Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Daily news - 21 Oct

OCBC seeks bigger slice of regional corporate pie
OCBC's corporate banking unit sees opportunities to grab new business despite the economic gloom. While the bank expects corporate loans growth to slow this quarter and weaken further next year, it is still set on growing its market share and customer base in Singapore, Malaysia and Greater China. OCBC expects 'to get new business during this time...from foreign banks which had been active in the past but are not able to now due to the stressful situations they are in', said Mr Samuel Tsien, head of OCBC global corporate bank, yesterday. OCBC's corporate bank has launched an advertising campaign to assure clients that it is still open for business even as companies complain that banks are curbing lending and tightening credit. MP Sin Boon Ann (Tampines GRC) underlined the problem in Parliament yesterday, pointing to a lack of 'confidence of financial institutions in lending' as banks were 'restricting on credit extended to businesses', which may lead to a lack of credit to the business sector. Mr Tsien noted that 'this is still a good show our face in the market and tell existing and new customers that we welcome business. We are offering the whole range of products and loans'.

SingTel to cut Optus jobs
SingTel will cut 115 jobs in Australia, where it gets about two-thirds of sales, to reduce costs. The job eliminations are equal to about 1 per cent of Optus' 10,700 workforce, the Sydney-based unit of SingTel said in an e-mail yesterday. The reductions will take place across the Networks division, including management, operational and engineering workers, Optus said. SingTel, South-east Asia's largest phone operator, joins Qantas Airways and Telstra in cutting jobs after the Australian economy expanded at the slowest pace in more than three years in the second quarter as the global crisis deepened. Optus' employee costs climbed 12 per cent to A$295 million (S$303 million) and sales per worker fell 5 per cent to A$182,000 in the quarter to June 30. Profit was unchanged at A$122 million. SingTel does not plan to reduce the number of workers in Singapore or replace those who resigned, it said in a separate e-mail yesterday, reiterating comments made on Oct 6 by Mr Allen Lew, chief executive officer of its domestic business.

DBS now smallest of three local banks
Singapore Banks – The plunging stock market has done the once unthinkable and made DBS Group Holdings the smallest of the three local banks by market value. Falling share prices last week have wiped an astonishing $2.76 billion off DBS' market value while yesterday's modest gains failed to make much impression. It allowed OCBC Bank to overtake DBS in market value yesterday - the first time this has happened in seven years. A rise of 28 cents in OCBC's stock to $6.38 gave it a market value of $19.95 billion while DBS' market cap sat at $19.83 billion after its shares gained just four cents to $13.04. United Overseas Bank (UOB) remains the most valuable of the three local banks. Its market capitalisation rose to $23.77 billion, after its shares rose 84 cents to $15.60 yesterday. It overtook DBS in market value terms early this year. Some traders have been stunned by the changing fortunes among the three banks.

$154m jobs for Ezra
Ezra Holdings, an offshore support and marine services provider, has won US$104 million (S$154 million) worth of term charter contracts for four anchor handling, towing and supply vessels. The contracts comprise new and renewal charters.

Source: Kim Eng

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