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Asia: Singapore Exchange looks beyond listings

There is a long list of structural challenges facing Singapore as a listing venue: a lack of big listing candidates, the allure of Nasdaq for new tech companies and the easy availability of private debt. SGX chief executive Boon Chye Loh believes the answer is to be a multi-asset hub – as his acquisition of Baltic Exchange shows. Is it enough to keep the exchange relevant?

Singapore Exchange SGX-R-600

You would be forgiven for being unfamiliar with BHG Retail Real Estate Investment Trust, but the Chinese department store investment vehicle holds a particular significance in Singapore. Last December, it became the first – and only – company to list on the Singapore Exchange’s main board in the whole of 2015.

It is true that the Catalist second board mustered a dozen modest raisings and that any exchange can have a bad year in uncertain markets. But while SGX raised just S$593 million ($427.7 million) in 2015, Hong Kong raised HK$260.3 billion ($33.6 billion) in 123 IPOs, according to Deloitte.

It is also true that 2016 has been, in some ways, brighter. By the end of August SGX had attracted 17 IPOs, worth S$6.4 billion. But over the same period it saw 18 delistings, after 19 the previous year. Net, the SGX main board has fewer listed stocks today than it had at the end of 2014.

Are there serious structural problems for Singapore as a listing venue? Consider the challenges. Almost all the blue chips are listed already and some, like Neptune Orient Lines and SMRT, are heading the other way and delisting.

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