial production of individualised T-cell therapy for solid tumours.

Read the full article about WuXi ATU’s Amtagvi.


MediThinQ Secures Key Partnerships & Revolutionises Surgery with Global Rollout of XR Displays

Korean startup MediThinQ makes waves globally with its XR wearable displays for surgery that provide surgeons with enhanced clarity and easy access to information directly in their field of view during surgeries. The improved precision is expected to significantly improve the safety and efficiency of surgical procedures. Key partnerships with industry giants like Medtronic and strategic investments fuel MediThinQ’s trajectory toward global recognition and expansion. The startup is actively preparing for its Series B funding and is considering IPOs in markets like Hong Kong and Singapore.

Read the full article about MediThinQ’s XR wearable displays.


Daiichi Sankyo Invests €1b to Expand Antibody-Drug Conjugate Production in Germany

Daiichi Sankyo is strengthening its presence in the antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) arena by investing €1 billion in expanding its production and development site in Germany. The expansion, expected to be completed by 2030, aims to establish the site as a leading hub for ADC research and manufacturing, creating 350 new jobs.

Read the full article about Daiichi Sankyo’s investment.


QBiotics Granted FDA Orphan Status for Rainforest-Derived Cancer Therapy

Australian biotech QBiotics has obtained orphan drug designation for a therapy derived from the blushwood tree to treat soft tissue sarcoma, a rare cancer type. This designation could lead to tax credits for clinical trials in the US and seven years of market exclusivity upon approval. QBiotics, originally EcoBiotics, focuses on discovering drugs from Queensland’s rainforest and has a veterinary formulation of the drug, Stelfonta, already approved in several countries.

Read the full article about QBiotics’s new designation.


Luxury & Retail News

luxury and retail news

China’s Joins Battle to Acquire UK’s Currys

Currys shares surged as expressed interest in acquiring the British electricals group following Elliott Advisors’ bid rejection. Currys’ low valuation was believed to have encouraged the interest. The move underscores the attraction of UK assets to foreign investors amidst economic challenges like Brexit and a weaker pound.

Read the full article about the bid for Currys.


Luxury Fashion Group OTB Reports Strong Sales Led by Asia

Luxury fashion group OTB achieved a 7.2% revenue growth of €1.9 billion, with its Asia Pacific region performing the best. EBITDA stood at €348 million, and the company experienced a significant turnover improvement of 74% in Asia, with Japan registering a 19.4% growth LAST YEAR. CEO Ubaldo Minelli attributed the success to strategic plans focused on direct channels and expanding into Asian markets, with OTB opening 30 new stores in China.

Read the full article about OTB’s growth.


Coty Expands Fragrance Portfolio Through Partnership with Etro

Coty and Etro have entered a long-term partnership for fragrance production and distribution beyond 2040. Coty will handle the development, production, and distribution of all Etro perfumes and fragrances, including iconic lines like Shantung and Paisley, with plans to explore new categories. Etro, known for its luxury fashion, will leverage Coty’s expertise to expand its beauty portfolio globally.

Read the full news about Coty’s partnership.


Bain Capital Plans Management Buyout of Snow Peak

US buyout fund Bain Capital plans a management buyout of Japanese outdoor goods maker Snow Peak worth $333 million. The deal involves a public tender offer at over 1,200 yen per stock, representing a more than 40% premium. Snow Peak, known for mountain climbing and camping goods, reported record profits in 2021 despite its stock price fluctuating since going public in 2014.

Read the full news about Bain Capital’s planned deal.


Guess? and WHP Global Jointly Acquire rag & bone

Guess and WHP Global have jointly acquired New York-based jeans brand rag & bone, with Guess obtaining exclusive operating rights and sharing intellectual property ownership with WHP. The deal, valued at €56.5 million, marks Guess’s first acquisition in its 43-year history and is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of the 2025 fiscal year. Rag & bone, known for its traditional denim craftsmanship and modern aesthetic, presents a strategic development opportunity for Guess and WHP Global in the fashion industry.

Read the full article about Guess and WHP Global’s acquisition.


Tech & AI News

tech and AI news in Singapore and APAC

Singapore’s New SkillsFuture Scheme to Drive Transition into Sustainability and Digitalisation-Focused Roles

Singapore aims to drive mid-career workers toward growth sectors like sustainability and digital jobs through the SkillsFuture boost announced in Budget 2024. Individuals are encouraged to pursue opportunities in areas like digitalisation and electronics. The focus on diplomas in the new SkillsFuture measures is to enhance skills in a practical, hands-on manner, complementing existing educational foundations and work experience, with an emphasis on continuous learning and value creation beyond retirement.

Read the full article about the new SkillsFuture programme.


Singapore to Invest S$1b to Fuel its AI Ambitions

Singapore plans to invest over S$1 billion in artificial intelligence (AI) over the next five years to strengthen its standing as a global business and innovation hub. This initiative includes setting up AI centres of excellence, securing access to advanced chips, and promoting AI adoption among businesses to drive overall innovation.

Read the full article about Singapore’s plans for the tech industry.


Xpeng Plans 4,000 New Hires and Investment in AI

Chinese EV manufacturer Xpeng plans to hire 4,000 new employees and invest millions in AI to navigate fierce competition in the auto market. The recruitment represents a 25% increase Xpeng’s workforce. CEO He Xiaopeng also announced the company’s intention to invest RMB 3.5 billion in AI R&D.

Read the full article about Xpeng’s plans.


China to Bridge Lab-to-Market Gap in Hi-Tech Push with Patent Rule Changes

To bridge the gap between scientific research and market application, China seeks to streamline patent applications for industrial use through patent rule changes. Under the changed rules, firms will assess their market feasibility before communicating to universities and research institutes.

Read the full article about China’s patent rule changes.


Asia’s Richest Person Funds AI Model to be Launched in March

Reliance Industries and top Indian engineering schools, forming the BharatGPT group, plan to launch their first ChatGPT-style model next month. If successful, the Hanooman model could advance India’s position in AI. The system will operate in 11 local languages across healthcare, governance, finance, and education.

Read the full article about the BharatGPT group’s AI model.


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