1. Singapore Airlines raises US$500 million in US dollar debt debut
Singapore Airlines (SIA) has raised US$500 million (S$660 million) in its first US dollar bond issue that carries a 3 per cent coupon rate. The company will be using this amount to purchase new aircrafts, related payments, and other general purposes (e.g. refinancing of existing borrowings) as the aviation industry prepares for a post-pandemic travel rebound.
SIA said the issuance was oversubscribed with the final demand at more than US$2.85 billion, and it was anchored by “high-quality institutional investors”.
The issuance will further strengthen SIA’s liquidity position, providing them with the financial flexibility to “capture medium-to-long-term growth beyond the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Including Thursday’s issuance, SIA has raised approximately S$13.3 billion in additional liquidity since the 2020/2021 financial year begun. This includes S$8.8 billion from a rights issue, S$2 billion from secured financing and S$850 million from a convertible bond issue.
Singapore Airlines is the first major airline in Asia to tap the global debt markets in 2021, following a rush of deals in the second half of 2020.
Airlines are increasingly optimistic that travel will resume later this year as countries roll out vaccination campaigns to combat COVID-19.
2. Nine new Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs) to be appointed
The Singapore Parliament announced on Thursday the Special Select Committee’s nominations to fill the NMP vacancies. The nine nominees were selected out of the 61 proposal forms received by the select committee.
The nine new NMPs will be appointed by President Halimah Yacob for a two-and-a-half-year term beginning on 21 January. They will take their oath at the next sitting of Parliament in February.
All nine are first-time NMPs. The NMPs are:
- SP Group principal technical officer Mr Abdul Samad Abdul Wahab
- SISTIC chairman Ms Janet Ang
- Global Esports Federation secretariat director Mr Mark Chay
- Guocoland group managing director Mr Cheng Hsing Yao
- Singapore Management University school of economics dean Professor Hoon Hian Teck
- National University of Singapore conservation scientist Professor Koh Lian Pin
- Lawyer Mr Joshua Thomas Raj
- Khoo Teck Puat Hospital orthodontic registrar Dr Shahira Abdullah
- Thomson Breast Centre surgeon Dr Tan Yia Swam
Speaker and Parliament and Chairman of the Select Committee Tan Chuan-Jin said of the nine NMPs, “I…look forward to the rich diversity of insights and experiences they can bring to the House when we debate matters concerning Singapore and Singaporeans.”
The NMP scheme was introduced in 1990 to ensure a wide representation of community views in Parliament. Up to nine NMPs can be appointed in each Parliament.
Besides submissions from the public, seven functional groups – including business and industry, the professions and social service organisations – are invited to submit names of candidates.
Upon submission of the proposal forms, they will be considered by a special committee. This year, the committee was chaired by Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin and comprises Mr Chan Chun Sing, Mr Gan Kim Yong, Ms Gan Siow Huang, Ms Indranee Rajah, Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Mr Leon Perera and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.
3. Nokia and M1 partner up to deploy 5G standalone networks in Singapore
Nokia has announced a new partnership with M1 that will see another 5G standalone (5G SA) milestone met in 2021. M1 will be using Nokia’s 5G software and cloud-based 5G Core to provide 5G standalone networks.
This partnership will include Nokia’s 5G core and Cloud Packet Core Software in M1’s 5G SA network, which should help M1 design and automate network slicing. The Nokia components are hosted on Keppel Corporation’s data centre infrastructure, where it’s serviced by service routers using the Nokia FP4 chipset.
The efficient design of 5G SA provision would enable M1 to serve high-spec needs for mobile data in industries such as cloud gaming, digital health, smart manufacturing, remote operations, and more.
5G SA runs on built-to-spec 5G infrastructure that provides access to more frequency bands with faster maximum speeds, unlike 5G NSA which somewhat piggybacks existing 4G infrastructure. While it has its limitations, 5G SA brings about greater speed and latency than 4G or LTE-Advanced connectivity.
4. Courts to open new flagship store at The Heeren in 2022
Courts has announced the opening of a new flagship store at The Heeren by the first quarter of 2022, which will take over the space to be vacated by Robinsons.
The store is set to be Courts’ largest retail space in Singapore, spanning six floors and 189,000 sq ft, and seeks to introduce “exciting new retail concepts that are bold, fresh and authentic”, while delivering “Japanese standards of customer experience”.
“It is fitting that under Nojima Corporation’s stewardship, we mark a significant milestone on our growth path with a new flagship store along Orchard Road,” said Mr Matthew Hoang, group chief operating officer of Courts Asia and country CEO of Courts Singapore.
“We are looking forward to expanding our presence in Orchard Road to where it all began and raise the bar further in offering Singaporeans innovative and experiential retail experiences while shopping for electronics and home furnishings.”
He also added that the existing retail store at 228 Orchard Road will continue to be in operation.
5. Hume station expected to open by 2025, will offer convenient access to Rail Corridor
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded JSM Construction Group Pte Ltd the contract to build the civil infrastructure for Hume station on the Downtown line, which did not open with the rest of the downtown line due to a lack of demand back in 2015.
Located between Hillview and Beauty World stations, the station’s entrance will be located just outside the Hume Park 1 and Hume Park 2 condominiums. It will also provide access to the Rail Corridor and the Former Ford Factory.
As the current site already has a basic structure in place, this project will involve the construction of the station entrance, ventilation shaft, and fitting-out works—which will create a commercial interior space.
The contract awarded to JSM Construction Group Pte Ltd is valued at S$34,338,000.
“As the station is along an operational line, the majority of these works will only be carried out after train services have stopped running, and when the operator is not carrying out maintenance works,” said LTA.
Hume station will also require the installation and testing of rail systems, as well as electrical and mechanical services.
6. WHO convenes emergency committee early over COVID-19 virus variants
The World Health Organization met on 14 January to discuss the new COVID-19 virus variants from South Africa and Britain that have spread to at least 50 countries.
These new variants appear to be significantly more infectious than the strain that emerged in China, causing spiking virus numbers.
The committee normally gathers every three months but the WHO said the director-general pulled the meeting forward “to consider issues that need urgent discussion”. “These are the recent variants and considerations on the use (of) vaccination and testing certificates for international travel,” the global body said on Wednesday.
Some of the concerns of the committee include whether the new strains will render the current vaccines less effective, and undermine the world’s chances for recovery from the pandemic.
The committee of experts is overseen by France’s Didier Houssin and its recommendations will be published after the meeting.