Industry News & Trends Recap: Mar Week 3

Industry News & Trends Recap: Mar Week 3

Weekly Industry News & Trends Recap: Mar Week 3

This week, we spotlight the emerging opportunities within the life sciences sector. With new facilities to be launched in Singapore, 1,600 new jobs are anticipated. Concurrently, with interest in the Middle East market growing, countries like Abu Dhabi are also ramping up efforts to attract industry talent and companies.


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

banking and financial services industry news


Ex-Morgan Stanley Asia Banker Michael Hufton Joins Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank appointed Michael Hufton as co-head of its infrastructure and utilities division to strengthen its investment banking presence in Asia Pacific (APAC). Hufton has over 20 years of experience in mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and capital markets. He helms from Morgan Stanley, where he led the infrastructure coverage in the region and will be based in Hong Kong. He will work alongside Roshan Menon, who will relocate from Singapore to Melbourne and continue his APAC regional role. The move is part of Deutsche Bank’s broader hiring strategy in APAC, which includes bringing in experienced professionals like veteran Morgan Stanley dealmaker Samuel Kim to enhance its market position.

Read the full article about Deutsche Bank’s hire.



Nomura Bolsters EMEA Bond Desks with New Hire from Deutsche Bank

Nomura Holdings appointed Deutsche Bank’s Hemish Shah as the head of flow rates for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa to bolster its expansion efforts for wholesale operations in the region. Shah will report to Nomura’s global head of rates and global head of EMEA markets. The recent easing of capital demands by UK regulators allowed Nomura to invest more in its European wholesale business.

Read the full article about Nomura Holding’s new Head of Flow Rates.



Expansion: ANZ Looks to India and China, Tokenize Exchange to Grow Singapore Team

ANZ: ANZ Group Holdings CEO Shayne Elliott announced plans to expand the bank’s presence in India, Vietnam, and China in response to increasing client demand. Under Elliott’s leadership, the bank’s institutional business in APAC has observed promising growth in return on equity. ANZ intends to continue investing in its platforms and capabilities in Hong Kong and mainland China. Concurrently, it will focus on strategic moves, such as acquiring Suncorp Group’s banking arm and exiting certain positions in other markets like Malaysia and Indonesia.

Tokenize Xchange: Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange Tokenize Xchange plans to grow its Singapore team from 20 to 100 staff over the next 18 months and expand to Taiwan, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. The move comes after the company raised an extra US$11.5 million in Series A Phase 2 funding from Trive and other high-net-worth investors. A quarter of the new roles will focus on compliance and operations to adhere to tightening global regulations. Tokenize has applied for a digital payment token license in Singapore and is currently operating under an exemption.

Read the full article about ANZ’s APAC business plans.

Read the full article about Tokenize Xchange’s fundraising.



BlackRock-Backed Start-Up Raises Funds for Singapore-Based Commodities Exchange

Canadian fintech startup Abaxx Technologies, led by former Goldman Sachs strategist Josh Crumb, is raising C$10 million to launch a new commodities futures exchange and clearinghouse in Singapore. Abaxx previously received funds from BlackRock and CBOE Global Markets for its technology and futures contracts for LNG, nickel sulfate, and carbon credits. The current bought deal is led by BMO Capital Markets and Canaccord Genuity Group, and it comes after years of development to obtain regulatory approvals and build technology for physically delivered commodity contracts. In LNG, Abaxx has three planned contracts covering deliveries in APAC, Europe and the Gulf of Mexico.

Read the full article about Abaxx’s futures exchange.



Citi Sold Most Non-US Business and Aims to Lower Global Headcount

Citigroup is streamlining its operations by selling off non-US consumer businesses. It plans to conduct an IPO for its Mexican consumer business while restarting the sale process for its Polish consumer business. CEO Jane Fraser aims to complete the restructuring by the end of March, reducing complexity and trimming 20,000 roles globally.

Read the full article about Citigroup’s restructuring.


Investment, PE & VC News

private credit and M&A news


UOB Announces Plans to Double Private Wealth Assets by 2026

UOB aims to double its private wealth assets under management in the next few years as it anticipates increased wealth inflows into Singapore and SEA. The move comes as Singapore’s favourable policies and the growing population of ultra-high-net-worth individuals in SEA have led to a spike in inflows. Notably, the contribution from private wealth clients accounts for over half of UOB’s total assets under management, which amounted to a record $176 billion as of December 2024.

Read the full article about UOB’s plans for private wealth.



Temasek-Backed Fullerton Raises $100m for an Asia-Focused Carbon Fund

Temasek-backed Fullerton Fund Management has raised US$100 million for its Fullerton Carbon Action Fund, which aims to capitalise on opportunities in Emerging Asia by targeting companies driving decarbonisation. The Fund focuses on capturing Asia’s US$5 trillion climate investment opportunity by investing in sectors like manufacturing, industrials, energy, and electric vehicles/mobility.

Read the full article about Fullerton’s fundraising.



New CEO and CFO Appointed Amidst Manulife US Reit’s Leadership Exodus

John Casasante has been appointed CEO and CIO of Manulife US Reit, replacing William David Gantt III, who has departed due to family needs. A former regional director of real estate asset management alternatives and real estate assets, Casasante brings over 25 years of experience. Concurrently, Deputy CEO Caroline Fong, CIO Patrick Arthur Browne, and CFO Robert Wong are also moving on to new opportunities. Manulife Investment Management’s Head of Finance for Singapore and SEA, Mushtaque Ali, will take over as CFO-designate.

Read the full article about Manulife’s new leadership team.



Abu Dhabi Boosts Incentive Package to Attract Hedge Fund Managers

Abu Dhabi seeks to boost its status as a global financial centre by formalising a programme to offer benefits for financial professionals looking to venture into the region. These include perks like a streamlined visa programme, school admissions, and country club memberships for traders. Success is evident in firms like Brevan Howard managing more funds in Abu Dhabi than elsewhere, and global giants like Goldman Sachs, Rothschild, and Morgan Stanley are opening offices there.

Read the full article about Abu Dhabi’s initiatives to attract hedge fund managers.



Abu Dhabi Fund Keen to Buy Western Investors’ Stake in PAG-Managed Funds

Abu Dhabi Investment Authority expressed interest in buying discounted stakes in PAG-managed funds from Western investors, seizing opportunities as US investors reduce their China exposure. Hong Kong-based PAG, known for offering global investors Chinese deals, faces challenges raising new funds after its chair criticized Beijing in 2022. Adia’s move reflects a shift from US to Middle Eastern investors showing interest in Chinese investments amid geopolitical tensions and regulatory crackdowns.

Read the full article about Abu Dhabi’s interest in Chinese investments.


Legal News

legal and in house counsel news


Moves in Singapore: RHTLaw and Covenant

RHTLaw Asia: Singapore law firm RHTLaw Asia has strengthened its expertise in corporate and capital markets by bringing in partner Parikhit Sarma from Stephenson Harwood’s local alliance firm, Virtus Law. Sarma specialises in advising cross-border M&As, capital markets, banking, finance, and regulatory compliance across Asia, focusing on Singapore market listings and fundraising. His client base consists of multinational corporations, private and listed entities, and investment funds, and he previously held leadership roles at Morgan Lewis Stamford and Duane Morris & Selvam.

Covenant: Khelvin Xu, former disputes partner at Rajah & Tann Singapore, has joined local boutique Covenant Chambers as a director. Xu specialises in cross-border commercial disputes with a focus on technology-related issues. Notably, he is involved in significant international arbitrations, including a case related to the cryptocurrency crash of June 2022 and another involving a Japanese corporation listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Xu’s move adds to recent changes in Rajah & Tann’s disputes practice, including incoming partners from Selvam, Harry Elias Partnership and Hew Kian Heong, as well as partners who left to launch their practice.

Read the full article about RHT’s Partner from SH Alliance.

Read the full article about Covenant’s new disputes director.



Moves in China: White & Case, Anli, Long An and Linklaters

White & Case: White & Case strengthened its Beijing office by adding M&A expert Alan Bao from O’Melveny & Myers. The appointment marks its second lateral partner hire in Greater China this year. Bao brings extensive experience advising on M&A, capital markets, and general corporate matters for corporates, buyer consortiums, and financial institutions. The move aligns with the firm’s strategy to meet the growing demand for cross-border M&A advice in China and APAC, especially among Middle East investors.

Anli: Anli Partners bolstered its Beijing office by recruiting cross-border expert Feng Caihong as a partner. Feng, who joins from King & Wood Mallesons, brings 13 years of experience and specialises in outbound investment, foreign-related compliance, and corporate governance. The hire aims to strengthen Anli’s competitive edge and professionalisation in relevant practice areas. It is the latest partner-level hire in a series of appointments this year.

Long An: Long An Law Firm’s Hohhot office welcomed criminal expert Lu Litang as a senior partner, marking the first partner-level hire this year. Lu specialises in mineral resources and criminal and corporate legal matters. Having served in the Public Security Bureau for over a decade, he is also experienced in managing civil and criminal cases. His addition is part of Long An’s strategy to enhance its business capabilities and legal services in Hohhot.

Linklaters: Andrew Chung, a financial dispute resolution expert with 13 years of experience at Goldman Sachs, has succeeded William Liu as Linklaters’ managing partner for China. Meanwhile, Liu retains his role as Asia regional managing partner. Chung focuses on cross-border regulatory investigations and commercial disputes and has a background in financial crime, corruption, fraud, money laundering and international sanctions.

Read the full article about White & Case’s M&A hire.

Read the full article about Anli’s new cross-border expert.

Read the full article about Long An’s criminal expert partner.

Read the full article about Linklaters’ new China head.



HWL Ebsworth Plans for Succession After Sudden Death of Managing Partner

Australia’s largest law firm, HWL Ebsworth, faces succession concerns following the sudden death of its longstanding leader, Juan Martinez. Martinez, hailed as a giant of the Australian legal profession, had been the firm’s managing partner for 26 years and secured another three years before his passing. The firm has appointed Ross Williams as the acting managing partner, and Williams is expected to develop a succession plan and ensure stability amid the loss.

Read the full article about HWL Ebsworth’s succession concerns.



Expansion: Wei Tu, CAM and Withers

Wei Tu: Stephenson Harwood’s associated firm in China, Wei Tu Law Firm, has opened its first branch in Shanghai. The new branch will focus on corporate, commercial, and financing transactions, dispute resolution, private wealth and corporate restructuring services. The launch of a new office will strengthen the affiliation and extend its legal services beyond the Greater Bay Area (GBA).

CAM: Indian legal powerhouse Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas opened its second international office in the UAE’s Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). The new office, focusing on its Indian law expertise, will provide legal advice on commercial, corporate, and arbitration matters. It is helmed by seasoned professionals from India and the region. CAM Middle East will also capitalise on the Middle East’s growing need for diversification and increased trade ties with Asian markets.

Sundial: Shenzhen-based Sundial Law Firm has launched its first overseas branch in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong office boasts six partners, led by Li Lijiao, Lin Xiaochun, Hong Qunjun, Xiao Jian, Wang Yini, and Chen Jialan, signifying a strategic move in Sundial’s international expansion efforts, particularly in facilitating clients’ domestic and global relationships through collaboration between its Hong Kong and mainland offices.

Read the full article about Wei Tu Law Firm’s Shanghai office.

Read the full article about CAM’s new office in UAE.

Read the full article about Sundial’s Hong Kong office.



Leading UK Private Client Firm Withers Partners Indonesian Boutique

UK private client powerhouse Withers announced plans to collaborate closely with Jakarta boutique Karna Partnership.  The move aims to help both firms enhance the scope of cross-border advisory services for their clients. This collaboration involves sharing knowledge, joint marketing of services, mutual referral of clients, and joint creation of training programmes. Karna, founded in 2020, specialises in corporate and commercial law and serves clients ranging from public companies to investment funds. Meanwhile, Withers serves high-net-worth individuals, digital services companies, and energy and infrastructure firms in Indonesia.

Read the full article about Wither’s alliance with Karna.


Healthcare & Life Sciences News

biotech and MASH drugs news


100 New Jobs Expected as Novartis Announces Plans to Expand its Singapore Plant

Novartis is investing US$256 million to expand its biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Singapore, which is set to be operational by 2026. The new plant will adopt digital and automation solutions and focus on producing therapeutic antibody drugs for skin and respiratory diseases. The expansion will more than double the facility’s output and create 100 new high-skilled jobs, including scientist and engineer roles.

Read the full article about Novartis’ expansion in Singapore.



WuXi Biologics’s New CRDMO Centre in Singapore Expected to Create 1,500 Jobs

China’s WuXi Biologics has broken ground on its 13.5-hectare CRDMO centre in Singapore’s Tuas Biomedical Park, which offers integrated biologics research, development, and manufacturing services. The centre, which adds 120,000L of manufacturing capacity to WuXi Biologics’ global network, is expected to employ 1,500 staff.



Novo Nordisk Injects $556m More to Expand Tianjin Plant

Novo Nordisk is investing US$556 million more to expand its manufacturing site in Tianjin to meet the growing demand for weight loss and diabetes medicines, including Wegovy (semaglutide). This move comes ahead of Chinese regulators’ decision to approve Wegovy for weight loss this year. This expansion will enhance manufacturing capabilities to support the localisation of innovative medicines, marking a significant step in Novo Nordisk’s three-decade-long presence in China.

Read the full article about Novo Nordisk’s investment in China.

Read the full article about Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy drug.



Clinical-Stage Biotech Firm Qyuns Successfully Listed in Hong Kong

Clinical-stage biotech company Qyuns Therapeutics Co., Ltd. officially debuted on Hong Kong’s Stock Exchange after filing for an IPO from March 12 to 15, raising approximately HK$239 million. Qyuns, founded in 2015, focuses on biological therapies for autoimmune and allergic diseases. With its independent innovation capabilities, Qyuns already has two core products, QX002N and QX005N, as well as a product pipeline of seven other drug candidates, which over indications for four major disease areas of skin, rheumatism, respiratory and digestive diseases. The firm ranks among the companies with the most IND approvals in the field.

Read the full Chinese article about Qyuns Therapeutics’ IPO.



MASH Drugs Field See Turning Point as Madrigal Wins FDA Approval

The MASH (formerly known as NASH) drug field experienced breakthrough as Madrigal’s Rezdiffra received FDA approval. However, the competition is intense. Publicly available data reveals that over 100 MASH drug pipelines worldwide have reached the clinical research stage, targeting various popular pathways like THR-β, FGF21, PPAR, and GLP-1. Concurrently, several Chinese companies are entering the fray, including Sino Biopharmaceutical, Ascletis Pharma, and Haisco. The Chinese biopharmaceutical industry also shows promise, with multiple pipelines under development for key pathways in the MASH field. Among these, the research progressfor Lanifibranor by Inventiva is notable. Zhongsheng Pharma is also actively engaged in the MASH drug arena, with several planned pipelines. This includes the PDE inhibitor ZSP1601, which represents China’s first innovative drug project to complete clinical trials on drug metabolism and safety in healthy individuals.

Read the full article about Madrigal’s FDA approval.

Read the full Chinese analysis of the MASH field.


Luxury & Retail News

luxury and travel retail news


Moves: Balmain, Watsons CN and Kering

Balmain: Balmain’s CEO, Jean-Jacques Guevel, has announced his departure to pursue other interests. This follows the recent exit of the marketing director, Txampi Diz. Guevel. Guevel has led the company through the COVID-19 pandemic and orchestrated significant growth, including negotiating a new beauty licensing deal with Estée Lauder.

Watsons: Watsons China has appointed Fred Chan and Vivian Nie as co-managing directors, effective April 2024. The pair succeeds Kulvinder Birring. Birring will become CEO of Marionnaud Group, a CK Hutchison Holdings subsidiary. Chan and Nie bring extensive experience from their previous roles within Watsons China, with Chan serving as Operations Director and Nie as Marketing Director and later General Manager of Customer Growth.

Kering: Kering’s Board of Directors will propose the appointment of three new independent directors, Rachel Duan, Giovanna Melandri, and Dominique D’Hinnin, at the upcoming Annual General Meeting on April 25, 2024. These appointments aim to enhance the Board’s diversity and expertise, with candidates bringing extensive experience in the Asian market, sustainability, economics, finance, and corporate governance. If approved, the Board will have 13 members, with a majority of independent directors and over half being women, representing six different nationalities. These appointments follow recent departures from the Board, including Jean-François Palus, Tidjane Thiam, and Emma Watson.

Read the full news about the departure of Balmain’s CEO.

Read the full article about Watson’s new C-suite members.

Read the full article about Kering’s Board of Directors.



Le Labo Jointly Sets Up Two boutiques in Hainan with CDFG

Le Labo, part of The Estée Lauder Companies, has opened two new stores in Hainan in partnership with China Duty-Free Group. The store offers clients an immersive experience with genderless perfumes and personalisation services.

Read the full article about Le Labo’s partnership.



Coty Grows Presences in Hainan’s Travel Retail Space

Coty’s prestige beauty brands, including Gucci Beauty, Burberry Beauty, and Chloé, have opened new boutique stores in Hainan’s CDFG Sanya International Duty-Free Shopping Complex. Coty’s expansion strategy in Hainan includes partnerships, engaging events, and activations, with brands like Burberry and Chloé introducing exclusive campaigns and pop-up events throughout the year to elevate consumer experiences in the travel retail market.

Read the full article about Coty’s expansion in Hainan’s travel retail market.



Alibaba to Invest $1.1b in South Korea

Alibaba Group announced a $1.1 billion investment in South Korea over three years, with plans to allocate $200 million for a logistics hub and $100 million to support local SMEs. The investment aims to expand business operations and enhance consumer protection measures. This move follows scrutiny of Alibaba’s subsidiary, AliExpress, amid a surge in complaints from South Korean users.

Read the full article about Alibaba’s investment in South Korea.



American Apparel Ventures Into E-Commerce in Australia and New Zealand

American Apparel has launched a dedicated e-commerce site for Australia and New Zealand, offering its entire 2024 product line. Previously, the brand mainly sold through third-party sites and its parent company’s website. The move aims to increase access to the company’s products in these regions. American Apparel will offer its new collections and styles and support the launch with the Craft the Culture campaign, alongside digital marketing and live activations at music events.

Read the full article about American Apparel’s APAC launch.


Tech & AI News

semiconductor and microchips news


Japan’s Toppan to Launch Microchip Materials Plant in Singapore and Create 350 Jobs

Toppan Holdings broke ground for a semiconductor packaging materials plant in Singapore, the first of its kind in the country. The plant is expected to be operational by the end of 2026 and will create up to 350 new jobs. This includes 200 openings for engineers and technicians, with the remaining headcount comprising roles like operators and facility managers. The plant will produce substrates for semiconductor products like network switches and AI devices, with initial investments estimated at $450 million. Toppan’s venture is supported by Broadcom, which aims to secure a stable supply of advanced substrate materials. This comes amidst increasing demand in the chip substrate market,  projected to reach $29 billion by 2028.

Read the full article about Toppan’s new semiconductor plant.



Temasek-Backed Immutable Co-Launches $100m Web3 Gaming Fund

Temasek-backed Immutable, Australia’s King River Capital, and Polygon Labs have collaborated to launch the Inevitable Games Fund (IGF), which seeks to raise US$100 million for the burgeoning Web3 gaming industry. The fund, managed by King River Capital, aims to invest in game studios, Web3 infrastructure, and immersive gaming experiences to capitalise on the growing global video game market. IGF has already invested in seven early-stage companies, including Pixelmon, Guild of Guardians, and My Pet Hooligan, with support from backers like Alpha Wave Ventures, Merit Circle, and various family offices and individuals with gaming expertise.

Read the full article about Immutable’s Web3 gaming fund.



NUS Supports Deep-Tech Startups with Close to $15m of Funds

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is allocating S$20 million (US$14.9 million) to further develop and commercialise deep-tech research. The move aims to address global challenges like climate change and food security. Half of the funds will support NUS faculty and researchers in transforming deep-tech projects into marketable products. Meanwhile, the other half will be used to strengthen the Graduate Research Innovation Programme (NUS Grip) to assist entrepreneurs in launching businesses based on deep-tech innovations. This investment complements NUS’ previous collaboration with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Temasek for a US$55 million pilot programme for deep-tech startups, aligning with Temasek’s commitment to allocate US$740 million annually for deep-tech investments, focusing on various sectors.

Read the full article about NUS’ investment in deeptech.



China’s Ant Group Names New President in Major Reshuffle

Han Xinyi is set to become president of China’s Ant Group in the company’s biggest reshuffle since it received a hefty fine from Chinese authorities last July. He will be overseeing digital payments, connectivity, and finance. Ant Group, founded by Jack Ma, will also establish separate boards of directors for Ant International, OceanBase, and Ant Digital Technologies to operate more independently within the organisation. These organisational changes were outlined in an internal email from Ant CEO and chairman Eric Jing, and Ant Group has yet to comment publicly on the matter.

Read the full article about Ant Group’s internal reshuffle.



Huawei Invests Fresh Funds into Shenzhen Investment Subsidiary

Huawei Technologies’ venture capital arm, Habo Investment, has injected fresh funds into subsidiary Shenzhen Habo Technology Investment Partners, raising its registered capital to US$1.1 billion. The move comes amidst growing demand for 5G smartphones and AI chips. It also signals a potential increase in Huawei’s investments this year, following a 9% sales growth in 2023 attributed to strong demand for its smartphones and efforts at revenue diversification.

Read the full article about Huawei’s investment in tech.


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